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The RespectAbility Report Posts

California Disability Voter Guide

As Recall Election Arrives, 4,131,700 Californians have Disabilities

Candidates weigh in on the most important issues that impact the disability community

Sacramento, CA, August 17 – Ballots are already being mailed to voters and on September 14, 2021, Californians with and without disabilities will go to the polls to vote in the California Gubernatorial Recall Election. The eyes of the nation are on the Golden State as voters ultimately decide whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom and appoint a new leader in his place. According to the 2020 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are 4,131,700 Californians living with some form of disability and they make up 10.6 percent of the state’s population.

Voters with disabilities want access in democracy, just like anyone else. At the same time, they have specific issues of interest. For example, in the economic expansion prior to COVID, only 38.2 percent of more than 1.9 million working age (18-64) Californians with disabilities, had jobs.

RespectAbility Advocates for California to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

Sacramento, CA, August 11 – This week, the California Workforce Development Board’s Executive Committee met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Golden State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

Symmon Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for California Recall Election

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

Sacramento, CA, August 10 – Republican candidate, community volunteer and author Joe Symmon has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to candidates in California’s critical gubernatorial recall election. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Symmon’s responses follows:

Dr. Ross Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for California Recall Election

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

Sacramento, CA, August 9 – Democratic candidate, attorney and physician Dr. Brandon Ross has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to candidates in California’s critical gubernatorial recall election. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Ross’ responses follows:

Dr. Hanink Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for California Recall Election

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

Sacramento, CA, August 9 – American Solidarity Party of California candidate and former professor Dr. James G. Hanink has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to candidates in California’s critical gubernatorial recall election. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Hanink’s responses follows:

Ventresca Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for California Recall Election

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

Sacramento, CA, August 5 – Democratic candidate and retired airport analyst Joel Ventresca has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to candidates in California’s critical gubernatorial recall election. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Ventresca’s responses follows:

RespectAbility Advises the National Council on Disability on the Imperative of Fighting Stigmas that Hold Back People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., August 3 – RespectAbility recently submitted comments to the National Council on Disability (NCD) discussing ways to improve our education system and expand opportunities in the entertainment industry for people with disabilities.

In the comments, RespectAbility recognizes the gaps in our education system which have been widened by the pandemic. RespectAbility called for a specific focus on black, indigenous and students of color with disabilities, who disproportionally face greater challenges in receiving an education. Additionally, RespectAbility proposed the addition of a 13th year in secondary education to provide a fluid transition for students before entering the workforce.

RespectAbility Responds to Request for Ideas on Promoting Access for Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., July 19 – Last week, RespectAbility submitted comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Request for Information (RFI) regarding voting access for voters with disabilities. 

This RFI comes after President Biden signed the Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting in March of this year. Within the Executive Order, President Biden called on the NIST, along with the Department of Justice, the Election Assistance Commission and other relevant agencies to “analyze barriers to private and independent voting for people with disabilities, including access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations, and poll worker training.” This is a critical step towards understanding how to improve access for the 38 million eligible voters with disabilities in America who look to cast their ballots in future elections. 

RespectAbility Releases 2022 Disability Voter Questionnaire for Senate and Governor Races

Washington, D.C., July 15 – RespectAbility, a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, is sending its nonpartisan voter questionnaire to candidates in competitive Senate and Gubernatorial races across the country. The outreach is being done in conjunction with RespectAbility’s online publication, TheRespectAbilityReport.org, which focuses on the intersection of disability and electoral politics. The answers to the questionnaire will be turned into nonpartisan voter guides in key battleground states across the country. This questionnaire builds on candidate outreach work done in 20202018 and 2016

RespectAbility Releases 2021 Disability Voter Questionnaire for California Governor Recall Election

Sacramento, CA, July 15 – RespectAbility, a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, is releasing its nonpartisan voter questionnaire to candidates in California’s critical gubernatorial recall election. The outreach is being done in conjunction with RespectAbility’s online publication, The RespectAbilityReport.org. The RespectAbility Report is dedicated to the tracking the intersection of disability and electoral politics. The answers to the questionnaire will be turned into a nonpartisan voter guide ahead of the recall election on September 14, 2021. This questionnaire builds on candidate outreach work done in 20202018 and 2016

Bipartisan Bill Helps Americans with Disabilities Seek Work without Losing Benefits

Washington D.C, July 9 – On June 17, 2021, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Work Without Worry Act. This piece of legislation would allow Americans with disabilities to take on employment opportunities without the fear of losing higher Social Security benefits. 

Currently, if an adult has a disability that began before the age of 22, they may be eligible for Social Security’s Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit. This benefit considers these adults to be dependents on their parent(s) and as such their benefits, like any child under the age of 18, rely on their parent’s Social Security contributions and earnings.

Alabama Passes $5,000 Deductible for ABLE Account Holders

Washington, D.C., July 9 – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Act 2021-514 allowing ABLE Savings account holders to deduct up to $5,000 per year per taxpayer on State Income Taxes. The plan, announced by Alabama State Treasurer John McMillian, aims to make saving achievable for people with disabilities by allowing ABLE account holders to save without losing the public benefits which many individuals with disabilities depend on. 

What are ABLE Accounts?

In 2014, the 113th Congress passed H.R. 647, the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act), which established tax-advantaged savings accounts for people with disabilities and their families. The ABLE Act was designed to support people with disabilities who are required to meet means/resource tests to continue receiving potential life-saving benefits. Members of the disability community who are on benefits are restricted to having less than $2,000 in liquid resources. Millions of people with disabilities rely on public programs for income, health care, housing assistance and food security. ABLE Accounts allows people with disabilities to accumulate savings that do not affect their eligibility for these benefits.  

NJ Governor Phil Murphy Signs Bill Approving 13th Year for Students with Disabilities

Newark, N.J., July 9 – Last month, Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) signed Senate Bill 3434 into law after five months of delays. This piece of legislation extends the length of educational and transitional services for eligible students with disabilities, who are slated to age out of the academic system at the age of 21. In New Jersey, the length of service extension is approximately one year.

How many students will benefit from this new law? 

According to the Disability Compendium Annual Statistics, there are 220,362 students with disabilities served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in New Jersey public schools.  Percentage wise, this represents 12.6 percent of all students in New Jersey’s K-12 schools. This might seem like a small percentage; however, every student served deserves an equal right to access resources that they need.

RespectAbility Responds to Office of Management and Budget Request for Ideas on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Washington, D.C., July 7 – This week, RespectAbility responded to a request for information from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about ideas, insights, and innovations to advance and prioritize equity issues. 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 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

“The impacts of racism and ableism on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities have caused harm to so many,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO of RespectAbility. “We must all fight racism and prejudice of all kinds. That work must go well beyond words and move into real systems change so we can create true equity and opportunities. Our society is at its best when all people, including BIPOC people with disabilities, can earn an income and become independent, just like anyone else. Online engagement opportunities like this one offer the chance for policy makers and common citizens to make their voices heard and push our society to become fairer and more inclusive.”

How Candidates & Campaigns Can Connect with Voters with Disabilities: by Nelly Nieblas and Hon. Steve Bartlett

Washington, D.C., June 28 – In the 2020 election cycle, candidates from both political parties who made their campaigns accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities won key races and helped shift the balance of power in America.

The biggest wins for candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities were in the state of Georgia where President Biden and Senators Ossoff and Warnock all made their campaigns accessible to voters with disabilities.

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.