Budgets are an expression of your values. The Trump Administration’s budget reveals a government that does not value people with disabilities, or our capacity to contribute to society.

The administration’s proposed 2020 budget would cut deeply into a wide variety of critical education, employment, and aging programs that affect people who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired:

  • A proposed $5 million in cuts to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • $2 million in cuts to special education research
  • $19 million in cuts to rehabilitation research
  • $11,000,000 in cuts to the Office of Disability Employment Policy

Additional cuts are proposed to almost every program or service for people with disabilities, including the Traumatic Brain Injury program; the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research; the Voting Access for People with Disabilities program; the state Assistive Technology programs; the Family Caregiver Support Services program; and the Native American Caregiver Support Services program.

The President’s proposed budget would also cut $10 billion from Social Security Disability Insurance and slash Medicaid by $1.5 trillion over ten years.

What the Research Shows

We know that people with vision loss often face steep barriers to employment, and experience persistently low employment rates. The majority of working-age people with blindness or visual impairments (B/VI) are out of the labor force, meaning they are not working and not seeking work, compared with 23 percent of those without disabilities. Only 44 percent are employed, compared with 73 percent of those without disabilities. The high percentage of people not participating in the labor force may represent people who feel they cannot work because of their disability, people who choose not to work for fear of losing benefits, or discouraged workers who have given up on finding a job.

While people with B/VI who have a bachelor’s degree or higher are more likely to be employed than those with less than a high school education (65 percent compared with 24 percent), they are less likely to be employed than people with no disability who have a bachelor’s degree or higher (84 percent). Regardless of educational attainment, there is a significant employment gap between those with B/VI and those with no disability (see Table).

Table: Percentage Employed by Educational Attainment and Disability Status, Age 18-64

Blind or have serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses Any Disability No Disability
Less than High School 24% 20% 60%
High School Graduate/GED 37% 30% 72%
Some college/Associates 47% 40% 75%
Bachelor's degree or higher 65% 54% 84%

Source: Author’s Analysis of the 2017 ACS Public Use Microdata.

Investing in Our Future

Programs that build literacy, employment, and independent living skills build our future.

AFB is actively engaged in developing programs and policies to significantly increase employment rates, particularly in competitive professional fields such as financial services, healthcare, and information technology. AFB’s current emphasis is on strengthening existing employment programs through our new role with AbilityOne, creating new job opportunities through a series of employment summits, and developing future leaders through the Blind Leaders Development Program.

Advocacy is an important part of our work, as well. President Trump’s FY 2020 budget proposal makes clear that this administration is willing to cut housing, education, employment, aging, health care, civil rights, transportation, and research programs that assist people with disabilities and their families.

We value access and opportunity. That’s why we join with U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in urging all Trump administration cabinet secretaries and administrators to review their budgets for cuts to disability programs and restore the recommendations for funding.

For further reading:

Trump's Funding Cuts To The Disabled Are Bad Economic Policy Forbes (Forbes)

Casey, Brown: President Trump’s Budget is an Attack on People with Disabilities (U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown)

Trump’s Budget Is Full of Cuts Aimed at People With Disabilities (The New York Times)