“People of all abilities deserve opportunities, and families deserve choices for how best to pursue those opportunities.”
In 2015 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In those 25 years, our country has made major strides in treating people with disabilities more equally and respectfully, in helping them open up more doors and opportunities, and in realizing that people of all abilities have hopes and dreams that can be realized
Even with significant progress, there is much more work to be done. As we increasingly understand the differences and nuances between different types of disabilities, it is all the more important for our policymakers not to paint with too broad a brush. We should create policy frameworks that account for the unique needs of people across different types of disabilities — and even the unique needs of people who have the same type of disability. We also should make every effort to provide support with early interventions that can help break down or avoid as many barriers as possible, or with straightforward accommodations that continue to decrease in cost but provide more and more benefits. We should offer a diverse spectrum of employment, housing, and transportation options that enable differing levels of integration in the community that promote the best outcomes for each individual. And, when decisions ultimately must be made for those individuals who might not always be able to make decisions for themselves, we should honor the special relationships between family members who have more personal understandings of what their loved ones’ preferences and needs are.
Bryan has long been a strong supporter of people with disabilities. For many years Bryan has participated in Special Olympics Delaware programming, and he volunteered as a teacher for students with intellectual disabilities in Beijing, China. In the Delaware Senate, Bryan has championed legislation that provided the same legal protections against discrimination for people with disabilities seeking employment as other groups already received. He currently is championing legislation that would prohibit discrimination in the housing application process on the basis of source-of-income (including disability benefits). Bryan also has supported colleagues who are advocating for early support and intervention on a wide range of issues (including autism, as well as universal support for basic special education at elementary school levels), and for colleagues who advocated for exemptions to high-stakes testing in our schools if the tests do not provide meaningful support or feedback to families and their children. Bryan will continue this work at the federal level, and will always appreciate and support those in the community who continue to show that people of all abilities can shine.