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The RespectAbility Report Posts

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Texas Workforce Commission on Solutions for Texans with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform state wide efforts to rebuild the economy and get people with disabilities back to work.

Austin, TX, May 5 – This week, the Texas Workforce Commission met to discuss policies and priorities for moving the Lone Star State’s economy forward. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbiltiy weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in Texas’ economy.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said the Honorable Steve Bartlett, former Member of Congress, the former Mayor of Dallas and current Chairman of RespectAbility. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to implement policies that will drive a truly equitable recovery that helps people with disabilities and other marginalized communities get back to work.”

RespectAbility Contributes to Online Racial Equity Dialogue with Ideas on Metrics, Measures and Best Practices

Washington, D.C., May 5 – This past week, RespectAbility contributed to the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor’s online dialogue to solicit ideas, insights, and innovations from the disability community about advancing racial and social equity. This dialogue is only the latest example of how the new Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to address the “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies.”

On his very first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 launching an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” This is critical news for the 12.8 million Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities who have long been harmed by structural racism and who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 and resulting economic crisis.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Workforce Board on Bipartisan Solutions for Angelenos with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform metro area efforts to rebuild the economy and get people with disabilities back to work.

Washington, D.C., April 28 – Last week, the Los Angeles Regional Planning Unit of the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board invited subject matter experts, self-advocates, community members and their constituents to provide ideas about local and regional planning efforts to build a more equitable economy in a post-COVID world. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbiltiy weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in outcomes for people from marginalized communities.

“The Local Plan and the Regional Plan start out with an admirable goal,” said Nelly Nieblas, RespectAbility’s Manager of Policy, Advocacy and Engagement. “However, neither plan follows up on this aspiration by including people with disabilities in their demographic sections. There are multiple missed opportunities to include people with disabilities within the plans. We hope that we can partner with the Board to fix these challenges in the months ahead.”

Equality Act Aims to Expand Civil Rights Protections: Why This Matters to the Disability Community

Proposed Civil Rights Bill prohibits discrimination and advances equality for millions of Americans.

Washington, D.C., April 12– On February 25, the Equality Act was passed by the House of Representatives. The Act includes a major overhaul of civil rights protections for many Americans, including millions of people with disabilities. Now, it waits for further action by the United States Senate. 

The Equality Act specifically identifies sex, gender and sexual orientation as prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation. As a result, discrimination in areas such as public accommodations and facilities, the criminal justice system, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and education would be prohibited on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation. This would be a major change and significant expansion of civil rights. In 2020, the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County expanded employment protections against discrimination for gay and transgender people.

Options for an Equitable Recovery – RespectAbility Advises Congress on Bipartisan Solutions for People with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform Congressional efforts to rebuild the economy and get workers with disabilities back to work.

Washington, D.C., April 7 – Recently, the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee invited subject matter experts, self-advocates, community members and their constituents to virtually provide ideas and insights about rebuilding the economy in a post-COVID world. 

In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbiltiy weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in outcomes for people from marginalized communities. 

Senator Casey’s Bill Aims to Incentivize Hiring of Workers with Disabilities

The proposed Disability Employment Incentive Act would offer tax credits for employers who recruit, hire, and retain workers with disabilities.  Washington, D.C., April 9 – A new bill proposed by Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) would offer valuable new tax credits to employers who recruit, hire, and retain workers with…

Disability Group Pushes Government to Better Understand COVID’s Impact on Students with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform Department of Education efforts to collect better disability data. Washington, D.C., March 22 – As the nation continues to grapple with the lessons learned from one year of lockdown, virtual education and the other results of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education solicited…

The Voting Accessibility of the 2020 Election

Washington, D.C., March 17 – After an unprecedented election season, Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) recently released a study of the voting accessibility of the 2020 elections. This study highlighted the differences between the voting experience of individuals living with and without disabilities. The report found that even in the unprecedented circumstances of the 2020 election, voters with disabilities were better accommodated than in the 2012 election. The study’s findings also shine a light on how much our nation still needs to grow to make sure that individuals living with disabilities can equitably cast their ballots.

The American Rescue Plan: What It Means for People with Disabilities

How will this $1.9 trillion law help the 61 million Americans living with a disability?

Washington, D.C., March 12 – This week, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This massive bill includes a range of policies and programs intended to get more Americans vaccinated, help working families, and lay the groundwork for a post-pandemic economic recovery. Critically, it also contains key proposals that will directly benefit millions of people with disabilities, including helping students with disabilities get back to the classroom and directly sending stimulus checks to many people left out of previous relief efforts.

Former Senator Bob Dole’s Impact on Millions with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Feb. 25 – Last week, former Senator Bob Dole announced that he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. A one-time GOP presidential candidate and long-time advocate for bipartisan solutions, Dole has been a fixture of Washington, D.C. since he was first elected to the Congress in 1960. Throughout decades of public service, he consistently championed many of the key issues impacting millions of people living with disabilities. He did so both as an ally, and someone who became a person with disabilities in combat during World War II.  

A farm kid from Kansas, Dole enlisted in 1942 and soon was selected to be commissioned as an officer. In 1945, while serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, Dole was wounded by German machine gun fire. He was paralyzed by wounds in his shoulder and with a fractured vertebra in his neck. The wounded Kansan would have to wait nine hours in the freezing cold before he could finally be evacuated to a field hospital. Dole survived with his right arm permanently immobilized and had a long road to recovery that eventually included years of rehabilitation. Like so many people who acquire disabilities, Dole had to relearn key skills and improvise new ways of doing tasks. Because of the impairment in his arm, Dole taught himself to write with his left hand.  

The Potential of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act for People with Disabilities

This new bill will invest $15 billion to help restore the nation’s public workforce system in response to the economic collapse following the COVID 19 pandemic

Washington, D.C., Feb. 23 – In the response to the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) has introduced a new bill to kickstart the economy and get millions of people back to work. This new legislation is called the “Relaunching America’s Workforce Act” and it contains significant provisions that would specifically help workers with disabilities.

Impact on Individuals with Disabilities

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a much larger impact on the unemployment rates of individuals with disabilities compared to people without disabilities. Specifically, since March 2020, more than 1 in 5 workers with disabilities have lost their jobs at the hands of the coronavirus, compared to 1 in 7 individuals without disabilities. To put it another way, more than 1 million workers with disabilities have lost their job since the start of the pandemic. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act could play an important role in helping workers with disabilities get back into the labor force. Thankfully, this legislation explicitly mentions individuals with disabilities more than 10 times, and it provides numerous recommendations to help the disability community reenter the workforce.

New Bill Aims to Promote Diversity in Diplomatic Workforce

Washington, D.C., February 4 – Whenever a new Administration settles in at the White House and a new Congress convenes, the tone in Washington shifts. Following a presidential campaign built around commitments to diversity and equity, the Biden Administration has already taken several critical executive actions to fulfill those commitments. Now, the gauntlet has been thrown down and it’s up the 117th Congress to match that commitment.

One of the potential vehicles for Congress to do that is the “Represent America Abroad Act of 2020.” This bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20), would seek to diversify the diplomatic workforce of the Department of State. By creating a new America Mid-Career Foreign Service Entry Program, this bill would directly recruit new diplomats from underrepresented communities across the country. 

Biden’s First Day as President Includes People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., January 20 – After unprecedented outreach to the disability community during the campaign, President-elect Joe Biden and his team are continuing to include people with disabilities as they take office this afternoon.

One of Biden’s day one executive actions is to “Launch a Whole-of-Government Initiative to Advance Racial Equity.” According to the team, “The president-elect’s equity agenda is grounded in advancing racial justice and building back better for communities who have been underserved, including people of color and Americans with disabilities, LGBTQ+ Americans, religious minorities, and rural and urban communities facing persistent poverty.”

The Presidential Inaugural Committee is presenting today’s inauguration with live captions, ASL picture in picture, audio description, and other accessibility features on YouTube. Use the links below to watch the ceremony and primetime program.

Biden, Harris, Ossoff and Warnock, who reached out to voters with disabilities, to be sworn in today

Washington, D.C., January 20 – Today is Inauguration Day, and that means that four candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities will be sworn into office. RespectAbility congratulates President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and Senators-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. We look forward to working with them on issues impacting voters with disabilities.

Reaching out to the disability community may have been part of the reason that these candidates won their elections. Researchers at Rutgers University estimated that approximately 38.3 million people with disabilities were eligible to vote in last year’s election, which is roughly one-sixth of the electorate. Voters with disabilities want access in democracy, just like anyone else. At the same time, they have specific issues of interest. For example, of the 22 million working age (18-64) people with disabilities in our country, fully 70 percent of them are outside of the labor force.

The one in four adults with disabilities include people with spinal cord injuries, low vision or who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, as well as those with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, Autism or other disabilities. The sheer number of people with disabilities makes them the nation’s largest minority community.

Read more below about outreach to the disability community from these four candidates.

Ossoff, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Georgia Runoff

Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 7 – In a runoff election dominated by Stacey Abrams, Donald Trump, and unprecedented spending by the campaigns and candidates, Democrat Jon Ossoff has defeated incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue, flipping the Senate to the Democratic Party.

While neither Senator-Elect Ossoff nor Senator Perdue responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility, Ossoff did release a video statement for the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership’s live streamed voting forum that featured all four candidates. Watch Ossoff’s statement above.

Warnock, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Georgia Special Election Runoff

Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 6 – In a runoff election dominated by Stacey Abrams, Donald Trump, and unprecedented spending by the campaigns and candidates, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock has made history, defeating incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler to become Georgia’s first-ever Black Senator.

Senator-Elect Warnock responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Loeffler, despite multiple requests, did not respond to the questionnaire.

RespectAbility was not alone in reaching out to the candidates in the runoff elections on behalf of the disability community. The Georgia Disability Vote Partnership coordinated the efforts of disability advocacy organizations to get out the disability vote. The partnership hosted a live streamed voting forum featuring all four of Georgia’s Senate runoff candidates. Watch the video of Warnock’s remarks above.

Biden Transition Team Leaves Out People with Disabilities

Sen. Duckworth, Rep. Langevin and Disability & Inclusion Leaders Encourage Biden-Harris to Pick Talented People with Disabilities Washington, D.C., Dec. 31 – Despite promises to the disability community that helped him win the election, President-elect Biden has not yet included people with disabilities among his top appointees, according to transition…

GA Sen. Kelly Loeffler Reaches Out to Voters with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler has reached out to the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities, responding to questions from Sign 1 News earlier this week. 

Local disability organizations such as the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) and national groups such as RespectAbility have been reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

GA Sen. David Perdue Campaign Reaches out to Voters with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – Republican Sen. David Perdue’s campaign has reached out to the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities in statement released earlier this week. 

Local disability organizations such as the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) and national groups such as RespectAbility have been reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility.