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TO:              DNC Disability Council Members
FROM:         Anna Perng, Disability Council Co-Secretary
                     Nellie Wild, Disability Council Co-Secretary
DATE:          July 1, 2019
RE:              Message from Chair Coelho

Dear Disability Council members, 

The 2020 presidential campaign season is officially in full swing with the first of twelve debates having taken place in Miami last week. As you know, we made great progress in 2016 with Hillary, and more since then, thanks to you and your perseverance.

However, I would be out of touch if I didn’t recognize the communal disappointment in the Miami debates. I know that many of you are feeling ignored and discouraged because there was no mention of disability – other than inappropriate comments concerning mental health and gun violence. I share your frustration!

We also recently learned that none of the Democratic candidates’ websites are fully accessible, which is unacceptable.

I am writing to ask you not to give up, but instead, do as Ed Roberts said, “advocate, advocate, advocate!” Our community’s influence has grown significantly within the DNC in the past three years, and even though we have seemingly gotten off to a less than optimal start with these debates, we are just getting started.

We must insert ourselves into this process and one way to do that is by submitting debate questions. As each debate nears, the opportunities to submit questions will be provided by the DNC and the host networks. Keep a watch on emails from the DNC and the Disability Council with links to submit questions - and make sure you share the link on social media.

If you submitted questions for this last debate and they were not asked, submit the same questions again next time. Also, let me know that you did! I’ll do everything in my power to ensure that we are heard during the next round of debates.

Together, as the Disability Council, we can prepare for the upcoming Detroit debates on July 30th and 31st. We all need to work hard together over the next couple of weeks to prepare debate questions – lots of them – so we have a repository of questions to submit for the next and subsequent debates.

We will be in touch again soon with pertinent information, including the timeline and process for submitting questions for the upcoming debates. We must all work together to ensure that our voices are being heard in future Democratic debates, and for nothing less than full inclusion in the 2020 presidential race.

Lead on,

Tony Coelho

DNC Disability Council Chair

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