RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of the community, is preparing a nonpartisan voter guide for the 2022 Los Angeles Municipal Elections. The guide will cover a variety of issues that impact the 1-in-5 Americans who live with a physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, or other disability.
RespectAbility is asking candidates to answer four questions about the key issues impacting the approximately one million people with disabilities living in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. All responses will be posted in full to The RespectAbility Report and used in our L.A. County Disability Voter Guide. The RespectAbility Report is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is for educational purposes.
There are 61 million Americans with disabilities according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many of them rely on us for background on public policy and the positions of elected officials. Our voter guides go out electronically to media and voters in every state and are shared widely on social media.
Of the 22 million working-age (18-64) people with disabilities in our country, fully 70 percent were outside of the labor force before the COVID-19 pandemic. This is despite the fact that most want to work. This hurts employers who need talent, people with disabilities who need jobs, and taxpayers who support the 11 million people with disabilities who do not pay taxes but instead live on government benefits.
Polls show that the majority of voters have either a disability or a loved one with a disability. Voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs – and the actions campaigns take to reach out to these voters can make the difference between winning and losing.
Below are the questions for all Los Angeles area candidates. Please limit each answer to approximately 250 words.
EDUCATION AND SKILLS: There are more than 183,000 students with disabilities enrolled in Los Angeles County public schools. Of that number, 126,000 are Latinx students with disabilities who face additional barriers such as language differences, inadequate resources, economic disparities, and racial discrimination. Further, the recent legal case Payan vs LACCD revealed serious accessibility gaps at post-secondary education institutions. What steps will you take to ensure that students with disabilities of all backgrounds have what they need to succeed?
ACCESS AND INCLUSION: The disability community lives by the motto “Nothing about us, without us.” We must have a seat at any decision-making table that affects us – which is every table, as disability cuts across all other demographics. Those with lived experience know the solutions that work and must be part of the decision-making process. As such, campaigns are most successful when they develop connections to constituents with disabilities, recruit volunteers with disabilities, host public events inaccessible spaces, and make their campaigns accessible online. Whether or not you have a formal platform, what specific plans do you have to incorporate the voices of people with disabilities into your decision-making processes, if elected? What steps, if any, have you taken to make your campaign accessible for people with disabilities and to ensure that our voices are heard?
HOMELESSNESS, POVERTY AND EQUITY: In Los Angeles, there are few issues more pressing than homelessness. As of 2020, there were more than 100,000 people experiencing homelessness in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. At least 26 percent of Angelenos experiencing homelessness have long-term mental health conditions. People with disabilities are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness. What is your plan to address homelessness among your constituents, to work with other organizations to address the issue in the region, and to coordinate with other municipalities to create more affordable and accessible housing?
OTHER PRIORITIES: Criminal justice, climate issues, voting rights, and transportation are all major issues that have significant impacts on Angelenos with disabilities. What other policies that impact people with disabilities are you ready and eager to work on? What is your plan to involve your constituents with disabilities in key decision-making processes?
Completed questionnaires should be sent to RespectAbility’s Policy and Practices Director, Philip Kahn-Pauli, at PhilipP#RespectAbility.org.