Representation Matters

I talk all the time on here about how we need to increase inclusion and representation of people with disabilities – in the media, in the community, in politics. While it’s easy to say, it’s not quite that easy to do. There are all kinds of barriers that exist that keep the status quo from changing. And even though I’ve been living with my disability for almost 30 years now, there are some barriers that even I don’t realize exist.

Last week, there was a post in a Facebook group I’m part of for the blog The Work Edit (which I love and you should check out!) sharing a petition titled “Allow Candidates with Special Needs the Use of Campaign Funds to Pay for Caregivers.” Obviously this interested me, so I clicked to find out more.

So, finances for people with disabilities are a tricky thing, and I can and should write a whole post about it. There’s a real incentive to keep your income low – if you make more than the predetermined limits, you can lose your benefits like funds that pay for nursing and attendant care. But paying for these services out-of-pocket would exhaust anyone’s funds within a matter of months, if not sooner.

Having representation of people who use these services is key to getting them fixed. But what if the barrier exists when you’re trying to run for office? I’ll be honest – this is something that I’ve never thought of; I don’t really have any experience in fundraising for office. But campaigning requires traveling all over, and for someone with a disability, that means you need a caregiver to help you. Those expenses can add up really quickly, and you’re expected to pay for that yourself.

Earlier this year, campaign laws were amended to allow candidates to use campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses, and this petition is asking for support so that the laws can be amended, in the same vein, to allow campaign funds to pay for caregiver expenses.

Having diverse representatives benefit everyone. We should be doing everything that we can to help diversity along, and even the playing field to the extent that it’s possible. I really encourage you to check out this petition, and sign and share!

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