Promote the Rights of People With Disabilities

2021 Blueprint of Federal Social Policy Priorities: Recommendations to the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress


There are 4.1 million parents with disabilities raising children under the age of 18 in their homes (National Council on Disability, 2011).  These parents might face obstacles in creating or maintaining families. If a person with a disability wants to become a parent but requires assisted reproductive technologies to achieve this goal, he or she might experience barriers to access. If a person with a disability does have a child, he or she may be met with discrimination within the child welfare system. Removal rates for parents with a psychiatric disability may be as high as 80 percent; the rate varies considerably between 40 percent to 80 percent if the parent has an intellectual disability (National Council on Disability, 2011). Parents with disabilities, and their families, need to be supported and protected in their fundamental right to have a family.

In 2018–19, the number of students ages 3–21 who received special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was 7.1 million, or 14 percent of all public school students. Among students receiving special education services, 33 percent had specific learning disabilities (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).

Individuals with disabilities may be discriminated against when searching for employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that for 2015 the unemployment rate for people with a disability was 10.7 percent compared with 5.1 percent for people without a disability (U.S. Department of Labor, 2016). Providing equal employment opportunities and access to vocational and occupational supports in accessible environments for people with disabilities is a moral imperative that must be fulfilled.

NASW calls on national leaders to:

  • Ensure that the principles and programs included in the Americans with Disabilities Act are fully realized.
  • Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that all children with serious mental health conditions are enrolled in and offered the special education services they need to succeed academically.
  • Ensure compliance with the Olmstead decision to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities.
  • Promote access to appropriate, comprehensive, and affordable health care for people with disabilities.
  • Protect the parenting rights of people with disabilities and support parents with disabilities.
  • Enhance educational services and employment opportunities.