RehabWire Volume 2 Number 7, August 2000

The conventions are over, the ballot is set. The campaign season is shifting into high gear. This edition of RehabWire looks at politics and voter participation in the disability community.

NIDRR Projects: Research in the New Millennium.

The Empowerment Project: Promoting Equality for People with Disabilities Through Electoral Participation, University of Arkansas (H133G990188) led by Kay Schriner, PhD. Ellen Blasiotti, Project Officer.
Abstract: The Empowerment Project addresses and reduces a variety of barriers to voting. The outcomes of this project include: new knowledge based on comparative legal analyses of voting rights legislation for racial minorities, women, and people with disabilities; a study of implementation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by disability service agencies; strategies for improving implementation of the NVRA; new knowledge regarding the effects of state-level differences in election practices on the electoral participation of people with disabilities; a study of the needs and preferences of people with disabilities with respect to registration and voting practices; strategies for use by state and local election officials to promote accessibility in registration and voting; and a National Summit on Electoral Participation by People with Disabilities to promote the use of project results and products.
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Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living and Disability Policy, World Institute on Disability (H133B50005) led by Devva Kasnitz, PhD. Ellen Blasiotti, Project Officer.
Abstract: This RRTC conducts research and training and tests strategies to support the development of public policy in independent living, and to enhance the effectiveness of people with disabilities in influencing policy. The Center facilitates the development of tools and systems that empower people with disabilities to act on their own behalf and to create opportunities for people to become agents of change.
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Resolving ADA Employment Discrimination Charges, University of North Carolina (H133G000132) led by Kathryn E. Moss, PhD. Richard Wilson, Project Officer.
Abstract: The project's purpose is to assess the impact of the services of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPA) on the lives of people with disabilities using data from the EEOC's computerized charge data system. Several factors (i.e., recent landmark Supreme Court decisions interpreting the ADA, the implementation by the EEOC of a new charge processing policy, and an ambitious new mediation program) have significantly changed the Title I charge process and considerably altered the landscape in which EEOC offices and FEPAs process Title I charges. The aims of the project are: (1) to monitor the evolving implementation of Title I of the ADA by the EEOC and FEPAs; (2) to monitor the evolving implementation of the EEOC's new mediation program; and (3) to design and disseminate useful and accessible information about the Title I charge process for people with disabilities and persons who support them.

Fundamental Disability Concepts and The Courts, (H133F000067) led by Robert L. Burgdorf Jr. Ellen Blasiotti, Project Officer.
Abstract: The research investigates the extent to which the decisions of U.S. courts in the 1990's determining the legal rights of people with disabilities are or are not consistent with fundamental precepts regarding the nature of disability, the feasibility of accommodation, and the appropriate role of individuals with disabilities in society. Specifically, the research evaluates the extent to which the court rulings have reflected the following tenets regarding disability; persons with disabilities; and disability-related programs, services, and activities: (1) full inclusion and integration in society; (2) independent living; (3) economic and social self-sufficiency; (4) spectrum of abilities; (5) developmental concept of disability; (6) family support; and (7) continuum of and pliancy of activities, programs and services.

A Four-Year Research and Demonstration Project to Address Ways to Improve the Employment Practices Covered by Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Cornell University (H133A70005) led by Susanne Bruyère, PhD. Joseph DePhillips, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project investigates how Title I of the ADA affects employment practices of private-sector small, medium, and large businesses, and ways to improve employment practices covered by the ADA. The research identifies employment practices that have challenged implementation of the ADA, and identifies interventions that can be used by private sector employers and people with disabilities to address these practices. The project examines employment policy and practices that enhance both the hiring and retention of workers with disabilities.
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You've for the right...exercise it!Visit for information on how and where to register in your state.

New Research: Selections from REHABDATA.

Shields, T. G., Schriner, K. F., Schriner, K. (1999) The disability voice in American politics. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 9(2), 33-52. Kay Schriner, PhD. Accession Number: J36588.
Abstract: Article reports on the available research demonstrating that individual factors that influence political participation and considers the role of disability in affecting participation. The research indicates that registration and voting rates among individuals with disabilities are well below those of nondisabled people. Further, people with disabilities are much less likely to vote as they age, unlike nondisabled individuals, who are more likely to vote as they age. These results suggest that people with disabilities are a pivotal test of the generalizability of current knowledge regarding why Americans do and do not participate in political life.

Schriner, K. F., Shields, T. G., Schriner, K. (1999) The effect of gender and race on the political participation of people with disabilities in the 1994 mid-term election. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 9(2), 53-76. Kay Schriner, PhD. Accession Number: J36589.
Abstract: The article describes research on voter turnout, uncovering important differences in the voting patterns of subgroups of the American Polity. An analysis of the 1994 Current Population Survey-Voter Supplement, which includes controlling for income and educational attainment, indicates that men with disabilities are less likely to register than are women with disabilities and nondisabled persons, while women with disabilities are less likely to actually vote. Both women and men with disabilities, however, are more likely to vote than nondisabled persons. After controlling for socioeconomic factors, African-American women have the highest probability of registering and voting, and Caucasian men and women with disabilities have the lowest rates of registering and voting. The likelihood of registering and voting increases with educational attainment in all groups, but the differences between the probabilities are greater at lower levels of educational attainment.

Shields, T. G., Schriner, K. F., Schriner, K. (1999) Influences on the political participation of people with disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 9(2), 77-91. Kay Schriner, PhD. Accession Number: J36590.
Abstract: This study examines data collected by Louis Harris and Associates during the 1984 and 1986 elections to begin to understand the determinants of political participation among people with disabilities, the largest minority group in American politics. Findings include that the political activity of people with disabilities appears to result largely from psychological involvement, retrospective evaluations of government performance, and the behavior of political elites rather than from demographic or resource factors. Interestingly, employment status had little effect on the probability that a person with a disability voted in 1984 or 1986. The findings also suggest that candidates who take clear and positive steps to communicate policy positions and reach out to people with disabilities, may greatly increase participation among this group.

Schriner, K., Batavia, A. I., Shields, T. G. (1999) The Americans with Disabilities Act: Does it secure the fundamental right to vote? Kay Schriner, PhD. Accession Number: O13248.
Abstract: Report on the role of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in ensuring voting rights for people with disabilities. Topics include: requirements of Title II of the ADA; regulatory and administrative guidelines for applying the ADA to voting rights, including regulations of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC); voting rights cases that have reached the courts or been settled out of court; and accommodations for specific disabilities, including secret ballots for blind voters, and accommodations for people with learning disabilities (LD) or mental retardation.

Schriner, K., Ochs, L., Shields, T. (1999) Democratic dilemmas: Notes on the ADA and voting rights of people with cognitive and emotional impairments. Kay Schriner, PhD. Accession Number: O13249.
Abstract: Paper on the history and current status of voting rights for persons with cognitive, emotional, and psychiatric disabilities. Discusses state laws permitting disenfranchisement of persons with certain disabilities, and relevant provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act, Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, Voter Registration Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The contradictions in state and federal law are given an historical explanation in terms of the federal government's leading role in developing social policies affecting people with disabilities based on the minority group model, and state prerogatives in establishing electoral qualifications. The potential influence of the ADA in securing voting rights for people with disabilities, especially those with cognitive and emotional disabilities, is discussed. The authors conclude by proposing reforms.

New Doors Open Everyday: The Information Desk

This Nation ( provides one of the most comprehensive guides to American politics and government. It is written and maintained by Jonathan Mott, PhD. Look for links to party and candidate information for every level of government from President to City Council.

Republican Elephant.Did You Know?Democratic Donkey.

Only six out of ten adults with disabilities (62 percent) were registered to vote in the 1996 Presidential election, compared to almost eight out of ten (78 percent) among the non-disabled population. This represents a gap of sixteen percentage points. In spite of recent “motor voter” laws attempting to make it easier for more people to register to vote, only twenty-five percent of adults with disabilities, as reported in the N.O.D./Harris Survey, have been offered voter registration services from a government or community agency during the past five years. Source: National Organization On Disability Disability Agenda, 1(2).