American with Disabilities Act for event organizers

The American with Disabilities Act is a wide-ranging statute that passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed into law by the first Bush as President in 1991. In case you weren't paying attention then, even Senator Jesse Helms supported this legislation.

Persons with disabilities just celebrated the law's anniversary in July, but much remains to be done to bring about compliance. I am writing this as a reminder to those of you responsible for organizing and planning political events, especially for candidates for office and their event planners.

You won't win votes from those with mobility issues who have difficulty walking and/or use a walker or a chair to get around, if you do as the Romney campaign has done and book an event in an inaccessible BBQ hut in Morrisville. However, I am not picking just on the Rs here. I complained myself about several Democratic Party events held in Raleigh at the Busy Bee. These were upstairs with no elevator for access.

I would suggest anyone holding an event just stop for a moment and think about how their grandmother or grandfather could get to an event, from arrival in a parking lot to getting inside and being able to move about without barriers.

No paved parking lot? Not good. No ramps or elevators where needed. Again, not good.

You could contact your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) if you live in the Asheville, Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville, or Wilmington areas. Ask your questions of persons with experience in helping folks with ADA compliance. In Raleigh the CIL is called the Alliance for Disability Advocates, and their phone number is 919-833-1117.

The Advocates are paid staff, but nearly all the staff have lived experience as a person with a disability. In Raleigh there are two on staff who use wheelchairs and can speak more authoritatively than I on what to look out for in planning an event.


A little irony here

Just got a robocall from the Mitt Romney campaign asking me to RSVP the event mentioned in the piece above. Not likely.

Martha Brock

Come on, Martha

You know you want to go. Ask for a press pass.

Judge rules NY City's voting places not in compliance with ADA

From the AP via Governing web site:

The judge said the plaintiffs had provided copious documentation of barriers at poll sites, ranging from unsafe ramps to missing signage and improper placement of voting equipment and furniture.

Batts said there was "pervasive and recurring barriers to accessibility" on election days at poll sites designated by the Board of Elections as adequate for the disabled.

She said federal law does not require perfection and she added that a magistrate judge can decide what remedy will work.

I have personally inspected several voting places in NC in Wake, Brunswick, Pender, and New Hanover counties. Some were in complete compliance. Most were not. Most Board of Elections staff were helpful and trying to meet the ADA's requirements.

Martha Brock