Open Letter to College Officials


To you, who in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic, have voluntarily stepped forward to ensure that the processes are democratic during these 2020 General Elections; To you who give your time and effort so that all constituents can enjoy the right to vote, I call on you to be spokespersons for the inclusion of our population with functional diversity.

Today, let's stop and reflect, how would we like to be treated when we go to vote? It will immediately come to your mind, with sensitivity and respect. I invite you to be facilitators during the electoral processes, so that you adequately guide and assist all voters equally. Regardless of your condition or disability.

During this event some voters may need more help than others. It may be that some require that the way you guide them be adapted, more space to move around the voting centers or they may require different tools than other voters. It doesn't matter what that need is; always show empathy at all times, let him know that you are in the best disposition to assist him with love and tolerance. Begin with an effusive greeting, issue the simplest and most precise instructions, do not start from the premise that they need assistance, but remind them that if they require it, you can provide it. If that voter requires accommodation, explain the alternatives provided by law to cast the vote. Make him feel safe, without pressure, give him his space and promote self-sufficiency. Avoid comments that may refer to your disability. Look for alternatives to make the process more accessible, to guarantee understanding and finally so that the voter can cast his vote. Beyond the law and rights, we need to have tact, sensitivity and that inclusive look, which makes us feel the importance of participating in the country's processes.

At SER we carry out the “Accessible Voting” information campaign in which we present to voters with functional diversity the existing alternatives to facilitate their right to vote. However, it is important that you as officials are also ready. In the past few days, the early voting process began and the stories we have heard motivated us to write this letter to you. Remember that having a physical or cognitive disability is not an impediment to voting. Not all conditions manifest in the same way and some are not visible. Let's be empathetic and patient with the people we interact with that day. A diagnosis does not define a person, it is defined by the opportunities we give them to insert themselves into everyday and community affairs to which we all have a right. So, let's guarantee that your vote is secret and independent. We are in time to work together to improve practices, make them more inclusive, more humane, more tolerant. With love, sensitivity and a lot of joy, a pleasant process will be achieved. I trust you, your leadership and your values to achieve a more inclusive Puerto Rico. With equal rights, we can all enjoy electing those candidates who will direct our destiny as a country. I thank you in advance, you spokespersons for inclusion, guaranteeing that the population with functional diversity can vote without any barrier so that together we can continue Creating Solutions, Changing Lives.

Joahnibel Reyes Maysonet, MD

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist – SER de Puerto Rico