Washington, Feb. 26 – Ryan Nobile and
Justin Chappell are two members of the RespectAbility team who spent weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire, traveling for hours at a time to question candidates on both sides of the aisle on a variety of disability issues. Local disability leaders were invited to join us on the trail. Jane Strauss traveled from nearby Minneapolis, Minnesota to join Ryan and Justin on the trail for several days. Back in January, Jane documented her day with the duo and created this photo essay. Enjoy!
From a home base in Des Moines, they use their trusty van to travel one, two, or more hours each way, attending town hall meetings, topical forums, round tables, and other events in which one or more of the presidential candidates will participate.
Most people who have not been to Iowa may not realize how much of the state is rural. Especially in January, the landscape is like this – snowy.
The van is their “office away from home,” and the GPS and smartphones enable them to keep track of the route and emerging events.
Justin and Ryan make every effort to arrive as early as possible in order to be able to sit near the front of the hall. As they arrive at an event, they seek out staff or volunteers, who direct them to accessible seating, and then they decide whether they will sit together or, especially if another volunteer accompanies them, in separate locations.
Throughout the forum or event, they take notes, photograph and tweet to report on the candidates’ stands on issues impacting people with disabilities.
Generally ADA seating is quite near the podium, enabling them to closely observe nuances of the presentations and responses.
After events have ended, there’s an opportunity to collect campaign materials and request signatures. Ryan and Justin are waiting for the return of some signs on which they have requested candidate signatures.
The candidate was running late after this event, so there was no signature table. Justin retrieved the posters, and the duo prepared to hit the road again.
Out to the van again! Ryan helps Justin get in to the van before putting Justin’s wheelchair in the back of the van.
Heading to the next adventure!