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The RespectAbility Report Posts

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Disability Allies Win Races for Senate & Governor

Updated Nov. 10

Washington, D.C., Nov. 4 – It is the morning after Election Day 2020 and many results are still being counted. RespectAbility stresses the importance of counting every vote, particularly as many people with disabilities chose to vote early – both in-person and via mail – in this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states have not counted all of their early voting ballots yet. 

Although many results are still not finalized, several candidates who support opportunities for people with disabilities already have been declared as winners. These individuals completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. 

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Voters with Disabilities Makes Their Votes Count in New 2020 Battleground Poll

Battleground voters with disabilities break decisively for Biden as 2020 comes to a head. 

Washington, D.C., Nov. 2 – In an election like no other, a new poll indicates that voters with disabilities and voters in the wider disability community are overwhelming voting for Democrat Joe Biden. This battleground state poll, conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of the disability inclusion organization RespectAbility, shows that when asked, 60 percent of voters with disabilities cast their vote for Biden compared to only 51 percent of voters without disabilities. 

Digging deeper into the poll shows a 25-point split between those people with disabilities supporting Biden and those supporting the President. Fully 60 percent of voters with disabilities say they have or will vote for Joe Biden, compared to only 35 percent of voters with disabilities supporting President Trump. Likewise, the Greenberg poll also captures the views of voters who are part of the wider disability community, such as having family or friends with disabilities. Similarly to people with disabilities themselves, 60 percent of voters who are members of the wider community support Biden compared to 35 percent supporting the President. Among voters without disabilities, 51 percent supported Biden compared to 46 percent supporting Trump. 

Georgia Senate Candidates Deny Access to Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Nov. 12 – Despite there being more than 1.2 million Georgians with some form of disability, all four Senate candidates in the most hotly contested Senate races in America have thus far failed to reach out to voters with disabilities. Indeed, none of the four candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites, and none of their websites are fully accessible to voters who are blind or deaf.

The failure of Georgia Senate campaigns to reach out to voters with disabilities is in stark contrast to President-elect Joe Biden who made outreach to the disability community a key part of his winning strategy. A poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of RespectAbility in the major battleground states in the days leading up to Election Day found that 60 percent of voters with disabilities say they have or were planning to vote for Joe Biden, compared to 35 percent of voters with disabilities supporting President Trump. This showed a shift from 2016, when a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group found that voters with disabilities split their votes between President Trump (46 percent) and Secretary Hillary Clinton (49 percent).

Tillis, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins North Carolina Senate Race

Raleigh, NC, Nov. 10 – Incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis has won a hotly contested race to continue representing North Carolina in the U.S. Senate, beating Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham.

Tillis completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Cunningham, in his attempt to unseat Sen. Tillis, also completed the RespectAbility questionnaire. 

Collins, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Maine Senate Race

Portland, Maine, Nov. 4 – Incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins has won a hotly contested race to continue representing Maine in the U.S. Senate, beating Democratic challenger and Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon.  

Sen. Collins completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Gideon, in her attempt to unseat Sen. Collins, also completed the RespectAbility questionnaire. 

Daines, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Montana Senate Race

Helena, Montana, Nov. 4 – Incumbent Republican Senator Steve Daines has won a hotly contested race to continue to represent Montana in the U.S. Senate, beating Democratic challenger Gov. Steve Bullock.

Sen. Daines completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Gov. Bullock, in his attempt to unseat Sen. Daines, also completed the RespectAbility questionnaire. 

Cooper, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Second Term as North Carolina Governor

Raleigh, North Carolina, Nov. 3 – Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper has won a hotly contested race for the North Carolina Governorship, beating Republican challenger Dan Forest.  

Gov. Cooper completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Forest, despite multiple requests, did not respond to the questionnaire.

Hickenlooper, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Colorado Senate Race

Denver, Colorado, Nov. 3 – Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has won a hotly contested race for the Colorado Senate seat, beating Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner.  

Senator-Elect Hickenlooper completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Sen. Gardner, despite multiple requests, did not respond to the questionnaire.

Holcomb, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Second Term as Indiana’s Governor

Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 3 – Incumbent Republican Governor Eric Holcomb has won a second term as Indiana’s governor, beating Democratic challenger Dr. Woodrow Myers.

Gov. Holcomb completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Gov. Holcomb’s opponent, Dr. Woodrow Myers, also completed the RespectAbility questionnaire.

Carney, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Reelection as Delaware’s Governor

Dover, Delaware, Nov. 3 – Incumbent Democratic Gov. John Carney has won a second term as Delaware’s Governor, beating Republican challenger Julianne Murray.  

Gov. Carney completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for Presidential, Senate and Gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. Julianne Murray, despite multiple requests, did not respond to the questionnaire.

Easterseals Survey: 30+ Million Voters with Disabilities Participating in the 2020 Election

91% of Eligible Voters with disabilities have already voted or say they will

Rockville, Maryland, Oct. 30 – A new survey from Easterseals and Pathfinder Opinion Research conducted between October 20 and October 25 has found that, despite fear of exposure to COVID-19, voters with disabilities are highly engaged in the 2020 election. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to the survey were registered to vote. Of that, 47 percent already have voted, and 49 percent more say they definitely or probably will vote. More than half of respondents were “extremely enthusiastic” about voting, and 65 percent were more enthusiastic about voting in this election than prior elections.

According to an Easterseals’ press release on the survey, “Health care and COVID-19 are, by far, the two top issues driving voters with disabilities to the polls. All other issues, such as crime, public safety, immigration, employment, the environment and the Supreme Court, rank far lower in importance.”

Fourteen of the Nation’s Largest Disability Organizations Join Together to Encourage Disability Community to Vote on November 3rd

New York, NY, Oct. 26 – Fourteen of the nation’s largest disability organizations have joined together to urge all Americans who care about issues related to disability to vote on November 3rd. These organizations today released the following collective statement:

“COVID-19 is a unique burden for people with disabilities. Lives have been lost. Isolation exacerbated. Unemployment skyrocketing. The policy issues on the ballot this November impacts every aspect of life for the disability community. We must vote in record numbers to have our voices heard and needs met in the ongoing public health emergency.

“People with disabilities form an increasingly large, powerful, and potentially decisive percentage of the electorate in key battleground states and across the country.  A projected 38 million eligible voters have a disability and millions more live with someone who has a disability. Taken together, more than 25% of the American electorate may be motivated by issues affecting the disability community. 

Young Voters with Disabilities Say to #RespectTheVote

Washington, D.C., Oct. 22 – A new PSA featuring young adults with disabilities and their allies is urging all voters to have a plan to vote and hold their elected officials accountable. 

When politicians plan who to reach out to in their campaigns, they rarely consider the disability population in America. One in four adults in the United States have a disability, all of whom deserve to be considered when policies and plans are made on a government level. Researchers at Rutgers University estimate that approximately 38.3 million people with disabilities already are eligible to vote in this year’s election, which is roughly one-sixth of the electorate. RespectAbility is urging even more to register and vote in the days ahead. 

RespectAbility Urges Pollsters to Track the Disability Voice and Vote

Washington, D.C., Oct. 21 – With one in four adults having a disability, the national, nonpartisan disability inclusion organization RespectAbility is urging pollsters and polling firms to include people who live with a physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability in their polling data. For decades pollsters have included demographics by race, gender, age and educational levels. However, voters with disabilities often are left out of polling.

Researchers at Rutgers University estimate that approximately 38.3 million people with disabilities are eligible to vote in this year’s election, which is roughly one-sixth of the electorate. “Millions of Americans with disabilities are more engaged and active than ever before and it’s time for us to be counted, just like anyone else,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. 

The one in four adults with the disability include people with spinal cord injuries, low vision or who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, as well as those with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, Autism or other disabilities. The sheer number of people with disabilities makes them the nation’s largest minority community. 

2020 Candidates and Other Priorities for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Oct. 16 – There is no way any single candidate questionnaire can fully capture the issues impacting the approximately 61 million Americans living with some form of disability. The questions chosen by RespectAbility for the nonpartisan 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire reflect organizational priorities around fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community. In our outreach to candidates the Presidential as well as key Senate and Governor races on both sides of the aisle, RespectAbility has offered candidates the chance to offer any additional policy proposals and future priorities beyond just the scope of the questionnaire. 

Question 7 of the Questionnaire was: What additional policies and priorities, other than those already discussed above, do you plan to focus on to improve the lives of people with disabilities? 

Below, read the answers from the candidates who responded. These responses are listed alphabetically by state:

2020 Candidates and Community Inclusion for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Oct. 16 – When politicians and candidates for public office think about reaching out to minority communities, it is important that they remember the one-in-five Americans living with some form of disability. Voters with disabilities are a massive pool of potential voters who have often been ignored in past elections. However, those voters are now more engaged and active than ever. According to a recent study by Rutgers University, up to 38.3 million eligible voters are people with disabilities. This represents a massive increase in participation by voters with disabilities compared to past elections.

RespectAbility has conducted polling research of its own and found that three quarters of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a close friend or family member with a disability. With such a large share of the electorate having a personal interest in disability issues,  politicians must pay attention. As a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, RespectAbility has invited all candidates in the Presidential as well as key Senate and Governor races on both sides of the aisle to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire.

Question 4 of the Questionnaire was: What will you do to promote policies and practices designed to support full community engagement, access and inclusion of people with disabilities? 

Below, read the answers from the candidates who responded. These responses are listed alphabetically by state:

2020 Candidates on Campaign Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Oct. 15 – Have you ever heard the expression “Nothing about us without us”? Within the disability rights community, it means that if there is something affecting people with disabilities that is being discussed or debated, the voices and lived experiences of people with disabilities need to inform that debate. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a clear light on many of most important inequities that define American life. As such, the people most directly affected by issues such as education, jobs, prejudice, homelessness, criminal justice, poverty and other issues deserves to have their voice, insights and experiences respected and utilized in finding and implementing solutions.

Oftentimes, the solutions that the disability community brings forward can have a broad impact on the community. For instance, adding closed captioning to videos does not just help people with specific disabilities. It can also help people who speak English as a second language or senior with hearing issues. This example illustrates that America will be better off when people with disabilities can fully participate in the political process, just like anyone else. 

Therefore, RespectAbility, a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, has been tracking campaign accessibility issues throughout this year. This includes back during the Democratic Presidential Primary as well as during the 2018 and 2016 election cycles. You can find a full archive of campaign accessibility specific posts on The RespectAbility Report here.

Many campaigns lack basic accessibility – from websites being accessible for people using screen readers to videos lacking captions for the 37.5 million American adults who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, not all campaign events are ADA accessible, including parking, entrances and bathrooms. Many lacked ASL interpreters and live captioning services.

However, as disability issues have gained more attention than in past election cycles, RespectAbility has highlighted campaign accessibility in the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire distributed to all candidates in key Senate and gubernatorial races on both sides of the aisle. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to respond and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

Question 3 of the Questionnaire was: What specific measures have you taken to make your campaign accessible for, and inclusive of, people with disabilities, as every issue impacts our lives? 

Below, read the answers from the candidates who responded. These responses are listed alphabetically by state:

2020 Candidates and Combating Stigmas for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Oct. 15 – Elected officials have the opportunity to demonstrate a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, full community participation and celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of people with disabilities. They can issue press releases, give speeches and celebrate events such as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

As part of its commitment to fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, RespectAbility has invited all candidates in the Presidential as well as key Senate and Governor races on both sides of the aisle to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire.

Question 5 of the Questionnaire was: There are significant stigmas that create attitudinal barriers that limit options and perpetuates low expectations for people with disabilities. What measures will you take to combat these stigmas and promote opportunities for people with disabilities?

Below, read the answers from the candidates who responded. These responses are listed alphabetically by state:

2020 Candidates and High School Graduation for Students with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Oct. 14 – The 2020 election is an election unlike any other. Candidates vying for public office present profoundly different visions of what the future of America will look like. As a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of the community, RespectAbility has invited candidates in the Presidential as well as in key Senate and Governor races, from both sides of the aisle, to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire.

Central to that Questionnaire and the election itself is the question of the future of students with disabilities. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Latinx students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. 

By contrast, in the class of 2018, 89 percent of white students without disabilities graduate with a high school diploma, as did 79 percent of African-American students without disabilities, 81 percent of Latinx students without disabilities, 92 percent of Asian-American students without disabilities. 

Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. 

Question 1 of the Questionnaire was: What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy? 

Below, read the answers from the candidates who responded. These responses are listed alphabetically by state: