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Campaign Manager: Sanders Believes PwDs Should Participate in Mainstream Society

Las Vegas, Oct. 14 – Sen. Bernie Sanders Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver called his candidate strong for people with disabilities.

“Sen. Sanders has a strong record supporting people with disabilities and helping people with disabilities participate to the maximum extent possible in many streams of society,” Weaver said in an interview with The RespectAbility Report following the Democratic primary debate. “So I think you’ll see he has a strong record. I think this will be a focus of his. His outlook on the world is that all Americans should be able to participate in our society to the maximum extent possible. And he’s committed to that.”

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Would Webb’s Stance on Affirmative Action Hurt People with Disabilities?

Las Vegas, Oct. 14 – This year our nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. This landmark legislation has opened opportunities for all individuals to more openly participate in society, including access to employment. There is one population, however, that continues to remain unemployed and underemployed at greater rates than other populations – people with disabilities. In order to initiate more hiring and employment opportunities in the federal government, the Obama Administration implemented several requirements, including:

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O’Malley: Focus on Job Training & Placement to Help People with Disabilities

Las Vegas, Oct. 14 – Job training and placements will help more people with disabilities gain successful employment, Gov. Martin O’Malley told The RespectAbility Report following the Democratic primary debate.

“When I was governor of Maryland, we saw the appalling level of unemployment among our neighbors and people with disabilities,” O’Malley said in the spin room at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  “So we had a program … and we focused on training. We focused on placement, because we believe that in our state, there’s no such thing as a spare American. And the more we can involve all of our citizens more fully in the economic life of our state, the better we would do.”

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Chafee: Workforce Immersion for Disability Community

Las Vegas, Oct. 14 – Gov. Lincoln Chafee is proud of his time working to help people with disabilities while serving as governor of Rhode Island.

“As governor, I came in at the depths of the recession and we turned my state around,” Chafee said during the opening statements of the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate in Las Vegas Tuesday night. “Rhode Island had the biggest drop of the unemployment rate over my four budgets of all but one state.”

“We worked hard at workforce immersion and work for the disability community,” Chafee said in an interview with The RespectAbility Report following the debate.

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RespectAbility Hosts Debate Watching Party and Tweet Up

Rockville, Md., Oct. 13 – RespectAbility hosted the first of many debate watch parties at our new offices in Rockville, Md. Members of the disability community and other community leaders joined together to enjoy a night of networking over pizza and watching episodes of West Wing while waiting for the debate to begin.

RespectAbility staff and guests tweeted about the important issues candidates raised concerning the disability community. While disability issues were not a leading topic during the first Democratic primary debate, some important discussions revolved around both disabled veterans and mental health issues.

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Steve Wynn: Business Magnate, Casino Owner and Person with a Disability

Las Vegas, Oct. 13 – Tonight, the nation gathers to watch the Democratic Presidential Debate take place at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. While the focus is on the candidates, there is another deserving of a share of the spotlight. That person is none other than the Wynn’s owner, Steve Wynn.  Wynn’s name is synonymous with glittering and opulent towers, high stakes, and business success. What you may not know about him is that he also happens to be a person with a disability.

Wynn, age 71, is vision impaired because of retinitis pigmentosa. Like others with this condition, Mr. Wynn’s peripheral vision has been impacted and with it, his interactions with the world around him. While you won’t find much about it on Wikipedia, Wynn has never let his vision differences keep him from reshaping the world around him. His name, his image, and his success have had a huge impact on the world of casinos and the hospitality industry.

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Presidential Candidates: Don’t Forget People with Disabilities

Las Vegas, Oct. 13 – Tonight the Democratic candidates for president will debate each other for the first time this season. While many minority groups are sure to be discussed, America’s largest minority group, people with disabilies (PwDs) is an important group to pay attention to.

America has 56 million people with disabilities, more than 20 million of whom are working age. Polls show that the majority of voters either have a disability or a loved one with a disability. Voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs — and the actions that campaigns take to reach out to these voters can make the difference between winning and losing. Indeed, 357,035 people in Nevada, the location of the debate, have disabilities. Of that number, 171,600 are working age. Only 39.2 percent are employed compared with 73.1 percent of people without disabilities in Nevada. Among Nevadans with disabilities, 8,200 are between the ages of 16 and 20. Each year at least 2,050 young people with disabilities are aging out of the school system.

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Inaccessible Polling Places Disenfranchise Nation’s Largest Minority

Washington, Sept. 22 – Today, our nation observes National Voter Registration Day. It is a chance to celebrate our democratic society and to remind everyday people the importance of registering to vote. However, for many Americans, voting is not a quick and easy process. Physical and other barriers at polling places can make exercising the right to vote nearly impossible. In the 2008 election, only 27 percent of polling places were fully accessible to voters with disabilities. That means that at seven out of ten places to vote, people with disabilities were not able to make their voices, their values and their issues heard.

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Rehabilitation, Not Jail for Drug Offenders

Washington, Sept. 18 – During this week’s Republican debate, presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina shared a personal story while talking about criminal justice reform for drug offenders.

“I buried a child to drug addiction,” Fiorina said at the debate in Simi Valley, California.

Fiorina’s stepdaughter died in 2009 when she was 34 years old after a battle with prescription drugs and alcohol.

“Drug addiction is an epidemic,” Fiorina continued. “And it is taking too many of our young people. I know this sadly from personal experience.”

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Republican Presidential Candidates Debate Legality of Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy

Washington, Sept. 18 – In a conversation over state versus federal rates legislating the legality of marijuana, several Republican presidential candidates brought up the issue of cannabis oil for children living with epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures.

Sen. Rand Paul claimed both former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Chris Christie would put a mother in jail for giving her child cannabis oil. Both Bush and Christie denied the allegations.

“In Florida, Gov. Bush campaigned against medical marijuana,” Paul claimed during the CNN Debate Wednesday evening. “That means that a small child like Morgan Hintz (ph) that has seizures is failing on non-traditional medications, is not allowed to use cannabis oil.”

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Trump: Too Many Vaccines At Once Cause Autism

Washington, Sept. 17 – While there have been countless debates over the cause of autism and whether vaccines could be to blame, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump repeated claims that vaccines administered according to the recommended schedule cause autism.

“Autism has become an epidemic,” Trump said during the CNN Republican Debate Wednesday evening. “Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control. I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time.”

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Disability Groups to Host Presidential Town Hall Meetings

Washington, Sept. 17 – The RespectAbility Report and RespectAbility USA, along with a growing list of nonprofit disability partner organizations (listed below), will host Online Presidential Candidate Town Halls on People with Disabilities, Jobs, and the American Dream. 

These town halls will be national, nonpartisan events that will connect the disability community with the presidential candidates. These online town halls will provide candidates with the opportunity to articulate their policy positions on the critical issues affecting Americans with disabilities and to describe their vision for ensuring that more people with disabilities can pursue the American Dream, just like anyone else.

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Sponsorship Opportunities: Online Presidential Candidate Town Halls

Washington, Sept. 17 – The RespectAbility Report and RespectAbility USA, along with a growing list of nonprofit disability partner organizations (listed below), will host Online Presidential Candidate Town Halls on People with Disabilities, Jobs, and the American Dream. 

These town halls will be national, nonpartisan events that will connect the disability community with the presidential candidates. These online events will provide candidates with the opportunity to articulate their policy positions on the critical issues affecting Americans with disabilities and to describe their vision for ensuring that more people with disabilities can pursue the American Dream, just like anyone else.

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Clinton Campaign Website Adds Page Dedicated to Disability Rights

Washington, Sept. 13 – Hillary Clinton is the first Democratic candidate to include a page on her website dedicated to people with disabilities.

Highlighting disability rights as one of the campaign’s issues, the site says, “We must continue to expand opportunities for all Americans.”

Making websites accessible for all people is not a difficult process, especially for presidential campaigns whose goal is to reach as many voters as possible. The Clinton campaign now joins the Jeb Bush campaign in ensuring that their videos have captions.

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Grassroots Disability Activists Create Facebook Pages for Clinton and Sanders

Washington, Sept. 10 – Social media is not a new tool for grassroots activists to galvanize supporters for their desired candidate. Three Facebook pages – two for Hillary Clinton and one for Bernie Sanders – highlight the presidential hopefuls’ stances on a variety of disability issues.

There are two competing Facebook groups focusing on the disability community for Clinton: People with Disabilities for Hillary, created April 13, and Hillary for the disABLED, created August 29. Neither page is sanctioned by the campaign, and both are run by supporters of the former Secretary of State.

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Bush: Taking Care of Developmentally Disabled is Core Value

Washington, Sept. 9 – In an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, former Gov. Jeb Bush talked about bringing people together and building up the economy.

When asked how he differs politically from his brother, the presidential hopeful criticized George W. Bush’s failure to reign in government spending, saying, “Our brand is limited government.”

However, Bush went on to say there are reasons to spend government money including helping people with disabilities.

“You can take care of people, people that need to be at the front of the line, the developmentally disabled, people that are really struggling,” Bush said. “That’s a core value of our party. But we shouldn’t spend so much money on everything else.”

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Trump: Gun Violence Not Gun Problem; It’s a Mental Problem

Washington, August 28 – The shooting of two journalists on live television renewed conversations on two hot button topics – gun control and mental illness.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has come on the record against tightening gun laws, saying he is “a very strong Second Amendment person,” and instead doubled down on the need to institutionalized people who are mentally ill.

“This isn’t a gun problem; this is a mental problem,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.” “It’s not a question of the laws; it’s really the people.”

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Calling All Citizen Journalists

Washington, August 25 – 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.

It’s simple. People with disabilities (PwDs) 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 $50.

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RespectAbilityUSA Resource for Voters with Disabilities

Important Dates: Elections, Debates & Expos

September 10, 2015
Illinois – CD-18 Special General Election
Louisiana – Filing Deadline

September 16, 2015
CNN Republican Primary Debate
Location: Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA
Sponsors: Reagan Library Foundation, CNN, Salem Media Group
Moderator(s): Jake Tapper

September 18-20, 2015
Abilities Expo
Location: Boston

September 22, 2015
National Voter Registration Day

October 13, 2015
CNN Democratic Primary Debate
Location: Nevada
Sponsors: CNN, Nevada Democratic Party

October 16-19, 2015
Location: Virginia Beach

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Clinton Visits Coffee Shop Owned By Woman with Disability

Washington, August 24 – Em’s Coffee Company in Independence, Iowa may appear to have been just a stop for lunch – or on a tour of small businesses – for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, but for the disability community, this visit last May means much more.

Em’s is run by Emilea Hillman, 26, with help from her mother Tami Fenner. Hillman has a congential condition causing a lack of nerve tissue connecting the left and right side of the brain.

Because of her intellectual disability, Hillman did not have an easy path to managing her own business. After graduating high school in 2007, Hillman worked in a sheltered workshop earning less than the minimum wage – just $2.50 an hour. Hanging clothes in a backroom, she found this task boring and tedious.

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