I'm glad that Hillary Clinton just announced her support of the Disability Integration Act, which would give people with disabilities the right to live in the community with the services and supports we need to remain independent.
Disability activists are rightfully ecstatic that she's taken this step but hold up a minute! I'm the Angry Black Womyn, so you know that there's something controversial that I'm going to bring up that'll put a stop to the clinking of the champagne glasses.
Yes, I'll be the Bitch who says it: if you as a Presidential candidate holds an event at a location that is inaccessible to people with disabilities, your support of disability legislation means NOTHING! It's not as if this is 1990 and you're saying, "huh, what's the ADA???
I'm referring to the fact that Hillary and Bill Clinton held separate campaign events (His was in support of his wife) that were inaccessible to folks who use wheelchairs. In fact, President Clinton's event was held in a stairs only venue!
It's cool that the Clintons acknowledged ADAPT and are in support of DIA, but if they truly thought about people with disabilities, they would have made sure that the venues they chose were accessible.
I understand that Presidential candidates depend on their staff to book their events but they, themselves, should check venues where they're booked and if it isn't accessible to EVERYONE (this means bathrooms too!), they have the power and authority to cancel the event there and have it elsewhere! Barring that, they should carefully and firmly instruct campaign staff on full accessibility and inclusion of disabled folks at their events and hold them accountable if they mess up.
I'm tired of our community giving these candidates a pass simply because they support disability legislation. Words, even on paper, mean nothing if you don't respect us enough to make sure that we can attend and fully participate in your events!
I've got mass respect for my ADAPT sisters and brothers and other activists and advocates for all the hard work that has been done, which makes me all the angrier because Presidential and other candidates must understand that action speaks louder than words and having events at accessible locations will go a long way to proving that you actually care about the legislation that you claim to support, and you're not just saying stuff to get a vote.
This isn't just about folks in chairs. Your events (and your websites and literature) must be accessible to EVERYONE - Deaf, blind, autistic, folks with mobility issues who don't use wheelchairs. If you're spending BILLIONS on your campaign, surely you can afford to hire interpreters for Deaf folks at your events, print literature in alternative formats, have your IT people build websites that are accessible to all and have seating at your events for everyone, because even those who don't use wheelchairs, walkers, canes or other mobility devices may still have mobility, fatigue or endurance problems.
I mean this for ALL the Presidential candidates, not just Hillary! I've got my eye on Bernie Sanders, too! I'm just as incensed to hear similar complaints that his events are sometimes inaccessible and that supporters have had bad experiences at his rallies.
Both Democratic candidates say that they have staff assigned to address disability issues. Why, then, has this happened and continues to happen?
Democrats and progressives must stop taking us for granted, feeling that they've automatically got our vote. You have to earn it! You have to really care about us as a voting bloc. You have to always talk about and profile and act on our issues and concerns as you do everyone else, not mention us here and there, if at all.
As for the Republicans, as I stated earlier, this means you too! Yes, I know that you hate us. Yes, I know that if one of you becomes President, you're going to make our lives a miserable living hell. At least you're honest. At least we know where we stand with you! Still, by law, you must make your events accessible to all. I'm watching you too!
Secretary Clinton, if you are a true friend to the Disability community, I expect not to hear any more complaints about accessibility at your upcoming events. Senator Sanders, I expect that you'll consider the complaint against you regarding this, also and address this. Oh, and thanks for supporting and co-sponsoring the Disability Integration Act!
There! I've got that off my chest!