Washington, D.C., Nov. 1 – Tomorrow in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, eight campaigns are set to participate in a history-making Accessibility, Inclusion, and Outreach Conference focused specifically on issues that affect people with disabilities. This is important, as while recent polling suggests that voters with disabilities themselves are more enthusiastic about participating in the 2020 elections than the nation at large, none of the campaigns are yet fully accessible to the disability community.
“It is vital for the democratic process to be open to all people and all means all – including people with disabilities,” said Lauren Appelbaum, vice president, communications of RespectAbility. “The majority of voters have a friend or family member with a disability or have a disability themselves. It is truly exciting that eight campaigns will be focusing their attention on addressing the 1-in-5 people living in America with a disability.”
Seven of the Democratic candidates will participate themselves. They are:
- Sen. Cory Booker
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- Rep. John Delaney
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- Rep. Beto O’Rourke
- Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Mr. Andrew Yang
Additionally, former Sen. Chris Dodd will speak on behalf of Vice President Joe Biden.
According to “Accessibility For All Now,” the organizers of the Forum, candidates will answer questions posed by people with disabilities and members of the Linn County Medical Society, which is co-hosting the forum.
Catherine Crist, chairwoman of Accessibility for All, and Dr. Cindy Hanawalt, past president of the medical society, will moderate the program. Retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, principal author of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, will be the keynote speaker. The event also will include state and local elected officials and candidates.
“This is an historic opportunity for members of the disability community, their family members, allies, advocates, and providers to have their concerns brought directly to their current lawmakers and candidates at all levels,” Crist said. “This is also an opportunity for an exchange of education and information and self-advocacy. We will be demonstrating what accessibility and inclusion look like!”
The RespectAbility Report is covering this event in-person, so check back throughout the weekend for updates.
“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the board chair of RespectAbility. “People with disabilities are politically active voters, and candidates should take note of the important issues they care about.”
The forum takes place at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, 523 33rd Ave. S.W., from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., including a legislative forum and a presidential candidate forum. The day concludes with a reception at 5:00 p.m. ASL and CART will be provided. Other reasonable accommodations may be requested during registration. Advanced registration is required at https://afanow.org/2019-accessibility-inclusion-and-outreach-conference. The forum also will be live streamed.