State’s Investment in Project SEARCH to Increase Employment of People with Disabilities
Washington, May 2 – As voters head to the polls in Indiana tomorrow, RespectAbility is releasing its Indiana Disability Voter Guide. There are 898,434 people with a disability living in Indiana, 418,400 of whom are of working age (between the ages of 21 and 64). There are an additional 25,500 people ages 16-20 with disabilities, many of whom are hoping to enter the workforce. Indiana’s voters are looking to know where the candidates stand on important disability issues in order to increase opportunities for competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities.
The #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire was designed for people with disabilities (PwDs) and those who love them to know where candidates stand on the issues. The questionnaire asked all of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle to comment on 16 disability questions. Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders responded by addressing all of the questions, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich filled out parts of the questionnaire. They each have significantly different views on the issues. Despite numerous requests in person and by phone and email, the campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump have not yet filled out the questionnaire.
RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes as voters go to the polls.
Fully one-out-of-five voters have a disability, and 52 percent of likely voters have a loved one with a disability. Only 34 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities have jobs, despite the fact that the vast majority want to work. More than 11 million working age people with disabilities are now living on government benefits in our country.
RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said, “Our community is looking for jobs so we can achieve the American dream, just like anyone else. It is vital for us to know where the candidates stand economic, stigma, education, safety, transportation, housing, healthcare, foreign affairs and other issues. The candidates have hugely different ideas about how to deal with the issues. Thus, it’s extremely important to read their full answers so you can understand their vast differences.”
Indiana currently ranks 25th among the 50 states in regards to the number of people with disabilities who are employed (36.2 percent), compared to 77 percent of people without disabilities. View the rankings of all 50 states to compare.
RespectAbility has submitted comments for all 50 state’s drafts of the Unified Plan as required under Section 102 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). RespectAbility expects outcomes to improve for people with disabilities in Indiana due to several issues being addressed and improved upon within Indiana’s state plan, as well as new programs being integrated which help people with disabilities. The state plan has many good points and demonstrates the implementation of best practices, which only can improve outcomes for people with disabilities. The Indiana Career Council and Regional Work Councils plan to expand their networks, increasing their number of partnerships with other organizations in hopes of becoming the ideal model to guide the transformation needed in the workforce system.
Advances are being made regarding the implementation of certain programs as well. The Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center is a teaching hotel that aims to prepare young people with disabilities for careers in hospitality and food service. This is a unique example of innovation and opportunity in action. Additionally, Indiana is investing more in the successful Project SEARCH program. This job-training program has a 70 percent success rate in placing people with disabilities in full employment, and has seen success nationwide.
However, the gap in the labor force participation between people with and without disabilities is 40.7 percent. While this is lower than 20 other states, this lack of employment for people with disabilities creates poverty, powerlessness and poor health. Polls and studies show that people with disabilities want the opportunity to have the dignity and independence that jobs provide.
America has 1.2 million youth with disabilities, between the ages of 16 and 20. Each year 300,000 of them age into what should be the workforce, but stigmas and lack of knowledge about the capabilities of people with disabilities means that most do not find employers willing to hire them. Young adults with disabilities in all of these states 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. See data on all 50 states here: State Data.
RespectAbility will continue to urge Cruz and Trump to submit their ideas for the disability community. When they do so, we will update the guide. 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 has placed online ads sharing the questionnaire.