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For decades, the disability advocacy community has fought for a permanent — and prominent — place in the mainstream political discussion. The 2020 presidential race has seen a sea change.

Advocates gained new traction during the campaign, pushing the full slate of Democratic candidates to discuss and define their stances on disability policies like never before. Amid social media pressure from activists, former Vice President Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee, put out a full disability platform in May. Advocates say the platform — while not as comprehensive as they had hoped — marks a moment of significant progress after years of disability policy being treated as a political afterthought.


“To watch the shift from us having to beg candidates — like literally beg candidates — to include the word ‘disability’ as they rattled off diversity categories to [them] coming to us to say, ‘I want to engage with your folks’ … [this] was such a powerful shift,” said Rebecca Cokley, founder and director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, a progressive policy think tank.

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