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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Disability and the 2016 Election

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the role of the autism issue, along with broader concerns about disability, in presidential campaigns

Sarah Blahovec writes at The Huffington Post:
Everybody should have a clear understanding of their voting rights. However, voting is one of those civic duties that we sometimes neglect to educate ourselves on until close to Election Day. Have no fear! There are a number of resources available to you in simple, clear language that can help you understand the laws surrounding voting and answer questions you have on issues ranging from voter identification laws and requirements, to who can assist you with casting your ballot, to challenges of voter competence.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has a “Your Federal Voting Rights” braille brochure and card in large-print PDF that provides a very simple overview of your rights as a voter with a disability. You can access other EAC voting accessibility resources here.
The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has published a plain-language voting rights guide entitled “VOTE. It’s Your Right: A Know-Your-Rights Guide for Voters with Mental Disabilities and Advocates.” This free guide provides a plain-language overview of the applicable voting laws and your rights and provides guidance on responding to voting challenges, getting or getting back your voting rights, and asking for assistance with voting. You can access the guide here.
Jacqueline Alemany writes at CBS:
Trump has not mentioned a plan for research or improved care for the disabled, and there is nothing on his website on this issue. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has a history of relationships with people with disabilities; she has incorporated people with disabilities into her campaign and given them featured speaking spots during her nominating convention. Clinton also has a detailed plan to help families struggling with autism. Her campaign also points out that there are ASL (American Sign Language) signers at every event, and it has even made its campaign buttons in Braille.
Overall, though, there has been little actual discussion on the campaign trail, or in the press, about what either of the candidates would actually do to help disabled Americans.
 What issues matter in the election? David Perry writes at Pacific Standard:
Without financial means, too many people with disabilities waver between institutionalization and homelessness, trapped in shelters, hospitals, prisons, or on the streets. Those institutions play a crucial role in seeing that fewer people starve, but they siphon away resources that could go toward integrated, community-based living options that offer better long-term outcomes.
One tool for integration is the Olmstead decision, a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that strengthened the requirement for public agencies to provide the “most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.” After Olmstead, agencies legally must make “reasonable modifications” to avoid discrimination.
“Olmstead helps people with disabilities advocate for their rights to be able to live in the community with the supports they need,” says Tia Nelis, president of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, a disability-rights organization. Under the law, “states need to come up with a plan to help make this possible,” Nelis says, but those plans are not consistent across the country. In fact, eight states have been forced to sign agreements with the federal government to start complying with the law. This is just the start of a new battle for disability rights.