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Sixteen Major Midterm Campaign Websites Leave Out Disabled Voters: Why It Matters

71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it is not accessible

Washington, D.C., Sept 28 – While one-in-four adults in the U.S. have a disability, and despite continued pressure from disability organizations and activists, 16 of the most prominent midterm campaign websites are not fully accessible to disabled voters. These are the findings of the latest study from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, released September 27 in Time Magazine.

While 2020 was a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also a remarkable election year for voters with disabilities. As noted by Rutgers and EAC, “Close to 75 percent of voters with disabilities voted with a mail ballot or early in-person” and “five of six (83 percent) of voters with disabilities voted independently without any difficulty.” 17.7 million voters with disabilities cast their ballots in the 2020 election. These voters are crucial and can make the difference between a winning or a losing campaign. 

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What National Voter Registration Day Means for Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., September 20 – Today, RespectAbility celebrates National Voter Registration Day. According to the official website, “National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy. First observed in 2012, it has quickly gained momentum ever since. Nearly 4.7 million voters have registered to vote on the holiday to date.”

With the 2022 midterm elections only 49 days away, time is running out for people to complete their voter registration. As RespectAbility encourages all voters to ensure they are registered, it also is important to bring attention to the distinct barriers faced by a major voting bloc that is all too often ignored when their exercise their right to vote – the one in five Americans living with a disability.

In total, there are 61 million adults with disabilities across the country. Yet despite the size of the community, voters with disabilities face distinct barriers when it comes to exercising their right to vote. According to researchers at Rutgers University and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC): “one in nine voters with disabilities encountered difficulties voting in 2020,” and “voting difficulties were most common among people with vision and cognitive impairments.”

John Fetterman Elected to United States Senate

RespectAbility congratulates Senator-elect John Fetterman of Pennsylvania. Senator-elect Fetterman’s victory shows that the voters of Pennsylvania understood something fundamental: disability does not disqualify talented individuals for any type of appointment, including public office.

During a heated Democratic primary in May 2022, Fetterman was abruptly and conspicuously absent from the campaign trail. Campaign staff would eventually confirm that that the candidate had a stroke due to atrial fibrillation and was experiencing auditory processing delays as his body recovered.

For the remainder of the campaign, Fetterman’s team demonstrated the role of reasonable accommodation and ensuring that the barriers posed by even a newly acquired disability need not stand in the way of success. This was especially visible in the use of live captioning at the debate.

A Reflection on Being Singled Out While Voting

As a Disabled woman, I dread voting. Polling places are supposed to be accessible to Disabled voters, but in my experience, they seldom are. For one, I do not have the fine motor skills to fill in the bubbles. As a result, I need assistance to fill out the ballot.

I’ve heard horror stories about Disabled voters relying on election workers–workers who loudly repeat the voters’ choice or workers who try to talk the voter into making a different choice. As a result, I ask my mom to help me. She respects my voting choices, even when we are not voting for the same candidate. The election workers often let me do this with no problem.

However, this year when I voted in the primary election, one of the workers loudly shouted, “No cheating!” as my mom helped me fill out the ballot. I felt like a child singled out by a teacher for utilizing the reasonable accommodations outlined in my IEP. I was humiliated and angry. I was exercising my right to vote like anyone else; I just have to go about it a bit differently. I tried to laugh it off, but the worker continued to make a scene, filling the previously peaceful room with his boisterous voice. He repeated himself, even though I heard him perfectly the first time. I was reminded at that moment that I was different – that our society and its conventions were not designed for me. I was an other. I am an other.

RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA, September 28 – In the run up to the 2022 midterm elections, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Pennsylvania Disability Voters’ Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are more than 1,856,929 Pennsylvanians with disabilities, making up 14.5 percent of the total state population.

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same five key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire.

RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: Maryland

Annapolis, MD, September 28 – In the run up to the 2022 midterm elections, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Maryland Disability Voters’ Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are more than 694,317 Marylanders with disabilities, making up 11.6 percent of the total state population.

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same five key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire.

RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: New Hampshire

Concord, NH, September 28 – In the run up to the 2022 midterm elections, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest New Hampshire Disability Voters’ Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are more than 183,112 New Hampshire residents with disabilities, making up 13.4 percent of the total state population.

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same five key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire.

RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: Nevada

Carson City, NV, September 28 – In the run up to the 2022 midterm elections, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Nevada Disability Voters’ Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are more than 422,943 Nevada residents with disabilities, making up 13.4 percent of the total state population.

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same five key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire.

RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA, September 28 – In the run up to the 2022 midterm elections, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Los Angeles Disability Voters’ Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are more than 992,000 Angelenos with disabilities. In Los Angeles County, the disability community makes up 9.9 percent of the population, and fully 11.3 percent of California’s statewide population has a disability.  

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same five key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire.

Cortez Masto Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in Nevada Senate Race

Carson City, NV, September 8 – Incumbent Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are more than 422,943 people living with some form of disability in Nevada and their votes could be crucial in deciding who will represent them in the United States Senate. 

Senator Cortez Masto is the first candidate in the upcoming Nevada Senate race to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. 

Bass Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in Los Angeles Mayoral Runoff

Los Angeles, CA, September 7 – Los Angeles mayoral candidate and Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are approximately one million people living in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area with some form of disability. The disability community makes up 9.9 percent of the population in Los Angeles County and fully 11.3 percent of California’s state population. 

RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates in key races across the country a series of questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to our questionnaires.

RespectAbility Joins National Dialogue on Registered Apprenticeships

Washington, D.C., September 6 – As of July 2022, there were more than 11 million job openings across the nation’s labor market. One of the ways that employers are looking to onboard new talent and expand good paying jobs is through the continued expansion of registered apprenticeship programs. As of 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor reported more than 636,000 apprentices participating in more than 26,000 different programs nationwide. However, many of those programs have historically been inaccessible to workers with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to making the nation’s apprenticeship system more accessible, inclusive, and successful for thousands of new workers in the labor market. In order to address these challenges, the Department is currently hosting an online, national policy dialogue about apprenticeships.

In response, the policy professionals of RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan inclusion organization, contributed to the ePolicyWorks dialogue, advising the government and employers on lessons learned from their own efforts as an employer and on proven practices from across the country.

Government Looks to Add New Disability Data Questions: RespectAbility Responds

Washington, D.C., August 11 – This past week, the nonpartisan disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility submitted comments to the US Department of Labor (DOL) regarding the possibility of adding new supplemental disability data questions to the Current Population Survey (CPS).

Administered by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the basic monthly CPS is “the source of official government statistics on the unemployment rate and other labor market measures.” Although it has existed since the 1940s, it only began tracking disability status in June of 2008. The subsequent data has “revealed large disparities in labor market outcomes between people with and without disabilities,” but lacked the specific information that could be used to help understand and address these disparities. As a result, the Census Bureau and BLS have conducted three supplemental surveys to the CPS regarding disability employment issues (2012, 2019, and 2021), and plan to conduct a fourth in 2024. 

On June 24, the Department of Labor published a notice stating that they were “seeking information from the public… to gather information to aid in revising this [fourth] CPS Disability Supplement and to inform its general disability employment research agenda.” 

RespectAbility made suggestions for new questions to ask, as well as new answer options for existing questions, such as including “reliance on family members” as a category of transportation commuting modes, in order to collect a more nuanced dataset which takes into account the experiences common for those with disabilities. 

RespectAbility Joins National Dialogue on Long COVID Policies and Solutions

Washington, D.C., August 10 – Given widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in the United States, millions of workers are now facing the prospect of infection and potentially developing Long COVID. In order to address the long-term consequences of the pandemic and how it is reshaping the nation’s workforce, the U.S. Department…

RespectAbility Responds to Proposed Regulatory Changes to Support Disability Entrepreneurship

Washington, D.C., August 9 – This past week, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility submitted key testimony supporting regulatory changes that would enable more people with disabilities to become entrepreneurs, access credit, and be more financially stable.

Until the end of last week, the federal government was seeking public comment on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) around proposed updates to the  Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977. The CRA is in place for financial institutions to provide economic development and support in historically marginalized communities. Together, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) are examining ways to use CRA to better address the inequities of today’s society.

Wes Moore Wins Maryland Democratic Primary, Faces Dan Cox in November

Annapolis, MD, July 26 – Author, entrepreneur, and veteran Wes Moore has won a hotly contested primary campaign to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for Maryland’s next Governor. At the same time, House of Delegates member Dan Cox won the Republican Party’s nomination. Cox will face Moore this fall in a closely watched gubernatorial election.

Moore is one of seven Democratic candidates who responded to RespectAbility’s Disability Voter Questionnaire for Senate and gubernatorial candidates. His responses outlined his vision of why he should be the candidate to follow up Larry Hogan’s tenure as Governor of the Old Line State. At same time, while RespectAbility has reached out multiple times to their staff, only one Republican candidate in the race responded to the nonpartisan questionnaire.

Sivalingam Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in New Hampshire Senate Race

Concord, NH, June 30 – New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Tejasinha Sivalingam has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are more than 183,112 people living with some form of disability in New Hampshire and their votes could be crucial in deciding who will represent them in the United States Senate. 

Sivalingam is the second candidate in the upcoming New Hampshire Senate race to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. 

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Nebraska on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Lincoln, NE, June 10 – This week, the Nebraska Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Cornhusker State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Ollie Cantos, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 110,000 working age (18-64) Nebraskans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 50.8 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Nebraska’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Los Angeles Mayor’s Race Advances to November Runoff – What Voters with Disabilities Need to Know

Los Angeles, CA, June 8 – The race to replace Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will continue this fall, with Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) facing off against billionaire real estate mogul Rick Caruso in a November runoff election. Despite weeks of hard campaigning, neither candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote. This means that Angelenos will have one final chance to choose their next mayor on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

“Los Angeles faces a major turning point when it comes to picking their next mayor,” said Nelly Nieblas, RespectAbility’s Los Angeles-based State and Federal Policy Associate. “Both candidates need to lay out a clear vision for what they would do to earn the votes of the 1 million Angelenos living with a disability.”

The Los Angeles Mayor’s race garnered national attention and featured a crowded field of diverse candidates, each pitching their vision for the future. Over the past several months, RespectAbility has actively engaged with the different mayoral campaigns to educate them about the key issues facing Angelenos with disabilities.

RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: Maryland

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, and more

Annapolis, MD, May 31 – Ahead of the upcoming primary election, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Maryland Voter Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are approximately 694,317 people living in Maryland with some form of disability. The disability community makes up 11.6 percent of the state’s population.

Nationwide, one-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group.  It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. 

RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire.  Below, you can read responses from candidates on the ballot in Maryland who have already taken the time to address the concerns of voters with disabilities.