Kayla McKeon is the first registered U.S. lobbyist with Down syndrome
“I feel like I’m giving a voice to everybody, to all self-advocates and to those who don’t have a voice. They can find their voice one way or another, if it’s typing on a keyboard or if it’s facilitated communications,” she explained. “There’s always a way to find a voice and speak to that. And we have to make sure that all those voices are heard and not just one.”
McKeon began her career delivering motivational speeches at age 18. She has since helped pass a law that allowed people who are differently abled to save more money without affecting their federal benefits. Now she’s focused on workplace equality.
“People that are differently abled are the only ones in America that are getting paid below minimum wage,” she explained. “We want to find meaningful and gainful employment and in order to do so, we want to make minimum wage.”
McKeon regularly commutes from New York to Washington, D.C. to lobby the TIME Act and also shows up to support other bills protecting people who are differently abled.
“I have my own voice and if somebody does it for me, then I’m not doing it for myself,” she said. “And to me it’s important to have my voice to be heard.”