At E4Texas, we are proud to support Disability Voting Rights Week (DVRW), happening September 11th- 15th, 2023. This important week, formerly known as National Disability Voter Registration Week, is a nationwide effort coordinated by the American Association of People with Disabilities’ REV UP Voting Campaign. It’s a week dedicated to empowering the disability community by ensuring equal access to voting, and advocating for the rights of over 38 million eligible voters with disabilities.
During DVRW, the focus is on breaking down barriers that have historically hindered people with disabilities from participating fully in our democratic process. Discriminatory voting practices, limited registration locations, and inadequate resources have historically excluded millions of Americans from exercising their right to vote. To bridge this gap, efforts include providing assistance for voter registration, ensuring equitable access to absentee ballots and applications, and making all polling places accessible to voters with disabilities.
At E4Texas, we understand that education and self-advocacy go hand in hand, and are two things that help our students go on to lead more independent lives. An important part of our program curriculum is teaching our students about disability history, including an emphasis on legislative advocacy. The disability community has overcome many obstacles to exercise their right to vote, and we hope to shed light on this history to encourage our students to become involved themselves. A highlight of the program is the opportunity for our students to visit the Texas State Capitol every year during the summer semester to testify on behalf of a bill of their choosing, exercising their right to participate in the local government. This experience not only deepens their understanding of legislative advocacy, but empowers our students to be active participants in shaping policies that matter to them. Our students get to experience firsthand the power of legislative advocacy, the importance of speaking up for their rights, and how to be effective self-advocates. Similarly, DRVW is another opportunity for the disability community to put these skills into action, and use their voice to through the power of voting.
How to get involved during Disability Voting Rights Week:
- Check Your Voter Registration: Verify your voter registration status, or register to vote to ensure your voice is heard.
- Know Your Rights: Learn about your voting rights, and access accommodations and language assistance at the polls.
- Get Involved: Participate in the Every Voice, Every Vote campaign to strengthen our democracy by encouraging and protecting voter participation.
- Host an Event: Consider hosting a voter registration or education event to engage your community.
- Social Media Activism: Raise awareness by activating your social media platforms to promote DVRW and its mission.
- Spread the Word: Share your thoughts and experiences on DVRW and the importance of activism by writing an op-ed for your local newspaper.
- Collaborate: Partner with other disability and voting rights organizations to amplify your impact.
- Engage Local Leaders: Get involved in your local government and encourage town leaders to issue a proclamation for Disability Voting Rights Week.
- Stay Informed: Visit Vote411.org for state-specific voter information and resources for voters with disabilities.
- SignVote: If you are part of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, explore SignVote’s resources and instructional videos in American Sign Language.
Disability Voting Rights Week serves as a reminder that our democracy thrives when everyone actively participates, and it falters when our citizens are excluded. At E4Texas, we are committed to fostering an inclusive society where all individuals, regardless of their abilities, can engage in the democratic process. We encourage our students and the broader community to get involved in DVRW and help shape a more equitable and inclusive future for all.
In closing, remember that every vote counts, and your participation can influence accessibility and issues that matter to voters like you! Whether you have a disability or not, your voice matters. At E4Texas, we are dedicated to supporting and amplifying the voices of all our students as they engage in the democratic process during Disability Voting Rights Week and beyond.
For more information about Disability Voting Rights Week, please visit the American Association of People with Disabilities’ REV UP Voting Campaign website and explore the resources available to make your voice heard. For more information about the E4Texas post-secondary program at the University of Texas-Austin, please visit the E4Texas website, where you can register for our upcoming annual Open House to learn all about this employment-focused transition program! Your journey towards growth and empowerment starts here![Source: American Association of People with Disabilities’ REV UP Voting Campaign]