A Guide to Running for Office With a Disability

The following article was submitted by Ed Carter with Able Futures. For more information about Mr. Carter’s services, please visit AbleFutures.org.

Accessibility is often viewed as a problem that needs to be addressed on a case-by-case level. However, this perspective ignores the role that the government can play in ensuring that all spaces are accessible for all people. One of the best ways to make sure that your local government factors people with disabilities into the equation is to see that they’re represented in the government itself.

Want to be a voice for people with disabilities in your area? Consider running for office! Your perspective can make a massive difference when it comes to how disabilities are viewed and valued at the government level. Here are some tips for how to run an effective campaign so you can be a voice for your community:

Commit to Branding Early

When it comes to running for office, consistent messaging is an absolute necessity. People are far more likely to respond to political advertisements that are easy to recognize. That’s why it’s extremely important to commit to your brand as early in your campaign as possible. Having strong visual consistency can make a big difference.

In order to make sure you use branding that suits your message and target audience, work with a graphic designer. A pro can develop graphics that work as strong visual shorthands for the messages you want to send, as well as help you come up with branding ideas that work for your needs. Freelancers typically charge between $15 and $35 an hour — compare freelance graphic design rates with the designer’s level of experience to find the right fit for your campaign’s needs and budget.

Get Input From Your Community

Before you start building your platform, take some time to gather input from the disability community in your area. Remember, your perspective is inherently limited by your needs, as well as the places you access on a regular basis. There may be accessibility and discrimination issues members of your community face that you’re completely unaware of.

There are several great ways to get input from others. For example, you can host or attend events and ask people for their perspectives directly. You can also send out surveys or calls for feedback. Use local disability groups and online forums to spread your message to as many community members as possible. This way you can get the feedback and perspectives you need to create a comprehensive platform.

Prove You’re Serious

Finally, it’s important to commit to accessibility throughout your campaign. There are several things — big and small — you can do to show voters how serious you are about making life better for people with disabilities in your community. Consider accessibility at every step along the way in order to give the right impression and ensure that potential voters can fully access your platform and message.

For example, you should make sure that any events you hold are fully accessible. Take care to choose venues that have accessibility measures for all ability levels and mobility devices, and hire sign language interpreters to make sure your message reaches everyone. Voters with disabilities often feel left behind when it comes to political events, so this kind of consideration can leave a powerful impression.

You should also consider accessibility when it comes to building your website. Many sites aren’t accessible for people who use screen readers and other accessibility aids online. Consult with a web designer who understands these accessibility measures to make sure your site works for everyone. Finally, be sure to include captions on social media posts to make sure no one is left out on sites like Facebook and Instagram, either.

By using these techniques, you can build a campaign for office that’s fully accessible and shows people you take disability advocacy seriously. We hope this article inspires you to build your campaign, run for office, and be the chance your community needs.