Monday, May 8, 2017

Elsa Sjunneson-Henry Goes to Washington, DC

Image description: photo of Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, a white woman with long auburn hair wearing a
khaki blazer and a print dress. Elsa is using a white cane and in the Rayburn House Office Building
in Washington, DC. On right side of the image are two individuals in the hallway talking to each other.


I went to Washington DC knowing that it would be a mixed bag. I’m a disability activist living and working in New Jersey’s 11th district, as an accessibility coordinator for a constituent led group called NJ 11th for Change. We had secured, after 3 months of asking for a town hall, a meeting with our House Representative, Rodney Freilinghuysen (R-NJ 11). 30 of the 175 constituents whom I traveled with had the chance to meet with him, behind closed doors, for ten minutes in groups of ten to fifteen.
It’s unsurprising just how disappointed I was in parts of the experience.
I found myself standing outside of Senator Tammy Duckworth’s(D-IL) office in a fog. When I stepped through the door, I was met by some very pleasant staffers who asked about my business, and I sort of stammered through what I had come there to say – I was grateful for Senator Duckworth’s work towards better equality for disabled Americans like myself, and I am working as an activist to get better access to reps for disabled people. But I had mostly just come there to say thank you to her. Personally, if I could, but I knew that wasn’t really possible without an appointment and a real agenda.
I didn’t have a chance to meet with her (or any of her staff) but I got a business card, and given that I went there purely on instinct, that’s probably for the best.

I went to Senator Tammy Duckworth’s office in a fog, because my House Representative couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me he cared about disabled people now.
Image description: photo of a group of adults that range in age and gender, most who appear to be white, including Elsa Sjunneson-Henry,the woman on the very right of the group holding a white cane. Some individuals are holding protest signs. This is part of "Fridays with Frelinghuysen," a series of weekly protests organized by NJ 11th for Change that take place in front of U.S. Representative Frelinghuysen's Morristown, NJ office.

He couldn’t give me a straight answer on the one thing I really wanted to know, the thing I asked him flat out. I asked: would he commit to a town hall in person, that was accessible to all disabled people regardless of their disability. Representative Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11) did not give me an answer. Certainly, not a satisfactory one.

If asked to translate what he said to me from “political dodge speak” to English, I’d tell you that what he said was maybe. It wasn’t a yes, it wasn’t a no. He could tell me he had a long history of working with disabled organizations for disabled people of all kinds. He could choke out the word “disabled” in place of handicapped just barely.
Quoting your record at someone asking to be an equal constituent, to your face, is pretty disheartening. I found myself wondering if he even understood what he was saying by not answering the question. Because in not answering, he basically made it an open question of whether or not he believes in my right to access.
Being a disabled woman wandering the halls of the House and the Senate was an interesting experience. It might be the first time that I didn’t feel manhandled. I don’t know if that’s a virtue of everyone being super busy, and therefore not noticing the cane, not bothering to grab my arm because I looked confident and determined, or because they knew better, but I felt strangely at home in those cavernous hallways where people didn’t stare at me.
I thought it would be scarier.
The staff in every single office I entered were polite, I barely interacted with Freilinghuysen’s staff myself because we arrived swiftly and were greeted at the door by our Representative. I think he had hoped that we would be easier to sway to his favor. Unfortunately, we left with unsatisfactory answers to a number of our questions, many of which are questions of safety, security, and happiness.

The buildings were mostly accessible, the people I walked past didn’t jump over my cane, or ask me if I needed help, or stare.

Every single Congressional Aide I met was polite and treated me like an equal constituent.

The only person who didn’t was my actual representative.
So I went to the one office where I could ask some questions of how to enact change. An office where a disabled woman holds the power, and where her staff know the ins and outs of disability, accessibility and governance.
I’m determined to continue the fight, to continue the quest for equal access. I’ve found myself in a position where I’m asking for something I’m not being given. I’m asking for real accommodations, not just for myself, but others like me. I’m asking for accessibility and equality, and I’m not going to stop until I get it.

Disabled Americans are still Americans no matter what.


ABOUT


Image description: Photo of Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, a white woman with long auburn hair wearing
a gray-blue sweater. One hand is tucked under her chin, she is wearing eye glasses and has one
glass eye. Photo credit: Photo by Angela Gaul of Milestone Images 

Elsa Sjunneson-Henry is a half-blind, half-deaf writer of disabled feminist words. She’s written games like Dead Scare, short stories like “A Place Out of Time” and “Seeking Truth,” and nonfiction essays including her guest post on Terribleminds “So You Wanna Write a Blind Character?” She teaches writing disabled characters in fiction with Writing the Other, and speaks frequently on the topic at gaming and science fiction conferences. She is also the assistant editor at Fireside Fiction, where she eats KitKats the correct way. In her “spare” time, she’s actually Daredevil. You can find her on twitter @snarkbat, and at her website feministsonar.com

Monday, May 1, 2017

Crip The Vote launches​ UK voting campaign

#CripTheVoteUK in bold white letters on a pink rectangular background. The V in Vote is superimposed on an upside down black triangle

Disabled campaigners are launching a UK branch of international group @CripTheVote (@CripTheVoteUK) to put urgent disability issues on the UK General Election 2017 agenda.

Our launch video, hosted by Eleanor Lisney, is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Kh-6djoTTE&feature=youtu.be

CripTheVoteUK is asking supporters to join in online today and be part of the campaign by sharing the hashtag #CripTheVoteUK, and sharing photos with their poll cards and a commitment to “spend 10 minutes to save 10,000 lives” by using their vote this 8 June.

You can see some here:
https://www.instagram.com/cripthevoteuk/

“At this point in time, disabled people are quite literally voting for our lives,” said Dennis Queen, a campaigner in CTVUK’s network . “We need ALL voters to know this is an emergency for thousands of disabled people and help us fight back,” she added.

CripTheVoteUK aims to ask voters to think about how their vote affects us, to encourage disabled people, our friends and families to register if needed, go postal if it's more accessible, and USE their vote in the General Election.

Disabled voters, our families, the families of disabled children and close allies make up around half of the voting population - enough people to create a big effect on what happens in the General Election.

Eleanor Lisney, disability activist #CriptheVoteUK, said “ disabled people should make sure they tell the politicians that, for 13 million in the voting age, they make a substantial number. They need to vote in order to get a chance to survive the future onslaught on their human rights.”

CripTheVoteUK would hope to find disability issues on the agenda of ALL political parties, so we will share their relevant material and generate discussion about the issues affecting disabled people, including children.

CripTheVoteUK does not promote any party or group, but we are not non-critical. We also cannot ignore or condone that disabled people of all ages, and our families, have been grossly harmed by the existing government, which has come under investigation by the United Nations and our own Equality and Human Rights Commission, both of whom condemned them for many abuses, including thousands of deaths which could have been stopped.

For example at least 10,000 disabled people have died in the last 7 years (since 2010) within 6 weeks of being declared Fit For Work​, and the government ignored warnings about this in its early stages.

Alex Haagaard, a founding member of @CripTheVoteUK said “The prospect that this government might receive a renewed mandate to continue their harassment, neglect and - in the end - extermination of disabled people frankly terrifies me.”

===============

#CripTheVoteUK is shaping up fast, in keeping with the United Kingdom's typically fast-track approach to elections.

Whether you are in the UK and have a direct interest in disability policy there, or are simply interested from afar, be sure to read the tweets, contribute your own, join the chats, and visit the #CripTheVoteUK social media sites. And of course, when you have something to say, make sure it's included by adding the hashtag: #CripTheVoteUK. If you want to share it with #CripTheVote too, you can always add that as a second hashtag.
black iconic ballot box logo

#CripTheVoteUK - Blog

@CripTheVoteUK - Twitter

#CripTheVoteUK - Facebook

#CripTheVoteUK - Thunderclap

Online campaign ‘could enable disabled people to affect election outcome’
John Pring, Disability News Service - April 27, 2017

What is #CripTheVote – and why do we need it?
Errol Kerr, Verbal Remedy - April 30, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

4/29 #CripTheVote chat: First 100 Days

Graphic with a light green background. In black text: #CripTheVote Twitter Chat 100 Days in Office, April 29, 2017, 7 pm Eastern, Guest hosts @serenevannoy @AditiJuneja3 @RebelWheelsNYC, cripthevote.blogspot.com
Graphic with a light green background. In black text: #CripTheVote Twitter Chat 100 Days in Office, April 29, 2017, 7 pm Eastern, Guest hosts @serenevannoy @AditiJuneja3 @RebelWheelsNYC, cripthevote.blogspot.com
The co-partners of #CripTheVote, Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, and Alice Wong, invite you to reflect on the first hundred days of the current Presidential Administration. Joining us as guest hosts are Aditi Juneja, Co-Creator of the Resistance Manual and Co-Host of Self Care Sundays podcast, Serene Vannoy, Disability Rights Team Lead of the Resistance Manual, and Michele Kaplan, activist and creator of the What Is Ableism outreach project.


Please note this chat will be 75 minutes long instead of 1 hour.


How to Participate

Follow @GreggBeratan @AndrewPulrang @DisVisibility @AditiJuneja3 @serenevannoy @resistmanual @RebelWheelsNYC on Twitter
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: http://twubs.com/CripTheVote
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: https://storify.com/RutiRegan/examplechat
Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc
https://www.facebook.com/HEARDDC/videos/1181213075257528/
Introductory Tweets and Questions for 4/29 Chat

Welcome to the #CripTheVote chat looking back at the first 100 days of the current Presidential Administration.
We are pleased to have guest hosts @AditiJuneja3 @serenevannoy and @RebelWheelsNYC with us today!
Please remember to use the #CripTheVote hashtag when you tweet. FYI: today’s chat will be 75 min long.
If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote”
Q1 Check in: How are you feeling right now as we reach the 100-day mark in the current Administration? #CripTheVote
Q2 What have you learned in the last 100 days that changed or surprised you? #CripTheVote
Q3 What are your thoughts about the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act?  #CripTheVote
Q4 With the newest addition to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, how will this impact disability-related cases? #CripTheVote
Q5 On education & students w/ disabilities, what changes if any have you seen from @usedgov and Secretary Betsy Devos?  #CripTheVote
Q6 What concerns do you have w/ @TheJusticeDept in protecting & serving marginalized communities? #policing #CivilRights #CripTheVote
There have been a number of Executive Orders signed by the President in the last 100 days: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders #CripTheVote
Q7 How have these Executive Orders impacted you & the communities you are a part of? #CripTheVote
Q8 What are some other actions by the current Administration that adversely impacted the disability community & other groups? #CripTheVote
.@resistmanual is an open-source platform w/ info on a number of issues w/ tools on how to resist https://www.resistancemanual.org #CripTheVote
Q9 What are some ways you've taken action or got involved with your community? What's your advice for other disabled ppl? #CripTheVote

Q10 How do you balance being up to date w/ all that’s happening and self care? #CripTheVote
Q11 What do you want to see in the disability community when it comes to organizing, resisting & being in solidarity w/ others? #CripTheVote
This concludes the #CripTheVote chat on the 1st 100 days. Thank you to our guest hosts @serenevannoy @AditiJuneja3 & @RebelWheelsNYC!
Please keep the convo going & join us 5/28 for our #CripTheVote chat on media coverage of disabled people
A Storify of this #CripTheVote chat will be up shortly. Thanks again!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

4/2 Twitter Chat: Disabled People in Public Service


Image description: graphic with a bright yellow background with black text that reads "#CripTheVote Twitter Chat Disabled People and Public Service, April 02, 2017, 9 pm Eastern, Guest hosts: @sblahov @RebeccaCokley, cripthevote.blogspot.com"
Image description: graphic with a bright yellow background with black text that reads "#CripTheVote Twitter Chat Disabled People and Public Service, April 02, 2017, 9 pm Eastern, Guest hosts: @sblahov @RebeccaCokley, cripthevote.blogspot.com"
Since #CripTheVote began more than a year ago our discussions have repeatedly come back to the need for disabled people in public service. The co-partners of #CripTheVote, Andrew Pulrang, Gregg Beratan, and Alice Wong, and guest hosts Rebecca Cokley and Sarah Blahovec will discuss the many of the issues surrounding disabled people and public service.

How to Participate

Follow @GreggBeratan @AndrewPulrang @DisVisibility @RebeccaCokley @sblahov on Twitter
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: http://twubs.com/CripTheVote
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 6-8 minutes apart.
Check out this explanation of how to participate in a Twitter chat by Ruti Regan: https://storify.com/RutiRegan/examplechat
Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc
https://www.facebook.com/HEARDDC/videos/1181213075257528/

Articles that may be of interest

Blahovec, Sarah. (February 1, 2017). Someone Should Help Disabled People Run for Office. NOS Magazine.

LaCorte, Rachel. (January 7, 2017). Washington Set to Swear in 1st Blind Lieutenant Governor. Associated Press.

Wade, Carrie. (January 23, 2017). 10 More Disabled Women Who Are Making Political Noise. Auto straddle.

Wong, Alice. (October 17, 2016). #CripTheVote Interview: Thida Cornes for Mountain View City Council.

Introductory Tweets and Questions for 4/2 Chat
Welcome to the #CripTheVote chat on disabled people in public service! Let’s do this!

This is the 5th #CripTheVote chat of 2017. We also have a new blog with updates and events: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-cripthevote-events_12.html   
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 Why is it important to have disabled people involved in public service? #CripTheVote
The top policy rec in our survey last year was more disabled people to govt & policy-making positions http://svy.mk/1UbDWju #CripTheVote
Q2 What forms of public service are out there for people to be a part of? #CripTheVote
Q3 How can we as a community support & encourage more disabled people to get involved in public service? #CripTheVote
Q4 What are the barriers preventing people from various forms of service? Are there ways of circumventing/bypassing them? #CripTheVote
Q5 Is it important that disabled people run for office? Why? #CripTheVote
Q6 What perspectives/knowledges/skills do disabled people bring to public service that nondisabled people don’t? #CripTheVote
For our next 2 questions, we’ll switch formats so you ask our guest hosts some questions about public service #CripTheVote
Q7 What Qs do you have @RebeccaCokley who is a lifelong disability activist has worked in fed govt in various capacities? #CripTheVote
Q8 What Qs do you have for @Sblahov, a disabled activist trying to encourage disabled people to run for office?  #CripTheVote
This concludes the #CripTheVote chat on disabled people in public service. Many thanks to our guest hosts @RebeccaCokley & @Sblahov!!
Please keep the convo going & join us 4/29 for our #CripTheVote chat about the 1st 100 days of the current administration w/ @serenevannoy

Sunday, March 19, 2017

#CripTheVote Chat on the GOP Healthcare Plan and the Disability Community - DATE CHANGE

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat - GOP Healthcare Plan and the Disability Community - March 21, 2017 - Guest hosts: @ADAPTerBruce and @JustStimming - cripthevote.blogspot.com

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat
GOP Healthcare Plan and the Disability Community

NOTE … DATE HAS BEEN CHANGED

*** Tuesday, March 21, 7 PM EST ***

We have decided to reschedule this chat for a couple of days earlier, to give people a little more time to take post-chat action before the next major step in this process, a House of Representatives vote on Thursday.

The co-partners of #CripTheVote, Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, and Alice Wong, invite you to the 17th Twitter chat focusing on the proposed Republican Health Care bill, The American Health Care Act (AHCA). What should you know about this bill? How will it impact people with disabilities? What can you do express your views? 

We are thrilled to have guest hosts Bruce Darling of the Center for Disability Rights and Julia Bascom of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network join and share the latest information with us.

We are also in the process of collecting Medicaid stories from the disability community. Details here: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com/2017/03/call-for-your-medicaidstories.html

Additional articles on the AHCA

Sarah Kliff, March 13, 2017, Vox.com

Rebecca Vallas, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, and Jackie Odum, March 8, 2017, Center for American Progress.

Disability Rights Education Defense Fund, March 15, 2017.

Storify of our October 9, 2016 chat on health care policy.

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: http://twubs.com/CripTheVote

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 be tweeted 5-6 minutes apart.

Check out this explanation of how to participate in a Twitter chat by Ruti Regan: https://storify.com/RutiRegan/examplechat

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

Introductory Tweets and Questions for 3/23 Chat

Welcome to the #CripTheVote chat on the #AHCA w/ guest hosts @ADAPTerBruce @JustStimming. Please remember to use the hashtag when you tweet.

If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote

Please note throughout this chat: #ACA = Affordable Care Act and the new bill is the #AHCA = American Health Care Act #CripTheVote

Q1: What health care services are most important to you? #CripTheVote

Q2: If you are uninsured or if you have insufficient health insurance, what are the main barriers you face accessing services? #CripTheVote

Q3: What would happen if you lost your health insurance … short term, long term? Be specific. #CripTheVote

Q4: What are some core provisions and services disabled people should require from any healthcare bill? #CripTheVote

Q5: What are the specific elements of the #AHCA are you most concerned about? Why? #CripTheVote

Q6: How will multiply-marginalized disabled people be disproportionately impacted by the #AHCA? #CripTheVote

Q7: Is there a realistic pathway for preserving the disability-related services & protections of the #ACA? If so, what? #CripTheVote

Q8: What strategies should we pursue with Republican and Democratic Members of Congress? #CripTheVote

Q9: How can we fully explain to people outside of the disability community the importance of healthcare in our lives? #CripTheVote

Q10: What’s one thing we should all do tomorrow to express our views about healthcare and the #AHCA specifically? #CripTheVote

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Call for Your #MedicaidStories!

Image description: Graphic with white background and black text that reads: "#CripTheVote Call for Your #MedicaidStories http://bit.ly/2mQQDoW" On the upper left-corner of the image is a graphic of a stethoscope in gray, pink, and black. On the upper right-corner of the image is a graphic of a pink heart with a heart beat sign across it. On the lower-left corner of the image is a graphic of two band-aids crossed like an X in pink and dark pink. On the lower right-corner are graphics of 3 identical prescription bottles in gray, blue, and black with a pink plus sign in the center of each.
Stories are powerful ways to illustrate the relationship between the individual, policies, and practices. They give examples of real-life consequences to changes in programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The personal IS political.

The co-partners of #CripTheVote invite you to share your Medicaid Stories. Your stories will be featured in blog posts and other social media content as part of our our activism to save and defend Medicaid.

Share your #MedicaidStories by clicking here on this link.

Also, please join us for our 3/21 Twitter chat at 7 pm ET: GOP Healthcare Plan and The Disability Community, with guest hosts Bruce Darling and Julia Bascom.

THANK YOU!!!

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

[Header image description: graphic with white background and black text that reads: "#CripTheVote Call for Your #MedicaidStories http://bit.ly2mQQDoW. On the upper left-corner of the image is a graphic of a stethoscope in gray, pink, and black. On the upper right-corner of the image is a graphic of a pink heart with a heart beat sign across it. On the lower-left corner of the image is a graphic of two band-aids crossed like an X in pink and dark pink. On the lower right-corner are graphics of 3 identical prescription bottles in gray, blue, and black with a pink plus sign in the center of each].

Monday, March 6, 2017

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat: Protecting The ADA

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat Protecting the ADA March 12, 2017, 7 pm Eastern cripthevote.blogspot.com

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat
Protecting the ADA
Sunday, March 12, 2017, 7 pm EST/ 4 pm Pacific

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.” This is particularly true with the current administration and changes in policies and programs that seem to happen on a daily basis.

Join the co-partners of #CripTheVote, Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, and Alice Wong, in a conversation on the importance of protecting the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the proposed changes to this law that may impact people with disabilities.

This chat will be focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the ADA, the misconceptions of it, and a look at a bill introduced earlier this year, H.R. 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. This is a bill “To amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to promote compliance through education, to clarify the requirements for demand letters, to provide for a notice and cure period before the commencement of a private civil action, and for other purposes.”

How to Participate

Follow @GreggBeratan @AndrewPulrang  @DisVisibility on Twitter.

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: http://twubs.com/CripTheVote

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 be tweeted 5-6 minutes apart.

Check out this explanation of how to participate in a Twitter chat by Ruti Regan: https://storify.com/RutiRegan/examplechat

Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc
https://www.facebook.com/HEARDDC/videos/1181213075257528/

Introductory Tweets and Questions for 3/12 Chat

Welcome to the #CripTheVote chat on protecting the #ADA! Please remember  to use the hashtag when you tweet.

If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote

Q1 Based on your experiences, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the Americans with Disabilities Act? #CripTheVote

H.R. 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 is a bill introduced in Jan 2017: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr620 #CripTheVote

H.R. 620 seeks to amend the #ADA to ‘promote compliance through education’ & among other measures to delay civil actions. #CripTheVote

Proponents of this bill say that the amendment is intended to curtail ‘nuisance’ or ‘serial’ lawsuits. #CripTheVote

These issue have been around for a long time, but a recent 60 Minutes segment summarizes the claims. #CripTheVote http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-americans-with-disabilities-act-lawsuits-anderson-cooper/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab7d&linkId=31955379

Blog post by @LFlegal w/ quotes from @IngridTischer regarding the “60 Minutes” story. http://www.lflegal.com/2016/12/60-minutes/ #CripTheVote

Also, “An Open Letter Opposing Ableism in ABA Section on Litigation Programming” https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdGCeu9knUilZcW2k7H_IMyYnRP1P2YQWvM-QlwVV-fRu_61w/viewform #CripTheVote

Q2 How would the disability community be affected by notification & waiting periods before being able to file a lawsuit? #CripTheVote

Q3 Have you ever filed an official ADA complaint or lawsuit? If so, what can you share about the experience? #CripTheVote

Q4 How often do you encounter violations of the ADA and what are the most common violations you experience? #CripTheVote

Q5 When you encountered access barriers & other #ADA violations in the past, how did you respond? Did you get a resolution? #CripTheVote

Q6 Please share any examples in your local community of lawsuits that resulted in ADA compliance & improved access. #CripTheVote

Q7 If there are some people using the ADA only to make money, what could we do about it without weakening the ADA? #CripTheVote

Q8 How much of a practical impediment would it be to require negotiation first before filing lawsuits? #CripTheVote

Q9 No law is perfect, but why is it important to protect the ADA in its current form?  #CripTheVote

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Change of Plan for the Next #CripTheVote Chat

#CripTheVote Twitter Chat Protecting the ADA March 12, 2017 7 PM eastern - cripthevote.blogspot.com
It looks like an "ADA notification bill" has been re-introduced in Congress, and the risk of it passing is probably greater now than ever before. We have decided to postpone our March 12th chat on "Disabled People in Public Service," and instead host a discussion on "Defending the ADA." The date and time will be the same ... Sunday, March 12, at 7 PM Eastern, but the topic will be different. The public service chat will be held at some later date.

House of Representatives bill H.R. 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, (click the link to see details of the bill), would require a waiting period and documented efforts at resolution for Americans with Disabilities Act complaints before private lawsuits could be filed. If you experienced an ADA violation, you would not be able to sue until you first contacted the business owner to try and resolve the problem, and waited a certain amount of time to let them fix the problem, before being allowed to sue. The most often cited reason for this is instances of disabled individuals and their lawyers filing dozens of ADA lawsuits against businesses, supposedly completely by surprise, and supposedly to make money off out of court settlements. That's the story anyway.

Obviously, there's another side or two to this narrative, and in the next few days we will post some questions that will structure our chat. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, change your calendars accordingly!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Voting Rights in Georgia

Below is a message from a voting rights lawyer in Atlanta looking for eligible voters with disabilities who are willing to share their thoughts on the accessibility of Georgia's absentee ballot system.
Are you an eligible Georgia voter?  My name is Bryan Sells, and I'm an attorney in Atlanta who specializes in voting rights. I believe that Georgia's absentee ballot system may be inaccessible for voters with certain disabilities, and I'd like to hear from people who might be affected.  
Georgia law does not currently offer any accommodations for disabled voters who want to vote by absentee ballot, but there are new technologies that might be able to help.  
If you have a disability that would prevent you from marking an absentee ballot without assistance *and* you use assistive technology, like screen-reading software, that might enable you to mark an online ballot with your computer, I want to hear from you.  It's OK if you haven't actually voted by absentee ballot in the past.  This is about having the equal right to vote in future elections.
Anyone interested in talking with me about their experiences can reach me by phone at 404-480-4212 or by email at <bryan@bryansellslaw.com>.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Feb. 6, 2017 Twitter Chat: Disability Identity & Activism

Storify of last night's blockbuster chat that had #CripTheVote "trending" on Twitter for awhile. The next chat will be February 12, on Disabled People in Public Service. Stay tuned for more details when we get closer to the date.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

#CripTheVote Activism Stories: Advice for First-Timers

A few weeks ago, we posted a survey asking people to talk about what disability activism and identity mean to them, and how they came to be involved. Here are some selected quotes from answers we received on how to help people new to activism. Join us for our next #CripTheVote chat on Disability Identity and Activism, Monday, February 6, at 7:00 PM EST.

If you are uncomfortable with activism …

"Take whatever steps you are comfortable taking. Time and experience will help you take more steps."

-- Di Steiner @DM_dimntd

"If you can't get comfortable getting a little uncomfortable, the person you wish to change won't either. CripTheVote creates a community where we can find comfort in one another, grow our ideas and grow our political power."

-- Liz Jackson @elizejackson

"I'm still starting out myself...It seems scary at first and like it will be hard but when you get responses and people see what you are doing and you know you are educating others and helping people everything is worth it."

-- Ev

"When I started I had an image of what activism looked like, and I castigated myself for failing to meet that expectation. I found myself at my most effective when I played toward my strengths, rather than trying to fit a pre-existing image of what I should be. I love synthesizing and disseminating information and ideas, especially engaging on a one-to-one basis, and that has formed the foundation of my activism. Activism is, by nature, not always easy, but it's important that the kind of work I do is, at least in part, something that comes naturally to me or that I am comfortable with. That forms a base of accomplishment upon which I can stack other kinds of action that stretch me in new and challenging ways, but prevents me from feeling like I'm constantly out of my depth."

-- Sam de Leve @ChaiKovsky

"Sometimes activism is about starting small and then building up to a level you feel comfortable with."

-- Anonymous

"Don't feel your view of issues or your activism have to completely conform to a certain set of beliefs, positions, or community norms. At the same time, be open to learning what the community's consensus beliefs, positions, and norms are. You can commit to what you are comfortable with and abstain from what you aren't. But as you gain experience try to stretch your thinking and possibly your work to encompass more areas that you were previously uncomfortable with. Take care of yourself, keep your critical faculties sharpened in all situations, hold yourself to strong principles, be gentle to others, especially when they don't fully live up to your principles. Disability activism is important, but by itself it won't make you a great person or a terrible person ... so relax a little."

-- Andrew Pulrang @AndrewPulrang

"Everything is uncomfortable when you've not done it before. There is very little to be lost in putting your own voice out there, rather than letting others speak for you. You will invariably be more accurate than they are... everyone is comfortable with something - it is just a question of finding how you can use that to advance your cause or someone else's."

-- Tim Abbott @mhdtim

Before getting started ...

"...unless a person develops a sense of disability pride, they're probably not going to be very likely to fight for themselves and the community, because they might think "Oh, it's me that is the problem." "I want too much", when really it's the system."

-- michele @rebelwheelsnyc

"You start where you are. Do whatever brings freedom to closer to you. There are no rules. If someone tells you, "No, no, don't say that," feel free to say it louder."

-- Anonymous @georgesdryad

"What I would suggest is seek out disability rights groups, or an independent living center and ask how you can be involved in the disability community. It is important for persons with disabilities to learn our history, the problems we faced and still face today, try and get to know others with different disabilities other than your own. Just reach out. Try not to get overwhelmed. Learn the difficulties and problems facing the disabled community today and find the courage to say: "I don't like this, I want this to change!"

-- Anonymous

"Sharing your own experiences and not feeling ashamed is a start."

-- Suzanne

"I would start with self-reflection and reading/learning about power and privilege.  Then I would ask yourself "If I don't fight for myself and my community, then who will?" To me, the answer is clear."

-- Lisette @LisetteETorres3

"Perhaps start by being curious.  Seek connections.  Ask questions about basic things, or complicated ideas.  Read threads.  Ask which threads might be useful depending on your interest.  Realize that what seem to be small, everyday actions are actually resistance to the status quo.  That you can build on that.  Know that you are welcome!"

-- Linden Gue @DagbokDog

Examples of first steps …

"Start small. Talk with friends."

-- Blow Pop @blowpopsreviews

"Hook up with people who are active in advocacy and seek their support. You don't have to be the world's loudest and proudest, but with support you can even simply mail a senator or speaker to a store manager about an obstacle."

-- Mary Mactavish @Mactavish

"I started by learning, and talking about it with other people with disabilities. It might not seem like much, but it's a beginning. Often times, you may see others who are doing things and decide to get involved. That helps take some of the pressure off... You can be involved as an activist, but you may not feel comfortable organizing yet."

-- Christine M @ChrisDisability

"Finding local activist groups is important. If your city has an office of equity, make sure that disability rights are included in the discussion, as well as at the school district level."

-- Suzanne

"I began getting involved anonymously by joining support groups relating to my specific conditions through alias accounts on social media (I've found Tumblr to be an especially friendly community for 'spoonies'.) The support I found in those communities boosted my confidence and energized me to make more public displays of my solidarity with and support for disability rights. But one of the benefits of online activism is that you can take part in it anonymously if that's a more comfortable way for you to connect and get involved."

-- Amanda H

"As long as one can and feels comfortable participating in social media, that's an easy place to start. You can retweet other people's takes on Twitter if you feel they express it better than you would. You can participate in various disability-themed chats, which helps broaden perspectives in the disability community... I haven't gone to a disability-specific march yet, but one can always try to reach protest/march organizers ahead of the event date and ask them nicely what they've done to include disabled people. There might be time for them to make things more accessible and if not, now they know that you (and others) are out there and would like that. And as one gets more experienced/active, one can undoubtedly join in organizing, which would be one way of ensuring your experience as a disabled person is helping to form the event."

-- Megan Lynch @may_gun

"I suggest starting by looking for opportunities in the community. Talk to local organizations that deal with disabilities (retirement homes/senior centers, schools, child care/foster care groups, medical/physical therapy, shelters are just some examples). Once you find a group or cause it'll be easier to find something you'd like to do some activism, like raising money for a charity, circulating petitions for government, speaking at local school board meetings, whatever is relevant to you & the specific thing you want to do. It's a great thing & if you just put your mind to it & your heart in it, it is really worthwhile."

-- Anonymous

"People are afraid to speak out, and disabled people are so often objectified or spoken over/for that it's hard to cultivate and amplify our own voices. Accessible mediums -- for me, Twitter -- are crucial, as is creating a disability community that those with mobility issues can access.  The internet is a powerful tool.  It's where so many disabled people see others like themselves for the first time -- that is true for me.  It's our amplifier, our recruitment tool, our soapbox.  We can use it, and we must keep using it, all the while listening to disabled people as to how to make it as accessible as possible."

-- Aleksei Mirov @ai_valentin 

"participating on twitter has been really good for me in terms of becoming more comfortable with my limits in the real world sphere and being ok with the fact that i don't have to make a phone call if it will completely fuck up the rest of my day/week, or if i can't leave the house i don't have to go to a protest. i'm learning that sometimes staying alive at all is radical when the authorities don't want you to be alive."


-- kate @kavoogs