National Disability Leadership Alliance

Statement from the National Disability Leadership Alliance on Solidarity and the 2016 Presidential Election

Following a truly historic election, we find ourselves facing an unknown future. Despite a great deal of speculation, we know very little about President Elect Trump’s intentions toward our community. What we do know is that the important issues that concerned us prior to the election are still there. In the coming months, there will be many attempts to dissect this election. There will also be efforts made to work with the Republican White House and Congress. What we cannot do is abandon our core values including recognition of the diverse and intersectional nature of our community. Doing so would divide and weaken us.

The Disability community has grown stronger this election cycle. We are better organized; we have built thicker networks with strong alliances. Social media campaigns like #RevUp & #CripTheVote have mobilized many who have not traditionally participated in disability activism/advocacy. We have done all of this by embracing our diversity and by working with other justice movements, not against them. While some might be tempted, it would be reckless to take a path of chasing power at the expense of the erasure of so many in our community. We cannot go back to that all too recent past in which we thoroughly ignored and excluded the voices of disabled people who belong to multiple communities. Disabled people of color and Disabled LGBTQIA people are not tangential parts of our community; they are us.

Disabled people live in every corner of our society and for our work to have any meaning it must represent all of our interests. There is no victory in clawing for a smaller piece of a diminishing pie.  We must continue to fight for the constitutional and civil rights of ALL disabled people.  Beyond that, we must fight for justice for all.  We cannot for one second forget that our diversity is our strength, and unity is essential to our cause.

About the National Disability Leadership Alliance Steering Committee
The National Disability Leadership Alliance is a national cross-disability coalition led by national organizations run by people with disabilities with identifiable grassroots constituencies around the country.

Statement from the National Disability Leadership Alliance on Racism and Bias within the Disability Community and Movement

Disabled people of color have been at the forefront of our movement from the beginning. Unfortunately, there has been a long and problematic trend in the disability community of the erasure and devaluing of the contributions of disabled people of color (POC).  Lately, leadership in the Disability Community has spoken more about race and intersectionality than we ever have, but that in itself illustrates one aspect of the problem. As a community, it is necessary for us to acknowledge this history of erasure within our movement, actively work to promote intersectionality, and elevate the voices of disabled people of color. 

People of color with disabilities, themselves, have been calling out racism – overt and covert – within our community.  There have been some efforts to understand and respond, but the issue has been generally overshadowed and set aside.  Although recent events have raised the profile of this issue, it is important to recognize the hard work that POC with disabilities have done in speaking for themselves in calling out this issue.  In demanding that they be acknowledged and speak for themselves, they are living the values of our movement.  To stay true to our values, it is important that we acknowledge and respect them and confront the racism and bias within our movement.

Disabled people of color continue teaching all of us that solidarity with other oppressed people is vital to the Disability Community because racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression and prejudice compound ableism and feed upon each other. We need to hear them and recognize that solidarity with other oppressed people is the right thing to do.

But recognition is only the start of the process for us.  In order to take the next step forward, we need to learn more.  Instead of putting the burden to address racism and bias within the Disability Community on those who experience it by expecting them to educate us, NDLA’s steering committee has begun a process to learn more so that we can fully engage in a process to move from words into action in order to address the racism and bias that exists within the Disability Community and Movement. We are establishing a taskforce charged with the responsibility of developing a strategy to:

  • Support the advocacy efforts of grassroots disabled activists of color;
  • Increase the active recruitment, hiring, promotion, and retention of staff and board members that reflect the diversity of our community;
  • Ensure our branding is representative of our entire community and our diversity;
  • Support women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people in leadership roles in all aspects of our community and movement;
  • Identify and create spaces to amplify these intersectional disabled voices throughout the mainstream community; and
  • Reach out to representatives of organizations serving racial, ethnic, religious, immigrant and LGBTQ communities to present at our conferences
  • Build relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and groups.

Each member organization of the National Disability Leadership Alliance steering committee is committed to this effort.  We are seeking to identify leaders within our community with experience, expertise, and time to dedicate toward the development and implementation of a strategy. Individuals interested in supporting this effort should contact their respective organization to volunteer.

National Disability Alliance Steering Committee

NDLA logo

Americans with Disabilities Demand that Democrats Support their Fundamental Right to Live In Freedom in the Democratic National Platform

The National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) is extremely disappointed that the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee failed to join with the Disability Community in calling for Federal civil rights legislation to assure that Americans with disabilities and older Americans are able to receive Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) in the community, rather than be forced into unwanted institutionalization.  NDLA urges the Democratic Party to amend its platform to endorse legislation ensuring that every American with a disability has the right to a meaningful choice in where we live and where we receive services and supports.

The Disability Community has been working to address this issue for more than 25 years, most recently securing needed changes in the Affordable Care Act to encourage states to provide LTSS in the community.  However, few states have taken advantage of those changes and virtually all still restrict access to community-based services, forcing Americans with disabilities into nursing facilities and other institutions.

Additionally, although the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that under the Americans with Disabilities Act such institutionalization is illegal, that ruling has failed to ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to live and receive services in their own homes in the community.

In the past year, Senator Schumer (D-NY) and Congressman Gibson (R-NY-19) have introduced the Disability Integration Act (DIA), bi-partisan civil rights legislation establishing that disabled people have the right to live and receive services in the community.  The existing system of long-term services and supports is plagued with ableist bias against the independence and equality of people with disabilities and in favor of institutions which segregate our people and prevent us from living as equal participants in our own country. The Disability Integration Act overturns that bias by establishing in Federal statute our fundamental right to liberty, promised in the Declaration of Independence, secured by the Constitution, and yet still denied to many older Americans and Americans with disabilities.

NDLA, and organizations throughout the Disability Community, commend the Democratic Party for including a provision in the Platform calling for an end to subminimum wages paid to people with disabilities. Disabled workers who are paid subminimum wages in sheltered workshops deserve equal protections under labor law, but the failure to include any reference to the right of disabled individuals to live in the community suggests that some Americans can be “too disabled” to deserve equality.

With both Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders supporting the Disability Integration Act, as well as over 400 disability organizations, disability rights advocates believed the issue – if not the specific legislation – would be addressed in the Democratic Platform.  Instead, the Democratic Party Platform Committee ignored the Disability Community on this critical civil rights issue, and rather than joining with the Disability Community on this fundamental issue of freedom and civil rights, the Platform perpetuates an ableist view of disabled people, even suggesting that people with LTSS disabilities are burdens to their families.

This is a historic moment in the Disability Rights movement, and we urge the Democratic Party not to let this moment pass by in silence, but to join with us in bringing the promise of Liberty to all Americans – including those with LTSS disabilities.


View the list of organizations who have already signed on:

Read the sign on letter to Democrats:

Read the sign on letter to Republicans:


On Mass Shooting and Mental Disability

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Disability & Politics

You're a disability activist. Maybe you’ve been involved for years; maybe you’re just learning about disability issues. Either way, you might be wondering how to respond to the terrible shootings in Orlando.

What do you say when politicians, journalists … and probably your family and friends … say that of course mental disability is a major cause of these kinds of mass public shootings?

Nothing But Questions

Andrew PBy This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Disability & Politics

The Primary debates are over. So, where are we now?

Unless serious weirdness breaks out at the Republican Convention, we pretty much know Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. And it’s still a bit early, and wounds in the party are still raw, but it already looks like Trump will get at least superficial support from the party bigwigs.

Undecided: 9th Democratic PResidential Debate

Andrew PBy This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Disability & Politics

Tweet by Alex Burns, NYT -- “Theatrical stuff aside, @CNN debate is an excellent distillation of the most important differences between the candidates.”

By the end, I was doubting even that. Watching this debate was unpleasant. Clinton and Sanders have clashed and gotten personal before, but not like this. As Paul Begala of CNN said afterwards, these two candidates are clearly “done with each other.” 

Deepish Thoughts From A Contentious Debate: 8th Democratic Presidential Debate

Andrew PBy This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Disability & Politics

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m burned out on debates. There were moments during Wednesday night’s Democratic Presidential debate when I wanted to shove an ice pick into my left ear, just for a bit of distraction.

It was still a more issue-centered, substantive debate than many we have seen, but only because both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton tried to steer things back to real issues, while the moderators took every opportunity to bait them with accusations of inconsistency and hypocrisy.

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