OKLAHOMA CITY – Central Oklahoma residents with disabilities, their family members and friends will gather on Saturday, July 23rd, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City, to hear the views of more than 14 candidates for the State Legislature. The event is held each election year by area disability organizations, to give citizens with disabilities a chance to learn candidates’ priorities and hear where they stand on issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities. Organizers hope the event also helps educate future office-holders on some of the major concerns shared by area residents with disabilities.
Sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, materials in Braille and large print, and other accommodations will help to make candidate speeches and information accessible to individuals with hearing loss, blindness or other disabilities.
15.6% of Oklahomans – almost one in six - have disabilities. Over 583,194 Oklahoma residents statewide, and 171,094 in the greater OKC Metro Area, have disabilities, not counting those who live in nursing homes.
“Most Oklahoma families are touched by disability in one way or another,” explains Vicky Golightly, spokeswoman for central Oklahoma’s Heartland Council of the Blind. “As Oklahomans we share many of the same goals and concerns. However, individuals with disabilities face unique barriers to full participation in the life of our state and communities. The State Legislature can create opportunities for us to contribute to the economic health of our state – as workers, taxpayers and customers. We hope this event will help future leaders understand the potential of Oklahomans with disabilities.”
Organizers of the Candidates’ Forum are the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, Heartland Council of the Blind, Oklahoma Council of the Blind, Oklahoma Rehabilitation Association, Statewide Independent Living Council, Sight-Hearing Encouragement Program, and Oklahoma Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Primary runoff elections for legislative candidates will be held August 23rd, with the general election on November 8th. County election boards must receive voter registration applications more than 24 days prior to an election in order for the applicant to vote in that election. To be able to vote in the general election in November, a voter must be registered by October 14th.
“You can download a voter registration application from the State Election Board website at https://www.ok.gov/elections/, said Renee Sansom, Program Manager for the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council. “Information on polling places, early voting and how to vote by absentee ballot is also available at the site. Thanks to Senate Bill 313 enacted in 2015, online voter registration will be coming to Oklahoma in the future.”
The Candidates’ Forum is open to the public and free to attend. For more information contact Vicky Golightly with Heartland Council of the Blind, 405-740-6227 and firstname.lastname@example.org or Renee Sansom, Program Manager, Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council at 405-951-3579 office or (405) 315-1364 cell, Renee.Sansom@okstate.edu.