Being disabled in the United States comes with so many difficulties that don't stem from the disabilities themselves but instead from ableist government policies. In a video on its TikTok, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) shared a quick rundown of just some of the ways in which people with Down syndrome are discriminated against in the U.S. on a regular basis.
The video went viral and opened the eyes of many abled people who were not aware that disabled folks can, for example, be paid a subminimum wage for jobs they perform. Watch the video below.
The video has 2.7 million views on TikTok and another two million on Twitter, where it was reposted by @toxickilos. In it, a woman with Down syndrome points out several of the ways in which people with Down syndrome are treated "that don't make sense."
First, she explains that people with Down syndrome can be paid subminimum wages. And indeed, that's legal. Many with disabilities are not treated equally in the workplace, but they perform the same jobs that abled people do.
The NDSS supports "Employment First," which is a philosophy that states that "all people, including those with disabilities, should have full access to integrated employment in their community." It's kind of hard to argue with that, don't you think?
Next, the woman in the video says, "I can't get married or I'll lose my healthcare and supports." And as wild as that seems, it's totally true.
Many disabled people would lose their SSI benefits and health insurance if they got legally married due to exclusionary government policies. As Jennie Lewin writes for The Mighty, "Most government-based assistance programs are based on income, so if your spouse is employed, their income counts toward your limit and you become ineligible."
Because Jennie was disabled as a child, she can stay on her parents' private health insurance...as long as she doesn't get married. If she were to marry, she'd lose her benefits because her husband has a job, but her medical treatments are so prohibitively expensive that she would no longer be able to afford them. It's a terrible Catch-22, and because of it, many disabled folks have resigned themselves to the fact that they'll never be able to get married.
The next couple of points in the video highlight the discrimination that disabled people face medically. The woman in the video says that people with Down syndrome can be denied organ transplants simply because they are disabled.
Additionally, there have been instances where people with Down syndrome or other disabilities have been mistreated or even killed by police officers. The evidence is there. People with disabilities like Down syndrome are barred from equally participating in so much of daily life when they absolutely have the capacity to do so.
This video is just one of a bunch of informative and educational videos on the NDSS TikTok page. Disabled people are so often glossed over when it comes to conversations about equality in our society.
It's time we stop treating disabled people as less than full humans and start recognizing that those with Down syndrome and other disabilities deserve to live complete and fulfilling lives.