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February 5, 2020

Dear Disability Community Advocates,

We have major announcements in this month's newsletter!

Congratulations to Ted Jackson on his new position as Democratic National Convention Committee's (DNCC) Director of Accessibility and Disability Engagement. Ted has made vital contributions to the DNC and Disability Council, and look forward to working with Ted in the coming months! Chair Tom Perez has pledged that the 2020 Democratic National Convention will be the most accessible ever. In this newsletter, you'll find a special update from Ted about the 2020 Democratic National Convention, including a sign up link to volunteer. 

Please join me in welcoming Sarah Blahovec to the DNC. Sarah is a chronically ill disability advocate. Diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease at age 15, Sarah has always had a passion for politics and focuses her advocacy on civic engagement and issues that intersect the chronic illness and disability communities. She graduated from American University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, and after struggling to find mentors with disabilities in her field, began blogging about disability rights for the Huffington Post. Sarah was the Civic Engagement and Voting Rights Organizer for the National Council on Independent Living, where she created Elevate: Campaign Training for People with Disabilities, the only campaign training program for prospective political candidates with disabilities. Sarah is taking a leave of absence from NCIL to serve as the DNC Disability Community Engagement Manager.  She will be working with the DNC Political and Organizing department to build the representation and power of the disability community within the DNC, staff and assist the DNC Disability Council, and amplify the disability engagement work of the DNC and State parties. 

Lastly, save these dates: The New Hampshire debate will be on Feb. 7 in Manchester, N.H., and ABC, WMUR and Apple News will co-host at St. Anselm College. The following debates will be on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Feb. 25 in Charleston, South Carolina. If you are on social media, be sure to follow the hashtags #CripTheVote and #DemDebates. 

Thank you for fighting for accessibility and inclusion locally and nationally. Thank you for staying in this fight! 

In solidarity,

Tony Coelho
DNC Disability Council Chair

P.S. To follow Disability Council news and events, remember to "like" us on the Disability Council Facebook page

2020 Democratic National Convention

Ted Jackson has transitioned from his position at the DNC as National Disability Political Director and ADA Coordinator to the Democratic National Convention Committee's (DNCC) Director of Accessibility and Disability Engagement. 

The Disability Council, working with the DNC, Party colleagues and partners, and the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), increases access and engagement for people with disabilities. Some highlights over the past year include: training for DNC staff, state party officials and staff and campaigns; hosting grassroots capacity building events across the nation; working to engage disabled democrats and improve access for the debates; supporting the implementation of new delegate selection accessibility standards for the caucuses and primaries; and developing new accessibility and training protocols for the DNC's Voter Protection program. 

Ted Jackson started full-time on January 1st of 2020 to plan for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. For this convention the DNC started working on accessibility earlier than ever. In 2018 the Disability Council was engaged in developing the RFP that went out to applicant cities. Chair Tom Perez appointed Ted to the Technical Advisory Group that reviewed each site. In 2019, Ted began splitting time between DC and Milwaukee, carrying out his DNC duties and beginning to work on convention accessibility.

For 2020, we expect to see a larger path print for convention access. Some changes already in motion are an enhanced accommodation request system, the addition of an accessible shuttle system for delegations, early access training for people serving convention-goers, additional accessibility services locations throughout the convention map and a larger staff and pool of volunteers dedicated to accessibility.  

Finally, as part of these early efforts the convention's Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett have announced an accessible volunteer sign up portal. Volunteering is a great way for people to experience the convention, whether they are local or come from out of town. Sign up to volunteer here.

Voter Protection Committee update

The Voter Protection Committee’s efforts in 2019 resulted in sending out a letter from Tony Coelho, DNC Disability Council Chair, and Reyna Walters-Morgan, Director of Civic Engagement and Voter Protection for the DNC, on January 7th, 2020, to Secretary Alex Padilla, Chair of the Democratic Association for Secretaries of State.  The letter highlighted what the DNC and Disability Council believe to be the challenges for individuals with disabilities in voting and our commitment to helping each state fight for the protection of the vote of each individual, especially those with disabilities. As we move into 2020, we will work with Tony on creating a plan of action with Secretary Padilla on getting this issue in front of all Democratic Secretaries of State, ensuring that they have the information and education needed to protect the disability vote.

We continue to look at ways to get information on voting rights for people with disabilities to the States’ democratic organizations.  Part of this is identifying which states currently have a disability chair within their organization so that we can determine how to best disseminate information to each state party to empower democratic voters with disabilities in every state.  This past Fall, a DNC webinar, spearheaded by Ted Jackson, was made available to the state organizations which, in part, highlighted the rights of people with disabilities when voting. Eddie Correia, Co-Chair of the Disability Council’s Voter Protection Committee, provided an overview of the laws, issues in the past elections, and what we hope to accomplish in the coming election.

We know there are many challenges that are ahead of the 2020 election and we are committed to educating and empowering Democratic voters with disabilities on their rights while voting this year. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Eddie Correia and Kelly Simoneaux

Kelley B. Simoneaux and Eddie Correia
Co-Chairs, Disability Council Voter Protection Committee


Calling all DC-area Disability Advocates!

The DNC's Voter Protection Department has an exciting opportunity to volunteer on their hotline during primary season. They are looking for DC-area disability advocates and experts to share their knowledge and help troubleshoot problems on the day of primary elections. They will teach you the ropes of volunteering on a hotline --all you have to do is sign up for a shift! To volunteer, complete this survey and let the DNC know of your interest and availability. You do not need to be an attorney or have a legal background to volunteer. 


2020 Democratic National Convention Standing Committees 

Chair Tom Perez has issued a list of individuals he nominated for the 2020 Democratic National Convention committees. The Committees include the Rules Committee, Credentials Committee, and Platform Committee. Congratulations to all! 

Of note, Disability Council Vice Chair for Fundraising and Development  and advocate Janni Lehrer-Stein has been appointed to the Rules Committee. Henry Claypool, former Director of the Health and Human Services Office on Disability and a founding Principal Deputy Administrator of the Administration for Community Living, has been appointed to the Platform Committee. He served on the Committee in 2016. Friends to the Disability Council Secretary Alex Padilla has been nominated as Vice Chair of the Platform Committee, as well as Brian Bond. Again, congratulations to all! 

 Iowa Caucus Accessibility Accomplishments

Congratulations to Vice Chair of National Association of Democratic Disability Caucuses (NADDC) Catherine Crist and Amanda Koski, Iowa Democratic Party's Caucus Accessibility Director, on making the Iowa causes more accessible. Leading up to the caucuses, the Iowa Democratic Party and Iowa Disability Caucus engaged local and statewide disability organizations such as Disability Rights Iowa and centers for independent living for resources and technical assistance to provide accommodations. Satellite locations allowed seniors and disabled folks to caucus for the first time or in a long time. (In Des Moines, a caucus was held solely in ASL and IDP arranged paratransit services, and a bus for senior and disabled caucusers living in the Des Moines area.) IDP engaged a social media campaign to promote caucus accessibility and their advance accommodation request opportunity, which included a video in ASL from Deaf & LGBTQ celebrity Nyle DiMarco. ASL and video relay via VRI was provided on request at caucus sites. Technology for captioning and image description was also provided to caucus chairs to use for Hard of Hearing and Blind caucusers. IDP processed nearly 600 individual accommodation requests from caucusers. Congratulations to all! 


Finance Committee update

The DNC Disability Council Finance Committee's fundraising total grew this month, from an approximate $260,000! The Disability Council is in discussion about some very exciting upcoming Council fund-raising events, including an evening with our DNC Chair, Tom Perez, in San Francisco in March, as well as events anticipated in Washington, New York and possibly Chicago with major surrogates from national leadership. If you would like to make a small contribution, please use this link.  If you would like to help plan these upcoming events, please reach out to us. Looking forward to a very exciting year working with you all. What an honor! 

- Disability Council Vice Chair for Fundraising and Development Janni Lehrer-Stein and co-chair Dylan Bulkeley-Krane.  

Let us know what's happening in your region.

If you would like to share news of events within your own state’s Disability Caucus, for inclusion in this newsletter, please contact Midwestern Disability Council Vice-Chair Dr. Terry Friedrichs, Western Chair Jayson Morris, and Eastern Chair Monica Wiley.  


2020 Campaign Calendar Countdown by DemList
February 7: Eighth Democratic Primary Debate (Manchester, New Hampshire)
February 11: New Hampshire Primaries
February 19: Ninth Democratic Primary Debate (Las Vegas, Nevada)
February 22: Nevada Democratic Caucuses
February 25: Tenth Democratic Primary Debate (Charleston, South Carolina)
February 29: South Carolina Democratic Primary
March: Eleventh Democratic Primary Debate (TBD)
March 3: Super Tuesday! AL, AS, AR, CA, CO, ME, MA, MN, NC, OK, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA & Democrats Abroad
March 10: Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Washington Primaries, North Dakota Caucus
March 14: Northern Marianas Caucus
March 17: Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio Primaries
March 24: Georgia Primaries
March 29: Puerto Rico Primary
April: Twelfth Democratic Primary Debate (TBD)
April 4: Alaska, Hawaii and Louisiana Primaries, Wyoming County Caucuses
April 7: Wisconsin Primaries
April 28: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island Primaries
April 28: Special Election in Maryland's 7th Congressional District


May 2: Guam Caucus, Kansas Primary
May 5: Indiana Primaries
May 12: Nebraska and West Virginia Primaries,
Special Elections in Wisconsin's 7th CD Special Election and California's 25th Congressional District
May 19: Kentucky and Oregon Primaries
June 2: D.C., Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota Primaries
June 6: Virgin Islands Caucus

July 13-16: Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
August 24-27: Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina
September 29: First Presidential Debate (Notre Dame, Indiana)
October 7: Vice Presidential Debate (Salt Lake City, Utah)
October 15: Second Presidential Debate (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
October 22: Third Presidential Debate (Nashville, Tennessee)
November 32020 Election Day
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