National Press Club

People with disabilities can be election 'difference-maker,' Obama representative says

September 11, 2012 | By Robert Webb |

President Obama is poised to ensure in a second term that people with disabilities have an even better and more secure future, Jonathan Young, chairman of the National Council on Disability Policy, said at a September 11 National Press Club Newsmaker.

"I am here today because the voice and vote of people with disabilities matter in this election," Young said. "It is time for the disability community to flex its muscles and be the difference-maker it can be."

Young spoke as a representative of Obama. The Romney campaign declined to send a representative to speak on the subject.

Young, a partner and general counsel in the law firm FoxKiser, was previously in the Executive Office of the President as associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. The council he heads now is an independent federal agency that advises the President and Congress on disability policy.

In his first term, he said, "President Obama has taken us to new heights." But he said much more needs to be done. Obama's campaign for people with disabilities, Young said, has the slogan, "forward together," which "recognizes two core truths about disability in this election.'' The country cannot afford to go backward on the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the tradition of bipartisanship on the issue must continue, he said.

``People with disabilities can play an important role in restoring our nation's economic strength, but we have to work together," Young said.

Asked whether efforts might be made to encourage capable people with disabilities to run for public office,Young noted some are in public life and more should be "helping write the laws that help them."