New York City, May 17 – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is currently in charge of America’s largest city, and now he is running for President. As mayor of NYC, he represented 455,000 working-age people with disabilities in the city, as nearly half of all working-age New Yorkers with disabilities live in the greater New York City metropolitan area.
According to Vice, “Commissioner Victor Calise is working on making New York ‘the most accessible city in the world.’” And the de Blasio administration has taken some concrete steps to move New York closer to that goal. But as the article’s title suggests, the city has a long way to go.
Under Mayor de Blasio, the city has launched NYC ATWORK: a successful program to provide resources and opportunities to job-seekers with disabilities. This effort is overseen by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, led by Commissioner Victor Calise. NYC ATWORK helps connect people with disabilities looking for jobs and businesses looking to hire qualified individuals. The Mayor’s office is also behind Project Open House, which “removes architectural barriers in the homes of people with permanent disabilities.”
Washington, D.C., May 15 – When Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic Representative from the 2nd congressional district of Hawaii, entered the presidential race, the 38-year-old Iraq war veteran knew that if she were to win the election, she would make history as the first woman president, the first Hindu president, the…
Washington, D.C., May 7 – On the first day of African American history month, Sen. Cory Booker announced his campaign for President. Booker is the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey and the 36th Mayor of Newark, but he is not the average politician. He is an Ivy League educated policy wonk and bachelor, who holds celebrity status for his social media presence and famous actress girlfriend, Rosario Dawson, best known for her part in the movie “Rent.” While voters find him charismatic and experienced, in a crowded field he has failed to perform that well in the polls.
If Booker hopes to improve his position in the polls, he must represent all Americans, including people with disabilities, who are politically active swing voters. People with disabilities comprise 25 percent of our country’s adult population, and more than half of all Americans have a loved one with a disability. A recent survey shows that fully three-quarters of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities.
Ensuring Disability Inclusion Through Equal Access
For a presidential campaign to be fully inclusive of people with disabilities, it needs to meet the following requirements: (1) offer captioning with every video it shares or produces, (2) mention people with disabilities and their issues, (3) depict people with visible disabilities in its media, (4) reach out to the disability community, and (5) provide accessible campaign events and website.
Booker announced his presidential campaign with a colorful, creative and exciting announcement video on social media that incorporated a black marching band drum line. The video had fantastic and accurate open captioning that only failed to caption the upbeat drum line background music. However, he made no mention of people with disabilities nor depicted any Americans with visible disabilities. And the videos he has since released make these same mistakes, sometimes even failing to include captioning at all. Thus, he has missed the opportunity, thus far, to have a fully disability inclusive video campaign.
Further, his website says, “Cory is leading the fight for equal justice for all Americans.” However, while his website mentions and depicts diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation, it does not mention or depict people with disabilities once. True diversity exists only if people with disabilities are included, and a candidate cannot represent all Americans if he is excluding 20-25 percent of them.
Washington, D.C. April 22 – Before 2018, most of the country had never heard of former Congressman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke (D) from the 16th District of Texas. Today, he is a household name due to his nearly successful, entirely grassroots, U.S. Senate campaign during the 2018 midterm elections. O’Rourke narrowly…
Washington, D.C., April 18 – The first woman and first African American to be California’s Attorney General, Sen. Kamala Harris was the first woman of color to enter the 2020 presidential race. If she were to win the presidential election, she would be the first woman president and the first woman of color to sit in the Oval Office.
It is no coincidence that she announced her candidacy on MLK day, as her campaign, much like her career, is focused on civil rights. Her campaign tagline is “of the people, by the people, for all people.” She prides herself in protecting the most vulnerable Americans, as explained in her Senate biography. People with disabilities are, arguably, the most vulnerable members of society. So, naturally, her career and presidential campaign should reflect a continued fight for disability rights. But she still has much room for improvement on disability issues.