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Category: ADA

Sixteen Major Midterm Campaign Websites Leave Out Disabled Voters: Why It Matters

71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it is not accessible

Washington, D.C., Sept 28 – While one-in-four adults in the U.S. have a disability, and despite continued pressure from disability organizations and activists, 16 of the most prominent midterm campaign websites are not fully accessible to disabled voters. These are the findings of the latest study from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, released September 27 in Time Magazine.

While 2020 was a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also a remarkable election year for voters with disabilities. As noted by Rutgers and EAC, “Close to 75 percent of voters with disabilities voted with a mail ballot or early in-person” and “five of six (83 percent) of voters with disabilities voted independently without any difficulty.” 17.7 million voters with disabilities cast their ballots in the 2020 election. These voters are crucial and can make the difference between a winning or a losing campaign. 

ADA Co-Sponsor and Retired Senator Orrin Hatch Dies at Age 88

Washington, D.C., April 25 – This past weekend, former Senator Orrin Hatch died in Salt Lake City, Utah. Originally elected in 1976, Hatch would go on to represent Utah in the United States Senate for seven terms, making him the longest serving Republican Senator in American history. Hatch authored or co-sponsored more than 750 pieces of legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. 

In a public statement, President Joe Biden highlighted the character of the Utahan Senator he worked with for so many years: “Orrin…looked out for the people who often didn’t have a voice in our laws and our country. I saw this in his efforts to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

Reflecting on the passing of Sen. Hatch, RespectAbility’s Chairman Ollie Cantos said “Orin Hatch was a man whose achievements are eclipsed only by his strength of character and heart of platinum. As one grateful to have spent individual time with him along with my boys, I will greatly miss him.”

Fighting for Students with Disabilities: Spotlight on Roy Payan

Los Angeles, CA, February 15 – RespectAbility Apprentice Roy Payan didn’t set out to spark a national conversation about disability access in higher education. However, when Payan – who is blind – found himself struggling to gain access to adequate and appropriate materials to complete math classes at Los Angeles Community College, he began his quest to make improvements for himself and other students with disabilities.

According to Payan, one campus official claimed, “there were not enough blind students to warrant a change.”

“He also informed me that if I desired, I was welcome to sue them, but that even if I won the case, he would not implement any changes,” Payan says. “So, I sued them.”

That was in 2016.

A Very Brief History of the National Council on Disability (NCD)

Washington, D.C., June 4 – This past month, the National Council on Disability (NCD) once again met to discuss critical issues impacting the lives of the 56 million Americans living with some form of disability. NCD has a long and proud history developing policies, programs, and plans to fight stigmas and advance opportunities. 

NCD was first established as a small advisory council within the Department of Education in 1978. In 1984, under President Reagan, NCD was transformed into an independent agency tasked with reviewing all federal policies and programs. NCD is now a self-governing federal agency responsible for providing advice to the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices and procedures that influence people with disabilities. The mission of the agency is to act as a trusted advisor in partnership with people with disabilities to the President, Congress, State, Tribal Communities, Local Governments, and other entities and organizations.

The Voting Accessibility of the 2020 Election

Washington, D.C., March 17 – After an unprecedented election season, Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) recently released a study of the voting accessibility of the 2020 elections. This study highlighted the differences between the voting experience of individuals living with and without disabilities. The report found that even in the unprecedented circumstances of the 2020 election, voters with disabilities were better accommodated than in the 2012 election. The study’s findings also shine a light on how much our nation still needs to grow to make sure that individuals living with disabilities can equitably cast their ballots.

Former Senator Bob Dole’s Impact on Millions with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Feb. 25 – Last week, former Senator Bob Dole announced that he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. A one-time GOP presidential candidate and long-time advocate for bipartisan solutions, Dole has been a fixture of Washington, D.C. since he was first elected to the Congress in 1960. Throughout decades of public service, he consistently championed many of the key issues impacting millions of people living with disabilities. He did so both as an ally, and someone who became a person with disabilities in combat during World War II.  

A farm kid from Kansas, Dole enlisted in 1942 and soon was selected to be commissioned as an officer. In 1945, while serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, Dole was wounded by German machine gun fire. He was paralyzed by wounds in his shoulder and with a fractured vertebra in his neck. The wounded Kansan would have to wait nine hours in the freezing cold before he could finally be evacuated to a field hospital. Dole survived with his right arm permanently immobilized and had a long road to recovery that eventually included years of rehabilitation. Like so many people who acquire disabilities, Dole had to relearn key skills and improvise new ways of doing tasks. Because of the impairment in his arm, Dole taught himself to write with his left hand.  

With 13 Candidates Celebrating the Anniversary of the ADA, Will They Talk About Disability at the Debates?

Washington, D.C., July 30 – This year marks the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) becoming law. The ADA was intended to ensure that people with disabilities could earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. With the Democratic candidates debating this week in Detroit,…

National Voter Registration Day 2018 – Reflections from a Voter with a Disability

Hi, my name is Stephanie Farfan and I have never stepped foot inside a polling station. Yet, I’ve voted in every election I have been old enough to vote. I always have gotten an absentee ballot from my home state of Florida. This is because as someone with a physical disability,…

Recognizing the Impact of Voters with Disabilities on National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day logoWashington, Sept. 27 – Today, we celebrate National Voter Registration Day. With the election only 41 days away, time is running out for people to complete their voter registration. As we encourage all voters to ensure they are registered, it also is important to call attention to the importance of voting rights by talking about barriers that keep people from exercising their right to vote.

This day comes at a critical time not only for the presidential election but also for the one in five Americans who have a disability. The electoral power and political impact of voters with disabilities are being recognized like never before. From front page news stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post to groundbreaking political research by Pew Research Center and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, Americans with disabilities are being recognized as a potentially decisive voting bloc. Just this past week, Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech about disability employment.

Celebrating ADA on the Sidelines of the DNC

Gov. Jack Markell wearing a gray suit talking behind a podium with the text: #ABLE2WORK #ADA26
Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE) / Photo via AUCD

Philadelphia, July 31 – Gathered in the city of brotherly love, more than a hundred disability activists celebrated the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Tuesday.

Current and former officials touted the importance of the ADA and focused specifically on disability employment and economic empowerment for people with disabilities.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell talked about making employment for people with disabilities his platform while leading the National Governors’ Association – something he said other governors questioned.

“But I knew something: that when we focus on the ability rather than the disability, it’s amazing what we can accomplish together,” the governor said. “I also knew that in a world where Democrats and Republicans so often cannot find common ground, that this was an issue where we would find a way to work together.”

Growing Disability Council Highlights Importance of 400 Delegates with Disabilities

Text: The Disability Vote Counts! Disability Action for Hillary, with HRC shown in sign language
These pins showing HRC in sign language were given out at the Disability Council meeting on Monday.

Philadelphia, July 27 – With 400 delegates self-disclosing a disability, the Disability Council is growing. Along with Disability Action for Hillary, the Council is energizing Americans with disabilities during the Democratic National Convention.

“Our goal is to get as many people all over the country involved with the campaign,” former California Rep. Tony Coelho said at the first meeting on Monday. “It is important for our community that everyone knows that we are committed, we are involved and we can make a difference in this election.”

According to word searches compiled by The New York Times, the word disability did not even register on the word clouds during the 2012 conventions by either party. But that has changed with the 2016 cycle.

In addition, 400 delegates with disabilities are attending the DNC, which is a 35-percent growth since 2012.

Harkin Highlights ADA at DNC in Show of Disability Inclusion, Pushes for Competitive Integrated Employment

Harkin signing America while on DNC stage
Sen. Harkin teaching DNC attendees how to sign “America”

Philadelphia, July 27 – The second night of the DNC began with a tribute to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was celebrating its 26 years since it was signed into law. In doing so, it answered some disability activists’ criticisms that while the DNC has highlighted and included people with disabilities such as Anastasia Somoza on the first night, there had been little substantive conversation regarding disability issues on the main stage.

“We are a better nation because of the ADA. But we still have a way to go to build a truly inclusive America,” former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin said. “When, 26 years later, 70 percent of adults with disabilities aren’t in the workforce, it’s time to take action. That’s why Hillary Clinton wants to ensure people with disabilities are judged by their potential and have the tools to secure competitive integrated employment.”

Rabbis Protest Trump’s AIPAC Speech Over Disrespect for Minorities Including People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., March 21 – Some Rabbis and other Jewish Americans are protesting Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s lack of inclusion for minorities, including people with disabilities, ahead of his scheduled speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference this evening. While many of AIPAC’s delegates who oppose Trump speaking tonight are upset…

Inaccessible Polling Places Disenfranchise Nation’s Largest Minority

Washington, Sept. 22 – Today, our nation observes National Voter Registration Day. It is a chance to celebrate our democratic society and to remind everyday people the importance of registering to vote. However, for many Americans, voting is not a quick and easy process. Physical and other barriers at polling…

Disability Groups to Host Presidential Town Hall Meetings

Washington, Sept. 17 – The RespectAbility Report and RespectAbility USA, along with a growing list of nonprofit disability partner organizations (listed below), will host Online Presidential Candidate Town Halls on People with Disabilities, Jobs, and the American Dream.  These town halls will be national, nonpartisan events that will connect the disability community…

Sponsorship Opportunities: Online Presidential Candidate Town Halls

Washington, Sept. 17 – The RespectAbility Report and RespectAbility USA, along with a growing list of nonprofit disability partner organizations (listed below), will host Online Presidential Candidate Town Halls on People with Disabilities, Jobs, and the American Dream.  These town halls will be national, nonpartisan events that will connect the disability community with…

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Democratic Party “Champion” of Diversity

Cleveland, August 6 – At a Democratic National Committee (DNC) press conference on the sidelines of the first Republican primary debate, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Democratic party is a “champion” of diversity. The Florida congresswoman claimed that Democrats “ensured that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became…

Kasich, Christie and Pataki Speak About Disability at New Hampshire Forum

Washington, August 5 – Leading up to the first Republican primary debate that will take place in Cleveland, Ohio tomorrow, several candidates are highlighting the importance of talking about disability issues on the campaign trail. In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney never talked about disability issues and it was…