Skip to content

The RespectAbility Report Posts

RespectAbility Submits Testimony to Committee Developing New National Autism Plan

Washington, D.C., December 3 – This past month, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), a federal advisory committee dedicated to addressing policy issues impacting people on the autism spectrum, actively solicited public feedback to help develop a new 2021-2022 IACC Strategic Plan. In response, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of neurodiverse people in the workforce.

“I’m proud to serve on the Board of RespectAbility and support these extraordinarily helpful recommendations to enhance disability inclusion in the federal workforce. Simply put, the federal government needs to set a positive example as the country’s largest employer by adopting all the best practices that it tells the private sector to do through OFCCP and ODEP,” said Craig Lean, a board member of RespectAbility, a neurodiversity advocate, and former federal official.

Lean went on to add that: “The federal government should appoint a Chief Accessibility Officer of the United States, conduct annual self-audits of hiring, compensation, and promotions for individuals with disabilities, and develop neurodiversity and autism at work programs. Likewise, the federal government should commit to increased hiring of individuals with disabilities in all agencies, instead of leaving it up to the ad hoc discretion of individual agencies whether to do so. There is so much more that could be accomplished if the federal government would follow its own excellent advice to businesses.”

There are approximately 3.5 million Americans living on the autism spectrum and there are many more people who have yet to be diagnosed. Further, prevalence has been increasing over time and as of the 2020 school year there were approximately 717,000 students on the Autism spectrum in America’s K-12 system.

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

Sacremento, CA, December 1 – This week, the California Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Golden State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, 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 1.9 million working age (18-64) Californians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that California’s state workforce 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.

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

Juneau, AK, December 1 – This week, the Alaska Workforce Investment Board’s Executive Committee will meet to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Las Frontier. 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, 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 44,762working age (18-64) Alaskans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.8 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Alaska’s Workforce Investment 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.

New Draft Report Advances Critical Solutions around Voting Access for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., November 26 – This past month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft copy of their report looking at barriers and accessibility for voters with disabilities. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization, submitted a short letter and detailed data on where things stand for voters with disabilities after the 2020 election and looking ahead to the 2022 election cycle.  

“Our past voter survey work shows that 74 percent of likely voters are touched by disabilities,” said former Rep. Steve Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and is the immediate past Chairman of RespectAbility. “Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril. Some of the closest elections in recent years have been won by candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities. Glenn Youngkin did it in VirginiaSteve Daines did it in Montana, just as President Biden, and Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock did in Georgia. All of them made their campaigns accessible to voters with disabilities.” 

Earlier this year, the Biden Administration released Executive Order 14019. This E.O. directed key federal agencies to dig into issues of “difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places.” Looking closely at supporting voting access for communities of color and citizens with barriers to voting, such as disabilities, this Executive Order prompted the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) solicited online, public feedback from constituents across the country.  

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

Charleston, WV, November 24 – This week, the West Virginia Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Mountain 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, 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 178,000 working age (18-64) West Virginians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 31.1 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that West Virginia’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.

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

Indianapolis, IN, November 18 – This week, the Indiana Regional Workforce Development Boards’ Youth Committee met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Hoosier 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, 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 464,000 working age (18-64) Hoosiers living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 39.5 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that  Indiana Regional Workforce Development Boards 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.

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

Honolulu, HI, November 17 – This week, Hawaii’s Workforce Development Council (WDC) met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Aloha 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, 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 62,548 working age (18-64) Hawaiians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that the Aloha State’s Workforce Development Council 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.

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

Jefferson City, MO, November 10 – This week, the Missouri Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Show Me 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, 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 463,213 working age (18-64) Missourians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 36.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Missouri’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.

Jain Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in Maryland Governor’s Race

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, immigration, climate, criminal justice and more.

Annapolis, MD, November 5 – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ashwani Jain 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 over 669,000 people living with some form of disability in Maryland and their votes could be crucial in deciding who succeeds Larry Hogan as Governor of the Old Line State. 

Jain is the first candidate in the upcoming Democratic primary to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility is actively communicating with all candidates in Maryland’s upcoming gubernatorial race.

Glenn Youngkin Wins Virginia Governor’s Race

Richmond, VA, November 3 – Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin has won a hotly contested race to become Virginia’s next Governor, beating Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin responded to RespectAbility’s Disability Voter Questionnaire for Senate and gubernatorial candidates in a letter detailing his priorities and vision for Virginians with disabilities.  RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization…

What Biden’s Build Back Better Framework Means for People with Disabilities

The White House outlines framework for the Build Back Better Act, but what does it mean for 56 million Americans with disabilities?

Washington, D.C., October 30 – As October slips into November, the White House is working hard with Congressional leaders to finalize the details, priorities and projects to be funded by the forthcoming Build Back Better Act. After extensive meetings in recent days, a new framework was announced for the forthcoming legislation.

“This framework will guide the drafting of legislative language,” the White House said in a prepared statement released along with the framework. “When enacted, this framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”

This framework has the potential to impact the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities in significant ways through new investments in childcare, health care, and education. However, given how much of this bill is up in the air, a critical question needs to be asked: what specific pieces of this framework directly touch on disability issues?  

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

Springfield, IL, October 27 – This week, the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board’s Equity Task Force met to discuss the status of workforce practices in Illinois. 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, 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 696,000 working age (18-64) Illinoisans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB) 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.

Voter Guide for 908,500 New Jerseyans with Disabilities

Trenton, NJ, October 27 – In the run up to the 2021 gubernatorial election in New Jersey, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest New Jersey State Voter Guide. According to the 2020 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of New Jerseyans with disabilities is 908,500, making up 10.4 percent of the total state population.

2019 employment data shows that there are 411,051 working-age people with disabilities in New Jersey. In the economic expansion before the COVID-19 pandemic, 163,968 (or 39.8 percent) of those New Jerseyans had a job. 

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

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

Reno, NV, October 22 – This week, the Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) met to discuss the status of workforce practices in Nevada. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new 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 176,756 working age (18-64) Nevadans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 39.3 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) 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.

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

Helena, MT, October 11 – Later this month, Montana’s State Workforce Development Board will meet to discuss the status of workforce practices in Big Sky Country. 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new 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 63,386 working age (18-64) Montanans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 46.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Montana’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.

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

Topeka, KS, October 8 – This week, the Kansas State Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Sunflower 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new 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 208,624 working age (18-64) Kansans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 44.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Kansas’ 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.

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

Salt Lake City, UT, October 7 – Next week, the Utah State Workforce Development Board meets to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Beehive 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new 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 146,969 working age (18-64) Utahans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 50.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Utah’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.

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

Albeurquerque, NM, October 6 – This week, the New Mexico State Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Land of Enchantment. 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 Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new 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 166,609 working age (18-64) New Mexicans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 35.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that New Mexico’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.

Candidates in Race for Governor of Virginia Spar on Vaccines, Omit Speaking Directly to People with Disabilities

Richmond, VA, September 29 – Last night, the second debate for Governor of Virginia was held at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) in Alexandria, Virginia between former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) and businessman Glenn Youngkin (R-VA). Just as with the first debate, neither candidate directly mentioned the disability community. The…

RespectAbility Advocates for Colorado to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

Denver, CO, September 23 – This week, the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Centennial 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 Colorado’s 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 Philip Kahn-Pauli, a native Coloradan and RespectAbility’s Policy and Practices Director. “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.”