Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, immigration, climate, criminal justice and more.
Richmond, VA, September 14 – In a new letter, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has outlined his key priorities for the disability community if he is elected the next Governor of Virginia.
One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group and the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are more than 1 million people with disabilities living in the Old Dominion state.
The full text of Glenn Youngkin’s letter follows:
I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to share with you my vision and plan for the Commonwealth of Virginia. I want Virginia to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for Virginians living with disabilities, who in the past have rightly felt unsupported and unincluded.
Sadly, the Commonwealth has a long history of failing to meet the needs of Virginians with disabilities. Over a decade ago, the Commonwealth was found to be in gross violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Virginia agreed to transform the developmental disabilities system from one heavily reliant on large, expensive institutions to one focused on safe, individualized, and cost- effective community-based services that promote integration and independence and enable individuals to live, work, and participate fully in community life. Richmond still hasn’t held up their end of the bargain. As recently as December 2020, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released a report on Special Education in Virginia that identified significant failings which included kids with unusable diplomas who couldn’t enter the workforce or continue on to college.
I will end this cycle of disregard and neglect.
As Governor, I will give every Virginian the same ability to participate in education and job of their choice. We must make every effort to keep our kids in the least restrictive environment and empower parents’ by giving them choice and flexibility. I am committed to successfully transition our students from school to the workforce by replacing the “cliff” with an off-ramp. This will allow people to receive assistance in navigating the system and help move them toward fully independent lives wherever and whenever possible.
As part of this effort, I will advance opportunities in the workplace for Virginians with disabilities. While Virginia, is currently higher than national average of 35%, at 40%, we cannot be satisfied when that means Virginia has a 60% unemployment rate. Richmond can, and must, do better. I will work towards matching Virginians with disabilities to training and jobs. My administration will leverage models and organizations like Project SEARCH and Virginia Ready, a non-profit I co-founded that partners with businesses and the Virginia Community College System to retrain and equip Virginians who want to learn a new skill, find a fulfilling and sustainable new career, and take their future into their own hands.
It’s important that all Virginians are prepared and able to participate in our democracy. This is why I am the only candidate for Governor with a website that fully complies with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Acts. I also embrace the ‘nothing about us without us’ philosophy. This means no policy is decided without input and participation of those affected by that policy. I will rely on organizations like RespectAbility and the Arc to assist me on issues impacting our living with disabilities community.
I want every Virginian with developmental disabilities to have the opportunity to live a full and abundant life, and I believe in reducing the burden on parents and families by keeping our schools and businesses open and improving the customer service of our customer facing agencies – yes, parents and families are our customers. As Governor, I will empower parents and families to make the best educational, job training, and care choices for their loved ones by transforming our systems into more transparent and effective organizations
It’s clear there is still so much work to be done, work that requires innovative and committed leadership. In November there is a clear choice between the old, failed policies of prior administrations and a new vision to make life better for all Virginians. Together, we can make that possible.
Candidate for Governor
RespectAbility, a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, is sending its nonpartisan voter questionnaire to candidates in competitive Senate and Gubernatorial races across the country. The outreach is being done in conjunction with RespectAbility’s online publication, TheRespectAbilityReport.org, which focuses on the intersection of disability and electoral politics. The answers to the questionnaire will be turned into nonpartisan voter guides in key battleground states across the country.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of current and upcoming elections on our website.