REV UP Westchester Coalition Meets at Berkeley College, Announces Campaign to Inform and Assist People with Disabilities to Register and Learn More About How to Access Their Rights to Vote

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Contact: Ilene Greenfield
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One of Every Four Americans Has a Disability



Photo Caption: Laura Case, Systems Advocate (standing, third from right), Westchester Disabled On the Move, Inc., visited Berkeley College in White Plains, NY, to announce the REV UP Westchester campaign - a launch to encourage people with disabilities to exercise their right to vote.  REV UP Westchester is a coalition of people with disabilities, their family members, friends, representatives of service providers, government agencies, nonprofits and companies that serve people with disabilities. Other members of REV UP Westchester in the photo (standing, left to right) are: Jodie Reaver, member, League of Women Voters Westchester County; Stephanie Swann and Nicola Coddington, both members of Community Voices Heard; Carole Conklin, supporter, REV UP Westchester; Colleen Kiernan, representative, Westchester Council for the Blind of NY; Sharon McLennon-Wier, PhD, Director, Berkeley College Disability Services; Ms. Case; Maria Samuels, Executive Director, Westchester Disabled On the Move; and Vincent Mas, Assistant, Berkeley College Disability Services. Seated, left to right: John Strothenke, Community Activist; Erica Martinez, Citizen Speaker and representative, Self-Advocacy Association of New York State; and James Kiernan, Citizen Speaker and representative, Westchester Council for the Blind of NY.

REV UP Westchester, a coalition of people with disabilities, their family members, friends, representatives of service providers, government agencies, nonprofits and companies that serve people with disabilities, announced its 2020 REV UP Campaign at a breakfast program held at Berkeley College in White Plains, NY, on January 15, 2020.

“One of every four Americans has a disability,” said Laura Case, Systems Advocate, Westchester Disabled On the Move, Inc., one of the program’s opening speakers. She and Jodie Reaver, who was representing the League of Women Voters of Westchester, asked the individuals in the audience of about 40 people, what issues they faced. “Equal pay,” shouted one woman. “Support services,” called out another. “Nursing … housing … restaurants and voting places with access …” others replied.

“If REV UP Westchester has more voters, we can comment on and influence these issues,” Ms. Case said. “We need to build our power to get these issues addressed. Everyone deserves equal access to the polls.”

Presenters also provided the background and benefits of the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which will celebrate its 30th anniversary on July 26, 2020.

“Whether you have a disability or not, the ADA is very important to us,” said Maria Samuels, Executive Director, Westchester Disabled On the Move. “The reason we have Para Transit is that the ADA made it mandatory. If I need computer software for my job, my employer has to provide that for me. If I am on a website and I want to shop, I need to have access to do it. Even though we have a long way to go, the ADA made that possible. Many organizations throughout New York State will recognize this milestone this year.”

Colleen Kiernan, representative from Westchester Council for the Blind of NY, led discussions about what empowerment and being treated equally means to individuals with disabilities, the barriers individuals with disabilities have encountered when voting, and how a successful registration voter drive and alignment behind candidates who support their issues of concern can make a difference. “Use your voice,” she said. “Your voice has to be heard.”

“Another issue is the misconception about disability,” said one participant. “People with disabilities deserve more respect. It is important to recognize and take the time to stop marginalizing people with disabilities.”

Other issues cited as barriers at voting locations included lack of proper wheelchair access and non-working or improperly set up voter marking devices, which anyone can use, as well as trained personnel on how to set up and use them. Two people reported that in the last election, they had to wait up to an hour while others could exercise their rights to vote independently and privately within five or 10 minutes.

“As a result of the ADA we all benefit,” said Sharon McLennon-Wier, PhD, Berkeley College Director of Disability Services. “Do we all enjoy those curb cuts to walk across the street at intersections? What about having GPS or asking Alexa and Siri for something? Do you enjoy those? What having that little shelf by the cashier where you can put your purse down to take out your money? The ADA, as well as our representatives and legislators, are for everyone, not just those with disabilities.”

REV UP Westchester hopes to increase its membership and invites volunteers to help join the 2020 REV UP Campaign as a general volunteer, or participate in one of the following four committees: Voter Registration, Leadership, Workshops and Events, and Social Media.

The following organizations are members of the nonpartisan coalition REV UP Westchester: Westchester Disabled on the Move, Inc., League of Women Voters of Westchester, Westchester Council of the Blind of NY, Berkeley College, Westchester Independent Living Center, and The Self-Advocacy Association of NYS, Inc. For more information contact Laura Case,, or call 914-968-4717, Ext. 104.

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The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.

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