Five Things People with Disabilities Should Know About Voting

Vote 2020

Know Your Voting Rights

New Jersey’s primary elections are right around the corner, taking place on July 7th. At Easterseals New Jersey, we want voting to be as easy and accessible an experience as possible. That’s why we have put together a list of five things voters with disabilities need to know about their voting rights, how they can vote, and where to turn should they have any questions.

  1. The upcoming primary will be a vote-by-mail election. However, if you are unable to vote by mail, in-person voting will be available in at least one polling place per municipality. Please contact your local County Clerk for more information on available locations and accommodations.
  2. Voting is your right as a citizen and no one should tell you otherwise. If you are experiencing challenges voting, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). You can also request assistance in voting by filling out our 2020 Voting Pledge!
  3. Polling places MUST be accessible to disabled voters. Do not be afraid to speak up if you feel your rights are being violated. To learn more about voting rights in New Jersey, please check out the State Division of Elections Voter Rights and Accessibility webpage here.
  4. You are allowed to, but not required to have someone help you vote. For in-person voting, this can be a poll-worker or someone you bring with you. Any person may assist you in completing a vote-by-mail ballot.
  5. You have the right to vote privately and independently. If someone is violating your right to vote privately and independently, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) to report your situation and receive assistance.
Vote 2020 disability / disabled

This only a shortlist of important items, so please let us know if you have any additional questions about how to ensure you can vote in 2020. You can also check out our Voting Information Center website for more detailed information and helpful voting tools.

Happy voting!

Enrich Your Quarantine Watchlist With Disability Content Worth Watching

Disability shows movies streaming

At the moment, most of us are stuck inside trying to keep ourselves entertained until this period of quarantine concludes. A great way to pass the time is by immersing yourself in a new show or movie. When looking for something to watch, most of us like to pick a story we can see ourselves in. If that’s the case, why do we rarely see movies or tv shows that portray characters with disabilities, especially in main roles? Furthermore, how often are these characters played by actors with the disability they are portraying? 

Read moreEnrich Your Quarantine Watchlist With Disability Content Worth Watching

The Pandemic Mental Health Advice Not Enough People Are Talking About

Covid-19 mental health

Here’s What You’re Probably Not Hearing Enough of…

If you check the news or head to social media, you will surely be met with endless headlines of COVID-19 related news and health warnings. You will probably be given tons of virus-related advice and instructions on how to stay physically healthy. What you are less likely to hear, however, is a reminder to check in on your mental health.  

Read moreThe Pandemic Mental Health Advice Not Enough People Are Talking About

YOU Count, so Be Counted: 2020 Census

US Census 2020

Why Should I Fill Out the Census?

Because it’s important to people with disabilities and their families!

Hands,raised,raised hands,arms,up - free image from needpix.com

Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone who lives in the country, regardless of age, nationality or ability. It is important that everyone – especially individuals and families living with a disability – respond to the 2020 Census. Information collected in the Census will inform the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds for states and communities each year for the next decade. That includes money for services that ensure people with disabilities have access to the supports they need to thrive!

Read moreYOU Count, so Be Counted: 2020 Census

7 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Quarantine

Mental Health during Covid-19

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has issued a stay-at-home order and many New Jerseyans are struggling to deal with the isolation. There is a toll “social distancing” takes on our mental health. When you have a mental illness, that toll is multiplied. Luckily, there are steps you can take to manage your mental health until this pandemic ends and we can return to normal life. 

Here are 7 tips for keeping “mental-healthy” during a quarantine:

1. Technology to Keep in Touch

There is no replacing face-to-face interactions with your family and friends. Still, a close second is using video call apps that can show you a friendly face when you’re feeling down. Keep in touch with iPhone’s built-in Facetime function or try some of the free apps listed here for Android or here for desktop.

Read more7 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Quarantine

Special Needs Considerations for Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 Update Coronavirus

Pandemic Protection for Our Most Vulnerable

Within a few short weeks, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) went from being a dangerous disease to being classified as a global pandemic. Countries have begun to take extreme measures to control the outbreak, but we must also take responsibility for the protection of ourselves and our loved ones. This virus can be lethal to anyone with a compromised immune system, heart disease, or respiratory complications, which means we must take extra precautions for people with disabilities, special needs, and seniors. We should also be considerate of the unique challenges we will face as a result of the special measures being put in place by our local, state, and federal governments. You can find many online resources detailing how to generally protect yourself and others, but this article will focus on those unique considerations for the individuals and families we serve.

Read moreSpecial Needs Considerations for Coronavirus (Covid-19)

It’s Time for a Direct Service Professional Wage Increase in NJ

A call to support DSP wage increases

Senator Stephen Sweeney (primary sponsor) and Senator Troy Singleton have put forward a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would increase direct support professional (DSP) wages in the state.

As the bill’s “statement” makes clear, DSP wages are becoming unsustainable at their current levels as the cost of living rises. See below:

 “At an average starting salary of $12 per hour, DSP wages are not competitive, with an increasing number of retailers paying $15 to $18 per hour and New Jersey’s minimum wage on a path to $15 per hour for entry-level jobs that are far less demanding.  To compound the issue, there is a growing DSP shortage that is threatening the safety and health of individuals with I/DD living in community settings.”

Read moreIt’s Time for a Direct Service Professional Wage Increase in NJ

Megan Tells Us What Camp Means to Her

Photo of Mary and TEXT: What does camp mean to you?

Megan came to Camp Merry Heart as a camper and had a fantastic time. So much so, that she couldn’t stay away. She came back as a volunteer because she wanted to help make sure other campers were able to experience camp the way she did. We ask her what makes her feel so strongly about the camp experience.

Read moreMegan Tells Us What Camp Means to Her

Specialized Education Programs: How to Challenge AND Accommodate

Caregiver and Person receiving services

A Special Relationship with Special Education

When raising a child with an intellectual or developmental disability, it is essential to find the most suitable environment for them to receive the best education possible. Sometimes, a traditional approach to education can be the perfect option, but it’s important to know that it is not your ONLY option. There are many avenues to accomplish this: mainstreaming, specialized curriculums, and even schools tailored to meet the needs of particular disabilities. We spoke with Jacky Wilensky, a teacher at The Shore Center, a public school placement for students with autism, to learn more about what kinds of accommodations parents should consider to ensure a student’s educational success.

Read moreSpecialized Education Programs: How to Challenge AND Accommodate

The Business Side of Disability – Part 3

hiring people with disabilities

Making YOUR Workplace Accessible

Welcome to PART 3 of our Business Side of Disability blog series. If you’ve missed PART 1 and PART 2, please give them a read, but it’s not necessary to understand this article. In those blogs, we discussed recruitment strategies and the benefits employees with disabilities bring to an organization. Now, we will be discussing how you can make your workplace more accessible by exploring technology and workplace accommodations.

Read moreThe Business Side of Disability – Part 3