Dover, Delaware, Oct. 25 –With 64.1 percent of Delaware’s 56,546 working-age people with disabilities out of work, Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Arlett responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities.
In his responses to six questions submitted by the organization, Arlett noted that one of his key staff members is “high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome.”
“This individual is in charge of scheduling my events statewide, compiling press releases and doing policy work for questionnaires such as this one,” Arlett said. “This same individual was displaced from employment at the end of 2017 (unrelated to diagnosis) and this assignment has helped me tremendously over the past six months for this campaign.”
“One of the reasons why I am running is to give more people who want to work and can, the opportunity to thrive.”
“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”
RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Arlett’s opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, but received no response to the questionnaire from him, according to Mizrahi.
The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Arlett’s responses follows:
Question 1: What policies or actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?
Answer: At the federal level (applicable due to federal race – U.S. Senate), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents discrimination of people with disabilities and requires reasonable accommodations be made by their employers to those in need. This framework has allowed people with disabilities to re-enter the workforce and operate in a competitive workplace environment.
Question 2: What is your record on improving the lives of people with disabilities, specifically, in enabling people with disabilities to have jobs, careers, or start their own business?
Answer: For this campaign for U.S. Senate, one of my key staff members is one with high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. This individual is in charge of scheduling my events statewide, compiling press releases and doing policy work for questionnaires such as this one. This same individual was displaced from employment at the end of 2017 (unrelated to diagnosis) and this assignment has helped me tremendously over the past six months for this campaign.
One of the reasons why I am running is to give more people who want to work and can, the opportunity to thrive.
Question 3: Do you have specific strategies for youth employment for people with disabilities? For example, what are your thoughts on apprenticeships for youth with disabilities?
Answer: The best programs are already in place. Community organizations such as Scouting, organized sports, Junior Achievement, and Boys & Girls Clubs all contribute to the positive development of today’s youth. The teach project management, team management, and personal development that lay the foundation for youth employment. Youth with disabilities should take advantage of these programs from Junior Achievement to BSA Explorer’s to learn more about various careers and business in general.
I also fully support apprenticeship programs for youth with disabilities through oar existing vocational and charter school programs. Charter and vocational technical K-12 schools are best equipped to train future employees on trades and specialized programs in partnership with the private sector.
Question 4: The jobs with the future will largely require post-secondary education. However, on average only 65 percent of students with disabilities complete high school and only seven percent complete college. What policies do you support to enable students with disabilities, including those from historically marginalized communities with backgrounds, to receive diagnosis, individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 plan and accommodations/services they need to succeed in school and be prepared for competitive employment?
Answer: Every student must have an individualized education or 504 plans to ensure they are track for one of four paths – college education, trade school, military, or private business. School counselors must meet with each student semi-annually to ensure they are on track, and to recommend additional steps to meet the end objectives of the IEP/504 plan. The school system must ensure that the progress of each IEP/504 plan is shared with the parents as well to determine if additional resources are required.
Question 6: People with disabilities are twice as likely to be the victims of crime as those without disabilities. This includes the fact that both children and adults with disabilities are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. They are also far more likely to suffer from police violence, partially because manifestations of disability can be misunderstood. How would you address these issues?
Answer: Personal safety education should be provided during K-12 education and also made available via community centers and libraries. Public shared services such as community centers, libraries should explore holding personal safety education regularly to help the community remain safe. Partnerships with emergency services (EMT, fire) and law enforcement would make the education programs more attractive for community education. The best path forward on this is through state, county or local resources.
Question 7: How would you ensure that people with disabilities have access to health care and the benefits they need while enabling them with opportunities to work at the best of their capabilities without losing the supports they need to live?
Answer: Through the federal American with Disabilities Act (ADA) people with disabilities should be able to get access to health care and benefits they need. From a health insurance perspective, the first step is to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since it failed to deliver its intended goal to lower health insurance cost and access. From a federal perspective, we must pass a federal bill allowing health insurance plans to be sold nationwide. This would greatly increase access to health insurance plans at lower cost for communities such as this.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. You can see more candidate responses at http://therespectabilityreport.org/category/pwdsvote-2018-questionnaire/. To learn more about the organization, visit our website at www.respectability.org.