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Month: November 2022

John Fetterman Elected to United States Senate

RespectAbility congratulates Senator-elect John Fetterman of Pennsylvania. Senator-elect Fetterman’s victory shows that the voters of Pennsylvania understood something fundamental: disability does not disqualify talented individuals for any type of appointment, including public office.

During a heated Democratic primary in May 2022, Fetterman was abruptly and conspicuously absent from the campaign trail. Campaign staff would eventually confirm that that the candidate had a stroke due to atrial fibrillation and was experiencing auditory processing delays as his body recovered.

For the remainder of the campaign, Fetterman’s team demonstrated the role of reasonable accommodation and ensuring that the barriers posed by even a newly acquired disability need not stand in the way of success. This was especially visible in the use of live captioning at the debate.

A Reflection on Being Singled Out While Voting

As a Disabled woman, I dread voting. Polling places are supposed to be accessible to Disabled voters, but in my experience, they seldom are. For one, I do not have the fine motor skills to fill in the bubbles. As a result, I need assistance to fill out the ballot.

I’ve heard horror stories about Disabled voters relying on election workers–workers who loudly repeat the voters’ choice or workers who try to talk the voter into making a different choice. As a result, I ask my mom to help me. She respects my voting choices, even when we are not voting for the same candidate. The election workers often let me do this with no problem.

However, this year when I voted in the primary election, one of the workers loudly shouted, “No cheating!” as my mom helped me fill out the ballot. I felt like a child singled out by a teacher for utilizing the reasonable accommodations outlined in my IEP. I was humiliated and angry. I was exercising my right to vote like anyone else; I just have to go about it a bit differently. I tried to laugh it off, but the worker continued to make a scene, filling the previously peaceful room with his boisterous voice. He repeated himself, even though I heard him perfectly the first time. I was reminded at that moment that I was different – that our society and its conventions were not designed for me. I was an other. I am an other.