Disability Rights

Disability Rights

Mission: We must protect and expand people with disabilities’ access to education, employment, transportation, health care, and their communities. Twenty percent of the U.S. population has a disability and yet the vast majority of people are blocked from entering the workforce and are forced to remain on government assistance. I reject current legislative attempts to roll-back rights secured under the Americans With Disabilities Act, such as H.R. 620. I oppose any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

  • We must protect Federal funding for State programs like Vocational Rehabilitation that specialize in helping people with disabilities find and maintain employment.
  • I stand beside people with disabilities in their fight to assert their god-given and constitutional rights. It has been a privilege to champion their cause in my professional life. If elected, I will do so with fortitude in Congress.

Advancing Rights Of People With Disabilities In NY23

December 20, 2017


Persons with disabilities account for more than 20 percent of the U.S. population, yet they are two times more likely to be unemployed than people without disabilities. They also are less likely to receive a post-high school education than those without disabilities. This is an even greater problem for areas like New York’s 23rd congressional district, which has, on average, an older population.

Disability should be one of those issues that transcends party lines. Anyone can become disabled at any point in their lives. Since people with disabilities make up such a large part of the population, economically it only makes sense for the government to pass legislation that empowers people with disabilities to live and work and contribute to society. It is also morally the right thing to do.

However, people with disabilities continue to have to fight for access to employment and affordable healthcare and to live in their own communities. Because of how Medicaid and Medicare are designed, people with disabilities are often caught in a vicious cycle of having to live off of government aid instead of pursuing employment.

To make matters worse, in the last few months, Congress has actively pursued legislation that will negatively affect people with disabilities, including the repeal of Affordable Care Act, cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and draft legislation (H.R. 620) that would gut the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The people of NY’s 23rd congressional district must vote for a congressperson who protects the rights of its constituents with disabilities and pursues legislation that empowers them to be active members of society. We need someone who will:

  • Protect the Americans with Disabilities Act and expand it by making its enforcement less dependent on the individuals with disabilities themselves.
  • Work to curb the costs of medical care, pharmaceuticals, and assistive technology. Families should not go bankrupt because of a hospital stay and an accessible vehicle for a wheelchair should not cost the same as buying a house.
  • Support legislation and pursue a House equivalent of the Disability Integration Act, which would protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to live in their communities instead of being forced into institutions.
  • Fight for government funding for education and employment training initiatives for people with disabilities to give them the tools and training needed to be competitive in the job market.
  • Push for regulations to ensure the Internet is accessible to people who are blind/low-vision or have mobility disabilities and ensure Internet access to people with disabilities in rural areas. So much of today’s employment market is based on-line.

Based on her personal connection to the disabled community and a career in which she championed accessibility issues for people with disabilities, I believe Tracy Mitrano will be the advocate the disabled community needs in Congress for NY 23.

–Cindy Otis

Tracy’s response: Thank you, Cindy, for your support and your trust in me. I agree wholeheartedly about the need to improve disability rights legislation in a way that protects and expands people’s access to employment, transportation, communities, personal and career opportunities, in both physical and cyberspace.

It is why I support the Disability Integration Act that Senator Chuck Schumer has sponsored that states people with disabilities have a right to live within their communities rather than institutions. It is why, as part of my career working on Internet policy, I championed several initiatives to make the Internet more accessible to people with disabilities. It is also why I condemn H.R. 620 currently gaining support in the House. For too long, the burden on enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been on people with disabilities, and this bill will only make that more pronounced by giving businesses an even longer time to avoid complying with the ADA—an already 27-year old law. It seems that each time Congress takes a step forward to advance disability rights, they also take two steps back. That checkered approach to creating a level playing field for people with disabilities has to stop.

In public events, I have talked about my brother who has a developmental disability and is blind. Before federal assistance programs such as Medicaid, he was institutionalized in a state facility that truly was a house of horrors. Seeing him there as a child made a deep impression on me, and has shape my life path, not least in accepting with pride the responsibility to speak for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. It was not until federal assistance, Medicaid, that he — and other residents like him — were able to live in decent, dignified circumstances befitting a citizen of the United States.

Now that I am engaged in this campaign, I’ve met so many folks across the district who have disabilities themselves or having a family member or friend with one. Each one has talked about how various state and federal services transforms their lives, such as vocational training or housing or programs that helped them to find jobs. In every case, investments in our citizens not only is the right thing to do, but those supports strengthen community ties and the bonds of our country altogether.

I stand beside people with disabilities in their fight to assert their god-given and constitutional rights. It has been a privilege to champion their cause in my professional life. If elected, I will do so with fortitude in Congress.