Thursday, October 16, 2008

Presidential Candidates' Disability Positions

With the presidential election less than three weeks away, it is vital that Ohioans and other voters have accurate information concerning the candidates' positions. Accordingly, ASAN Southwest Ohio has contacted the Ohio Legal Rights Service, a state protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities, regarding the need to correct an error in a chart prepared by the agency that compares the presidential candidates' positions on disability-related issues.

The chart incorrectly lists universal prenatal screening for autism among the Obama campaign's positions. In fact, there is no prenatal test for autism, and Sen. Obama does not advocate funding the development of such a test. The Obama campaign's position paper on autism calls for universal screening of two-year-old children.

The chart accurately identifies several significant policy differences between the candidates, including their positions on making community services available to people with disabilities. Sen. Obama is a co-sponsor of the Community Choice Act and of the Community Living Assistance, Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, whereas Sen. McCain is opposed to both.

More information regarding Sen. Obama's disability platform can be found at Sen. Obama's campaign released this plan last year. No comparable position statements have been provided by Sen. McCain's campaign.

The candidates' positions were recently discussed at a Disability Forum in Athens, Ohio on October 12th. No representatives of Sen. McCain's campaign attended the event. Doug Rogers, a disability vote organizer for Sen. Obama's campaign, was present. Donna M. Jones, Sen. McCain's national coordinator for disability issues, sent an e-mail to one of the event organizers explaining that Sen. McCain's campaign does not currently have a disability policy. The e-mail, which was publicly read at the event, stated that no further information was available on when Sen. McCain's campaign might be releasing a platform discussing issues that relate to people with disabilities.

Update: The Ohio Legal Rights Service has corrected the error in its candidate positions chart.

No comments: