The ADA and Voting Rights – SignVote Series

October 30, 2020

The ADA and Voting Rights

Did you know that roughly 50%¬†people with disabilities don’t vote?¬†That’s a significant amount of us left out of the voting process!¬†ūü•ļ¬†But it doesn’t have to be this way.¬†

In the fifth episode of the #SignVote Series:¬†Election 2020, learn a bit of civil rights history and¬†how you can use the ADA¬†to improve your experience at the polls! ūüó≥

Special thanks to ASLized,, National Association of the Deaf РNAD, and The Center for Democracy in Deaf America!

[TRANSCRIPT with visual descriptions: Video begins with a montage of historical footage of people protesting. Text on screen reads: ADA AND VOTING RIGHTS. SignVote logo appears before transitioning to Kriston Pumphrey, a dark tanned mid-thirties gentleman with short trimmed salt and peppered beard wearing a button up denim shirt over a mustard yellow sweater. He sits in front of an animated background. As the video progresses, graphics appear on screen to support his message. Kriston’s message is in American Sign Language and accompanied by voiceover.]


Voting is one of the biggest responsibilities we have as citizens in our democracy. With that being said, many people are left out from accessing information that fits their understanding of the ins and outs of voting. Before we talk about ADA rights and laws and how it can impact you, let’s look at the history of voting rights and the impact of the general population and people with disabilities. How has it led us to here and now?


So if you think about it, it hasn‚Äôt been until recently, 70 years ago…yes, 70 years ago, that there have been different policies to help make voting accessible for marginalized communities and people with disabilities. Here‚Äôs an example, the Voting Rights Act. It was passed in 1965, focusing on banning voter suppression tactics and allowing citizens to have assistance while voting. Later, in 1973, Section 504 focused on getting rid of discrimination against voters with disabilities, and also required reasonable accommodations while voting. After that in 1984, this act was passed, which took accessible voting to the next level by requiring all polling sites to be accessible, which included wheelchair access and providing aides to help with voter registration and voting.


I can definitely tell you that our disability community totally understands what it means to fight for our rights. Disability votes, and the act of suppressing those votes is something we have seen through history. And this has a serious impact on the elections. But just remember this. The disability community is one of the biggest voting groups: about 38 million! But it’s really more than that if you think about the people who want to support those votes. Parents, friends, siblings, roommates, and so many more who join in this fight. That’s about 68 million people. That’s huge! The Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) was passed on July 26th 1990 by President George W.H. Bush. It is now 2020, which means we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ADA. But what does the ADA have to do with voting?


Well, did you know that there are over 11.6 million Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing and late-deafened people who are eligible to vote? We are directly impacted by laws and statutes made here in the U.S. The ADA protects you if you have a disability and you live here in the U.S. If federal programs get funding, regardless of government level (local, state or federal), they must provide appropriate access and accommodations.


So, what does that mean? Well, any type of election is considered a program and service under the government. Some of those services include effective communication as well. Under Title II of the ADA, all state and local governments must take steps to make communications effective, and that includes the disability community too. So any information relating to elections must be clear and effective. And that’s not just limited to polling places, it also includes debates, polling places, filling out a ballot, registering to vote, and more.


Did you know that over 50% of people with disabilities didn’t vote in 2018? It was mostly because voting information wasn’t accessible. The ADA’s requirements apply to ALL aspects of voting, including voter registration, polling locations and casting ballots, whether it’s election day or early voting. It must be accessible. In 2016, the DOJ (Department of Justice) made an ADA checklist for polling places. It has some good tools and information for election officials who must follow guidelines for accessibility features at all polling areas.


This is cool – one important thing that benefits Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people is the ability to have a person with you to vote. In ASL, they can explain the ballot, the process, and everything else. In your preferred language, ASL! How cool is that? And there are more rights you can take advantage of too. Check this out:


[Text on screen: The right to vote privately and independently, have an accessible polling place with voting machines for voters with disabilities, entrances and doorways that are at least 32 inches wide, handrails on all stars, voting equipment that is accessible to voters who are blind or low vision, the right to bring your service animal with you, seek assistance from workers at the polling place who have been trained to use the accessible voting machine.]


How cool that you can benefit from all of those options! If you find your rights are being denied, or your communication access isn’t being provided, you should contact your Secretary of State’s office. They should have a form ready for you to file a complaint. Before you vote, you can also contact that same SOS office and let them know your accessibility and communication needs. For example, maybe a local candidate is hosting a debate. You have the right to an interpreter, CART, or whatever fits your communication needs!


And there you have it! Now you know your rights surrounding voting. So please, PLEASE tell us about your experience. Whether you‚Äôre voting in person, voting early, mail-in or absentee, we want to know! Actually…wait. There‚Äôs an organization called SABE, and they‚Äôre working on something called ‚ÄúThe GoVoter Project‚ÄĚ. They want to know any problems or questions you may have about voting. Maybe it‚Äôs voter registration, getting information about candidates, or even if you show up to your polling place and you experience negative attitudes from the poll workers. Really, any barriers to voting. They‚Äôre collecting that information for a final report to share with election officials at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as Civil Rights groups. The goal is to improve voting for everyone and to make sure we‚Äôre all included. Thanks for watching.


[Video ends with a SignVote logo and credit roll. Screen fades to black. Video ends.]

Votar es una de las mayores responsabilidades que tenemos como ciudadanos en nuestra democracia. Dicho esto, muchas personas no pueden acceder a información que se ajuste a su comprensión de los pormenores de la votación. 


Antes de hablar sobre los derechos y leyes y sobre la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades ADA y c√≥mo puede afectarlo, veamos la historia de los derechos al voto y el impacto de la poblaci√≥n en general y las personas con discapacidades. ¬ŅC√≥mo nos ha llevado al aqu√≠ y ahora?


Entonces, si lo piensas, no ha sido hasta hace poco, hace 70 a√Īos … s√≠, hace 70 a√Īos, que ha habido diferentes pol√≠ticas para ayudar a que el voto sea accesible para las comunidades marginadas y las personas con discapacidades.¬†


Aquí tienes un ejemplo, la Ley de derechos de voto. Fue aprobada en 1965, centrándose en prohibir las tácticas de supresión de votantes y permitir que los ciudadanos tengan asistencia mientras votaban. 


Más tarde, en 1973, la Sección 504 se centró en eliminar la discriminación contra los votantes con discapacidades y también requirió adaptaciones razonables durante la votación. 


Después de eso, en 1984, se aprobó esta ley, que llevó la votación accesible al siguiente nivel al exigir que todos los sitios de votación fueran accesibles, lo que incluía acceso para sillas de ruedas y brindando asistentes para ayudar con el registro y la votación de votantes. 


Definitivamente puedo decirles que nuestra comunidad de discapacitados comprende totalmente lo que significa luchar por nuestros derechos. Votos por discapacidad, y el acto de suprimir esos votos es algo que hemos visto a lo largo de la historia. Y esto tiene un grave impacto en las elecciones. 


Pero recuerda esto. La comunidad de personas con discapacidad es uno de los mayores grupos de votantes: ¬°unos 38 millones! Pero en realidad es m√°s que eso si piensas en las personas que quieren apoyar esos votos. Padres, amigos, hermanos, compa√Īeros de cuarto y muchos m√°s que se unen a esta lucha. Eso es alrededor de 68 millones de personas. ¬°Eso es enorme!


La Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA) fue aprobada el 26 de julio de 1990 por el presidente George W.H. Bush. Ahora estamos en el 2020, lo que significa que estamos celebrando el 30 aniversario de la ADA. Pero, ¬Ņqu√© tiene que ver la ADA con la votaci√≥n?


Bueno, ¬Ņsab√≠as que hay m√°s de 11,6 millones de personas sordas, sordociegas, con problemas de audici√≥n y con sordera tard√≠a que son elegibles para votar? Nos afectan directamente las leyes y estatutos promulgados aqu√≠ en los Estados Unidos. La ADA lo protege si tiene una discapacidad y vive aqu√≠ en los Estados Unidos. Si los programas federales obtienen fondos, independientemente del nivel de gobierno (local, estatal o federal), deben proporcionar acceso y alojamiento adecuados.¬†


En 2016, el DOJ (Departamento de Justicia) hizo una lista de verificación de la ADA para los lugares de votación. Tiene algunas buenas herramientas e información para los funcionarios electorales que deben seguir las pautas para las funciones de accesibilidad en todas las áreas de votación. 


Esto es genial – una cosa importante que beneficia a las personas sordas, sordociegas y con problemas de audici√≥n es la posibilidad de tener una persona con usted para votar. En Lenguaje de Se√Īas Americano ASL, pueden explicar la boleta, el proceso y todo lo dem√°s. En su idioma preferido, ASL. ¬ŅCuan genial es eso?!


Y también hay más derechos que puede aprovechar. Mira esto: 


¡Qué bueno que puedas beneficiarte de todas esas opciones! Si descubre que se le niegan sus derechos o que no se le proporciona acceso a las comunicaciones, debe comunicarse con la oficina de la Secretaría de Estado (SOS). Deben tener un formulario listo para que presente una queja. 


Antes de votar, también puede comunicarse con la misma oficina de SOS y hacerles saber sus necesidades de accesibilidad y comunicación. Por ejemplo, tal vez un candidato local esté organizando un debate. ¡Tiene derecho a un intérprete, CART o lo que se adapte a sus necesidades de comunicación!


¡Y ahí lo tienes! Ahora conoce sus derechos en torno al voto. Así que, por favor, cuéntenos su experiencia. Ya sea que esté votando en persona, votando temprano, por correo o en ausencia, ¡queremos saberlo! 


De hecho … espera. Hay una organizaci√≥n llamada SABE y est√°n trabajando en algo llamado “The GoVoter Project”. Quieren saber cualquier problema o pregunta que pueda tener sobre la votaci√≥n. Tal vez sea el registro de votantes, obtener informaci√≥n sobre los candidatos, o incluso si se presenta a su lugar de votaci√≥n y experimenta actitudes negativas por parte de los trabajadores electorales. Realmente, cualquier barrera para votar. Est√°n recopilando esa informaci√≥n para un informe final para compartir con los funcionarios electorales a nivel federal, estatal y local, as√≠ como con grupos de derechos civiles. El objetivo es mejorar la votaci√≥n para todos y asegurarnos de que todos estemos incluidos.¬†


Gracias por ver.





SignVote alternative logo signing vote in ASL with one hand blue and the other hand red.

About SignVote

Our mission is to inform and engage deaf communities about elections by developing and sharing resources in ASL.

SignVote alternative logo signing vote in ASL with one hand blue and the other hand red.

About SignVote

Our mission is to inform and engage deaf communities about elections by developing and sharing resources in ASL.

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