Making campaigns accessible to all
Editor of the Reformer:
The following is an open letter to all 2016 Vermont statewide candidates. If you are a person with disabilities or someone who cares about disability issues, please let candidates know the need for accessible and inclusive campaigns is very real. Tell them what makes something accessible for you and helps you feel included.
As a person who has a 50-year interest and involvement in the concerns of people with disabilities, and now as a person with disabilities myself, I am contacting you with a request/challenge.
Often true leadership is not about what laws you propose or pass, it is about how you conduct yourselves; what you show the public is important to you; and solutions you develop, promote, and implement outside of your government service. Therefore, I request you all, without regard to party politics, accept my challenge to conduct your campaigns in a manner that makes them accessible to people with disabilities.
Some of the key components include: Hold all campaign events in easily accessible locations; ensure your headquarters and any campaign offices are accessible; provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters when requested; use fonts, graphics, etc. that meet ADA standards, online guidelines; offer alternative formats of materials if requested; and train your volunteers/staff to be sensitive to disability concerns.
Let's work toward the day when Vermont can say people with disabilities no longer have to endure conditions such as these that exclude or discriminate: Either no entrances, or separate and inferior entrances; communications that cannot be understood; and interactions that are rude, condescending or full of pity.
While the political and public needs, opinions, ideas, and wants of people with disabilities are as varied as the rest of the population, generally we just want to be included and treated respectfully and fairly. We have an amazing array of abilities as well as challenges; no different than other people. We are each, every human being, including you, uniquely abled.
Andrea McAuslan, email@example.com, June 6