Sunday, February 25, 2018

#CripTheVote Chat: Midterm Elections Preview

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat Midterm Elections Preview, March 4, 2018, 4 pm Pacific / 7 pm Eastern. Details:
The U.S. Midterm Elections will be on November 6, 2018. All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate will be up for election, as well as 39 state and territorial governorships, and thousands of state legislature seats and local elected offices.

The purpose of this chat is to take a first look at the Midterm Elections. What are the key races this year? Which disability issues are most in play? Which candidates have disability issues in their platforms? What are their voting records on disability issues? Which candidates identify as disabled or D/deaf? Our hope is that in this chat we can pool the information we have and begin to build a detailed picture of the 2018 Midterms from a distinctly disability perspective.

Information on the 2018 Midterm Elections

How to Participate

Follow @GreggBeratan @AndrewPulrang @DisVisibility. When it’s time, search #CripTheVote on Twitter for the series of live tweets under the ‘Latest’ tab for the full conversation. 

If you don’t use Twitter, you can follow along in real time here: If you might be overwhelmed by the volume of tweets and only want to see the chat’s questions so you can respond to them, check @AndrewPulrang’s account.

Check out this explanation of how to participate in a Twitter chat by Ruti Regan:

Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc.

Introductory Tweets and Questions for the Chat:

Welcome to the #CripTheVote Midterm Elections Preview chat! Please remember to use the #CripTheVote hashtag when you tweet. If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote”

Q1: What are your initial thoughts about the upcoming Midterm Elections? Are there any specific outcomes you are hoping for? #CripTheVote

Q2: Name some key disability issues you believe candidates for office should know about and take positions on. Think not only about national office, but also state and local offices. #CripTheVote

Q3: What is your approach if you like a candidate’s other positions, or really despise their opponent, but they have a poor voting record or positions on disability issues? #CripTheVote

Q4: How can we help otherwise “good” candidates develop more sound, comprehensive disability policy positions? #CripTheVote

Q5: Are there specific disability issues you consider “deal breakers” or “litmus tests” for whether or not you can support / vote for a candidate? What is your take on “single-issue” voting? #CripTheVote

Q6: Please tell us about any candidates with disabilities you know of who are running for office in 2018. If you can, include their names, party affiliations, the offices they are running for, and their Twitter handles. #CripTheVote

Q7: Tell us about candidates running in 2018, disabled or not, that you will be watching closely because of their positions or records on disability issues. #CripTheVote

Q8: What can we all do to press candidates to address disability issues, both individually and through coordinated efforts like #CripTheVote and #RevUp?

Thank you for joining the #CripTheVote chat previewing the midterm elections. Please continue the convo and join us on 4/8 for our next chat reviewing the results from our online survey. 

There is still time to participate in the 2018 #CripTheVote survey on disability issues. We want to hear from you! There are 2 ways to participate. The online survey, using SurveyMonkey:

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Returning to the Women’s March in 2018 Committed to Political Change and Accessible Marches

By Charis Hill

In 2017, I joined the Women’s March on Sacramento in an old, large, clunky, medical-grade, standard-issue wheelchair I borrowed from my church. At the time my options were to use this wheelchair or stay home. Thankfully, since then I’ve acquired my very own custom chair!

My experience in 2017 was better than I expected considering it was the third time I had ever used a wheelchair. I was grateful to participate without my entire focus on the pain and fatigue that comes with walking and standing too long. I carried a two-sided sign that read, “Cure Ankylosing Spondylitis” and “Healthcare keeps this pussy alive.”

Using the chair, I had expected to constantly fight my way through crowds and keep people from sidestepping in front of me or falling on my lap. I was pleasantly surprised. People were polite and eager to make sure I could freely move. I didn’t feel like an object they tried to avoid – people saw me first, and the chair second. This was refreshing. And, even though I could not make it through the dense crowd to the ADA area up front, an organizer moving against the crowd wove her way sideways to reach me to tell me about its existence, if I could make it there.

Overall, my experience was pleasant because of the humanity of the attendees at the march, rather than the organization and design of the march itself. I was simply happy to be able to participate at all.

I was absolutely on board to attend any future Women’s Marches. Humanity had been restored.

Then, after a year of using my own wheelchair I was able to look back at the experience and see the accessibility gaps I wasn’t even aware of then. For one, I wasn’t aware there was an ADA area until the middle of the march. Second, there were no signs directing people such areas. Third, marketing leading up to the event hadn’t included accessibility information. 

And I noticed a similar pattern leading up to the 2018 march. The website didn’t have any accessibility information.

I spoke up about this at a listening session with the 2018 organizers a couple weeks before the March. I added that people with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in America and we often feel unheard and invisible. Inclusivity is paramount to our ability to thrive. I said that I would be happy to share more at another time.

In response I was asked to do a walk-through of the rally setup and offer suggestions.

And I was asked to be a speaker at the rally.

Fearing I was the only disabled voice being heard, I couldn’t refuse. If my speaking up could shed some light on even the smallest missed opportunities to make the march and rally more accessible, then I would make a difference. All the while I knew this approach needed to be more robust the following year; after all, I am magnificently ill-equipped to represent every accessibility need.

All that said, my experience as a speaker for the rally was great! There are things I wished I could have done, like participate in the march itself, but I had to choose speaking over marching this year. My health would not have allowed for both.

Here is a link to a video of my speech as well as the transcript: Click here for the video.

Lastly, I do want to speak to accessibility for marches in general.

I have heard a lot about how the Women’s Marches have a lot of work to do to be more actively welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities. I think this claim can be made of almost any march for any cause, not just the Women’s March movement. I believe the Women’s Marches are taking the heat directly as a result of being the new kid on the block. I see this as an opportunity to use the Women’s Marches as a pilot program to remove the kinks and set an accessibility standard and protocol for all future marches to follow.

We have miles to go for full accessibility and inclusion, but we are in this moment now and must do what is in our power to hurry up change. And I am rolling with it.


Image description: A photograph from the waist-up of a light-skinned person wearing a grey bucket hat and grey shirt that says "Health Care Voter." The person's face is turned to the left as if they are looking into the distance. In the background is the white dome of the California State Capitol Building.

Charis Hill is a chronic disease advocate, writer, and model who lives with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She graduated in 2009 from Meredith College, Magna Cum Laude, with a BA in Sociology and minors in Psychology and Women’s Studies. She is also a self-titled Episcopal Geek and gives really good hugs. When able, she enjoys sewing, cooking (she’s vegan), gardening, soccer, running, and her two cats Dora and Juno.

Charis’ story has been featured in dozens of publications, including Arthritis Today Magazine, Mother Jones, and CNBC. She has spoken on healthcare panels, with pharmaceutical organizations, and in legislative hearings. In 2014, Charis was awarded the Progress in Policy Award by the Arthritis Foundation, Pacific Region for her efforts in Statewide and National legislative advocacy efforts (watch her in action).  She leads the Sacramento area Spondylitis Association of America Support Group, is on the CreakyJoints Patient Council, and is a speaker with the Stop Stigma Sacramento Speaker’s Bureau. Charis is additionally a member of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California and will be a Deputy to the 2018 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas.

Friday, January 5, 2018

1/21 Twitter Chat: Chronic Pain and Opioids

Image description: graphic with a bright yellow background with black text that reads, "#CripTheVote Twitter Chat, Chronic Pain and Opioids, January 21, 2018, 4 pm Pacific/ 7 pm Eastern, Guest Hosts: @msdeonb @alexhaagaard, Details: On the left is an illustration of a capsule. On the right is an illustration of a first-aid kit.

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat

Chronic Pain and Opioids

Sunday, January 21, 2018
4 pm Pacific / 7 pm Eastern

The co-partners of #CripTheVote, Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, and Alice Wong, are delighted to have guest hosts Alecia Deon and Alex Haagaard join us for a discussion on chronic pain and opioids.

How to Participate

When it’s time, search #CripTheVote on Twitter for the series of live tweets under the ‘Latest’ tab for the full conversation.

If you don’t use Twitter, you can follow along in real time here:
If you might be overwhelmed by the volume of tweets and only want to see the chat’s questions so you can respond to them, check @DisVisibility’s account. Each question will tweeted 5-6 minutes apart.

Check out this explanation of how to participate in a Twitter chat by Ruti Regan:

Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc

Introductory Tweets and Questions

Welcome to the #CripTheVote chat on chronic pain and opioids. We are excited to have guest hosts @msdeonb @alexhaagaard with us today!

Please remember to use the #CripTheVote hashtag when you tweet. If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote”

Background: Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia.

Note: During this chat we will focus on the usage of prescription opioids for pain relief, not for recreational purposes.

Q1 Happy New Year! Community check-in. How are you doing and what are your expectations/hopes related to disability issues & politics this year? #CripTheVote  

Q2 For those who are comfortable sharing, what are the most misunderstood aspects of living with chronic pain? What are your thoughts on the media coverage of opioids and chronic pain?

Q3 People take opioids for all sorts of reasons. Regarding pain relief, please share your experiences with opioids. What is the difference between chronic pain and other types of pain? What myths, stigmas, criminalization, and surveillance are associated with opioid usage? #CripTheVote

FYI: gender and race major factors in chronic pain treatment disparities by healthcare providers. 2 articles from @Rewire_News

States and pharmacies in the US are taking steps to curb the abuse of prescription opioids by limiting the amount of pills per script or the # of prescriptions a doctor can give.

Q4 How will these restrictions affect patients, sick people, chronically ill people & disabled people? What else have you observed in your local communities and in other countries? #CripTheVote

Q5 What are the consequences of stricter limits on prescription opioids and doctors shifting toward other forms of pain relief? #CripTheVote

Q6 There's also the concept of 'pain acceptance.' Doctors asking patients to live with a certain level of pain for the rest of their lives. What do you think of this idea? Is it acceptable to you? For more: #CripTheVote

The current Administration declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in the fall of 2017.  #CripTheVote

Q7 Clearly, there is a racial and class disparity (among others) in the way the US govt treats substance abuse. What are the main differences you’ve observed with the current ‘war’ against opioids and the ‘war on drugs’ in the 1980s? What differences have you noticed in the media coverage? #CripTheVote

Q8 What are some policy changes you would like to see that would support people who need treatment for addiction and protects access to prescription opioids to those who need it?

This concludes the #CripTheVote chat on chronic pain and opioids. Thank you to our guest hosts @msdeonb @alexhaagaard!

Please keep the convo going. A Storify of this #CripTheVote chat will be up shortly. Yes, we are aware Storify will be ending in May 2018.

You can find updates & info about our future chats here:
Thanks again!!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: Year in Review

To say 2017 was an interesting and tumultuous year would be an understatement. This year we have seen the disability community under attack, defending against various legislation, policies, and actions by the current administration. From multiple attempts to repeal the ACA and cut Medicaid, to HR 620 … a bill that would weaken the ADA, to the tax bill, and the removal of disability rights guidance documents by the Department of Justice, people with disabilities are watching, speaking out, and fighting back.

In #CripTheVote’s second year, we were involved in the following activities:

-Posted a call for Medicaid stories by people with disabilities and published them online.

-Shared stories of activism by disabled people with advice for first-timers, definition of activism, and reflections on the relationship between identity and activism.

-Supported and welcomed a new offshoot of #CripTheVote in the lead up to the 2017 General Election in the UK: #CripTheVoteUK

-Published 3 guest blog posts

-Hosted 11 chats

-Started a series of spotlight chats with disabled candidates:

Including the spotlight chats, #CripTheVote has hosted 29 Twitter chats since our formation in 2016. All of this would not be possible without you. Whether you participated in a chat, guest hosted with us, or used the hashtag to share your stories and information, we are thankful for your involvement. You keep us motivated as we head toward the future. 

Looking forward, we plan to continue organizing chats featuring guest hosts from our community featuring issues that we care about. We also plan on identifying and highlighting disabled candidates who are running for office in 2018.

Please join us on January 21, 2018 as we host a chat on chronic pain and opioids with guest hosts Alecia Deon and Alex Haagaard. Details coming soon:

Be on the lookout for our second Disability Issues Survey in early 2018! Check out the results of the 2016 survey here:

Feel free to contact us if you have any suggestions or feedback: We’re also still hoping to meet and highlight disabled candidates at the local, state, and federal level. If you’re running for office, or know of a disabled candidate, let us know, and introduce them to #CripTheVote!

Happy New Year,

Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, and Alice Wong
#CripTheVote Co-Partners

Saturday, December 16, 2017

12/19: Organizer's Forum on #TaxOnDisability

This information is from the Organizer's Forum. For more about the forum's monthly calls you can email: or go to their Facebook page for the latest.

1-2 pm Eastern time, 12-1 Central time, 11-12 Mountain time, 10-11 am Pacific time
Call-in: 1-515-739-1285
Passcode: 521847#
To join through your computer, go to:

Hear about the new tax plan being considered by Congress and what impact it will have on people with disabilities. Discuss the potential for organizing now and in the future to protect our communities.

Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy, Access Living and Convener, Disability Power for Community Integration

Kim Musheno, Vice President of Public Policy, Autism Society of America and Chair, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

Annie Acosta, Director of Fiscal of Family Support Policy, The Arc
Please forward to your lists ASAP.

To give us an idea of who joins our calls, if you are interested in joining on Tuesday, please fill out this quick form!…

CART: The call will have real-time captioning (CART)! The website where you will be able to view the captioning is Username: forum. Password: forum. Thank you to the National Disability Leadership Alliance for sponsoring the captioning of this call.

If you need additional accommodations to participate in the call, please let us know as soon as possible.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! The Organizer's Forum has a call on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 1-2 pm EST (10-11 am PST).

NOTE: We have a listserv for discussion on these issues. It's; please go to: and click "Join this group!" We also have our separate announcement-only listserv to allow everyone to easily get notices about the Organizer's Forum, called Please email us to be added.We also have a Facebook page! We can use this is a way to continue our conversation beyond the monthly calls. Please "like" Organizer's Forum on Facebook.…

The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.
To ask questions via CART: Sign-in to the Chat function on the right side of the transcript and type your question. One of the call facilitators will read out any questions posted there.
Because we want to maximize the generously donated CART services, we will begin the call promptly at 1pm and end the call promptly at 2pm (eastern time).