Change for People with Disabilities: Time to Email Obama!

Posted on 7 November 2008. Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Audism, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (, CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabili, Email Obama!, International | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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, WITH COPIES TO Anne Hayes, a volunteer on the Obama Disability Policy Committee (at

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 ( AND 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:

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:

Want to read someone else’s letter to Obama before you write your own? Come to:

Learn more about the CRPD at

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

Please circulate this email freely, or post this at your own blog or web site.

This text was first posted at The most updated version will be here, so please consult before cross-posting.

“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


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7 Responses to “Change for People with Disabilities: Time to Email Obama!”

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check out this site…

Obama’s site for his transition.. wonderful stuff!!

President (elect) Obama & Vice-President (elect) Biden,

The issue of providing access to government officials and government offices for Americans who happen to be deaf, must not be allowed to fall into the category of a “special interest”. This issue is NOT a special interest, it is a fundamental issue that says, as an American, who happens to be deaf, I have a right to have full access to everything that MY elected officials do and say in the execution of their duties. This means, providing TDD/TTY phone numbers for Americans who happen to be deaf, like your campaign and the Democratic National Committee failed to do throughout the entire election.
This means making it law that anytime an elected official appears in public, be it on television or an online video, everything he/she says MUST be captioned, without exception.
This means that every government office and every elected official, be it Federal, State or Local, must provide access to their American constituents who happen to be deaf.
This means that anytime an elected official appears in public, a Sign Language Interpreter MUST be present. If you held a rally and then someone came in and picked out some people and said, “you can’t listen to this speech”, you would be outraged, and rightly so — and not providing access for Americans who happen to be deaf, is tantamount to just that.
This means that every single PUBLIC service message MUST be captioned for Americans who happen to be deaf. By way of example, there has been a huge campaign lately on behalf of the American Lung Association, to encourage people to get flu shots. The spots are never captioned. They will not answer me when I ask why. But I know why — it is a matter of not wanting to spend the money to caption these ads. If this message is important enough to spend that kind of money to get the message out to Americans, isn’t it also important enough to spend a little extra to get the message out to Americans who happen to be deaf?
Your election, to the highest office in the land, sends a new, clear message to every American child who happens to be Black, that they too can achieve anything they set their mind to. Let your election also send a new, clear message that American children, who happen to be Deaf, can also achieve anything they set their mind to.
You told Republicans, “I will be your President too.” I need to “see you say” that you will be MY President, too.
So today I am posing a question to you: “Will you be MY President too?”
I have asked my own elected officials about this issue many times, for many years now. I have received an answer from only one of them who said, “it’s not my problem”. I plan to ask you this question every single day of your administration, until you tell me that you will address this issue. There are new ads out now on television, encouraging people to ask their elected officials whatever questions they might have, and DEMAND an answer. (The ads are not captioned.) This is what I plan to do — demand an answer.
Let me reiterate by saying, this is not a special interest issue. I’m not asking you to caption my favorite movie. I am asking for total access to my government; the access we afford everyone else.
Your campaign and the DNC failed every American, who happens to be deaf, this election year by not providing even one TDD/TTY line for us to contact you. Election Protection failed us by not having even one TDD/TTY line, so Americans who happen to be deaf, could get help understanding their rights as voters.
Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee failed us again. His first message to the American people after your election, was not captioned for Americans who happen to be deaf.
You know how disheartening it can be when you are excluded. Your lovely wife mentioned in an interview, how African-Americans have heard “no” for so long, they began to just expect that the answer would always be “no.” (I’m paraphrasing) So you can you imagine how Americans, who happen to be deaf, after standing in line for hours to vote for you – Americans like me, felt this morning when they clicked on Howard Dean’s message and saw only his lips moving?
“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America.”
But unfortunately, there is a “Hearing America” and a “Deaf America” Please help us end this disparity, forever, so that we too can join you in the task of moving America forward.
So I would like an answer to my question: “Will you be my President, too?”
Samuel Hayes

The greatest obstacle that people with Disabilities will have to overcome, is the notion that we are “special interest” groups. The rights we seek are NOT a “special interest”, but rather a fundamental right.

This email was sent to my friends on 4th November 2hours after Obama’s acceptance Speech. Read it NOW. YES WE CAN make disability history!

Dear Friends (especially Americans with or without disabilities),

Today, i am tempted to write on Sen. Obama’s victory and its implication to Americans with Disabilities in particular and PWDs in general (world-wide). Many scholars and some politicians have been questioning why the international community was fondly behind Obama’s presidency. They argued that nothing different will happen outside America but when i tasked some of them to distinguish between Obama’s and McCain’s foreign policies they could not. Now, its a defining moment and the world is watching America. Early this morning at his victory celebration in Chicago, Obama was quoted as saying;

“If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where anything is possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,”

“Young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans have sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of red states and blue states,” he said. “We have been and always will be the United States of America”.

Therefore, my attention has been paid to the second quotation – Its a hope for a reason and a reason for hope -Its about us – we, individuals with disabilities. When i read it, i cried tears of joy. It is not a secret, America is superpower… Its like a heart of the world. Meaning that a better America is a better world. A month ago, i was paid by Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington DC for their failure to fix TTY (phone for hearing impaired people) in my hotel room. This partly explains that a better America is a better place for everyone. Sen. Obama’s own foreign policies tells us all. You are also reminded that disability is one of the Obama’s top priorities – focusing on early intervention! You will also recall that Sen. Obama played a key role in the formulating and approval of various regulations relating to disability…

So what? Since Sen. (now President-Elect) Obama promised change which is already in America… Let AWDs tell him to change whatever disable them because they are Americans first – so that America can send a message to the World as he has stated it early today. Tell him that all his support nationally and internationally should be inclusive… Your voices counted in this historical elections so let us demand for change in our lives too. The most important thing is to watch closely to any changes and ensure that all the changes made are inclusive – No Person is to be Left Behind! The International community (beneficiaries of US government support) will also demand for change wherever its necessary and that change must not only be necessary but it must be sufficient to the needs of PWDs…

Just few points for today! Americans: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU A BILLION TIMES, THANK YOU for choosing Obama.

My best regards,

Ambrose Murangira,
International Disability Activist,

Below is a list of U.S. Senators as of November 9, 2008.
The column to the right indicates if they have a TDD or TTY
phone number listed on their websites so their Deaf and
Hearing Impaired constituents can contact them.
Of those who do show a TDD/TTY number listed, 99%
of those only have TDD/TTY numbers for their Washington,
D.C. offices and not for their local offices.
If anyone finds an error, please contact me and I will
correct the error.


Akaka, Daniel K. (D HI) NO
Alexander, Lamar (RN) NO
Allard, Wayne (R CO) NO
Barrasso, John (R WY) NO
Baucus, Max (D MT) YES
Bayh, Evan (D IN) NO
Bennett, Robert F. (RUT) NO
Biden, Joseph R., Jr. (D DE) NO
Bingaman, Jeff (D NM) YES
Bond, Christopher S. (R MO) NO
Boxer, Barbara (D CA) YES
Brown, Sherrod (D OH) NO
Brownback, Sam (R KS) NO
Bunning, Jim (R KY) NO
Burr, Richard (R NC) NO
Byrd, Robert C. (D WV) NO
Cantwell, Maria (D WA) YES
Cardin, Benjamin L. (D MD) NO
Carper, Thomas R. (D DE) NO
Casey, Robert P., Jr. (D PA) NO
Chambliss, Saxby (R GA) NO
Clinton, Hillary (D NY) YES
Coburn, Tom (R OK) NO
Cochran, Thad (R MS) NO
Coleman, Norm (R MN) NO
Collins, Susan M. (R ME) NO
Conrad, Kent (D ND) NO
Corker, Bob (R TN) NO
Cornyn, John (R TX) NO
Craig, Larry E. (R ID) NO
Crapo, Mike (R ID) NO
DeMint, Jim (R SC) NO
Dodd, Christopher J. (D CT) NO
Dole, Elizabeth (R NC) NO
Domenici, Pete V. (R NM) NO
Dorgan, Byron L. (D ND) NO
Durbin, Richard (D IL) NO
Ensign, John (R NV) YES
Enzi, Michael B. (RWY) NO
Feingold, Russell D. (D WI) YES
Feinstein, Dianne (D CA) YES
Graham, Lindsey (R SC) NO
Grassley, Chuck (R IA) NO
Gregg, Judd (R NH) NO
Hagel, Chuck (R NE) NO
Harkin, Tom (D IA) YES
Hatch, Orrin G. (R UT) NO
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R TX) YES
Inhofe, James M. (R OK) NO
Inouye, Daniel K. (D HI) NO
Isakson, Johnny (R GA) NO
Johnson, Tim (D SD) NO
Kennedy, Edward M. (D MA) NO
Kerry, John F. (D MA) NO
Klobuchar, Amy (D MN) NO
Kohl, Herb (D WI) NO
Kyl, Jon (R AZ) NO
Landrieu, Mary L. (D LA) NO
Lautenberg, Frank R. (D NJ) YES
Leahy, Patrick J. (D VT) NO
Levin, Carl (D MI) YES
Lieberman, Joseph I. (I DT) YES
Lincoln, Blanche L. (D AR) NO
Lugar, Richard G. (R IN) NO
Martinez, Mel (R FL) NO
McCain, John (R AZ) NO
McCaskill, Claire (D MO) NO
McConnell, Mitch (R KY) NO
Menendez, Robert (D NJ) NO
Mikulski, Barbara A. (D MD) NO
Murkowski, Lisa (R AK) NO
Murray, Patty (D WA) NO
Nelson, Bill (D FL) NO
Nelson, E. Benjamin (D NE) NO
Obama, Barack (D IL) YES
Pryor, Mark L. (D AR) NO
Reed, Jack (D RI) NO
Reid, Harry (D NV) NO
Roberts, Pat (R KS) NO
Rockefeller, John D., IV (D WV) NO
Salazar, Ken (D CO) NO
Sanders, Bernard (I VT) NO
Schumer, Charles E. (D NY) YES
Sessions, Jeff (R AL) NO
Shelby, Richard C. (R AL) NO
Smith, Gordon H. (R OR) NO
Snowe, Olympia J. (R ME) NO
Specter, Arlen (R PA) NO
Stabenow, Debbie (D MI) YES
Stevens, Ted (R AK) NO
Sununu, John E. (R NH) NO
Tester, Jon (D MT) NO
Thune, John (R SD) NO
Vitter, David (R LA) NO
Voinovich, George V. (R OH) NO
Warner, John (R VA) NO
Webb, Jim (D VA) NO
Whitehouse, Sheldon (D RI) NO
Wicker, Roger F. (R MS) NO
Wyden, Ron (D OR) NO


I made a video depicting the systematic problems relating to the deaf community in America (disgraceful education, inadequate job opportunities, and abysmal social integration).

The video also encourages deaf people to unite and show Obama these problems. I included Obama’s disability agenda bulletpoints in the video. Since Obama’s disability awareness is powerful by itself, his acknowledgment of disabled people in that speech only adds to the potential there.

Check it out at


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