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2020 Election: How Will Your Vote Impact Disability Issues? - Gamburd Inc

California’s primary election is just days away! Wouldn’t it be good to know where the candidates stand on issues that affect citizens with physical, mental or emotional challenges? Maybe it’s time for every elected official to earn the vote of those with disabilities.

A non-profit organization called Respect Ability has released the 2020 Disability Voter Guide. They do not rate or endorse candidates. Respect Ability is an American nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to empowerment and self-advocacy for individuals with disabilities. Its official mission is to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. See where your candidate stands on disability issues here.

There are also organizations like the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) who are doing more than making sure polling places are accessible. According to the AAPD website, they are determined to:

Increase the political participation of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. AAPD eliminates barriers to voting, educates communities about issues and candidates; promotes turnout of voters with disabilities across the country; and engages candidates and the media on disability issues.

In the past people have expressed feelings of frustration over the whole voting process. Many have indicated concern that their vote doesn’t really matter. Taking the time to educate ourselves on the issues and candidates will empower voters to take the steps needed to make their voices heard. Casting your ballot can affect how we help protect the civil rights of people with disabilities.

Your vote can not only eliminate discrimination but can also instigate change regarding healthcare, affordable and accessible housing, education, employment and more! Your vote could stop the cycle of violence against people with disabilities. Don’t think your vote doesn’t matter!

Sometimes things can be wrong for so long, we just don’t see it anymore! Over 800,000 people are on the waiting list for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The wait time is generally about 18 months, with some of the highest wait times occurring in California! Wait time for Fresno is 684 days and Long Beach a staggering 724 days. In 2017, 10,000 of these citizens died before ever getting the help they needed. Isn’t it time to remove the barriers? Your vote could do just that!

California has 1,896,634 people who are of working age that have disabilities. Over 500,000 live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Only 700,456 of the 1.8+ million people actually have jobs. People want to work – they need to work. Having a sense of fulfillment and feeling productive in life is something we all desire.

There were only 29,000 new jobs for people with disabilities in 2018, a ten-fold decrease from 2016. California saw the biggest job losses among people with disabilities, with more than 21,000 workers with disabilities leaving the labor force. Don’t believe for a minute that your voice should go unheard during the elections!

Our California school system has some serious issues, but especially for students with disabilities. In 2018 the CA graduation rate increased to 83% but for those children with disabilities there was only a 66.3% increase. This indicates that not only the students with disabilities are encountering hinderances, but their families are also looking at income limitations as well as self-sufficiency challenges. If we want to see change for the better in our educational system, it’s up to us to act.

According to a recent survey, 74% of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member or friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on us all! Over 1 billion people have a disability in the world today. More than 100 million are children. Disabled individuals are the world’s largest minority!

According to the Census Bureau, more than 56 million Americans live with some form of disability. More than half of Americans with disabilities have reached out to their elected officials or attended a political rally in the recent past versus the 39% of Americans without a disability. People don’t just want to see change, they want to see strong, bold, significant change.

I know some people may be reading this today thinking this topic doesn’t really pertain to them. Please take this into consideration: the disabled community is the world’s largest minority that any of us can become a member of at any time! One accident, or even just one injury can thrust you into this group, like it or not. 20% of those who are currently in the work force will encounter a disability that could last one year or more.

Approximately one third of the families in the U.S. already have one family member who is disabled. 10% of U.S. families have one or more children with disabilities. This is not and never has been an “us and them” thing. We are all in this together, so why not make the voice of truth, fairness, opportunity and accessibility be heard for all?

American author Pearl Buck is best known for her novel, The Good Earth (winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1932), and recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature that wrote:

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.

Isn’t it our responsibility as a nation to make sure that all people have their rights protected? Voting is one of those privileges we have that can make a difference in our society for today and for the generations to come.