[People who wish to communicate with the Obama administration should PLEASE CONTACT THEM DIRECTLY. I am NOT able to pass along your emails to the Obama administration. You can contact the White House at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/. Or you may prefer to contact the White House Office of Public Liaison, which in their own words is "the front door to the White House through which everyone can participate and inform the work of the President," at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/opl/]
This is NOT the place to leave your emails for Obama.
From all over the United States and around the world, Deaf people and our loved ones, colleagues, and other allies are doing it. So are people with disabilities, loved ones, colleagues, and allies. And so are both bloggers and readers. Together, we have been working to ensure Obama’s team knows that people around the world are ready to hold him accountable for the promises he has made to Deaf people and to people with disabilities.
Ever since this Call to Action was first posted, people have been educating themselves about Obama’s campaign promises to people with disabilities. Then people have been sending emails to Kareem Dale, Obama’s National Disability Vote Director (at firstname.lastname@example.org), WITH COPIES TO Anne Hayes, a volunteer on the Obama Disability Policy Committee (at email@example.com). Through these emails, people have been letting Obama’s team know that we stand ready to hold him accountable for his promises.
Are you a blogger? Or, do you do Facebook? Have you copy/pasted the original a Call to Action at YOUR blog or Facebook page to help encourage YOUR readers to participate? The bloggers listed below have done their part. How about you?
(If you decide to post the Call to Action, please be sure to copy/paste from the text used at http://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/disabilities-email-obama/ — this is the original version, and always the most up-to-date version. Other versions may have been slightly modified to tailor them for different audiences or may be using slightly older versions of the Call to Action.)
And, of course, don’t forget to WRITE YOUR OWN EMAILS TO OBAMA! To be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org WITH COPIES TO email@example.com
As of November 17, 2008
One blogger has posted two videos in American Sign Language (ASL) about Obama and also mentioned the email-writing campaign:
THANK YOU to Wheelie Catholic for including a link to the Call to Action in the navigation bar on her blog site: http://wheeliecatholic.blogspot.com/ This means all visitors to her site learn about the Call to Action no matter what page they look at first. I hope other bloggers consider following her example.
As of November 15, 2008
Brief mentions, and a link, at:
As of November 12, 2008
http://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/disabilities-email-obama/ (the original!)
And the campaign has also received a brief mention at …
THANK YOU! To all bloggers (and Facebookers) who have been helping to circulate the Call to Action!
I also would like to share a big THANK YOU to people who have been circulating the alert via email to their loved ones, friends, and colleagues to urge them to take action. Please continue to do so! Again, the original, and most up-to-date version of the Call to Action is posted at http://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/disabilities-email-obama/Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Change for People with Disabilities and Deaf People: Time to Email Obama!
On November 4, 2008, millions of Deaf people and people with disabilities across the United States and around the world joined our non-disabled peers in watching the United States election results. Obama supporters cheered or wept to learn that the next US president would be Obama. Then we cheered or wept again when Obama mentioned people with disabilities in his acceptance speech. History was made–not only for America, not only for Black people, not only for Kenya and all of Africa, not only for Indigenous peoples, but also for people with disabilities.
But we cannot afford to allow the moment to end here. Whether we supported Obama, McCain, or another candidate, we all know there is far too much work ahead before we can say, “Yes, we have made real change for people with disabilities.”
It is time for people with disabilities, our loved ones, our neighbors, and colleagues to join together, across ideological divides, to reach out to Obama. We should all send an email to Kareem Dale, Obama’s National Disability Vote Director (at firstname.lastname@example.org), WITH COPIES TO Anne Hayes, a volunteer on the Obama Disability Policy Committee (at email@example.com).
First, we should thank Obama — and also Kareem Dale — for mentioning people with disabilities in Obama’s acceptance speech on November 4. Ensure that they understand how much it matters simply for us to be included. How did you feel when Obama mentioned us? Share your story.
Second, we should tell Obama and Kareem Dale that we are aware of Obama’s disability platform. He promised to increase educational opportunities; end discrimination; increase employment opportunities; and support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities. And he promised to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the first international, legally-binding human rights treaty for people with disabilities. Tell Obama and Kareem Dale that we are ready to call Obama to account if he fails us. But more importantly, we are ready to work with him for change for people with disabilities.
It is important to send your disability-related emails to BOTH Kareem Dale AND Anne Hayes (firstname.lastname@example.org AND email@example.com) between now and inauguration day. Kareem Dale’s email address may change between now and January 20, 2009. Anne Hayes can help ensure that emails sent to Kareem Dale are not lost during this time of transition.
Both Kareem Dale and others who have worked on disability issues within the Obama campaign are ready to receive YOUR emails on disability-related issues for US President-elect Obama. Emails are welcome from across the United States and around the world. If you are a US citizen, then please say so in your email.
Learn more about Obama’s plan for people with disabilities at: http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/disabilities/
Yes, the video is captioned. And if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can download Obama’s Full Plan for people with disabilities in PDF format (62 Kb).
Read Obama’s acceptance speech at: http://www.barackobama.com/2008/11/04/remarks_of_presidentelect_bara.php
Want to read someone else’s letter to Obama before you write your own? Come to: http://reunifygally.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/thank_you_obama_disabilities/
Learn more about the CRPD at http://ratifynow.org/ratifynow-faq/
If you wish to contact Obama’s staff on some topic other than disability, then you can send an email via his web page at http://www.change.gov/page/s/ofthepeople
Please circulate this email freely, or post this at your own blog or web site.
This text was first posted at http://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/disabilities-email-obama/ The most updated version will be here, so please consult before cross-posting.
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
“It is the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, DISABLED and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.”
–President-Elect Barack Obama
Acceptance speech, November 4, 2008; emphasis added
Dear President Elect Barack Obama:
I wanted to convey a heartfelt THANK YOU to President elect Obama for making an entire class of excluded citizens visible in his acceptance speech last night: people with disabilities. THANK YOU for including the word “disabled” in your acceptance speech last night.
I am a Deaf US citizen who also has attention deficit disorder and a mild foot problem. So I, too, am an American with disabilities. This is the first time I can recall feeling included in a political campaign as a person with disabilities.
Historically, people with disabilities have been pushed to the margins, confined to our homes–or worse, to institutions. This was partly because of who we are and partly because people simply did not prioritize our inclusion, even when it would be simple to do so. Then, because we were not allowed to be in the mainstream of society, people didn’t see us–and thus assumed we do not exist. So the issues and concerns with the most profound impact on our lives, our most basic freedoms, and even our day to day survival have been historically assumed to not matter.
We are among the largest minority groups in this country–the World Health Organization estimates we comprise about 10% of the population. Yet people don’t see us in their streets, in their homes, in their offices, in the policies that they draft, in the programs they run, or in their lives. In American society, and around the world, we are consistently “invisibilized.” Most politicians, most of the time, don’t even mention us the way Obama did last night. We are so consistently excluded that even tokenism would be a step forward for us.
I voted for Obama yesterday morning for many reasons. But one important motivation for me was that he was the only candidate to provide a truly comprehensive disability rights platform (PDF format, 62 Kb). It is particularly unique and impressive in that it is one of the few acknowledgments by a politician that disability issues are not confined to social protection programs, or to services for veterans disabled in war, or to education services for so-called “special needs” children.
All of these are important concerns also, but Obama’s platform is a rare recognition that people with disabilities are not a monolithic group. Social protection programs are not the start and end of our needs; we are not all veterans; and we are not all children. We are mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, friends and confidantes, co-workers and professional colleagues, spouses and partners, neighbors, and even professional and athletic rivals. We are everyone. And our needs are, correspondingly, as complex as the needs of everyone else.
Above all, as with any other marginalized minority group, our needs include the need for human rights protections. This makes it particularly noteworthy that Obama was the only candidate to pledge to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and encourage the Senate to ratify it.
Yet: when Obama referred to “disabled” (and non-disabled) people in his speech last night, I stopped breathing. Even with his disability platform in mind, I had not been prepared for this moment. Suddenly, one of the most overlooked group of Americans was acknowledged as a force in our own right. Suddenly, I felt visible.
I had to stop writing this letter twice because I kept stopping to weep. How powerful a thing it is, simply to be validated. Simply to have a president elect of the country acknowledge that we exist. How powerful a thing it is, to have a president elect of the country acknowledge us, not as a special class apart, but as a part of the mainstream of society. Exactly as we should be. Exactly where we belong.
Mr. Obama, you can expect more letters from me in the years to come. I am a person with many opinions and am not afraid to express them. In particular, I will be calling upon you to follow through on your pledge to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). You can bet I will be calling you to account on your promises to Americans with disabilities!
But for now, just for today–thank you. Thank you for referring to Americans with disabilities in your acceptance speech on the evening of November 4, 2008. Just, thank you–for acknowledging us and for including us. Thank you.
Ms. Andrea Shettle, MSW
This is an open letter to Barack Obama. I hope other Deaf people, and people with disabilities in general, will join me in reaching out to Obama from across the US and around the world. Thank him for including us in his remarks on election night. And remind him of his campaign promises to Americans with disabilities (Follow the link to download the 8-page, 62 Kb PDF file.
Even if you didn’t vote for Obama–if you are in the US, he will be your president too. Democrats and Republicans may disagree with each other on a great many things, including who would have been a better president for Americans with disabilities. But I think we also have many concerns in common that are well worth crossing the ideological divide. No matter who we voted for, let’s work together to ensure that we are increasingly included, and increasingly visible, in the mainstream of American politics and policies and public life. Let’s work together to ensure that we are included in the mainstream of society, full stop.
If you’re interested specifically in the CRPD–the first international, legally-binding human rights treaty to protect a wide range of human rights for people with disabilities around the world–check out RatifyNow.org. Ratification of the CRPD is very much consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with the bonus that it could help expand human rights protections into areas not currently covered in the ADA.
Obama’s administration can be contacted via his new Office of Public Liaison.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 18 so far )
When Deaf people go to vote tomorrow (that is, those of us who haven’t already participated in early voting), we will have many of the same concerns that all other Americans have. The economy. The war in Iraq. The economy. Health care. Creating jobs. Oh, wait, that’s the economy again.
But, of course, in addition to all these other concerns, we also worry about which presidential candidate really understands the needs of Deaf Americans, or the needs of people with disabilities in general. We need a president who understands that social welfare is not the only item on the agenda of Deaf people or people with disabilities. We also care very much about accessibility and human rights.
Can a man who sees only the limitations in disability, and not the accommodations that could work around them, understand the salience and importance of accessibility and human rights for Americans with disabilities? Can a man who assumes a disability–even his own, caused by war injuries–automatically means “cannot do” understand why human right laws matter for people with disabilities? You decide for yourself. Here’s a video on McCain’s apparent assumption that his war injuries supposedly make it impossible for him to use a computer. And yes, it is unabashedly a pro-Obama video, though the Obama message doesn’t come until the end.
If McCain had simply said, “I just don’t understand new fangled technology, and that’s why I don’t do email,” I could have understood that. There are plenty of older Americans who have not managed to become comfortable with the Internet. My own parents-in-law only sporadically use the Internet. My grandmother, if I recall correctly, never used the computer at all before she died a few years ago. Certainly I know she never got an email account. I don’t think it’s so terrible to have a president who isn’t comfortable using email personally, just as long as he understands the importance of the Internet for everyone else and the economy as a whole.
But when he tries to claim that he can’t use computers because his hands won’t let him, then I’m considerably less impressed. This makes me think he hasn’t learned about the full range of possible options that technology has opened up to people with disabilities of all sorts. This makes me think he sees the limitations as being inherent to his impairment when most of his perceived “limitations” are actually created by his poorly designed environment.
If he can’t even understand that distinction, then how can he understand the importance of strengthening the Americans with Disabilities Act so that it has real teeth? How can he understand the importance of expanding the range of human rights protections afforded to Deaf people and people with disabilities through actions such as signing the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
No, this video wasn’t a “make or break” moment for me. And I don’t expect it to be for you either. I know I had already made up my mind for Obama well before this, for a long list of reasons–including the fact that I think he would be better for the economy than McCain, and the fact that he was the only candidate who even cared about voters with disabilities enough to bother having his staff write up a truly comprehensive disability platform. I’m sure most of you have already decided who you’ll vote for. Or if you haven’t, you’ll be looking for something more substantive than this to sway you.
But, what the hey. I still like this video. And even if you don’t like the pro-Obama message at the end, I still think the first part of the video makes a worthwhile point–relevant to all Deaf Americans, Americans with disabilities, and the people who know us.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 8 so far )
Note that, of course, Deaf people would be affected by McCain-Palin disability policies just as much as Americans with disabilities generally. (See press release further below) This is one of a great many reasons (not all related to disability policy) that I will be voting for the Obama-Biden ticket this coming Tuesday.
Simply put, I trust Obama to be more attentive to Deaf rights and disability rights as a HUMAN RIGHTS issue–not just another code word for “welfare” or “charity” or so called “special needs.” From the primary stage onwards, Obama was the only leading candidate to have a comprehensively written disability platform that includes a strong endorsement of the Americans with Disability Act, and a clear commitment on Obama’s part to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Read this FAQ for more information about the CRPD. And you can read Obama’s disability platform in PDF format for yourself; it’s only 62 Kb, so even slow modems shouldn’t have too much trouble downloading it.
National Coalition for Disability Rights
October 31, 2008
Disability Rights Organizations Express Outrage Over Attacks at McCain-Palin Rally
(Washington, DC) The National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) pushed back today against the McCain-Palin campaign for ridiculing the legal rights of people with disabilities. News reports describe McCain-Palin campaign representative Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo), joining Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin at a rally in Rush Limbaugh’s hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, mocking Presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama for stating that he’s looking to nominate judges who empathize with “the disabled.”
“It’s Halloween and it seems that Sarah Palin’s mask of support for people with “special needs” is slipping. Despite past pandering to people with disabilities, McCain-Palin are actually opposed to vital disability legislation like the Community Choice Act and they want to appoint judges who will further roll back the civil rights protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” declared NCDR’s founder and president, Jim Ward.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg has reported that McCain-Palin’s and conservatives’ “most oft-mentioned prospects” for nomination to the Supreme Court include Ohio Judge Jeffrey Sutton. Sutton was opposed by hundreds of disability organizations when he was nominated by President Bush after successfully weakening the ADA with states’ rights arguments. As a sitting judge, he has recently supported the execution of criminals with developmental disabilities and has undermined the Help America Vote Act(HAVA).
Disability rights advocates are further incensed that the McCain-Palin campaign has reframed this civil rights struggle, one founded in concepts of equality, dignity and self-respect, as an issue of “special needs.”
Disability rights advocate, Steve Gold states, “Yes we need support services. Yes we need inclusive education. Yes we need integrated employment. Yes we need equal rights. This not “special”. These needs are based on us, people with disabilities, equal members of our communities. We are not inspirational nor are we “special”. We are PROUD PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES who should push back when anyone describes us as anything but equal members of our communities.”
The National Coalition for Disability Rights is a nonpartisan nonprofit that does not endorse political candidates. We are a coalition of national, state and local disability, civil rights and social justice organizations united to protect and promote the human rights of children and adults with physical and mental disabilities.
This press release was circulated via the ADA Watch email list.