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Wed Mar 13, 2019, 03:00 AM

In a public FB post, the first deaf-autistic person elected to public office asks for help

in how to get accomodations.

The ACLU says it can only help with cases affecting more people. She is or was an occupational therapist in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

Can anyone think of anyone else who might help her?

Are there any DU lawyers willing to give her advice?

https://www.facebook.com/sarah.a.hernandez?__tn__=lC-R&eid=ARBBvkhimWIQj3Ua7kV0w8IAHlredaIilY1Drxhfn97wvza5I6M_HYBkHVJy-ElsN706QFGHUNyGH7LW&hc_ref=ARSMZwbbddHiKzk4KF5kJod4pPxDEBjmIPMHzUCxEdk17oB3cWPS_6jO4FrHVLLMgZo&__xts__[0]=68.ARCXLvf6NmuuzSXBgkoOKN9u7j7Ql2_gouGmy9r3nmBGckKFd_EXSXjwuxGkQVWw49dALHPPahrHTOdjReL1Psw6exu4WPESt_Sa0oOzLX_O5rTCsAY3_H-KZ8H6o9Eak-2x2n_z0Bw3xZ7qsGcI06jdD0LAQi8WJfkf1xwnA0dK_tAGM9UDthFvuddSKGu_4_3mlQbLqbvM_KfEBQO4YoQg8hzPHh2fpTmF0qxtZSw_lPo


Sarah Selvaggi Hernandez shared a post.

March 11 at 11:22 AM ·

*REQUEST FOR HELP*

As some of you know, I was the first openly autistic person to be elected to public office in the United States. It was a tremendous moment for neurodiversity and it has given me opportunities to bring a neurodiverse, autistic perspective to the table.

However, I am having difficulties with accommodations. The ADA requires all government entities to communicate effectively with people with disabilities. I am autistic and profoundly hard of hearing and need accommodations, especially for complex issues. However, I have been refused these accommodations in what's known as "executive session." Executive session is where we talk about confidential matters; those conversations are protected. I have, at times, been denied those accommodations when requested because "we can't write things down." Many interactions in government are verbal so people can say things like "I don't recall that conversation" and there's no written record to hold them accountable. (Gross.)

The reason I am not entitled to accommodations is an interesting one. Because our town is on the smaller side, our elected positions are volunteer. Because our position isn't an "established program", we are not protected by the ADA. I have reached out to the Department of Justice and had this information confirmed. The ACLU declined to accept my complaint because they typically represent large groups of people and have limited resources. The disability council in CT will follow the guidance of the DoJ.

Here's the difficulty: what occurs in executive session is the one exclusive part of my position. I need access to those communications. Beyond just me - ALL people deserve to be a part of those conversations in the way they communicate. Our perspective matters and we deserve a seat at the table, but this is a significant barrier.

I have been working on this issue for a while now and have 0.0 spoons left. I am not sure what the next step to take is and I need a little guidance. My goal is to ensure that all people are seen and heard in the government process long after my tenure is complete.

Thank you in advance. <3 If you reach out directly, it may take me a moment to respond. I'm low on spoons now, but have been actively working to wash them. (Disability talk - look up spoon theory!)

6 replies, 782 views

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Reply In a public FB post, the first deaf-autistic person elected to public office asks for help (Original post)
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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Wed Mar 13, 2019, 03:36 AM

1. Damn. Some days the bureaucratic process really does just suck eggs.

This is a classic example of such.

I can't help, but I can K&R. I wish I were skilled in a way to be of more service.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Wed Mar 13, 2019, 04:31 AM

2. Why anybody even has to appeal for help on social media...

Like putting a message in a bottle. This shouldn’t have to be the way it is. Assistance should be there when you need it.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Wed Mar 13, 2019, 04:38 AM

3. Thank you for highlighting this issue and all the best getting help.

Excellent writing skills.

K & R

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Wed Mar 13, 2019, 06:09 AM

4. K & R

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Wed Mar 13, 2019, 08:49 AM

5. Voice to text without a record or capture capacity.

If such a device or system exists this person should be apprised of it.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Wed Mar 13, 2019, 08:54 AM

6. Why are there "Executive Sessions"?

No matter should be “confidential” among elected officials IMHO.

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