Saturday, January 16, 2016

One way to connect with presidential candidates now

I have it on good authority that most campaigns are now working on their disability platform – what they're going to say and do about how to help Americans with with disabilities to achieve the American dream. A quick way to have a direct impact on these platforms is to tweet candidates of your choice with a link to a successful initiative or program that you know about. It could be in the area of employment, healthcare, education, housing, transportation, exercise and nutrition, prison reform, police training, assistive technology, internships or anything else you know about. It doesn't matter what the topic is. The important thing is to contact campaigns and educate them about what is working. And, if they get elected, there is a high likelihood we will see this great idea promoted by the new president. Just think, if you sent your favorite candidate(s) a link a day to a great idea, they would have 15 great ideas to put in their platform and share with us BEFORE the Iowa caucuses on February 1.

To save you time, here are the Twitter account names for current candidates:

Bush. @JebBush
Carson. @RealBenCarson
Christie.  @ChrisChristie
Clinton.  @HillaryClinton
Cruz.  @TedCruz
Fiorina.  @CarlyFiorina
Huckabee.  @GovMikeHuckabee
Kasich.  @JohnKasich
O'Malley @MartinOMalley
Paul.  @RandPaul
Rubio.  @marcorubio
Sanders.  @BernieSanders
Santorum. @RickSantorum
Trump.  @realDonaldTrump

So let's get tweeting, shall we?

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Friday, January 15, 2016

Accessibility at Iowa Caucuses: A Time-Sensitive Matter

Iowa and 14 other states use caucuses to nominate people it recommends to the rest of the nation as presidential candidates. My only exposure to how caucuses operate was the last episode of A Good Wife. It seems like a wild and wooly process, with a lot of back-and-forth, and a mix of rules, some of which may not be followed. As I understand it, any place, including a private home, can be designated as a caucus site in Iowa.

This approach may present people with disabilities, who want to be caucus goers, with real challenges -- can they get in, can they know what is going on and how things work, can they participate and be heard, can they use the watercloset and get a drink of water? In other words, does their desire to be part of a caucus matter?

I suspect the state political parties, and not the state election commission, have control over what locations are designated as caucus sites. Was any effort made to pick accessible sites and to develop disability-sensitive procedures? If so, were methods developed to let the public know about them? If people in a particular area are required to use a specific caucus site, if not accessible, does a caucus goer with a disability have other options -- an alternative site, joining the caucus by phone, Skype, FaceTime, or some other means?

Caucus night is February 1, so the state parties and the campaigns have a limited time to fix things if they are not right. The Democrat race has tightened up and the Republican race has a large field of candidates. So everyone has a vested interest in getting their supporters to the caucuses. The outcome of the caucuses affect the momentum of the contest going forward.

Raise the questions here with appropriate people in Iowa. Make sure any caucus goer with a disability gets to participate fully.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s Policy Paper on Autism Is FINALLY Bringing Disability Issues Up a Notch in the Presidential Campaign

There are seven presidential debates left on the Republican side and two on the Democrat side. We need to use them to our advantage.

I am disappointed that disability-related issues have not received much attention by candidates and media during this presidential campaign cycle. Perhaps this is about to change. My hat’s off to Hillary Clinton for unveiling a plan to help people with autism and their families ( Her website ( gives details about four initiatives related to – a screening program for the poor, health insurance coverage, employment opportunities, and an adult prevalence study.

From early on, on his website ( and in interactions on the campaign trail Jeb Bush addresses his connection to a family with a child with a developmental disability and how that helped him improve and expand services in Florida when he was governor. He plans to use this experience to help him shape what he does for people with disabilities when he becomes president.

Chris Christy comments briefly on the need to reform disability insurance programs on his website ( One of my sources indicates that John Kasich ( is working on a plan to lessen the disincentives to employment in the Social Security programs. Ben Carson and Ted Cruz have made statements that they know people with disabilities want to work. And, Trump has said that he will work on a plan to help people with autism get jobs and they will like it.

Underlying these several examples are two stone-cold implications – (1) people who represent and advocate for people with autism have been working harder than the rest of us and (2) tackling employment challenges and solutions related to people with disabilities may be the best way to beginning engaging candidates. I think candidates are generally more comfortable with that topic and may be receptive to our ideas.

The next Republican debate is tomorrow night on the Fox Business Network. Its focus is the economy. The moderators are Neil Cavuto (@neilcavuto) and Maria Bartiromo (@MariaBartiroma). Why not tweet them this question to ask candidates – What would you do specifically to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities? Who knows, it might be asked!

Thank you.
Common Grounder