+
More

The disability vote counts in 2016, but it wasn’t always that way.

What it was like to vote while disabled 50 years ago, compared to now.

With all the progress that's been made in America, the "Land of Opportunity," it’s hard to believe the right to vote wasn’t always a given for everyone — including the disabled.

But if we take a look back at American history, we can see that there was a time not too long ago when people with disabilities did not have a say in any election, let alone a presidential one.

It wasn’t because of someone’s personal beliefs against voting, or even religious beliefs. There were simply no laws in place for the disabled to make their voices heard, which caused a longstanding battle of discrimination and prejudice. In fact, people within the disabled community were (and still are) often denied the right to vote despite steps being taken to grant them that right.


Photo via iStock

In the 1960s, the disabled community got real about prejudice during the disability rights movement.

Before that, if you had a disability, you probably couldn't vote. The polls weren’t accessible.

The movement sparked radical change for more than 54 million Americans by ensuring that polling places — as well as the actual voting process — would be made accessible. This includes having ballots printed in Braille for the blind or visually impaired.

I have cerebral palsy and use a motorized wheelchair, so I’m one of those 54 million people who can now vote more easily.

I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to be a statistic in this demographic because it’s a group that often has to fight a little harder for what they want and what they believe in.

I’m also not ashamed to say I’ve voted before. In fact, it was one of the first things I did when I came of age. My older brother went with me to help, and at this particular time, I didn’t have my motorized chair. I just had my manual one that I use in case of an emergency or if I’m going somewhere for a short period of time.

Photo via iStock.

My brother lifted me (and my chair) out of the car and pushed me into our local polling place. The room was fairly large, and there was a woman waiting at a table to check my voter registration card as we came in the door. I pulled the card out of my wallet and showed it to her.

“It says here you’re 18?” She asked immediately (because I didn’t look 18).

“Yes ma’am,” I replied.

My age caught her off guard, but I could tell by the surprised look on her face and her body language that my chair did, too. I don’t know which one surprised her more, but I wasn’t really bothered by it. I’m used to getting that reaction from people, and I understand it’s part of having a disability.

For the most part, voting for the first time was a hassle-free experience for me — except the booth was almost too high for me to reach from my chair.

It made for some difficulties, but I decided not to make a big deal out of it because it wasn’t a matter of someone doing that on purpose to prevent me from voting. It was minor compared to some of the challenges I’ve faced in my life. If anything, I was just proud to cast my vote.

For me, voting for the first time mattered because it made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself.

This year, disabled Americans will be turning out in droves to vote, given Donald Trump’s blatant mockery of disabled folks. That means it’s even more important for every voting booth to be accessible.  

In fact, according to the American Association of People with Disabilities, people with disabilities will account for about one-sixth of eligible voters in the 2016 election — 34.6 million people.

In 2016, there will be 62.7 million eligible voters who either have a disability or live with someone who has a disability, more than one-fourth of the total electorate. And in 2012, 56.8% of people with disabilities voted, compared to 62.5% of people without disabilities.

Photo via iStock.

This election will be a milestone not just because of its magnitude, but also because of what it represents, as well as what’s at stake. And for the first time, I think people with disabilities will be on a level playing field like never before.  

Changes have been made to include the disabled community in voting, and that is a huge step forward.

But our progress can’t — and won’t — stop there. If we have something to say, Nov. 8, 2016, is the time to say it.

It’s our chance to counteract the embarrassment that Trump has inflicted on so many people with disabilities and to start righting some wrongs, too.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Two couples move in together with their kids to create one big, loving 'polyfamory'

They are using their unique family arrangement to help people better understand polyamory.

The Hartless and Rodgers families post together


Polyamory, a lifestyle where people have multiple romantic or sexual partners, is more prevalent in America than most people think. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, one in nine Americans have been in a polyamorous relationship, and one in six say they would like to try one.

However popular the idea is, polyamory is misunderstood by a large swath of the public and is often seen as deviant. However, those who practice it view polyamory as a healthy lifestyle with several benefits.

Taya Hartless, 28, and Alysia Rogers, 34, along with their husbands Sean, 46, and Tyler, 35, are in a polyamorous relationship and have no problem sharing their lifestyle with the public on social media. Even though they risk stigmatization for being open about their non-traditional relationships, they are sharing it with the world to make it a safer place for “poly” folks like themselves.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Actress Julia Fox shares a tour of her cluttered NYC apartment, and it's a relatable mess

"Hopefully, somebody watches this and thinks, ‘Well, OK, maybe I’m not doing so bad.’”

@juliafox/TikTok

Julia Fox taking viewers on a tour of her apartment in New York.

To live in a perfectly curated, always tidy, Marie Kondo-worthy home might be a lovely fantasy. But for many, dare I say most of us, that is simply not a reality. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or helpful hands in the house to keep it from getting messy multiple times a week. Square that by a million if the home has small kiddos in it. And if there’s only one parent to clean up after those small kiddos? Forget about it.

That’s why people are letting out a huge sigh of relief after getting a video tour of Julia Fox’s New York apartment in all its glorious disarray.

The actress and model is often seen wearing bold, high-end fashion pieces at glamorous events like the Met Gala,

but her home is anything but glamorous.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less