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Author archive for: Jennifer Bohlman

Trump’s Choice for Secretary of the Interior Has History of Disability Activism

Washington, Dec. 9 – According to multiple news reports, President-elect Donald Trump has announced his choice for Secretary of the Interior, five-term Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Currently the highest-ranking woman in Congress, McMorris Rodgers has been praised by the disability community for her strong history of advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, and RespectAbility congratulates the Congresswoman on her nomination.

McMorris Rodgers has been a strong proponent of measures to support people with disabilities, such as the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which allows people with disabilities to set up tax-free savings accounts, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures access to education for children with disabilities.

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Colorado Voters Approve Controversial Assisted Suicide Law, Prompting Concern Among Disability Community

Washington, Nov. 13 – Colorado has joined five other states in allowing terminally ill people to end their lives with a physician’s assistance, despite protests from disability activist groups such as ADAPT and Not Dead Yet.

Last week, voters in Colorado approved the state’s Proposition 106, known as the “End of Life Options Act,” which will legalize assisted suicide, allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally-ill patients who desire to end their lives. The ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly, with two-thirds of voters in support and just one-third opposed.

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Election Tuesday Shows Big Win for Medical Marijuana Legalization

Washington, Nov. 9 – Nine states voted on whether or not to legalize marijuana yesterday. Citizens in Florida, Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas voted on the use of marijuana for medical conditions, and these measures passed in all four of the states where it was on the ballot.

Voters in California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine cast their ballots for whether those 21-years-old and older should be allowed to use marijuana recreationally. California, Massachusetts and Nevada voters approved marijuana for recreational use, while Arizona’s proposed measure was unsuccessful. Maine’s decision is still pending, though at the moment it appears that it may pass.

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What Do Candidates Say About People with Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System?

Washington, Nov. 3 – In the past year, discussions of minorities in the criminal justice system frequently have appeared in the media. People with disabilities have a high rate of involvement with the criminal justice system, but often are left out of these conversations.

Approximately 32 percent of prisoners and 40 percent of jail inmates report having at least one disability, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report. These prisoners and inmates often have trouble receiving necessary accommodations while incarcerated, as well as any support needed to transition back into society after their release.

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Candidates Talk About their Plans for Employment and People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 2 – While 72 percent of Americans without disabilities are employed, only 32 percent of Americans with disabilities are. However, two-thirds of Americans with disabilities report that they want to work and are unable to find a job. Some of the barriers to work people with disabilities encounter are a lack of sufficient education or training, employer or coworker attitudes, and the need for job accommodations.

People with disabilities are particularly underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), which are where the fastest growing careers are located. Barriers to higher education for people with disabilities along with inaccessible laboratories and workshops are two reasons why STEM fields are particularly lacking in employees with disabilities. Despite these barriers, people with disabilities have made significant contributions to the STEM fields. The White House recently honored 14 people with disabilities working in STEM fields as Champions for Change, showing the capabilities of people with disabilities if they are given access to all fields of employment.

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Candidates Discuss Plans for America’s Assistive Technology Industry

Washington, Nov. 1 – The technology industry in the United States is growing, with 200,000 jobs added to the industry in 2015, bringing the total of U.S. tech industry workers up to 6.7 million. This growth provides ample opportunity for innovation in the field of assistive technology.

Assistive technology promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changing methods of interacting with, the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.

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Where do Candidates Stand on Police Violence and Crime Against People with Disabilities?

Washington, Oct. 31 – Nearly half of all people killed by police in the U.S. have a disability. Yesterday Terrance Coleman, a black man with paranoia and schizophrenia, was shot and killed by two police officers in Boston. Coleman’s mother had called for an ambulance to take her son to a hospital and the police officers arrived to accompany the EMTs. They shot him when he refused to leave with the EMTs; there are conflicting reports if Coleman had touched a knife that was on a nearby kitchen table.

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Candidates Discuss Plans for Students with Disabilities

Washington, Oct. 31 – Only 65 percent of youth with disabilities graduate high school, 19 percent less than students without disabilities, found a White House study earlier this month. Youth who do not graduate high school are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system and have a more difficult time entering the workforce.

More than 6.5 million students in public education receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including special education or other accommodations to help them succeed. Studies have shown, however, that students in higher education have a harder time accessing proper accommodations.

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Where Do Candidates Stand on Sexual Assault and Rape?

Washington, Oct. 14 – Given the news cycle, talk about sexual assault and rape has increased.

It’s important to note that children with disabilities are three times more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault than children without disabilities. Victims of assault are more likely to commit crimes. Every nine minutes an adult with a disability is sexually assaulted or raped.

As part of the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire,the nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility asked candidates running for Senate or Governor about their plans to address these issues. While many had plans regarding rape and sexual assault, several had specific plans for rape and sexual assault of people with disabilities. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to address these issues and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

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