The last week, for many, was surprising, unexpectedly volatile, and a good opportunity to really contemplate the dynamics and demographics of every society that make up the United States of America. The divide, made larger by the elections, has forced a large majority to accept some hard, yet unfortunately, always undeniable truths about our country. Truths that have forced many business leaders, including Arne Sorenson, the President and CEO of Marriott International, to openly express to future President-elect Trump, the desire for Trump to disprove his critics and stay focused on his words of inclusion from his election night speech.
The word which can be defined in context with different scenarios but in this reflection one can think of the countless times we viewed the negative ad campaigns which showed Trump seeming to mock a reporter with disabilities. Disability inclusion was being drawn into the political arena, albeit in a kicking and screaming sort of way. In the article linked above, the disability rights communities had some criticism for a few of the ads that were used to combat the Trump video which as expressed by writer and activist Andrew Pulrang (August, 2016) , “It follows a pattern that we’re very used to, which is that it’s on our behalf,” said Pulrang.” The limelight shone on people with disabilities in this election was not what I would describe as preferable. They have their own voices to add to the conversations. I agree with Pulrang’s comments, and I know my mother and my sister would want their own authentic experiences to be the soul of what is projected for a person with disabilities. There are so many steps of progress for us to continue to take, including the critical one of voting.
I recall the numerous years my mother, as a person with a disability, worked the polls to get voters in our small South Carolina beach town to exercise their rights. It was a tireless duty which she continued to do until the dementia claimed her abilities to reason. Admittedly, I never considered the logistical aspects of her maneuvering with her cane, then walker, and finally a wheelchair to the polls over the number of years. Thankfully, there are laws now that protect and uphold the rights of every citizen to have an accessible and clear path to the act of voting.
As every election season comes and goes, the idea to improve upon the accessible technology that supports persons with disabilities increases. State by state, the initiatives already set forth in the original 1973 law and further mandated by President Obama under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, serves to make government information increasingly innovative and accessible for Americans with disabilities. We saw various states, like Connecticut, make good on this pledge by installing new accessible voting systems.
The new stand-alone, tablet-based system requires no telephone or internet service and is intended to be adaptable to a variety of assistive technologies. The tablet system is a ballot-marking device that replaces the previous phone-fax technology. The tablet system will be available at polling places in every town in Connecticut. In addition to polling places, the new machine will be available to individuals with disabilities who utilize the state’s same day voter registration procedure and wish to vote at the Election Day registration site.
Voting is the right of every citizen, not some or this group, but everyone and to uphold this we must strive to make the entire journey to vote accessible and clear. There is much work and many organizations committed to seeing this come to fruition. The ITIF, (The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation) is one that has a robust and detailed website chronicling their efforts to make accessible voting a reality.
Please click on the links above to read more.