Iowans with disabilities gathered today at the state fairgrounds for a primer on voting and accessibility. Rik Shannon, a spokesman with the Governor’s Developmental Disabilities Council, says advocates had assumed physical access would be a major barrier — but it’s not. By and large, Iowans have learned to deal with physical difficulties, through alternatives like absentee ballots and curbside voting. In focus groups around the state, Shannon says advocates for the disabled learned that a lack of information is more daunting for many handicapped Iowans than physical barriers. Shannon says access to information about candidates and the mechanics of the election process itself are what people feel they need to be comfortable, confident and competent. The workshop was sponsored by “I-D Action,” a nonpartisan project of the Governor’s Developmental Disabilities Council. With I-D Action, Shannon says the whole idea’s to link people with disabilities to the information they need to participate fully, not to redesign existing systems and resources already out there. At the all-day workshop in the Walnut Center on the fairgrounds, speakers and videos informed the attendees but there were also hands-on projects like looking over a sample ballot and portable voting booths. Participants also cast votes to choose what kind of ice cream they wanted with the luncheon.
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