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'Vote: The Disabled Democracy' to be screened at Misericordia on Oct. 29
09-17-13

Dan Kimbrough, M.S.

The Department of Communications at Misericordia University is holding a special screening for its documentary, “VOTE: The Disabled Democracy,’’ the follow-up to the award-winning documentary, “VOTE,’’ on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in Huntzinger and Alden Trust Rooms 218-219 of Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall. The screening is open free to the public.

 In “VOTE: The Disabled Democracy,’’ Melissa Sgroi, Ed.D., chair, and Dan Kimbrough, M.S., assistant professor, of the Department of Communications at Misericordia University, greatly expand their exploration of barriers to voting for people with disabilities. In part one, the professors chronicled how accessibility issues can disenfranchise some voters by inhibiting their entry to polling places in northeastern Pennsylvania.
 
“Due to the feedback we received from people about ‘Vote,’ I know our initial effort to shed light on this important and unrecognized issue resulted in some positive change,’’ said Dr. Sgroi. “Dan and I want to continue to educate the public and, especially the people in position to enact meaningful change, about the challenges people with disabilities oftentimes face while trying to cast their votes. It is our right as Americans to participate in elections. Nothing should get in our way of doing so.’’
 
Professors Sgroi and Kimbrough went to random polling places in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties during November 2012’s presidential election. The independently produced documentary reported how the built environment, lack of proper signage, and absence of handicapped accessible parking places and entrances could deter or prevent people with disabilities from voting.
 
They returned to the same polling sites that were deemed inaccessible to people with physical challenges during the last presidential election, for part two in the series, to determine if the problems were fixed properly or do they still persist. The Misericordia University professors also investigated other polls in the Keystone State, and interviewed state officials and a noted scholar of disability and media to discuss the complex factors that result in the widespread disenfranchisement of people with disabilities in the United States.
 
The Accolade Film, Television, New Media & Videography Awards honored the Misericordia University professors with a prestigious 2013 Award of Merit in Disability Issues for producing the 15-minute documentary, “Vote,’’ which also was shown during a special on-campus screening. The on-campus screening was covered by regional print and broadcast media, and later aired on SSPTV-13 in Hazleton, Pa. For both groundbreaking documentaries, Dr. Sgroi acts as the narrator and reporter, while Kimbrough is the videographer and editor.
 
For more information about the Department of Communications at Misericordia University, please log in to www.misericordia.edu/com or call (570) 674-6400. Founded and Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 34 academic programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats.