Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. For us, it is an opportunity to reiterate the importance of strengthening our efforts to build a more inclusive and accessible Democrats Abroad.
We hope that each Chapter and Country Committee will consider identifying a member who can monitor opportunities for more accessible communications, events and information. Easy fixes include avoiding small typefaces, reminding participants online how they can access closed captioning and other tools, ensuring accessibility for “live” events and recognizing the disruptive effects of chat entries for people using screen readers.
One resource is the Justice Department’s new ADA website:
Comments About Vigilance for Rights and Protections vs. Unreasonable Attacks
We’ve been reminded by recent events of a particular issue plaguing our community, the active blaming and marginalizing of people with disabilities in lieu of the strengthening of access, services and support.
Conflating homelessness with mental illness, New York Mayor Eric Adams has initiated a policy which requires the, according to the New York Times, “involuntarily hospitalizing people who were a danger to themselves, even if they posed no risk of harm to others, arguing the city had a “moral obligation” to help them.”
“The common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent,” Mr. Adams said in an address at City Hall. “Going forward, we will make every effort to assist those who are suffering from mental illness.”
“The mayor’s announcement comes at a heated moment in the national debate about rising crime and the role of the police, especially in dealing with people who are already in fragile mental health. Republicans, as well as tough-on-crime Democrats like Mr. Adams, a former police captain, have argued that growing disorder calls for more aggressive measures. Left-leaning advocates and officials who dominate New York politics say that deploying the police as auxiliary social workers may do more harm than good.”
Mental illness is the most often-used default when Republicans want to avoid acknowledging the extreme need for much stronger gun regulations. There is a certain irony in the absence of concern for the actual creation of disabilities as a result of those who survive gun violence. The issue is also being used as a diversion, not as an expression of genuine concern or understanding.
These same people would undoubtedly erupt if the perpetrators of gun crimes actually use mental illness as an element of their defense. While there is no doubt that there is a strong need for better policy, laws and practices to support people with disabilities but for the vast majority of people who need these changes, violent behavior isn’t the reason.
One Goal for 2023
Please encourage at least one of your members to join the Global Disability Caucus. We need allies, whether or not they are currently experiencing a disability. The addition of new leaders and volunteers could greatly expand our (and your) ability to inform, educate, coordinate action and impact legislation. They can reach us at [email protected]
Congratulations on your mighty efforts to defend Democracy during the midterms and thank you for your support of the candidates and policies which help ensure better lives for all Americans.
Chair, Global Disability Caucus