Washington, Feb. 18 – RespectAbility released its South Carolina and Nevada update to its #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire for people with disabilities (PwDs). More than half of the presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle have responded to the questionnaire.
“Fully one-out-of-five voters have a disability, and 52 percent of likely voters have a loved one with a disability. Americans with disabilities have the ability to determine who wins or loses elections,” RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “In the early voting states, there are 680,038 people with disabilities in South Carolina and 357,035 people with disabilities in Nevada. Our community will play a major role in the outcome of this election, and it is vital for us to know where the candidates stand on our issues.”
The questionnaire asked all of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle to comment on 16 disability questions. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders responded by addressing all of the questions. Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie (who has since suspended his candidacy) and Gov. John Kasich also filled out parts of the questionnaire.
The candidates have dramatically different ideas about how to deal with the issues including employment, stigma, education, safety, transportation, housing, healthcare, foreign affairs and other issues. RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes as voters go to the polls.
Only three out of ten of South Carolina’s 340,300 working-age people with disabilities are employed. In Nevada, just four out of ten of its 171,600 working-age people with disabilities are employed. This creates poverty, powerlessness, and poor health. People with disabilities want the opportunity to have the dignity that jobs provide.
Today in South Carolina, 15,700 youth with disabilities, between the ages of 16 and 20, are preparing to enter the labor market. The same is true in Nevada where 8,200 young adults with disabilities are hoping to find work. They have high expectations and deserve the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Young people with disabilities may simply need some thoughtful help to transition into the workforce.
One employer in South Carolina that has provided an exemplar model for other businesses to follow in hiring individuals with disabilities is Walgreens. They have taken an active role in ensuring that that they have an opportunity to thrive in a work environment and derive a true sense of accomplishment. Walgreens first began this program at their distribution center in Anderson, South Carolina and now 42 percent of their employees have a disclosed disability including workers with a range of developmental and intellectual differences. In Nevada, PEPSI and Starbucks each have model inclusion programs for employees with disabilities. Each of these companies stands as a great example of win-win-win policies that help employers, people with disabilities and taxpayers alike.
RespectAbility invited all of the candidates to complete the questionnaire in the days ahead in order to convey their policies and connect with voters with disabilities. RespectAbility will release an updated questionnaire prior to Super Tuesday, where people from 15 different states and territories will choose their primary candidates. The questionnaire is being distributed to more than 50,000 people who care about disability issues, more than ten thousand of whom live in the early primary states and the heads of more than 100 national disability organizations, many of whom will share with their own lists. RespectAbility also is placing online ads sharing the questionnaire.