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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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Nikki Haley: Jobs for people with disabilities should be campaign issue

Cleveland, August 5 – Gov. Nikki Haley is calling for more presidential candidates to discuss the importance of employing people with disabilities.

“Opportunity should be an issue in every campaign cycle,” the governor of South Carolina said in an exclusive interview with The RespectAbility Report in Cleveland. “Our goal is to get as many people back to work, whether it’s veterans, whether it’s those with disabilities, whether it’s those with challenges, and we’re finding that businesses in South Carolina want to help.”

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Pataki: We are Failing our Veterans

Cleveland, August 6 – Former Gov. George Pataki calls for more assistance for veterans who return with disabilities.

“When I think now of people with disabilities, what really comes to mind are veterans,” the Republican presidential hopeful said in an interview with The RespectAbility Report. “We should be doing far more for our veterans, both from the health standpoint obviously because our treatment of them is horrific. This government is failing our veterans’ health needs and that has got to change. But also assisting them with counseling, training and with jobs. Because ultimately the best social program is a job and we need to do that.”

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Kasich, Christie and Pataki Speak About Disability at New Hampshire Forum

Washington, August 5 – Leading up to the first Republican primary debate that will take place in Cleveland, Ohio tomorrow, several candidates are highlighting the importance of talking about disability issues on the campaign trail. In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney never talked about disability issues and it was not a topic of conversation during the primary. Although the majority of voters either have a disability or a family member or loved one with a disability, disability issues have not been adequately addressed by our public officials in the past.

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Santorum Takes on AbilityOne: “A nation is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable in society”

Washington, August 3 – Former Sen. Rick Santorum is lashing out against AbilityOne, an organization supposed to be helping people with disabilities find jobs, for allegedly not using its taxpayer-designated money to do so.

“As the father of a special needs little girl, I am sickened by these revelations,” the Republican presidential candidate posted on his Facebook page. “A nation is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable in society.”

An investigation conducted by CNN found corruption and fraud. Every year AbilityOne and the nonprofit agency it manages, SourceAmerica, takes $2.3 billion of taxpayers’ money for its programs to employ those with disabilities.

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Kasich: Expanding Medicaid to Help Disabled is “Moral”

Washington, August 2 – Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich defended his support of a Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, arguing that expanding Medicaid helps people with disabilities, leaving beneficiaries better off, which is “the moral thing to do.”

“It is important that we do not ignore the poor, the widowed, the disabled,” Kasich said. “I think there’s a moral aspect to it.”

The Republican presidential candidate also said that lending a “helping hand” is a conservative principle.

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Jeb Bush: Empower People with Disabilities

Washington, July 31 – In celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), former Gov. Jeb Bush stressed the need to empower people with disabilities. Focusing his efforts on students and people entering the workforce, Bush touted his record as governor of Florida to illustrate his plans if he were to win the presidency.

“Florida has a significant number of citizens who live, learn and work with disabilities, and it is my fundamental belief that they should be given opportunities to do so with support, respect and dignity,” Bush wrote in The Journal by IJReview. “During my eight years in office, I worked to create policies and programs so that these citizens were no longer overlooked and they could enjoy greater independence and choice over the services they receive.”

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Hoyer: We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet

Washington, July 30 – “Yes we’ve come a far way, yes we’ve accomplished much, but we are strong in will to strive to seek to find and not to yield until we get to the real realization of that promise of the ADA and the promise of America,” Steny Hoyer (D- Md) said to applause at a rally hosted by the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL) on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

Hoyer has received great acclaim because of his work in the disability community. Twenty-five years ago when the American Disabilities Act (ADA) was in its early stages, Hoyer led the effort to pass the act.

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Sanders: People with Disabilities Need Jobs

Washington, July 29 – “In the year 2015, it is unacceptable that over 80 percent of adults with disabilities are unemployed,” Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said to the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) during its rally on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “People need work. They need jobs.”

NCIL held its annual conference on Capitol Hill in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act, signed into law by George H.W Bush, was designed to eliminate any discrimination of people with disabilities from public spaces, transportation, and employment. However, since its passing, not much has changed by way of employment of people with disabilities. NCIL advocates for the rights of people with disabilities and featured speakers who helped stress this message during its rally.

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Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Every Opportunity for Those with Disabilities to Live American Dream

Washington, July 29 – “We want every opportunity for those with disabilities to have the opportunity to live the American Dream,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said during a rally hosted by the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

“We celebrate those who went before us and opened up so many more opportunities: early intervention and IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act], and the opportunity to go to school but, you know what, there’s more work to be done. We want to live independently, we want to work.”

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Walker Proclaims ADA 25th Anniversary Day

Washington, July 28 – Gov. Scott Walker proclaimed that Sunday, July 26, 2015, is Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary Day.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and was immediately lauded as a breakthrough for people with disabilities. This act prohibits the discrimination of people living with disabilities, enabling millions of Americans with disabilities to go into schools, civic institutions, and the workforce to create a better future for themselves and their families.

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Clinton Campaign Marks ADA Anniversary; Hands Over Twitter Account to Inspiring Mom Sara

Washington, July 27 – As people around the country celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Clinton campaign handed over its Twitter account to a disability advocate and mom named Sara.

Sara, a nurse from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, used the opportunity to share the story of her 16-year-old son Adam, who has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (a severe form of epilepsy), with Clinton’s nearly four million Twitter followers.

I’m Sara—mom, nurse & lifelong Iowan. I’m taking over @HillaryClinton today for the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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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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Presidential Candidates: Web Accessibility is Easier Than You Think

Washington, July 21 – A candidate’s website should serve two purposes – to be the “brand” and welcome mat to the public and to be a tool for the voters to learn about platforms and stances on the issues. With each of these factors, it’s important to make sure the website is welcoming and accessible to all – including people who are vision or hearing impaired. We invite you to check out RespectAbility’s free webinar Introduction to Web Accessibility: Tips and Tricks (download the slides as well!) and a webinar on Disability Etiquette. Here are some helpful hints and tips that can help make a website more inclusive and accessible to all.

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Making YouTube Videos More Accessible: Add Captions

Washington, July 20 – One of the principal ways of ensuring your website is accessible is by adding captions to all of your videos. This is especially important for all of the presidential candidates. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 37.5 million American adults aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing, 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 have disabling hearing loss, and 50 percent of Americans who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, nearly 50 million Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear, including one in five teenagers. All of these people – who also are eligible voters – could benefit from having captions on when watching videos.

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Sanders: Full Employment Needed for All

Washington, July 8 – Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont believes there is a need for a full employment plan for everybody, including those with disabilities, but has not yet laid out a plan about how to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities in America.

Taking questions after a speech about rebooting the policy agenda to reclaim the American Dream, the Democratic presidential candidate emphasized the importance of being able to work but did not offer any suggestions for how he would help the disability community. 

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Perry’s Position on Disability Issues

Washington, July 2 – In a speech largely dominated by race and economic issues, Gov. Rick Perry outlined a plan for how he would “reignite the engine of economic growth.”

“The best welfare program is a job,” Perry said in an appearance at the National Press Club on Thursday. “The only true cure for poverty is a job.”

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. This leads to poverty and costs taxpayers billions of dollars in disability benefits.

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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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Bernie Sanders: People with Disabilities Must Have All Opportunities

Davenport, Iowa, June 23 – While disability issues are not yet hot-button topics in the presidential campaign, they are becoming more prominent. When The RespectAbility Report’s Liz Seffrin asked Sen. Bernie Sanders about a specific plan to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities in America, he promised to work on the issue.

“I have worked with the disability community in my own state,” Sanders said at a town hall in Davenport, Iowa on May 28, 2015. “People with disabilities must have all of the opportunities possible open to them from an educational point of view and from an employment point of view. So I promise you we will work on that issue.”

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John Kasich: “We Leave No One Behind”

Washington, June 19 – When Gov. John Kasich discussed his plan to grow jobs, he not only listed the need to do so for the poor and minorities but also for people who are mentally ill or developmentally disabled.

“As we grow jobs, we leave no one behind,” Kasich said Friday at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference. “If you are mentally ill, we’re not locking you up in prison if we can avoid it. We want to treat you and we want you to be on your feet with your God-given purpose.”

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