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The RespectAbility Report Posts

All Riders: The Fight for Accessibility is a poignant look at the intersectionality of accessibility in NYC

New York City, June 17 – Primary elections are underway in NYC and New Yorkers are thinking hard about the issues that matter most to them. Accessibility and disability and social justice are at the forefront of many minds, which makes All Riders: The Fight for Accessibility a perfect film to watch before heading to the booth. Shot the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, All Riders takes a poignant look at the intersectionality of unmet access needs within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Often thought of as synonymous with accessible transportation because of its extensive transit system, The Big Apple has continually fallen short of its goal to become “the most accessible city in the world.” Out of over 400 stations, less than 30% are accessible, a portion of those accessible in only one direction, and with daily elevator failures close to 25% based on data from 2014-2015, that can leave New Yorkers with less than 20% of stations accessible at any one time across the massive five borough system. This is a dismal number considering the Americans with Disabilities Act, which celebrates its 31st birthday this July, requires that all stations be accessible under federal law.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Washington’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board on Solutions for People with Disabilities

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Seattle, WA, June 10 – This week, Washington state’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board met to discuss policies and priorities for moving the Evergreen State’s economy forward. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in Washington’s 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.”

There are 478,673 working-age Washingtonians living with some form of disability. In the economic expansion prior to COVID-19, fully 42 percent of them had jobs. However, because of COVID, more than 1 million workers with disabilities have lost their jobs nationwide. Now, as more Americans get vaccinated and more people get back to work, it is crucial that policy makers implement best practices.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Maryland Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) on Solutions for People with Disabilities

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Annapolis, MD, June 9 – This week, the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) met to discuss policies and priorities for moving the Old Line State’s economy forward. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in Maryland’s 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.”

There are 324,652 working-age Marylanders living with some form of disability. In the economic expansion prior to COVID-19, fully 43.6 percent of them had jobs. However, because of COVID, more than 1 million workers with disabilities have lost their jobs nationwide. Now, as more Americans get vaccinated and more people get back to work, it is crucial that policy makers implement best practices.

A Very Brief History of the National Council on Disability (NCD)

Washington, D.C., June 4 – This past month, the National Council on Disability (NCD) once again met to discuss critical issues impacting the lives of the 56 million Americans living with some form of disability. NCD has a long and proud history developing policies, programs, and plans to fight stigmas and advance opportunities. 

NCD was first established as a small advisory council within the Department of Education in 1978. In 1984, under President Reagan, NCD was transformed into an independent agency tasked with reviewing all federal policies and programs. NCD is now a self-governing federal agency responsible for providing advice to the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices and procedures that influence people with disabilities. The mission of the agency is to act as a trusted advisor in partnership with people with disabilities to the President, Congress, State, Tribal Communities, Local Governments, and other entities and organizations.

Taryn Mackenzie Williams Nominated to be New Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy

Washington, D.C., June 4 – This past month, the Biden Administration formally nominated Taryn Mackenzie Williams to become the next Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy. On May 27, 2021, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee met to discuss Williams’ nomination and to consider several other candidates for key political appointments. If confirmed by the Senate, Williams would become the highest-ranking member of the Biden Administration to publicly identified as a person with a disability. 

This is welcome news given that the Administration has publicly committed it to hiring diverse political appointees and yet only 3 percent of more than 1,500 candidates self-identify as having a disability. 

New York City’s Voter Registration Deadline is Today – What Voters Need To Do

New York, NY, May 28 – Today marks the final day to register to vote in the upcoming June 22 Primary Elections in New York City. Fortunately for New Yorkers with and without disabilities, anyone with a valid identification from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles can register to vote online. You can directly and easily access that information by going to the DMV website.

If you want to register by mail, your registration will need to be postmarked today and mailed out to the Board of Elections. The address is 32 Broadway, 7 Fl New York, NY 10004-1609. Click here to download and complete the form.

If you would like to register in person, local board of elections offices are open until 5:00 p.m. Eastern today. To find your local office, go to the website.

Lastly, to vote in the November 2, 2021 general election, voters must be registered by October 8, 2021. Go to this website for a full list of upcoming voting deadlines.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth Serves as Role Model for Many

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month by recognizing the Legislative Leadership of Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Washington, D.C., May 23 – Since being elected to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate in 2016, Tammy Duckworth has carved a name for herself as an advocate for disability and veterans’ rights. She also bears the honor of having many “firsts” to her name. Born to Thai mother of Chinese heritage and an American father on the 12th of March 1968, Sen. Duckworth is the first Thai woman to be elected to U.S. Congress, the first woman to give birth while serving in office as a U.S. senator, and is the first female Senator to use a wheelchair.

According to the U.S. Census, as of 2019, there were 18,297,153 Asian Americans living in the United States. Out of that number, there are 1,315,999 Asian Americans who identify that they are living with some form of disability, many of whom face double discrimination. Sen. Duckworth is helping to fight these stigmas as a very public role model.

Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono Recognized for Leadership as an Immigrant and as a Person with a Disability

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month by recognizing the Legislative Leadership of Sen. Mazie Hirono

Washington, D.C., May 23 – U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) has been working in government since the 1980’s, striving tirelessly to make a difference and has made great advances on many fronts. She is the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate, the first woman elected to the Senate from Hawaii, and the first Buddhist senator. As of May 2017, Hirono is also a woman with a disability serving in the U.S. Senate.

During an x-ray before minor eye surgery, it was discovered that Sen. Hirono had stage 4 kidney cancer. Since then, she has had to undergo surgery to remove her right kidney and a rib, as well as extensive cancer treatment. Hirono considers herself lucky that she was able to get early intervention and that she had health insurance at the time of her diagnosis. Thus, she is a strong supporter of healthcare reform and specifically, Medicare for All. However, her support for healthcare reform started long before her diagnosis.

Rep. James Langevin Paves the Way for the Disability Community in Congress

Washington, D.C., May 11 – Over 40 years ago, Rep. James (Jim) Langevin was left paralyzed after an accidental shooting at his job at the Warwick Police Department in his home state of Rhode Island. Langevin, who was only 16 at the time, was suddenly a quadriplegic. Although unexpected, his injury led him to a life of public service, and he has never looked back.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Langevin has been a change agent in his home state for the last 35 years. Since his 1980 injury, he has worked to help Rhode Islanders in need and individuals with disabilities throughout the country. Langevin’s journey into public service began at Rhode Island College, where he served as President of Student Community Government. Following his undergraduate degree, Langevin went to Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Thereafter, Langevin launched his career in government in 1986 by being elected to serve as the Secretary of Rhode Island’s Constitutional Convention. After two years in this position, Langevin successfully campaigned and was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives. 

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.