Washington, D.C., Oct. 8 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, has asked gubernatorial candidates on all sides of the aisle to fill out a questionnaire on disability issues.
Robert Arlett is the Republican nominee for the Delaware Senate race in the 2018 midterms. He is running against incumbent Tom Carper. Arlett previously has served as the County Councilman of Sussex County. Before his position as councilman, Arlett served in the United States Naval Reserve as an Intelligence Specialist.
RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.
This is important for Delaware’s 114,600 citizens with disabilities. Only 36.2percent of the 52,800 working-age people with disabilities in Nevada are employed. Further, there are more than 21,600 youth with disabilities and each year a quarter of them will age out of school into an uncertain future.
According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ thoughts on certain issues.
“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.
RespectAbility is seeking answers from the campaign of incumbent Sen. Tom Carper, Arlett’s opponent.
Arlett responded to six of the ten questions in the questionnaire. We are presenting his answers in full below.
Question 1: What policies or actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?
Answer: At the federal level (applicable due to federal race – U.S. Senate), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents discrimination of people with disabilities and requires reasonable accommodations be made by their employers to those in need. This framework has allowed people with disabilities to re-enter the workforce and operate in a competitive workplace environment.
Question 2: What is your record on improving the lives of people with disabilities, specifically, in enabling people with disabilities to have jobs, careers, or start their own business?
Answer: For this campaign for U.S. Senate, one of my key staff members is one with high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. This individual is in charge of scheduling my events statewide, compiling press releases and doing policy work for questionnaires such as this one. This same individual was displaced from employment at the end of 2017 (unrelated to diagnosis) and this assignment has helped me tremendously over the past six months for this campaign.
One of the reasons why I am running is to give more people who want to work and can, the opportunity to thrive.
Question 3: Do you have specific strategies for youth employment for people with disabilities? For example, what are your thoughts on apprenticeships for youth with disabilities?
Answer: The best programs are already in place. Community organizations such as Scouting, organized sports, Junior Achievement, and Boys & Girls Clubs all contribute to the positive development of today’s youth. The teach project management, team management, and personal development that lay the foundation for youth employment. Youth with disabilities should take advantage of these programs from Junior Achievement to BSA Explorer’s to learn more about various careers and business in general.
I also fully support apprenticeship programs for youth with disabilities through oar existing vocational and charter school programs. Charter and vocational technical K-12 schools are best equipped to train future employees on trades and specialized programs in partnership with the private sector.
Question 4: The jobs with the future will largely require post-secondary education. However, on average only 65 percent of students with disabilities complete high school and only seven percent complete college. What policies do you support to enable students with disabilities, including those from historically marginalized communities with backgrounds, to receive diagnosis, individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 plan and accommodations/services they need to succeed in school and be prepared for competitive employment?
Answer: Every student must have an individualized education or 504 plans to ensure they are track for one of four paths – college education, trade school, military, or private business. School counselors must meet with each student semi-annually to ensure they are on track, and to recommend additional steps to meet the end objectives of the IEP/504 plan. The school system must ensure that the progress of each IEP/504 plan is shared with the parents as well to determine if additional resources are required.
Question 6: People with disabilities are twice as likely to be the victims of crime as those without disabilities. This includes the fact that both children and adults with disabilities are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. They are also far more likely to suffer from police violence, partially because manifestations of disability can be misunderstood. How would you address these issues?
Answer: Personal safety education should be provided during K-12 education and also made available via community centers and libraries. Public shared services such as community centers, libraries should explore holding personal safety education regularly to help the community remain safe. Partnerships with emergency services (EMT, fire) and law enforcement would make the education programs more attractive for community education. The best path forward on this is through state, county or local resources.
Question 7: How would you ensure that people with disabilities have access to health care and the benefits they need while enabling them with opportunities to work at the best of their capabilities without losing the supports they need to live?
Answer: Through the federal American with Disabilities Act (ADA) people with disabilities should be able to get access to health care and benefits they need. From a health insurance perspective, the first step is to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since it failed to deliver its intended goal to lower health insurance cost and access. From a federal perspective, we must pass a federal bill allowing health insurance plans to be sold nationwide. This would greatly increase access to health insurance plans at lower cost for communities such as this.
RespectAbility has asked all the candidates for governor on both sides of the aisle to complete the same questionnaire. We will share responses from additional campaigns as we receive them.
The RespectAbility Report is a nonpartisan political commentary on U.S. elections with a focus on disability issues. The RespectAbility Report first posed this down ballot questionnaire to candidates in 2016 while covering all of the 2016 Democratic and Republican candidates for president. Coverage of this and related issues can be found at https://therespectabilityreport.org/.
The RespectAbility Report is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates.