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Wisconsin A D A Partnership Link Newsletter: Linking people, promoting access.

Introduction to the ADA Wisconsin Partnership LINK Newsletter

The ADA Wisconsin Partnership is a coalition of people with disabilities, business and government that promotes full implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The LINK newsletter focuses on specific topics, events, and issues affecting access and people with disabilities. The focus of this edition is access to the voting process for all citizens. We thank Howard Seifert of the Wisconsin Council on Developmental Disabilities and Alicia Sidman of Disability Rights Wisconsin for sharing their expertise and resources for this issue...

Link Focus:  This Month's Accessibility Topic.

Citizens with Disabilities Vote!It's Election Time - Your Vote is Important on April 4th! While many people don't necessarily think of this year as an important Election Year, it most certainly is! There are extremely important elections taking place on April 4th ! And later this fall the September 12th Primary will determine candidates for the November 7th General elections for Governor, Attorney General, State Assembly, many State Senate districts, Congress, and U.S. Senate.

The local elections happening in a couple of weeks are very significant because those elected will have a huge impact on local public policy decisions. Depending on the city and county you live in, you may have a number of different elected offices up for grabs and referendum questions that can make a huge difference in the cost, delivery and accessibility of local services, transportation, education and more.

Voting is Your Access to the Political Process

There are many laws in this state and country that protect and ensure the rights of all people, including the right to vote. Despite these laws, people with disabilities vote at a lower rate than citizens without disabilities. Many barriers can explain this voting gap, such as inaccessible polling places, the inability to cast a secret and independent vote, transportation to and from the polling place and hard to find information about how to register to vote and where to vote.

The right to vote is a major responsibility and citizens who vote are more likely to have influence on the decisions our elected officials make. Your elected officials can find out whether you vote, but not how you vote. They will pay more attention to your concerns, your phone calls, e-mails and letters, if you take your responsibility as a citizen seriously and vote. The first step in the voting process is to register to vote.

Find out more information on all of the above voting issues and access to voting on the Disability Advocates Wisconsin Network (DAWN) website: http://www.dawninfo.org/advocacy/issues/voting_reform.cfm

Link to Voting Guide: A Guide for Citizens with Disabilities.

Easy Voting Guide for Citizens with Disabilities

This very user-friendly guide to voting has been updated with current information and is a wonderful resource: Voting in Wisconsin: A Guide for Citizens with Disabilities (online version).

or Download a printable version of this guide (pdf)


One vote gave statehood to Texas (1845), California (1850), Oregon (1859), Washington (1889) and Idaho (1890).

Why Vote in Local Elections?

Local officials make A LOT of decisions that directly affect your life, community, and services to people with disabilities. Local Elections are a perfect time to get new voters involved in the democratic process and encouraging ongoing voter participation. Why vote?

  • Because you’re working with a smaller universe of issues that are happening directly in your community.
  • While everything that happens at the national level affects us, it is sometimes easier for voters to “see” the direct impact of local public policies
  • Getting involved in local issues and encouraging others to do the same helps maintain long term participation in the policy-making process.
  • It can help citizens become more informed and educated about what is happening within their community, and the power they have as voters.

Need Help?

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), formerly Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy, has a toll free line to help you with questions and concerns about your voting rights. We can help:

  • If you have questions about your voting rights,
  • If your polling site is not accessible and you can't get into the polling place to vote,
  • If you can not vote privately and independently because the voting machine or ballot is not accessible,
  • If you were turned away from the polls even though you have the right to vote,
  • If you feel you have been discriminated against in the voting process because of your disability,
  • If you have questions about how to file a complaint about your concerns,
  • If you don't know where your polling place is,
  • If you have questions about how to register to vote or get an absentee ballot,
  • and much much more!!

CALL: 800/928-8778 (toll free)
888/758-6049 (TTY)
Phones are answered between 8:30 and 5:00 most weekdays, and from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Election Days.

Disability Rights Wisconsin

In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German.

Facts About Guardianship, Competency and Voting

In Wisconsin, anyone over age 18 is legally an adult and is presumed by law to be able to manage all personal and financial affairs, including the ability to vote. However, an adult may not have the right to vote if a court of law has taken that right away. Get details on competency, guardianship and the voting process as described in a document currently being developed by Disability Rights Wisconsin (formerly Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy). Get more information...Competency, Guardianship, and Voting in Wisconsin.

Voting is Easy!

Sometimes the idea of voting is intimidating. If you work with people with disabilities – students, families, or adults with disabilities who may have never voted before, send them this to encourage them and let them know that voting is EASY...Voting is Easy.

Where do I vote?

For all other municipalities contact the municipal clerk. Contact information can be found here:

In 1800, one vote kept Aaron Burr from becoming President. That one vote elected Thomas Jefferson.

Nonpartisan Voter Registration – What Works

An easy way to encourage people to register to vote is to include a non-partisan voter registration table or a voter registration theme into an already existing event.

ballotIt is a good idea to add a voter registration table to annual or semi-annual events, such as fundraisers, conferences, picnics, holiday parties, open houses and other gatherings. Make it available at the event year after year. This way people will be reminded of the importance of voting and to register or to update their registration if they have moved.

The ARC Dane County in Wisconsin includes a voter registration table at their annual Halloween Party. People dress up in costumes, eat candy, listen to music, dance, win prizes, and yes – register to vote! Hundreds of people attend and are reminded every year about the importance of voting.

Support groups and other clubs can make it easy for people to register to vote too. Bring voter registration forms to a meeting, help people to fill out the forms and mail them to the clerk. It also is a perfect time to invite someone from the municipal or county clerk's office to come to your meeting to answer questions about the voting process.

There are two ways you can help get people registered to vote:

  1. Become a deputy registrar for a specific municipality. If you become a deputy registrar, you will only be allowed to register people who live in the municipality that has made you a deputy registrar.
  2. Help voters to fill out and mail their voter registration forms.

To find out more information on how to become a deputy registrar, or what you need to help voters to fill out and mail their mail-in registration forms, call your municipal clerk.

Disability Organizations Challenge Use of the Vote Pad for Accessibility

The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin, a group of over 50 disability organizations across the state, had asked the State Elections Board to withdraw approval of the Vote-Pad for use by municipalities who currently hand-count paper ballots. In a letter dated February 17, 2006, the Survival Coalition asserts that the Vote-Pad runs counter to the intent of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and listed the various concerns regarding the accessibility of the Vote-Pad. The State Elections Board heard testimony on the Vote-PAD at their meeting on March 22 and did not reverse their decision to approve Vote-Pad.

State Voting Systems Accessible this September

This September, under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), every polling place in Wisconsin must have an accessible voting system to help people with disabilities vote privately and independently.

A number of voting systems have been approved by the State Elections Board (SEB), and each municipality can pick the product they feel best serves their community. Each product is different and meant to help people with physical, sensory, cognitive and mental disabilities, although everyone can use them.

For more information about new guidelines that address access for voters as well as privacy and security concerns, go to http://www.access-board.gov/news/vvsg.htm

In 1923, one vote gave Adolph Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party.

For more instances of where ONE VOTE...made all the difference, go to ONE VOTE.

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Out and About

Your Feedback on ADA Requested...

The national network of ADA & IT Technical Assistance Centers are seeking your comments on experiences with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Your feedback on experiences in employment, building access, or access to public services will help the Centers identify training gaps and issues needing increased technical assistance. Tell us what has worked for you, what barriers you still encounter and how the ADA has made a difference in your life.

The form is short and simple. Go to www.ADATA.org and select the ONLINE COMMENT FORM.

We will make our findings public so watch the www.adata.org web site for more information. If you have questions regarding this form or process please contact us at 800-949-4232(V/TTY) or by email at gldbtac@uic.edu. Help us help the nation - tell us what you think!

Emergency Planning Resource

The National Organization on Disability's Emergency Preparedness Initiative has released the "Interactive Map of Disability & Emergency Preparedness Resources." This tool provides an accessible, interactive clearinghouse directory of regional, state, and local disability-related emergency management resources.

If you have information you feel would be beneficial to include in this tool, please contact us at epi@nod.org and we will provide your information as well. The following links to the Wisconsin information: http://www.nod.org/EPIResources/wisconsin.html.

For additional program information and publications currently available for emergency managers and persons with disabilities, please visit www.nod.org/emergency.

College Scholarships For Individuals With Parents Who Have Disabilities

In recognition of the more than nine million parents with disabilities in the U.S. and their families, Through the Looking Glass (TLG), a non-profit organization, is pleased to announce the 2006 College Scholarship Fund specifically for graduating high school seniors who have parents with disabilities. Scholarships funds are available to graduating high school students who:

  1. demonstrate academic and personal achievement;
  2. have grown up with at least one parent with a disability; and
  3. will be a high school graduate or graduating senior by Summer 2006

Up to ten separate $1,000 awards will be given out in Summer 2006. More information and application forms are available on Through the Looking Glass' website: www.lookingglass.org. Forms may also be requested by calling 1-800-644-2666 (V/Relay).

Tool for Color Blind Web Users

Tenebraex Corporation yesterday announced eyePilot for color blind users. The company says one in 12 men in a typical classroom of 25 is color blind (more than 35 million people in America, Canada and Western Europe). Designed as a "floating window" that is easily dragged-and-dropped over any Web page, document or computer application, eyePilot allows users to quickly and more accurately view and work with color-coded information. The software gives users a set of simple, intuitive and interactive tools that can be used to clarify or manipulate colors, including Gray, Flash, Name, and Hue. eyePilot requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and is priced at US$34. A 30-day free trial of eyePilot is available at the following website: http://colorhelper.com/.

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Upcoming Events

Legislative Seminar:

Your voice counts! Let's all come together as ONE VOICE at the Annual Wisconsin Association of Career and Technical Education (WACTE) Legislative Seminar this April 20th at the Inn on the Park in Madison. As an educator, student or citizen interested in the future of Career and Technical Education, this is your opportunity to hear about the current and future political hot topics that affect all of us. You will hear from the National and State movers and shakers in secondary, post secondary and business and industry. We also hope you will plan to visit the Legislators after the seminar to discuss the great things happening in Career and Technical Education in their local representative area. Watch for registration information at http://www.wacteonline.org.

Grow With Us: 2006 Rehabilitation and Transition Conference

2006 Rehabilitation and Transition Conference

Register today for the 2006 Rehabilitation and Transition Conference schedule for April 19 to 21. Continue your professional education, while growing personally, by learning about the latest innovations and strategies in Transition, Employment, Residential Care, Disabilities, Ethics, Management, and more.

This conference brings together public and private rehabilitation, independent living, and other organizations with attendees including counselors, evaluators, case managers, therapists, placement specialists, educators, community mental health providers, support staff, direct service staff, supported employment, consumers, school-to-work transition staff, administrators, and business and industry personnel. For the first time, online registration is available! Click on one of the following registration options below to register:

Registration Options:

If you have questions, please contact Rebecca Hamilton by phone at 608-244-5310 or by email at rhamilton@rfw.org.

RecTech LogoExercise and Recreational Technologies for People with Disabilities:

State of the Science Conference
Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
May 30-31, 2006

Registration is available online at www.rectech.org/conference

  • Early Registration (before 02/28/06): $ 125.00
  • Regular Registration (03/01/06 – 04/15/06): $ 150.00
  • Late/Onsite Registration (after 04/15/06): $ 175.00

For information on sponsorship opportunities, material dissemination at the conference, or other information, please email conference@rectech.org or call 312-355-1400.

Showcase Accessible Home planned in Wausau

Many partners, including Northcentral Technical College, are moving forward to promote and build a showcase model accessible home in the Wausau area. It will be a real, enter and see, hands-on, totally accessible living environment for display purposes and will be used as a teaching laboratory for technical college students and local contractors. This showcase model house will be of benefit to the community in multiple ways and the partners in this effort need support to make it a reality.

Contact Joe Mielczarek at Northcentral Technical College for more information or see plans and details at the following web site: http://www.geurink.com/wayne/choicesil.html

2006 ADA Audio Conference Series is Underway

The ADA Audio Conference Series provides in-depth information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Accessible Information Technology and other related topics. The Audio Conference Series offers a monthly 90-minute, subject-specific session with an interactive opportunity for questions and answers. Each session is delivered via telephone, real-time streaming text and audio via the Internet. Sessions are held monthly and scheduled from 1:00-2:00PM CST (90 minutes), and require pre-registration. Visit www.ada-audio.org for the schedule of training sessions and how to register.

To find out more information on the audio conferences or to register, please go to: http://www.ada-audio.org/. For more information on hosting a site for one or more of these audio conferences please contact Tammy Liddicoat, ADA WI Partnership, tliddicoat@charter.net or 608-334-8105.

Professional Development Seminars and Upcoming Conferences...

Rehabilitation For Wisconsin, Inc. (RFW) is pleased to offer individuals involved in the rehabilitation community professional development seminars (PDS) and the upcoming Rehabilitation and Transition Conference. These events include a lively blend of presentations, interactive activities, discussions on ethics and professional boundaries, best practices, and strategies for balancing competing principles, values, and priorities. The next seminar for 2006 is fast approaching, find out about these events by visiting http://www.rfw.org/RFW/TrainingandEd.htm.

"Pride and Possibilities" Autism Society of Wisconsin 2006 Annual Statewide Conference

April 27th - 29th at the Four Points by Sheraton Milwaukee Airport.

More information can be obtained on the ASW website, www.asw4autism.org, or by calling the office at 920-553-0278, toll free 888-428-8476.

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ABOUT US: The ADA Wisconsin Partnership is part of a six-state consortium established by the Great Lakes ADA Center which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The ADA Wisconsin Partnership is managed by Employment Resources Inc.

We welcome your feedback. Submit your comments or article ideas by emailing ada@eri-wi.org.

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