The Disability Concerns ministries of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America have signed a letter calling on U.S. presidential candidates to address disability concerns issues in their campaigns.
The letter, written by the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition, has been signed by a range of faith groups, as well as leaders of individual churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.
“We, the undersigned, are people of faith from across the nation concerned about the civil rights of the more than 56 million Americans living with a disability,” says the letter to candidates.
“Our faith communities are diverse and include people living with all types of disability: physical, sensory, intellectual, visible and non-apparent. We write to urge you to lay out a comprehensive agenda that addresses the civil rights of Americans with disabilities.”
The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), of which the CRC and RCA are members, is a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities, a public policy organization that is based in Washington, D.C.
“Decision-makers have so many constituencies, all of whom ask for their attention,” said Rev. Mark Stephenson, director of the CRC’s Disability Concerns.
“Citizens with disabilities may not always be heard among all the competing voices … Legislators need to remember that many of their constituents live with disabilities. This letter raises this issue in a clear, brief, respectful, and direct way with those running for office.”
Stephenson said IDAC provides a helpful resource containing questions and ways in which to address the issue of disability concerns with the candidates in letters, emails and in person.
Rev. Terry DeYoung, coordinator of the RCA’s Disability Concerns ministry, said it is important to remind candidates that one in five people in the U.S. live with a disability of some kind, and this means that millions of others in households and families are affected by the disability.
“The letter acknowledges there's a wide array of disabilities, but its focus is on key areas that have a direct impact on the majority of people living with disabilities, whatever their disability might be: housing, transportation, healthcare, education, and/or employment,” said DeYoung.
The letter does not endorse specific candidates or parties, but asks all candidates to address specific issues without becoming partisan, he said.
“Living in a healthy, inclusive community with essential services and supports in place is an important aspect in enabling people with disabilities to thrive. As Christians and as taxpayers, it's important that we participate in public issues that impact the communities we live in,” said DeYoung.
The IDAC letter is part of REV UP, a campaign working to get out the vote in November among those with disabilities and their supporters. Organized by the American Association of People with Disabilities, REV UP stands for Register, Educate, Vote, Use, (your) Power.