Saturday, August 15, 2015

Questions Presidential Candidates Should Answer

There are 56 million Americans with disabilities. They have brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, classmates, and colleagues. Seventy percent of those who are of working age are unemployed. The graduation rate for students with disabilities is substantially lower than that for the general population. Persons with disabilities have limited access to accessible healthcare. They have limited access to accessible housing. They have a limited access to accessible transportation, which affects their ability to get a job and keep it. And if they need personal assistance, they must be eligible for federal assistance, and not have a fortune in the bank, to get it.

Here are questions every presidential candidate should answer.

1. Do you have a disability advisor and a disability policy team advising your campaign?
2. What is your personal experience with persons with disabilities? And either way, how do you view people with disabilities?
3. Have you had any experience removing structural barriers for persons with disabilities in terms of their accessing, participating in, or contributing to their communities?
4. In your meetings with the public have you sought comments and advice from persons with disabilities?
5. Are your public speaking venues accessible to person with disabilities? Do you advertise this accessibility in advance of a speaking engagement?
6. Have you trained campaign staff to appropriately assist and interact with persons with disabilities?
7. Is information from your campaign available in multiple formats and accessible through your website by persons with the full range of disabilities?
8.  What do you think is important to persons with disabilities?
9.  How do you feel about the structural barriers facing persons with disabilities? Do you have policies ready to go that would address these barriers?
10. In what executive branch departments would you appoint a disability advisor? To whom would this person report? Would this person have staff and a budget?
11. What is your position on U.S ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

How does this list of questions compare with your list? If you don't have one, consider making one alone or with your family and friends. We all should start engaging with candidates now to ensure that our interests become part of theirs.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Friday, August 14, 2015

Donald Trump Has Done Us a Favor

Donald Trump has said a lot of things. People have said a lot of things about him. He has said many things characterized as outrageous. There have been analysis and reanalysis of his motivations and effects on the current presidential election cycle. He blows other candidates away in terms of where he stands in the election polls. He has yet to provide us with the policy proposals on the things he talks about. His electability has been questioned. His adverse effect on the Republican Party has been talked to death and described in dire terms.

I'm fascinated with the presence of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest. Whatever else he has done, he has done us several favors. First, he has caused most candidates to take positions on topics that, under normal circumstances, they would probably not have addressed until much later in a presidential campaign cycle. Second, he has caused candidates to clarify positions on topics that, under normal circumstances, they probably would not have clarified until much later in a presidential campaign cycle. Third, he has forced candidates to take on topics that, under normal circumstances, they would have preferred to defer, ignore or avoid. Fourth, he has triggered candidates spending  more energy earlier than usual distinguishing themselves from each other and, in some cases, from the "Washington, D.C. establishment" and the people that fund them. Fifth, Trump has everyone turned on, tuned-in, and attending earlier than usual to what candidates are saying and stand for. All of these things are good and would not have happened this early if Donald Trump had not entered the 2016 presidential race.

The questions are: How do we get Donald Trump to mention people with disabilities? How do we get Donald Trump to talk about ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

Thank you.
Common Grounder