By Christina Gleason
As the MOMocrats team prepares to head to Philadelphia to cover the Democratic National Convention, we would like to take this opportunity to lobby for reasonable accommodations for a neglected subset of Democratic delegates with disabilities. As a neurodiversity consultant, disability advocate, and disabled person myself, it is my honor to introduce a petition on the behalf of MOMocrats and visually impaired delegates and convention attendees:
The DNC is a private organization that is not bound to adhere to all ADA best practices in serving its disabled member-delegates. At the 2016 Convention, great progress has been made to add Audio Description (narration for visually impaired people of video live-stream of events). In previous conventions as well as this current one, there has been provision for sign language accompaniment of major speeches and events as well as closed captioning of video material, and physical access for mobility-impaired attendees in accordance with ADA laws. This is all praiseworthy.
But the accommodations for visually impaired delegates have not kept pace. Given barriers that Democratic Party 2016 convention delegates with vision impairment have experienced in trying to gain access, it’s time for the Democratic National Convention to commit to the following to guarantee full future participation by visually impaired people:
1) non-voting floor credentials for their personal sighted/abled aides. Some blind and visually impaired delegates, for example, require people to help them navigate in crowded, complex situations a guide dog or other assistive device cannot.
2) space in Convention center(s) for a workstation with a computer and a scanner so that print documents can be scanned and digitized with an OCDR program like Kurtzweil so that blind delegates can participate fully in the proceedings. Blind/visually impaired delegates may also need a page to run the documents to the office and an office member or a volunteer to scan the documents. (If the volunteer is not familiar with Kurtzweil they will need to be trained in advance.)
3) access to the disability agenda organizers so delegates with disabilities can be full participants in meetings the Democratic Party might hold on platform language and policy regarding those issues.
4) official adoption of ADA best practices for all disabled people, including the visually impaired, into the the DNC charter so this private organization can ensure full participation of all attendees.
Sign the petition now!