October is coming to an end, and we wish we could say that Halloween was the scariest thing happening this week. But with COVID cases surging and threats to the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, the disability community is facing dangers that are all too real. Plenty of us are feeling fatigue set in after an incredibly difficult year — but we’re not giving up. People with disabilities across the United States are speaking up by voting in this year’s election, and when our voices are heard, we have more power to make change. ASAN has spent this month educating our community about voting and civic engagement, and we know that whatever the next battles may be, people with disabilities will advocate for our rights as fiercely as ever. No matter what comes next, we’re in this fight together.
One of the first things we did this month was release a statement against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. As of this week, Barrett has been sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. This puts our community’s rights in danger, especially with a Supreme Court case coming up about the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of the outcome of that case, ASAN will keep fighting to protect access to healthcare for all people with disabilities.
With the election coming closer, we spent a lot of time this month putting out accessible information on voting. Voting can change who makes policies at the local, state, or federal levels — and that affects our daily lives as people with disabilities. We’ve been sharing information and resources about voting under guardianship, making a plan to vote, and how and why to vote. As we approach election day, we encourage you to review your options to vote. It’s also important to remember that with more people voting by mail this year, it may take more time to count all the ballots. We may not know the final election results on Tuesday night, but ensuring that we count every vote is more important than quick election results. When the disability community votes, and when we make sure that every vote is counted, we’re saying that every voice matters.
With COVID-19 killing tens of thousands of people with disabilities in institutions, it’s clearer than ever that we need to end institutionalization and make sure all disabled people can live in the community. Our two new Easy Read and plain language toolkits explain why our society has kept deadly institutions around this long, and how we can get rid of them. The first toolkit talks about the history of institutions, what research tells us about living in the community vs. an institution, and what new institutions look like. The second one explains the cyclical nature of institutions, how institutions “rebrand” themselves, and how to break the cycle.
We’ve also been preparing for another change this fall: ASAN’s annual gala is going virtual! We’re hosting a variety of events, from Twitter chats, to panels, to film screenings. All video or streaming content will have captions. Tickets are sliding scale. We would love to see you there!
During these next few months, lots of change will continue to happen. We encourage you to take care of yourself and your communities in this difficult time. The disability community has been using mutual aid and powerful advocacy to get through this pandemic. We will use those same strategies and skills to keep up the fight for our rights and our liberation — for as long as it takes, until all of us are free. Remember to vote if you haven’t already, and know that no matter what comes next, we’ll face it together.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network