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Jewish activists lobby for disabled

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish activists from 12 states and the District of Columbia lobbied Congress to liberalize rules for government assistance for the disabled.

The fourth-annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day on Thursday, sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, stressed the importance of passing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and joining an international disabilities treaty.

The ABLE Act would allow anyone with a disability and their families to save money for education, housing, transportation, employment support and health. Currently, only disabled individuals with $2,000 or less in savings are eligible for money from Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

The 65 activists also urged Congress members to vote for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international disability treaty adopted by the United Nations in 2008 and based on the Americans With Disabilities Act. U.S. adoption of the convention, advocates say, would bolster efforts to advance its protections worldwide.

Rachel Laser, the Religious Action Center’s deputy director, said that children with disabilities are more likely to be bullied or restrained by their teachers, and adults were more likely to be unemployed. “We are making great strides, but these are not enough,” she told the activists.

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