Condemning HR 620 and Supporting the Disability Integration Act: A Joint Statement of the Disability Working Group and the NPC
September 15, 2017
Disability is a social restriction that affects people of every class, race, and gender. As socialists, we recognize that liberation can only be universal. In order to win the struggle for justice we must confront and dismantle the capitalist institutions that oppress people with physical, mental, and developmental impairments.
Policies that isolate disabled people from their communities are inherently oppressive. Separate cannot be equal, but it would be permissible under the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). In its 27 years of existence, the Americans with Disabilities Act has already proven wildly insufficient in guaranteeing disabled people access to the major institutions of our society. H.R. 620 would further weaken the ADA by removing the consequences associated with ADA non-compliance and further entrenching a system wherein disabled people are responsible for removing the barriers to accessing their communities.
This is not a matter of personal responsibility. Accessibility is a social responsibility and a precondition for justice. Disabled people have a material interest in ending both capitalism and ableism. But the marginalization and exclusion of any social group diminishes our collective capacity. Socialists — disabled or not — must engage in the emancipation of disabled people.
The Democratic Socialists of America condemn H.R. 620, and we call on all of our comrades to demand that members of the House of Representatives vote it down. Comrades are encouraged to call, tweet, and write to Representatives asking them to oppose H.R. 620 and #ProtectADA. Templates for writing to members of Congress have been made available by a number of disability rights organizations, including the National Association of the Deaf (NAD letter template). Members should reach out to the Representatives from their district and to the 51 Representatives that have co-sponsored the legislation. H.R. 620 has already made it out of committee and we anticipate calls for direct action when the vote is scheduled. The Disability Caucus and Working Group will provide updates on this legislation as they become available, including information on how DSA members can get involved in this struggle for disability justice.
At our national convention, we voted overwhelmingly to adopt resolutions in defense of disability rights and prison abolition. We must take these stances to their natural conclusion by fighting to abolish systems that segregate disabled people from society. We must advocate for the expansion of disability benefits, for the end of sub-minimum wage authorizations, and for the availability of universal, meaningful jobs for all, including disabled people. We must enact a comprehensive plan for healthcare justice, a plan that recognizes that community-based care is both the means and ends of our organizing. In order for disabled people to participate fully in our society, they must be able to receive the care and support they need in their communities, not in institutions. This summer, the entire country watched as members of ADAPT put their bodies on the line to defend healthcare. The time has come for us to fight alongside them by opposing separatist legislation like H.R. 620 and supporting legislation compatible with our inclusionary socialist vision for the future, like the Disability Integration Act (S. 910).
Our goal cannot be one of selective empowerment or discriminatory socialism. We recognize that it’s disability liberation or barbarism.
If you or your chapter has questions or concerns about accessibility or actions you can take to support your disabled comrades, please reach out to the Disability Caucus and Working Group (email, Twitter).