Maura Healey’s commitment to full participation of marginalized communities, including people with disabilities, spans all divisions of age, identity, and economic status. It has been the cornerstone of her career as a civil rights lawyer and as ‘the People’s Lawyer’ for the past eight years.
Throughout her years of public service, she has worked to promote and strengthen the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities, to use the power of law to overcome barriers of prejudice and discrimination, and to build on the strength, creativity and resolve that people with disabilities demonstrate as we move forward with united purpose.
These values and commitments are fundamental. As Chief of the Civil Rights Division within the Attorney General’s Office, Maura built close relationships with leaders of the disability community through her work. She led efforts to ensure that companies like Apple were making their products accessible to people with visual impairments, strongly enforced fair housing laws to ensure people with disabilities can rent and own, brokered settlements to ensure ATMs and health kiosks were accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired, and used those settlement funds to fund programming for people with disabilities. Those efforts continued upon her election as Attorney General. One of her first acts was to set up a Disability Rights Advisory Council to ensure her team was hearing directly about the needs of the community. She also oversaw several initiatives to protect and strengthen Massachusetts’ nation-leading personal care attendant program and launched efforts to protect people living in nursing homes.
Maura recognizes the importance of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision that defines as a matter of law that programs and services must be provided in the least restrictive environment which means to the greatest extent possible in fully integrated settings.
To that end she calls for strengthening our investment in community-based services that prevent the displacement of people with disabilities into unnecessarily separate and segregated settings, and to ending policies and practices that have the effect of impoverishing people with disabilities and their families in order to establish their eligibility for services.
She recognizes that the pandemic has had a disparate impact on people with disabilities and their families. The process of recovery must move us towards the full promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act in education, housing, health care, accessibility, effective communication, and public service.
To make that happen, as Governor she will ensure that all agencies and departments of the Commonwealth identify and address the disability issues within the scope of their authority and responsibility.
As Governor, she will reconvene the Universal Access Committee that served as a critical coordinating body, and she will charge the committee with ensuring that her administration addresses the rights, the needs, and the aspirations of people with disabilities in a comprehensive and coordinated way.
These are the values and commitment that will continue to inform every level of her Administration as Governor.