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Author archive for: James Trout

Candidates Talk Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 3 – In theory, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) opened the door to employment for many people with physical disabilities by requiring that buildings be physically accessible. In practice, however, workplace accessibility for many people with disabilities is far from universal.

Many employers have offices in buildings that predate the ADA and therefore don’t have elevators, accessible bathrooms or necessary assistive technology for people of all abilities to be able to work there. In addition, the ADA exempts companies with fewer than 15 employees from having to abide by ADA standards, so many miss out on a chance to work for a smaller organization.

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What Do Candidates Say About People with Disabilities Regarding Transportation Issues?

Washington, Nov. 3 – While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has enabled many people with disabilities to have physical access and more rights, numerous challenges still remain. Fully 70 percent of working-age people with disabilities do not have a job, the same rate it was when the ADA was passed in 1990.

When a person with a disability finds a job, it is vital that they be able to physically go to the job. Many people with disabilities do not drive due to their disability or are unable to afford private transportation.

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Blind Singer Marlana VanHoose Blows Away Republican Convention with National Anthem

Cleveland, July 18 – The first night of the Republican National Convention opened with a moving performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Marlana VanHoose, a young woman who has been blind from birth and diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two.

“I love this country. It is a complete honor to be chosen to honor my country on this platform at the Convention,” said VanHoose.

VanHoose was born with Cytomeglovirus and her optic nerve never formed. Her parents were told she would not live past the age of one. But she proved doctors wrong and by the age of two, she was singing and playing the piano.

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Kasich: Stand Up for Developmentally Disabled

Fairfax, Virginia, Feb. 23 – Gov. John Kasich said it’s just a matter of creating priorities in state and national government in order to help people with disabilities.

“You know what kind of lobby the developmentally disabled have?” Kasich said at a town hall in Fairfax, Virginia, on Monday. “ZERO! Zero. Somebody has to stand up for them.”

In response to a woman asking a question about the needs of her 22-year-old son on the Autism spectrum to live a fulfilling life on his own, Kasich said they have to fix the system.

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How Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Made Addressing Disability Issues a Priority

Concord, N.H., Feb. 6 – When Hillary Clinton declared her candidacy for president on April 12, 2015, her campaign did not make a point of taking people with disabilities into account. She came under scrutiny for not including people with disabilities in her announcement video, and her famed van momentarily stopping in a handicap parking spot in Council Bluffs, Iowa in April drew negative attention.

In the following seven months, Clinton’s campaign became much more disability friendly. While she was one of the first presidential candidates to talk about disability issues, often it was done very clumsily and insensitively toward people with disabilities.

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On the Presidential Campaign Trail With Autism

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 14 – I’m James Trout, one of The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporters. I’m covering the presidential candidates and what they say and do on disability issues. It’s literally five degrees in Iowa, and yet I’m having the time of my life! Each day I get to speak with different presidential candidates from both sides of the political aisle.

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 15 years old, in between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. At the time, the high school that I attended had never had a student who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s before and they were completely unsure of what to do. In the roughly 15 years since, knowledge, awareness and acceptance of Autism Spectrum disorders has improved dramatically in our society. We still have, however, a long way to go for full inclusion in society due to numerous issues such as a higher unemployment rate than people without disabilities and being twice as likely to be the victims of violent crime.

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Christie: Put Work First, Above Any Other Options

Pelham, NH, Dec. 28 – “We want to use the government involvement to encourage employers to put work first, above any other options,” Gov. Chris Christie said following a town hall at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Pelham, N.H. last week.

During his speech, the presidential hopeful said Americans were not able to pursue happiness due to a lack of economic and employment opportunities. Asked to address this issue specifically for people with disabilities, Christie discussed how New Jersey is one of 17 to be an Employment First state.

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O’Malley: Identify Best Practices to Increase Employment of People with Disabilities

Manchester, NH, Dec. 22 – Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley called for identifying best practices when asked to address the large unemployment numbers for people with disabilities.

“We need to lift up the best practices state by state and do a better job as a nation in seeding, feeding and supporting those best practices that connect our neighbors with disabilities to gain full employment,” O’Malley said during a townhall Sunday at American Legion Sweeney Post 2 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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Bush Goes on the Offensive, Defends People with Disabilities

Contoocook, NH, Dec. 20 – Former Gov. Jeb Bush stood up for people with disabilities at a town hall meeting in Contoocook, NH, on Saturday against remarks made by Republican candidate Donald Trump.

“I think the great opportunity in this country goes back to the idea that everyone has value, everyone can make a difference.”

News reports highlight how Bush was asked by a man with Asperger’s Syndrome about what he would do to improve education and employment for Americans with disabilities.

The former governor of Florida highlighted his role to transform the state’s Medicaid waiver program into “a model for the rest of the country.”

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Democratic Party “Champion” of Diversity

Cleveland, August 6 – At a Democratic National Committee (DNC) press conference on the sidelines of the first Republican primary debate, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Democratic party is a “champion” of diversity.

The Florida congresswoman claimed that Democrats “ensured that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became the law of the land…that it was expanded and had broader reach.” It is important to note that the ADA was signed by President George H.W. Bush and the legislation was bipartisan.

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Leaving Out People with Disabilities

Washington, July 22 – Sunday will be the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). President Barack Obama hosted a celebration at the White House on July 20th with prominent disability rights activists. In addition, several Republican presidential candidates including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, have talked about addressing disability rights and disability employment on the stump.

In contrast, the Democratic presidential candidates have not talked much about the importance of employing people with disabilities or addressing disability rights in general. On Friday July 17th, the five Democratic Party Presidential candidates – Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and Jim Webb –attended the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Each of the five candidates addressed the crowd and talked about issues that were important to them: raising the minimum wage, eliminating college debt, increasing human rights, et cetera. In spite of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the passage of the ADA, not a single candidate neither mentioned the word “disability” nor did they talk about the rights and/or employment of people with disabilities.

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Gov. Kasich Gets Personal on Autism

Washington, June 25 – During Gov. John Kasich’s speech at the Road to Majority Conference on Friday, he talked about the importance of embracing people with disabilities. He stated that people on the Autism spectrum should very much have access to healthcare without bankrupting their families. As someone on the Autism spectrum, I recognized the importance of this statement, especially since so few elected officials talk about it. Although the number of people diagnosed on the Autism spectrum is growing in droves, it is an issue that still is often not adequately addressed by our public officials or business leaders.

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