A TikTok video from Charlotte Woodward, a disability advocate and woman with Down Syndrome, has gone viral as she described discrimination and barriers she has faced due to her disability.
Woodward Listed Several Challenges That People With Down Syndrome Face
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One thing she notes is that the Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to pay people with a physical or mental disability less than minimum wage, or – as she called it – subminimum wage. The NDSS is lobbying for the passage of the Transition to Competitive Employment Act, which would eliminate the discrepancy.
Woodward also noted, “I can’t get married or I’ll lose my healthcare and supports.” According to the Social Security Administration, “SSDI disabled adult ‘child’ benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. Marriage of the disabled adult ‘child’ may affect eligibility for this benefit.”
More than that, Woodward said that she faces discrimination on organ transplant lists. “I can be denied an organ transplant just because someone thinks less of me,” she said.
Woodward expressed frustration that police are often unequipped to work with people who have disabilities and mentioned Robert ‘Ethan’ Saylor’s death at the hands of three members of law enforcement. Saylor, according to a local Baltimore TV station, the 26-year-old wanted to rewatch a movie and would not leave his seat, leading three sheriff’s deputies to force him out; his death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy found that his larynx was crushed, yet the sheriff’s office cleared the three deputies.
Many people responding to her video said they were surprised and just as frustrated that people with physical and intellectual disabilities were discriminated against. “Thank you so much for raising these points. I had actually no idea that this was a problem, and this is so problematic,” one person wrote, while another said, “I had no idea :( this is so sad.”
Woodward Is A College Student & Disability Advocate
Woodward, according to Buzzfeed, is a Community Outreach Associate at the National Down Syndrome Society and a college student at George Mason University. The four-time heart transplant survivor said she plans to study sociology and prove wrong the doctors who told her mother that baby Charlotte would not be able to read when she grew up.
Woodward spoke before the Virginia State Legislature and they passed a law preventing people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities from being denied organ transplants.
Woodward said that she enjoys being an advocate for people with disabilities. “People with Down syndrome want acceptance and inclusion. Having Down syndrome is a part of who I am and advocating on behalf of people with Down syndrome is really quite meaningful to me, she said.
However, she also told the website that she is worried about how discrimination against her might affect her future. “As a person with Down syndrome and a heart transplant who is receiving Medicaid benefits, it is extremely important to have healthcare. However, it can be taken away if a person with Down syndrome gets married. That’s something that I want to do, to get married down the road, but I can’t jeopardize my benefits,” she said.