[Editor’s note: Jillian Day created 508Assist.org to help people all across the web make their sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. She was inspired to start 508Assist.org when a close family member, who happens to have a visual impairment, had trouble finding a dinner recipe online that he could read easily. When she’s not chasing after her little ones, Jillian enjoys being outside, whether she’s fishing, hiking, or geocaching with her family.
Disabilities in Politics: Kickstart Your Campaign
by Jillian Day
Maggie Hassan, Michael Bennet, Cyrus Habib — what do these political figures have in common? They are all people with disabilities! Whether it be blindness, autism, or limb disorder, people with disabilities are becoming more and more prominent in the political world. This is great news because these individuals bring a unique insight into how the world treats those who are a bit different.
It’s all about marketing.
Anytime you want to promote yourself, marketing is key. As an up-and-coming public figure, you will need to refine your image early on. While you don’t have to follow the same ultra-strict regulations as the British Royal family, maintaining consistency in the public is important. Voters don’t tend to take well to wishy-washy politicians, so make sure you’re out and about, handing out flyers and meeting people in the community. You should also invest some money in good business cards that let voters know you’re serious about this run (this guide can help you choose the right card size depending on your style and preference).
You need help.
Speaking of marketing, you’ll need a campaign manager and a few other helping hands to make sure you present yourself in the best possible light. Your campaign manager will, among other things, handle public relations and act as a political advisor. You can hire someone part-time or full-time, but make your selection based on experience and charisma. Another important person on your campaign team is an accountant. You will need someone to handle payroll and scheduling, ideally using traceable software. They will need to handle everything from mobile timesheets for your staff to paying your vendors on time. Your time tracking software should also integrate with your other programs, like a payroll platform, and allow you to handle common tasks from anywhere.
Your first run is more about exposure.
In the days of Instagram and TikTok, you might think that one viral campaign is all you need to become a public figure. Unfortunately, this type of fame is often fleeting. If you want to truly connect with your potential voters, you have to take steps to become a public figure. This might include sharing your history and telling your story. Most importantly, be yourself, and let the voters get to know the real you.
Social media is the megaphone of today.
Just because you can’t rely on social media to propel you toward instant success doesn’t mean that the sites don’t have value. You absolutely have to use social media, including Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, to get your name out into the public’s eye. But be careful! Even the highest office in the nation isn’t immune to social media snafus that alter perception.
Talk about your disability.
Disabilities used to be quite a taboo topic. But today, most folks are understanding that people with disabilities are every bit as capable as everyone else. But make sure to use identity-first language. And if you’re going to discuss your disability as a catalyst for change, try to keep the conversations positive. While negativity tends to make the 6 o’clock news, it is your upbeat attitude that will stick in people’s minds.
As a person with a disability, you are uniquely positioned to bring issues to light that your community may not even know exist. But you can’t do it alone. Make sure to find the right team, and then take other steps to put yourself front and center to political success. Most importantly, remember that this might not mean an immediate win. It takes time to market yourself so that, like those before you, you can make a difference.
Image via Pexels