Death Of Bob Dole A Loss For Disability Community, Advocates Say
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole is being remembered as a champion of disability rights.
Dole, who had disabilities stemming from injuries sustained while serving in World War II, died Sunday. He was 98.
He represented Kansas in the Senate for more than two decades and was majority leader from 1985 to 1996 when he became the Republican nominee for president, an election he lost to Bill Clinton.
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Disability issues were central to Dole’s work from his early days in the Senate to his retirement. He used his first Senate floor speech in 1969 to talk about the ways in which the country needed to better include people with disabilities and he went on to be instrumental in pushing through the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
“The world as we know it today is more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities because of Sen. Bob Dole. Sen. Dole worked to elevate the voices and perspectives of people with disabilities, encouraging greater leadership opportunities for disabled people, and sharing his experience of disability with his colleagues to build bipartisan consensus for disability policy issues,” said Maria Town, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, in a statement. “His passing represents an enormous loss for AAPD, the disability community at-large and the nation.”
More recently, in 2012, Dole returned to the Senate floor in support of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Despite his urging, the treaty failed to secure votes from the two-thirds of senators needed for ratification.
Just last week, the U.S. International Council on Disabilities said that Dole wrote to congratulate the winners of its Dole-Harkin Award at the group’s gala to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
“The disability community lost a giant on Sunday with the passing of Senator Dole,” said Heidi Mansir, president of the board of directors at the American Network of Community Options and Resources, or ANCOR, which represents disability service providers across the country. “Few policymakers have left as pronounced an impact on the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities as has Sen. Dole, and I have no doubt that his absence from our community will be felt profoundly.”