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Presidential Candidates Court Voters with Disabilities With Youth Employment Strategies

Washington, D.C., Jan 28 – With only days before the Iowa Caucus, presidential candidates are reaching out to voters with disabilities and their loved ones with specific plans for youth employment.

According to the CDC, approximately one-in-four adults living in the community have a disability. Research conducted in the 2018 election shows that 74 percent of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. According to the 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are 170,186 working-age (ages 18-64) people with disabilities living in Iowa. Nationally, only one-in-three working age people with disabilities has a job.

As a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, RespectAbility has invited all candidates in the presidential race on both sides of the aisle to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire. This questionnaire covers some of the most important issues impacting people with disabilities including employment, education, immigration, criminal justice and accessibility. 

Question 3 in the Questionnaire was: “What specific workforce development strategies do you support that will empower youth with disabilities?”

Below, read the answers from the five candidates who responded:


close-up of pete buttigieg's face

Pete Buttigieg

My administration will create a national network of apprenticeships and an Internships for All program that provide greater opportunities for competitive integrated employment for youth across the country. We will invest $5 billion over the next decade in a national apprenticeship program that ensures access to a well-paying job—especially for youth with disabilities—within 30 miles of their home.

Read the full response (Question 3)


Amy Klobuchar

Senator Klobuchar is committed to supporting an inclusive and language rich environment for our students and ensuring successful transitions from school to work. In addition to fully funding the IDEA, Senator Klobuchar will take action to ensure that education facilities accommodate people with disabilities, educators have the training and resources to effectively teach students with learning and other disabilities, and schools provide supportive resources for students with disabilities.

Read the full response (Question 3)

headshot of Amy Klobuchar smiling

close-up of Bernie Sanders smiling while wearing a suit and a tie

Bernie Sanders

Bernie will guarantee people with truly integrated employment that pays a living wage. He will:

  • Expand President Obama’s executive order to make the federal government a model employer for people with disabilities.
  • Create equitable hiring standards. We will ensure that all the federal government follows standards and guidelines to ensure the jobs created by the federal government including infrastructure jobs are available to people with disabilities.

Read the full response (Question 3)


Elizabeth Warren

I will fight to make sure that students with disabilities have access to a great public education, including high-quality higher education experiences. I’ll support ambitious individualized education programs (IEPs) for all students with disabilities, require schools to include students’ classroom teachers in IEP development, and ensure they have access to meaningful college and career readiness programs.

Read the full response (Question 3)

Elizabeth Warren smiling wearing a blue suit

close up of Andrew Yang smiling wearing a white collared shirt and gray suit jacket

Andrew Yang

Stigmas associated with people with disabilities have incorrectly labeled them as liabilities to our economy. But the truth is, if our economic system and government valued the lives and work of people with disabilities, then the nation would have more individuals in the workforce living happier, healthier, and satisfactory lives. Society would be more dynamic with the unique contributions and perspectives that only people with disabilities can offer.

Read the full response (Question 3)


RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes as voters go to the polls. RespectAbility has reached out to all of the presidential campaigns and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates. 

Published in2020 CampaignAmy KlobucharAndrew YangBernie SandersDemocratsElizabeth WarrenPete Buttigieg

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