Project 2025 and the Threat to Disabled People Disability Rights, Digital Accessibility, and Much More at Stake if Trump is elected

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This is an article about a dangerous plan written by conservative supporters of Donald Trump. The plan hurts disabled people and is a threat to disability rights. It is called Project 2025. It is a blueprint for what will happen if Trump is elected. The plan wants to limit federal agencies that make important government rules. Many rules protect disability rights, including rules about making the digital world accessible. The Project 2025 plan attacks climate science, LGBTQIA people, veterans benefits, women’s health, and much more. All of these attacks affect people with disabilities. Lainey wrote this piece to encourage everyone to learn more about Project 2025. And to do what they can to prevent Donald Trump from being elected in November. Please read the updates below for information about Project 2025 that I learned after this article was initially published.

Article updated

This article has been updated since it was first published on July 7, 2024. The most recent update was added on July 12, 2024. Read the updates for this article.

A button in the shape of a red stop sign reading STOP Project 2025

Project 2025 is a blueprint for a conservative overhaul of the United States government. It offers a frightening, dystopian vision of an America where people are deprived of rights, benefits, and values we have grown accustomed to. And it’s on track to become a reality if Donald Trump is elected president in November.

I am not a Project 2025 expert. And this post is not an exhaustive list of everything that scares me about what’s at risk in November. I’ve pulled out some (and not even all) of the parts of the policy proposal that will hurt disabled people. You can read the policy yourself and no doubt find more.

Instead this piece is a call for all of us to pay attention and take what action we can to stop Project 2025 from becoming the law of the land. Let’s stop the distraction of focusing on Joe Biden’s age (a focus too grounded in ageism and ableism). Let’s focus instead on what’s at stake if republicans win the election and do what we can to ensure a Biden/Harris victory.

For more about voting advocacy in the disability community visit the Rev Up Voting Campaign page on the website of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disabled Voters Rising: Political Education and Training Series, a project of New Disabled South.

I look forward to more writings by disabled people and disability-led organizations diving into Project 2025 — a disturbing (and disturbingly detailed) roadmap to a very different United States. I will update this article with those resources as I discover them. Please use my Contact Form to send me information you think should be included.

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Gutting Federal Agencies and the Courts: the Impact on Digital Accessibility

Digital accessibility and disability rights are not hot button issues for the right like abortion, LGBTQIA, or women’s health are. (Though of course as described below, all these issues are disability issues.) I didn’t find the word accessibility anywhere in the Project 2025 chapter on the Department of Justice, even though the DOJ under President Biden, and President Obama earlier, has been the principle agency advancing disability rights.

But this doesn’t mean progress toward creating a disability-inclusive digital world is safe if Donald Trump is elected in November and Project 2025 becomes the nation’s roadmap.

To the contrary.

The foundation of the Trump-backed Project 2025 is to dismantle what is termed the “administrative state” and reclassify and replace thousands of current federal employees with conservative foot soldiers.

Disability rights generally, and digital accessibility in particular, depend on federal agencies for enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws. Under the Biden administration these agencies have done important digital accessibility work – adopting regulations, issuing guidance, and going to court to support disabled people in the digital space.

I’ve written about many of those advancements, including articles about federal government efforts to advance healthcare accessibility and digital access in higher education.

Federal agencies have warned of risks to disabled people of AI in employment software, and I’ve written about the work of US Attorneys’ Offices in the accessibility space.

And of course most recently, the DOJ adopted new web and mobile accessibility rules for state and local governments – the first in the 34 year history of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We can expect a hard stop on this type of forward progress, and a likely roll-back of current rules and regulations, if Donald Trump is elected and Project 2025 comes to fruition. (The above is just a small example of the work federal agencies do to protect and advance disability rights through administrative action. I hope someone will write more about this.)

The anti-regulatory policy agenda baked into Project 2025, coupled with a conservative judiciary that includes 245 judges appointed by Donald Trump, spells trouble for disability rights laws and enforcement in the United States.

A recent Supreme Court case just eliminated a 40 year legal principle in the US that had recognized that opinions and rule-making of federal agencies deserve deference. Trump’s three Supreme Court appointees showed us in that case how they are primed to ignore agency expertise, something particularly important in areas of technology and civil rights.

Beyond Digital Accessibility: All of the Project 2025 Agenda will Negatively Impact Disabled People

The Defeat Project 2025 website includes a page titled “Impacts on Disability Rights”. It highlights parts of Project 2025 that call for

  • reducing / eliminating money for Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits
  • reducing federal regulations
  • stricter immigration policies.

The list is good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough in describing the harms to disabled people of Project 2025.

  • Impact on Federal Regulations. The full frontal attack on federal regulations embodied in Project 2025 threatens a significant part of the foundation of disability inclusion in the United States. The Defeat Project 2025 website mentions the negative impact on public spaces, workplaces, and transportations, all very important. I wish the site had also included the threat to digital accessibility regulations discussed above when talking about the impact on disabled people of Project 2025’s anti-regulation agenda. (Last time around, even without this blueprint, Trump froze all regulatory action.)
  • Immigration: The Defeat Project 2025 website explains immigration as a disability issue by saying: “Many caregivers and healthcare workers who help disabled people are immigrants.” This does not go far enough.What about disabled immigrants themselves? Disabled people will be among the millions of undocumented immigrants that Trump has promised to deport. And disabled people already struggle under the existing system. (More about disability and immigration in: Immigrants with Disabilities Face Barriers in Immigration Court and Crossing the Border: How Disability Civil Rights Protections Can Include Disabled Asylum-Seekers.

    The Migration Data portal reports that “Persons with disabilities are often among the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected groups in migration and forced displacement situations.”

  • Reducing and eliminating public benefits. As the Defeat Project 2025 website states, cutting back on government programs is a “big idea” of the conservative agenda. More about this in a piece by Georgetown University’s public policy school titled Project 2025 Blueprint Also Includes Draconian Cuts to Medicaid

Here are a few other issues that I think should be included on any list of why a Trump presidency and Project 2025 is harmful to disabled people:

I look forward to reading more from disabled women on how Project 2025 and a Trump victory would impact disabled women.


Sadly, this is not an exhaustive list of how Project 2025 and a Trump election victory threaten disabled people. The entire policy agenda is on the Project 2025 website. There you can read it all — from the items listed above to the plans to defund Planned Parenthood and to strip National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcast Service (PBS) stations of the funding that makes these news sources possible. Specific on NPR here at pages 246-248.

Disability is part of the human condition; every single item in the Project 2025 roadmap and Trump’s agenda that harms humans harms disabled people. Let’s do what we can to make sure this policy never becomes the law of the land.

Updates to this article

July 12, 2024 Update

I learned from Kelby Brick, Esq. on LinkedIN that Project 2025 includes plans to defund Gallaudet University (The global leader in education for deaf & hard of hearing students in Washington, DC) and other disability institutions funded by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), part of the Department of Education.  Other OSER-funded institutions include the Helen Keller National Center, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and the American Printing House for the Blind. 

This is alarming.

The Project 2025 goals for OSERS are listed in the policy chapter on the Department of Education at pages 326-327.  The specific language reads: “Phase out earmarks for a variety of special institutions, as originally envisioned.”  (earmark means funds designated for a specific purpose.)

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