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Category archive for: First-Person

A Day in the Life of RespectAbility Reporters

Washington, Feb. 26 – Ryan Nobile and Justin Chappell are two members of the RespectAbility team who spent weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire, traveling for hours at a time to question candidates on both sides of the aisle on a variety of disability issues. Local disability leaders were invited to join us on the trail. Jane Strauss traveled from nearby Minneapolis, Minnesota to join Ryan and Justin on the trail for several days. Back in January, Jane documented her day with the duo and created this photo essay. Enjoy!

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Spotlight on Ben Spangenberg: On the Campaign Trail with a Wheelchair

Concord, N.H, Feb. 8 – Large crowds, bitter temperatures and snow present challenges to a wheelchair user like me; those were inconveniences I encountered at every event on my recent Iowa trip, but they pale in comparison to the issues people with disabilities deal with throughout the United States every day.  Now I am in New Hampshire, still pressing candidates to talk more about policies that effect the disability community. Fully 70 percent of the 56 million people with disabilities nationwide are not employed. People in the disability community encounter poverty, dependency and stigma. I am honored to bring these issues to the attention of presidential candidates, many of whom are unaware of the daunting challenges people with disabilities face.

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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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On the Campaign Trail with a Wheelchair

Washington, Dec. 30 – I’m Justin Chappell, one of The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporters. I also have Spina bifida, and, as a result, use a wheelchair. But this does not limit me. There are negative stigmas out there that discriminate against people with disabilities. But these stigmas are inaccurate and I live a very full life. Today I own my own place, am married to the love of my life, and now, on behalf of RespectAbility, I am interviewing presidential candidates!

The RespectAbility Report is a new online publication sponsored by the nonprofit disability rights and opportunity group RespectAbility. Our publisher, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, worked at Campaigns & Elections magazine and had a newspaper column for many years. Our editor, Lauren Appelbaum, has advanced degrees in journalism and worked in NBC News’ political unit with Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell.

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​Life On the Campaign Trail

Washington, Dec. 11 – I’m Justin Chappell, The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporter. I spent the month of November with fellow disability community leaders traveling throughout Iowa, using my wheelchair in nearly nine inches of snow to interview almost every candidate for president on both sides of the aisle.

Our travels have taken us from the state capital of Des Moines to Em’s Coffee Shop in Independence as we ask the presidential candidates how they would be a voice for people with disabilities and how they plan to engage people with disabilities in the political process.

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