Disability issues are not new to Barack Obama, either. On his campaign website, under the "Issues" tab, there's a whole page for Disabilities. On that page there's a mission statement (copied below) a video, and a plan. Within the plan there are supporting documents, including one about autism spectrum disorders.
Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities
“We must build a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination .... policies must be developed, attitudes must be shaped, and buildings and organizations must be designed to ensure that everyone has a chance to get the education they need and live independently as full citizens in their communities.”
— Barack Obama
Under the "People" tab, there's also a page for Americans with Disabilities. Note: this site has information of interest about Obama's specific legislative efforts to support people with disabilities.
If you search for "Disability" on Obama's campaign website using a Google search (disability site:barackobama.com) you get 7,950 results. Many of those results are from "MyBarackObama" pages, where individuals with disabilities and their advocates talk about why they're supporting Barack Obama in this election.
Among other legislative efforts, Obama is a supporter of IDEA and the ADA Restoration Act. He also discusses universal health care and health care for disabled veterans. "Barack Obama is a cosponsor of the Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information by Printed in House Paid for by Obama for America employers and health insurers. The Act also applies health information privacy regulations to the use and disclosure of genetic information." There's a lot of information on his web site, and it's great reading if you're interested in disability related issues.
It is clear that disability issues are important to Obama the candidate and Obama the legislator.
As for Obama the man, on the video mentioned above (which, by the way, is close captioned) he talks about his father-in-law's experience with muscular dystrophy. In his 2007 tax return, Obama lists charitable donations to 33 organizations, including Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Head Start, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National MS Society, St. Leo's Residence for Veterans, and other groups that impact the lives of people with disabilities.
Disability issues are important to me. And looking at the two candidates' platforms, it's clear to me that one of the candidates places a lot more importance on this issue than does the other.
Speaking of charitable giving by the way, in case you're interested, here are some statistics: "Obama gave $240,000 to charity last year and McCain gave $105,000. Both of them are millionaires. Obama made his money from royalties on two books he wrote. McCain's money comes primarily from the beer distributorship his wife inherited from her father. Sarah Palin has not released her tax returns." Joe Biden is not a millionaire. In fact, while far from poor, he is the second poorest senator in the nation (he was the poorest in 2006). He gives, on average, $369 to charity per year.