An electric experience in New Hampshire

Today my colleague at Easter Seals’ Office of Public Affairs, Jennifer Dexter, is guest-blogging from a presidential candidate’s forum on disability in New Hampshire. Jennifer is Assistant Vice President of Government Relations and works on housing, aging issues, assistive technology, telecommunications, transportation, and AgrAbility appropriations. It sounds like the forum is an exciting experience.Katy Beh Neas

An electric experience in New Hampshire
by Jennifer Dexter

I’m on lunch break at the first Presidential Candidate’s Forum on Equality, Opportunity and Access in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The forum is sponsored by over 20 national disability organizations, including Easter Seals. All major presidential candidates were invited to come and present their vision for the future of U.S. national disability policy. There are about 500 advocates in the room from New Hampshire and around the country. So far, Senators Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden have spoken and this afternoon Representative Dennis Kucinich, Senator John McCain and Senator Mike Gravel will address us.

I had to take a minute to share how electric this experience has been. To see people with disabilities treated as a significant voting block gives me hope for the future — that the needs of people with disabilities and their families will be prioritized by our leaders in a way they haven’t been before.

One of the most striking things about this experience has been how each candidate has clearly taken time to figure out what will set them apart in the area of disability. As a lobbyist, I know that there are a few “go to” issues that politicians usually identify as key for people with disabilities, things like the Americans with Disabilities Act and special education. The speakers here have certainly addressed those topics, but they’ve also each found something unique and important to them that will address an unmet need of people with disabilities.

It’s truly a testament to the importance of flexing our political muscle and making sure that candidates know that people with disabilities will have a significant say in who will be our next President. You can join us by signing up for our Legislative Action Network enewsletter.


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