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Hello! I’m Joanna Witulski. (woman with blue shirt/Gallaudet University)
Hello! I’m Valeria Vaughn. (woman with blue shirt and curly hair)
We are the Deaf Service Coordinators for Everybody Counts, Inc.
There is a message for you from Staff and Board of Directors from Everybody Counts, Inc.

The current pandemic has been a terrible situation for everyone, some more than others. Some are more serious and some for others, not too serious One unfortunate, and actually scary fact, is that a lot of prejudices and discrimination that people with disabilities don’t usually talk about are showing because they are talking about them now.

Senior citizens, and people with any kind of disability are being referred to as unimportant, and left out. Some people are afraid to seek medical care – not just because they are worried about contamination – but because they are afraid that they won’t be considered valuable enough to treat.
So in many ways this health crisis has made it obvious that some of the injustices and discrimination that people with disabilities, and senior citizens, have been dealing with for a very long time haven’t gone away.

2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. When Congress passed the ADA, they wanted the nation to have a clear and comprehensive mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities with employment, accessibility, education and many other situations, and to provide clear, strong, consistent and enforceable standards. It did not say that members of Congress were making a suggestion. It was federal legislation.

A lot people say that Northwest Indiana is way behind with respect to compliance with the ADA, and that one of the reasons is because our elected officials and other leaders fail to understand, recognize and honor the fact that the ADA is a civil rights law, it’s not about charity, or services.
Congressman Peter J. Visclosky has been a strong advocate for Northwest Indiana’s senior and disability communities. He has decided not to run for Congress any longer. This means there will be someone else to replace him…who? Everybody Counts, Inc. decided to hold a public event so that all of the candidates for 1st District Congress could share their thoughts and perspectives about all of the issues that are important to you, to help you decide who to vote for.

You might remember that was supposed to happen on April 16th. Most of the candidates accepted our invitation, and were planning to participate. Because of the COVID19, we had to cancel it. But we decided to come up with a better way to do this by doing the individual interviews, through a video call. We sent out invitations to all of the candidates to answer questionnaires regarding how the COVID19 has an effect on the senior citizen and people with disability communities. Some of the candidates were able to participate in the interviews through the video call.

For the record, despite numerous and repeated attempts on our part, some candidates have absolutely refused to respond in any way. We are very grateful to the candidates who participated in a video interview, for their obvious interest in what we consider very important topics.

Those interviews, using an interpreter and closed captioning, are posted on our website and Facebook account. You can also read their answers to a questionnaire we asked them to fill out.

Please watch the videos and see their answers before you decide who you want to vote for. Election Day has been moved to June 2, and you can also use a mail-in ballot to vote. If you want more information about how to do that, please contact us at valeriav@everybodycounts.org or joannaw@everybodycounts.org or call vp at 219.232.1063.
Don’t forget to vote on June 2!