Michaela Hearst on Voting Now

*I wrote this piece before events were canceled or postponed, including primary elections in some states due to COVID-19. Being unable to go to the polls can pose additional conflicts and limitations, and navigating the hectic nature of this time is on all of our minds. Voting and remaining cognizant of current events are of course still as important, but it is paramount that we monitor our mental and physical health right now.

To me, voting days typically feel like any other Tuesday. It’s a stop on the way to start my day or on my way home. However, it’s a very important one to make time for. The voting process only takes several minutes of my time (minus the lines). The first time I voted in the general election, I thought about how women in the United States weren’t even allowed to vote until 100 years ago. The right to vote is one I never want to take for granted, especially now. There are certain acts relevant to learning disabilities. This political aspect is one of the reasons why I became a social worker and why I do advocacy work.

I’m a member of NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council, known as the “YALC.” In July, if possible, I’m excited to be heading to Washington, D.C. with my fellow YALC members and Eye to Eye students for LD Day of Action. There, we’re all going to be telling our stories about our experiences with learning and attention issues, and convincing members of congress to take legislative action that will benefit students who have learning and attention issues. One of these steps includes fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to better support students and educators. We’ll be asking members of Congress to co-sponsor the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act, which focuses on three critical issues: Information, Accommodation, and Training. The RISE Act is intended to provide students and parents with information on disability services in higher education, and will simplify the process of qualifying for disability services and require colleges to accept multiple forms of disability documentation.

I realized that change needs to happen from the ground up. Educate yourself on what’s going on, get out there and vote, make your voice heard, which is particularly important in today’s political climate.

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