Billion Strong A Global Disability Movement

How to Run for Office as a Person with a Disability

By Lisa Walker

About one in four Americans lives with at least one disability. However, there is still a lack of representation for persons with disabilities in U.S. politics. This guide brought to you by Ruh Global Impact provides tips for how any person with a disability can get into politics.

Decide what office you want to run for

There are many different types of political office you might run for, with options varying depending on where you live. First, make sure you meet the minimum criteria for candidacy, such as being a citizen and being at least 18. Next, look up potential offices in your area you can run for. You can then obtain the paperwork needed to formally submit your bid to run for office.

Down-syndrome man attending education class in community center, inclusivity of disabled person
Down-syndrome man attending education class in community center, inclusivity of disabled person

Educate yourself about relevant issues in your area

Different municipalities have different issues they grapple with politically. It’s important to understand what topics matter to your electorate. To get a broad overview of issues in your country, you might consider pursuing a degree in politics. Further, think about what problems matter to you personally. As a person with a disability running for office, you may be interested in promoting understanding of disabilities and improving accessibility.

Establish your political point of view

Once you’ve learned about the issues and taken a stance on them, you can start developing your campaign messages. These are clear statements that tell voters exactly what your stance is on key issues. The United Nations explains critical elements of a campaign message: It should state a problem as well as a solution, with the solution being achieved via your campaign goals. This tells voters what the issue is and how you plan to help fix it.

Build a strong support team

Support staff like a campaign manager can help you achieve greater success in your campaign. You may also want to hire freelance specialists to help with specific components of your campaign. For example, in the U.S., it’s advisable to have campaign materials in Spanish and English. You can find translators to create bilingual campaigns. How much do translators make? Anywhere from $15 to $30 per hour depending on experience.

Raise funds to support your campaign

Money can help pay for campaign needs like support staff and marketing materials. You probably don’t want to foot the bill for your entire campaign yourself. Luckily, there are many ways to raise money as a politician. Some popular options include hosting events, crowdfunding, going door-to-door, and chain fundraising letters. You can also invest in cost-efficient marketing techniques like social media and email marketing.

Get out into the community to raise your profile

If you’re going to get people to vote for you, they have to know who you are and what your messages are. This means getting out into the community, meeting people, and sharing your beliefs. Attend local events to start connecting with others in your area. You can use tools like EventBrite to search for local events. Another option is to host your own events. You can even combine this with fundraising efforts—for example, by hosting a political fundraiser.

As a person with a disability, running for political office can be a great way to advocate for yourself and others with disabilities. While entering politics may be daunting, remember that you bring a unique experience and valuable voice to the table. Make the most of it.

Ruh Global Impact helps organizations develop smart disability inclusion strategies. Learn more about us and what we do by scheduling an appointment.

About the author

Lisa Walker created as a passion project to reach a wider audience and share information that will help her readers find, land, and succeed in their dream job.

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