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Gilmore on Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Washington, Dec. 12 – Since leaving government, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore was named to the Board of Directors of the Alexandria, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, which recognizes businesses that hire people with disabilities. The presidential hopeful talked about this initiative as well as how he has helped people with disabilities achieve the American Dream in an exclusive interview with a coalition of disability groups including RespectAbility, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.

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Pataki: More Economic Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Washington, Dec. 12 – Former New York Gov. George Pataki discussed his experience with enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act in New York and the use of assisted technologies to assist people who are deaf or blind in an exclusive interview with a coalition of disability groups including RespectAbility, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.

“The potentials aren’t limited by the status quo of where we are today,” Pataki said. “The potential is where we can be tomorrow and that is how government has to think.”

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Graham Pledges to Take Hands-on Approach to Help #PwDs Enter Workforce

Washington, Dec. 12 – In an exclusive interview with a coalition of disability groups including RespectAbility, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Sen. Lindsey Graham discussed his policies to help wounded veterans and other people with disabilities achieve the American Dream by entering the workforce.

“Never make a veteran pick from the dignity of work and benefits,” Graham said. “You can work and receive benefits too.”

Read the full transcript of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s interview with The RespectAbility Report:

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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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Become A Citizen Journalist

Washington, Dec. 10 – As The RespectAbility Report continues to track all of the presidential candidates’ statements on disability issues, we are asking for our readers’ help. Since our staff is small, we need you to ask the candidates to talk about these important issues that are often not discussed by mainstream media.

It’s simple. People with disabilities (PwDs) and their families and friends who attend an event with a presidential candidate and get us video of the candidate answering or addressing a question on disability issues will receive $100.

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Kasich Prioritizes Mental Health Treatment Following San Bernardino Shooting

Washington, Dec. 9 – Ohio Gov. John Kasich says gun control will not fix attacks like the San Bernardino shooting, which he had called a terrorist attack early on. In addition to more security, Kasich also talked about treatment for people with mental illness.

“If we can strengthen our families, strengthen our neighborhoods, not allow people to be isolated and have the kind of treatment they need for the mental illness they have, then I think we could make some significant progress,” the presidential hopeful said.

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In New Ad, Kasich Calls Out Trump for Mocking Reporter with a Disability

Washington, Dec. 1 – In a new ad, Ohio Gov. John Kasich takes a shot at Donald Trump for publicly poking fun at an award-winning reporter with a congenital joint condition.

The ad, titled “Is he worthy,” says Trump is too heartless to be president and not worthy to follow in the footsteps of past presidents like Ronald Reagan. It opens with footage of Trump at a rally convulsing on stage – appearing to mock a reporter who wrote an article Trump says defends his claim that “thousands” of Muslims celebrated in New Jersey following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who now works at The New York Times, has a chronic condition that impairs movement of his arm.

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Donald Trump’s Attacks on People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 28 – By publicly poking fun at an award-winning reporter who has significant physical disabilities, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump expanded stigmas that have been undermining people with disabilities for ages. 

It’s now been more than 25 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). True, physical architecture and some educational opportunities thankfully have changed. But negative attitudes and stigmas about people with disabilities – because of people like Donald Trump – have not. This leads to poverty, powerlessness and even worse situations for people with disabilities.

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Huckabee Expanded Accessibility of Arkansas State Capitol, Encourages People with Disabilities to Examine His Record

Des Moines, Nov. 25 – Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said people with disabilities could “look at his record” and be comforted.

“I’ve been very supportive of the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) in my own state,” the former governor of Arkansas said following the Presidential Family Forum Friday night. “When we did renovations to the governor’s mansion, we made it accessible to the disabled. We did the same thing in the state capitol.”

In March 2000, Huckabee was one of four governors who wrote U.S. Senate leaders urging Congress to fully fund 40 percent of Part B services as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA.)  The letter noted the federal government’s contribution then amounted to only 13 percent, and “although Governors strongly support providing the necessary services and support to help all students succeed, the costs associated with implementing IDEA are placing an increased burden on states.”

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Santorum Values Dignity & Contributions of People with Disabilities, Seeks Engagement in Political Process

Des Moines, Nov. 24 – “We have a little girl with a severe disability and we treasure her,” former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum said following the Presidential Family Forum on Friday.

“We believe she’s every bit as important a member of our family and contributing to society as any one of our kids,” the presidential hopeful said. “She does it in a different way, but it’s no less a valuable way. I think the big thing is to recognize contributions don’t come down just to dollars and cents, they come down to a lot of different things – and to respect that and to make sure that we can maximize that.”

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Cruz Supports Empowering People with Disabilities to Live Independently

Des Moines, Nov. 23 – “People with disabilities want independence,” Sen. Ted Cruz said to The RespectAbility Report.

“They don’t want to be dependent on government,” the presidential hopeful added. “There are many programs that provide, but sometimes trap people in dependency.”

Fully one-in-five Americans have a disability and polls show that most of them want to work. Yet 70 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities are outside of the workforce.

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Trump Commits To More Jobs & Better Health Care For Veterans, People With Disabilities

Newton, Iowa, Nov. 20 – Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said, “I will” when asked if he is committed to getting more veterans and people with disabilities employed.

“You gotta give them hope, build their spirit,” Trump said during a town hall Thursday night in Newton, IA. “The unemployment numbers don’t tell the whole story.”

More than 80 percent of people with disabilities are not employed, according to the U.S Department of Labor. Though the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains listed at 10.5 percent, as it does not count those who have given up looking for work. Nearly 60 percent of people without disabilities are employed, with the unemployment rate currently at 4.6 percent for people without disabilities.

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Sanders Supports Affordable Healthcare Allowing People To Live And Work

Des Moines, Nov. 17 – At a roundtable with family caregivers and medical experts, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders listened to Iowans talk about how both retirees needing additional help and working age people with disabilities who choose to work may lose coverage for personal care attendants under Medicaid and Medicare – trapping them in a lose-lose situation with this barrier to work.

When The RespectAbility Report’s Justin Chappell asked how a President Sanders would be a voice for the 70 percent of unemployed people with disabilities nationwide and 55 percent in Iowa, Sanders acknowledged that this is an important issue that he needs to learn more about.

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Clinton Reaffirms Commitment to be Strong Voice for People with Disabilities

Des Moines, Nov. 17 – Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton pledged to be a strong voice for people with disabilities.

“This has been a strong concern and priority of mine,” Clinton said in an exclusive interview with The RespectAbility Report immediately following the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa Saturday night.

The former Secretary of State’s first job out of law school was with the Children’s Defense Fund, where she worked to pass the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) after discovering parents were not sending their children to school because schools did not accommodate children with disabilities. She often references this work on the campaign trail when asked about people with disabilities.

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Sanders: 500,000 Veterans Have PTSD, Brain Injuries

Des Moines, Nov. 15 – The second Democratic presidential debate began with a focus on American foreign policy and military involvement in the Middle East.

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders interrupted the conversation, pivoting to veterans’ affairs – causing criticism to grow that he lacks the international affairs experience needed to be presidient.

Yet, with this comment, Sanders was the only candidate to remotely bring up anything related to people with disabilities.

“When you talk about the long-term consequences of war, let’s talk about the men and women who came home from war – the 500,000 who came home with PTSD and traumatic brain injury,” the senator from Vermont said. “And I would hope that in the midst of all of this discussion, this country makes certain that we do not turn our backs on the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend us. And that we stand with them as they have stood with us.”

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O’Malley Promotes Record Of Support For Workforce Training, Best Practices

Des Moines, Nov. 15 – Maryland increased its effectiveness of its workforce training programs, presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley said of his time as Maryland’s governor.

“I learned as governor the very disparate  way, that people with disabilities are kept out of our workforce, and so as governor we actually increased and improved on the effectiveness on our workforce training programs, especially as they relate to people with disabilities,” O’Malley said in an exclusive interview with The RespectAbility Report following the CBS Democratic presidential primary debate.

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“Nothing About Us, Without Us”

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – I’m Justin Chappell, The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporter. I’m covering the CBS Democratic debate this evening along with hundreds of other journalists from around the country. To my knowledge, I’m the only reporter here who uses a wheelchair – and glad to be keeping with our community’s motto of “nothing about us, without us.”

I’ll be based here in Des Moines for next couple of weeks for The RespectAbility Report, covering the presidential candidates and asking them about critical issues important to our community. Throughout the 2016 election season, I’ll be working with disability activists throughout the country to mobilize our community in the policial process.

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Sanders Campaign to Focus on Caregiving for People with Disabilities

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is focusing on caregivers and assistance for people with disabilities this month, according to Bruce Koeppl, a senior advisor for the campaign who is based in Iowa.

“That’s what you can look for this weekend as we begin to unroll some additional issues. Sunday we will be having the panel on caregiving. Soon we will be going out and doing coffee with aging advocates around Medicaid, Social Security, caregiving. So it’s going to be an important issue for him this fall as we get into the caucuses.”

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Ahead of Dem Debate, A Look at Clinton’s Dedication to Disability Issues

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – While presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton had a shaky start with outreach to the disability community, recently she has talked about issues such as autism and treatments for mental illness. In addition, her campaign website has a page dedicated to disability issues and campaign staffers are beginning to pay attention to accessibility needs at events.

At a meeting with Iowa disability leaders yesterday, Clinton’s Iowa Constituency Director Brenda Kole reiterated Clinton’s commitment to the disability community.

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“Dignity for people who are disabled”

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – Ahead of tonight’s Democratic debate, all of the Democratic campaigns in addition to two Republican campaigns met with twenty disability leaders in Iowa yesterday. Ben Chou, Martin O’Malley’s Constituency Outreach Director in Iowa, said the former governor is a champion for dignity for all people.

“Dignity for people who are disabled,” Chou emphasized following the meeting. “There are hazards for them when they are going to try and find a job, or whether they are at work and some sort of situation happens. These are the type of hazards, that the state, the city, your government should be responsible for.”

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