Disability Policy News

January 25, 2021


Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
                 January 25, 2021   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 3

Seal of the President of the United States, eagle with blue background

Biden Administration

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in an Inauguration Ceremony at the U.S. Capitol building. Guests were limited to family members, Members of Congress, past officials, and dignitaries as a security precaution following the insurrection at the Capitol two weeks previous. Appointments and conformations are underway. Leaders of note to the disability community include:

  • Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator, Administration for Community Living (ACL): Alison Barkoff
  • Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities and Director of the Independent Living Administration: Reyma McCoy McDeid
  • Chairman National Council on Disability: Andrés J. Gallegos
  • General Counsel Office of Management and Budget: Sam Bagenstos

Plain language:

  • Joe Biden is now the President of the United States. Kamala Harris is now the Vice President of the United States.
What it means to you:

  • The transition to a new President and Vice President creates change in federal policy that impacts the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
Action steps:

  • Watch the Inauguration Ceremony and related events on the Biden Presidential Inauguration Committee website.
    • Includes options for live captions, American Sign Language, audio description, and cued language transliteration.
  • Learn more about the people working in the Biden-Harris Administration on the White House website.
  • The official White House website features accessibility tools such as toggle print size, a high contrast option, and alt-text descriptions for most images. You can read their accessibility statement and ways to provide feedback on accessibility features here

Seal of the President of the United States, eagle with blue backgroundExecutive Orders

President Biden issued a series of Executive Orders on his first days in office. We share below some of those orders that could impact members of the disability community here, with COVID-related actions below.

Civil rights:
Plain language:

  • President Biden is making many Executive Orders to change rules and policies in the federal government. 
    • Executive Orders are instructions from the President to federal agencies about what to do and how to do it. An Executive Order cannot use money and can be changed by Congress.
What it means to you:

  • Executive Orders from a President can create change in federal policy that impacts the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
Action steps:

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically.COVID-19 Relief and Vaccine

President Biden unveiled a ‘National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness' to correspond with a series of Executive Orders to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan includes a variety of measures to improve public trust, increase vaccine production and distribution, mitigate spread of the coronavirus; safely open schools, businesses, and travel, while also protecting workers; address those at-risk in an equitable way, and reengage with global efforts to combat the pandemic. Executive Orders related to COVID-19 are listed below:

Plain language:

  • President Biden has a new plan to try to end the COVID-19 pandemic. He is using his power as the President to make changes that could help stop the spread of COVID-19 and get more people vaccinated.
What it means to you:

  • The President is making many changes to how the government is fighting COVID-19, and these changes could affect your life. For example, they could affect how and when you get the COVID-19 vaccine, how you travel, and when your school or job is safe to open.
Action steps:

black and white image of capitol dome
U.S. Senate

Democrats officially assumed majority control of the Senate on Wednesday after Georgia's two new Democratic Senators were sworn in. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both beat out Republican incumbents in a January 5th run-off election. The addition of the two Senators plus Vice President Harris' tie-breaking vote give Democrats their narrow majority. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) now serves as Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) as Senate President. Majority control also means that Democrats will lead Senate Committees with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in each.

Plain language:

  • Democrats are in charge of the Senate.
What it means to you:

  • Democratic Senators will decide most of the legislative agenda in the Senate, including on disability policy.
Action steps:

black and white image of capitol dome

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will send the Article of Impeachment for former President Donald J. Trump to the Senate today, initiating the start of the Senate trial. The Article charges that the former President incited an insurrection against the government of the United States on January 13, 2021, during which five people died. Lawmakers continue to consider details such as scheduling, witnesses, and how to balance the trial with the other duties of the Senate.

Plain language:

  • President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for a second time last week. They are accusing him of causing the riot at the U.S. Capitol building. Next, the Senate will decide if he is guilty.
Action steps:

  • You can read the resolution impeaching President Trump here.
  • Learn more about the impeachment process with AUCD's plain language explainer.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub
Tuesdays with Liz

On this week's vintage #TWL, Liz talks about what social distancing is and how to manage it in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.