Scott Youngs is the project director for ADA Nevada, which provides training for people with disabilities and helps organizations understand their responsibilities in regards to being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck spoke with Youngs about what Nevada’s caucus can do to be more accessible for voters with disabilities, and about his own experience caucusing.
Starbuck: What are the biggest barriers for people caucusing with disabilities?
Youngs: I think one of the biggest barriers that I hear most of the time are general types of things with parking, accessible routes, getting to the site where the activity is going on [and] having to wait in long lines. If they have mobility impairments, or they're older, without proper places to sit and rest, that can be an issue for a lot of people.
Starbuck: What about Nevada specifically have you been seeing that concerns you?
Youngs: I've been a voter in Nevada since I was 26. So I've seen a progression of things, issues, barriers that have been more prominent 10 or 15 years ago, that are being addressed now. But some of those things for me, having a physical disability, is I want to make sure there's accessible parking. I want make sure I'm able to get to the site itself.
Starbuck: What are some concrete steps that Nevada can take before the caucus to make it more accessible right now?
Youngs: One of the documents that I find most helpful is [A Planning Guide for Making Temporary Events Accessible to People with Disabilities] (opens in new tab). It's a guide that came out, supported by the Department of Justice. It helps you think about how to plan an activity, whether it's an activity that's downtown, or in a certain location. It talks about accessibility issues, amenities and things that you can do to make sure that regardless of your disability, you can be included in that event.
Starbuck: You caucused in 2016 at the University of Nevada, Reno. What was that like?
Youngs: My building was not very accessible because it was a tiered classroom type setting. There was accessibility to the top of the classroom and the bottom of the classroom, but when the activity started happening, everybody was moving around everywhere. So that presented a problem for me, to be stuck in a particular spot. That felt a little bit segregating to me.
Starbuck: When people did start to break out, like into, "You stand over here for this candidate," what happened? What was that like for you?
Youngs: I was stuck at the top of the classroom. All the activity was happening toward the middle of the classroom. People were moving around, getting cards and things like that. So I felt not very included in the whole process, but I wasn't going let that stop me from participating. So I just did what I needed to do. If I needed help or someone needed to grab a card for me, I just said, "Hey, I need one of those cards. Can you grab me one?"
Starbuck: Were people pretty helpful?
Youngs: I think for the most part, if you acknowledge that you needed some help, they were there to help. But my philosophy is that this whole process should be fully accessible, and you should be able to do everything independently. I shouldn't have to rely on other people to accommodate barriers that exist within the process.
Starbuck: What issues are most important to you as a voter?
Youngs: Although I have a disability, I think I've been pretty lucky at having a really good job [and] having a family. I think other people are more impacted and have a harder time, and [are] challenged to have those same things. I would look to anybody that would address the socioeconomic issue for people with disabilities, because a lot of people with disabilities are on fixed incomes and have very, very little discretionary money at the end of the month.
Starbuck: What do you want candidates to say or do in regards to accessibility?
Youngs: Just become aware of the populations that are underserved and underrepresented more. Include people with disabilities in your diversity and inclusion message. Don't forget to mention people with disabilities when you go through all of those other protected classes: race, ethnicity, gender identity [and] all of those other protected classes. Please include people with disabilities in that discussion, because a lot of times, they're not.
Lucia Starbuck is a senior at the Reynolds School of Journalism (opens in new tab).
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