Disability Groups Press Get-Out-the-Vote Effort in 2016 Campaign

Saying the presidential campaigns have largely ignored issues facing people with disabilities, multiple disability-advocacy groups are ratcheting up their efforts to show the power that those with disabilities have as a voting bloc.

The 2016 presidential campaign has encompassed a lot of voices—including those of immigrants,  veterans, women, African Americans, and Hispanics.

Ahead of Super Tuesday, another group is boosting its advocacy work to amplify its voice in the political conversation. On Thursday, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) launched its 2016 “Rev Up America—Make the Disability Vote Count” campaign in Texas, the largest Super Tuesday state.

The kickoff event at TIRR Memorial Hermann, a Houston rehabilitation hospital, highlighted the power of the disability vote, with voter-registration booths a common sight at the event. AAPD had help from a number of like-minded groups, including Disability Rights Texas and the Texas Disability Project.

“Important issues that have a profound effect on people with disabilities haven’t really been part of the discussion this political season,” Lex Frieden, head of independent living research utilization at TIRR Memorial and a chief architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), said in a news release. “There are more than 56 million Americans with disabilities and 76 million baby boomers who will soon be coping with disabilities. We need to be active in the democratic process and our voices need to be heard.”

The campaign will highlight candidates’ stances on disability issues and keep an eye out for ADA violations at voting places that prevent people with disabilities from voting or make it difficult to do so.

Hashtag advocacy

Other disability-rights advocates are harnessing social media to spread their message. The #CripTheVote campaign, backed by by the Disability Visibility Project and Disability Thinking, won’t endorsing a candidate but will work to keep disability issues on everyone’s radar, according to its creators.

“So many campaign moments have passed, and really no one was bringing disability issues into the discussion in a way that meant something to the disability community,” Gregg Beratan, a disability-rights advocate who helped launch the campaign, told The Washington Post. “We need them to start taking us very seriously as a voting bloc.”

(The use of “crip”  is an effort by the disability-rights community to take back the word, which is slang for “crippled.”)

AAPD is one of many nonprofit groups supporting #CripTheVote. Others that plan to take part in the group’s Twitter conversations include Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the Autism Women’s Network.

(Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!