WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) held a protest and a press conference outside the headquarters of Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 1615 L Street, NW, Washington, DC on April 14 to demand that they end the practice of excluding people with disabilities from their polling.
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, one of the nation's most prominent pollsters, is dedicated to providing valuable data representing the will of the American people - that is unless you happen to be a person with a disability, according to NCIL. Two of the leading voices in the disability community, NCIL and ACB, have submitted numerous requests to Pew to include disability statistics in their polling so that the disability community can be factored into the national political dialogue. Those requests have been flatly rejected, and through an email response to NCIL, the message is clear to them from Pew that they are not interested in including disability data in their polling.
NCIL believes that Pew is actively dismissing one of the largest voting blocs in U.S. elections. In fact, Pew has rejected the idea of even sitting down at a table with disability advocates from NCIL to discuss practical reasons for their inclusion in polling. "I cannot believe that they would refuse to talk to us about this," said Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of NCIL. According to the Mellman Group, the disability vote is nearly as much as the African-American vote, 50 percent larger than the Latino vote, and many times more than the Jewish vote. According to the Census, 14.7 million people with disabilities voted in the last presidential election despite inaccessible conditions at over a quarter of the nation's polling places. Furthermore, people with disabilities are a major swing voting bloc, voting for George W. Bush in the 2004 election and Barack Obama in the 2008 election. According to NCIL, the disability community is furious over the decision to dismiss inclusion in polling, and views the move as blatant discrimination.
According to NCIL, this issue has raised serious questions about how the Pew Research Center can adequately "inform the national dialogue" without consistently including this significant section of the American population in their polls. NCIL believes that because of the lack of available polling data, major news outlets have overlooked the significant power of the disability vote, and have not considered fully the influence that the disability community has on shaping policy issues like healthcare, employment, and education. "We are tired of being treated as if we do not exist," said Richard Sims, Executive Director of the DC Center for Independent Living. "If the polls and national media are not addressing the impact of this constituency during major elections and policy debates, political analyses cannot be comprehensive and will lack credibility."
When: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 10 AM EDT
Where: 1615 L Street, NW; Washington, DC 20036
National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
The National Council on Independent Living is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals, including Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), individuals with disabilities, and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.
American Council of the Blind (ACB)
American Council of the Blind is a national consumer-based advocacy organization working on behalf of blind and visually impaired Americans throughout the country, with members organized through seventy state and special interest affiliates. ACB is dedicated to improving the quality of life, equality of opportunity and independence of all people who have visual impairments. Its members and affiliated organizations have a long history of commitment to the advancement of policies and programs which will enhance independence for people who are blind and visually impaired.
SOURCE National Council on Independent Living; American Council of the Blind