Persons with disabilities participate politically for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they are pursuing interests specifically tied to their disability, such as making public buildings accessible or having sign language interpretation in schools. In other cases, their interests coincide with wider segments of society when it comes to basic human needs, such as access to clean water, education for their children or developing a safe and secure community. Like all citizens, persons with disabilities want the opportunity to shape their comunities and, in doing so, they can become recognized and valued community members. To achieve this status, persons with disabilities need to participate politically. Elections provide an opportunity for their power and influence to be exercised and strengthened. As with other citizens, elections are a fundamental way for persons with disabilities to express their preferences and shape political outcomes. Elections also allow persons with disabilities to develop leadership and organizing skills, build relationships, publicly raise issues important to them, demonstrate their abilities and set the stage for continual participation and leadership. For this reason, the election programs described in this manual are framed as ways to position persons with disabilities as equal, active and engaged citizens before, during and after elections.

Author International Foundation for Electoral Systems

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