2020 Presidential Primary Candidate Survey on Disability
Julian Castro’s Responses
Employment: What are your views on paying a subminimum wage based on disability?
I am committed to enforcing nondiscrimination laws that protect people with disabilities in workplace settings and ensure that disabled people are given opportunities for meaningful and fulfilling employment opportunities. If we want to treat workers with disabilities with dignity, we must eliminate the subminimum wage and ensure workers with disabilities can earn the federal minimum wage.
Assistive Technology: What do you plan to do to increase access to assistive technology for people with disabilities who need it to effectively and independently engage in their communities?
Expanding accessibility and opportunity for people with disabilities is a priority for our campaign and it will continue to be when I am elected president. Our campaign worked to get our website to ADA standards by adding screen reader compatibility, high-contrast visibility, and variable text sizes. We also make the effort to caption as much video as possible. When elected President, I will bring continue focusing our efforts on expanding assistive technologies to ensure people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of our communities.
I also commit to expanding Medicare to cover long-term support services for individuals with disabilities and support purchases of assistive technology through the tax code.
Special Education: How would you propose to strengthen the IDEA when it is reauthorized so that it truly fulfills its stated purpose of preparing children with disabilities for post-secondary education, employment, and independent living, including children with the most significant disabilities?
To ensure that children with disabilities are afforded equal educational opportunity, my People First Education plan will fully fund and expand disability programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act to ensure all schools receiving federal funding are equipped to meet the needs of students with disabilities. My plan will support increased flexibility and individualized education plans for all students who could benefit from them, partner with schools to establish a pathway to meaningful employment after graduation from school for students with disabilities. Additionally, I will work to ensure all education professionals have access to meaningful, ongoing professional development to enhance skills and strengthen the learning of students with disabilities.
Mental Health Services: What is your vision for a system of services to support people with mental illness?
My expanded Medicare system covering all Americans must include robust mental health coverage and should also be paired with expanded support to train new mental health professionals, provide caregivers pathways to remain in their communities if trained there, and boost training for individuals interacting with mental health patients in their communities–such as physicians, social workers, and police officers.
Our mismanagement of mental health also becomes a serious problem in regards to policing. That is why I also support promoting alternative responses to 911 calls by establishing partnerships between mental health units and first responders and encouraging community-led trainings for police departments to emphasize non-violent de-escalation.
Workforce Shortage: Please explain how you would address this immediate and growing workforce shortage?
As president, I will work to ensure people with disabilities are provided with the support they need to live fulfilled lives and access opportunities in their communities. I will invest in rural and underserved communities to expand health care access, including DSPs. My education plan also calls for addressing the shortage of skilled workers in the economy by establishing dedicated trade programs in high schools and partnerships between schools and employers. I will expand work-based learning opportunities, inform program design-at both the secondary and postsecondary levels–according to labor-market needs, and provide federal tax credits to support hiring and on-the-job educational opportunities.