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Advancing Opportunities in Texas

RespectAbility Testimony in 2022

Austin, Texas, March 15 – This week, the Texas Workforce Commission met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Lone Star State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 1,809,900 working age (18-64) Texans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 40.6 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Texas’ Workforce Commission listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Texas Workforce Commission on Solutions for Texans with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform state wide efforts to rebuild the economy and get people with disabilities back to work.

Austin, TX, May 5 – This week, the Texas Workforce Commission met to discuss policies and priorities for moving the Lone Star State’s economy forward. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbiltiy weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in Texas’ economy.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said the Honorable Steve Bartlett, former Member of Congress, the former Mayor of Dallas and current Chairman of RespectAbility. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to implement policies that will drive a truly equitable recovery that helps people with disabilities and other marginalized communities get back to work.”

17,736 new jobs for people with disabilities in Texas

Washington, D.C., March 15 – As the economy expands, for the first time in decades people with disabilities are gaining jobs, success and independence. According to new data, 17,736 more people with disabilities in Texas gained employment. People with disabilities previously have been left out of periods of economic growth. Today’s…

Sivalingam Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in New Hampshire Senate Race

Concord, NH, June 30 – New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Tejasinha Sivalingam has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are more than 183,112 people living with some form of disability in New Hampshire and their votes could be crucial in deciding who will represent them in the United States Senate. 

Sivalingam is the second candidate in the upcoming New Hampshire Senate race to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. 

Kilpatrick Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for California Recall Election

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

Sacramento, CA, August 24 – Democratic candidate, actor, screenwriter, and producer Patrick Kilpatrick has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to candidates in California’s critical gubernatorial recall election. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Kilpatrick’s responses follows:

RespectAbility Responds to Office of Management and Budget Request for Ideas on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Washington, D.C., July 7 – This week, RespectAbility responded to a request for information from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about ideas, insights, and innovations to advance and prioritize equity issues. This dialogue is only the latest example of how the new Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to address the “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies.”

On his very first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 launching an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” This is critical news for the 12.8 million Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities who have long been harmed by structural racism and who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

“The impacts of racism and ableism on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities have caused harm to so many,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO of RespectAbility. “We must all fight racism and prejudice of all kinds. That work must go well beyond words and move into real systems change so we can create true equity and opportunities. Our society is at its best when all people, including BIPOC people with disabilities, can earn an income and become independent, just like anyone else. Online engagement opportunities like this one offer the chance for policy makers and common citizens to make their voices heard and push our society to become fairer and more inclusive.”

RespectAbility Contributes to Online Racial Equity Dialogue with Ideas on Metrics, Measures and Best Practices

Washington, D.C., May 5 – This past week, RespectAbility contributed to the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor’s online dialogue to solicit ideas, insights, and innovations from the disability community about advancing racial and social equity. This dialogue is only the latest example of how the new Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to address the “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies.”

On his very first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 launching an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” This is critical news for the 12.8 million Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities who have long been harmed by structural racism and who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 and resulting economic crisis.

Disability Allies Win Races for Senate & Governor

Updated Nov. 10

Washington, D.C., Nov. 4 – It is the morning after Election Day 2020 and many results are still being counted. RespectAbility stresses the importance of counting every vote, particularly as many people with disabilities chose to vote early – both in-person and via mail – in this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states have not counted all of their early voting ballots yet. 

Although many results are still not finalized, several candidates who support opportunities for people with disabilities already have been declared as winners. These individuals completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. 

Voter Guide for 3,221,165 Texans with Disabilities

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

by Stephanie Santo

Austin, TX, Oct. 5 – In the run up to the 2020 election in Texas, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Texas State Voter Guide. According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Texans with disabilities is 3,221,165, making up 11.4 percent of the total state population.

2018 employment data shows that there are 1,639,624 working-age people with disabilities living in Texas. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 659,558 of those Texans had a job and the Lon Star State had a disability employment rate of 40.2 percent.

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate the same seven key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire. Below you can read responses from candidates on the ballot in Texas who have already taken the time to address the concerns of voters with disabilities. 

2020 Disability Voter Guide

Voting has begun in the 2020 election, and the disability community has a lot at stake. The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate the same seven key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities. Below you can read responses from candidates who have already taken the time to address the concerns of voters with disabilities. 

RespectAbility is still accepting responses to the candidate questionnaire from campaigns, so if a candidate has not answered the questions, please invite them to do so. We hope that this information will enable you to make informed decisions in this election. You can find full, detailed converge online at https://therespectabilityreport.org.


Issue Voter Guides

English Language Learners and Immigrants with Disabilities

Promoting Disability Employment Outcomes

High School Graduation for Students with Disabilities

Combating Stigmas for People with Disabilities

Campaign Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities

Community Inclusion for People with Disabilities

Other Priorities for People with Disabilities


State Voter Guides

Voter Guide for 3,221,165 Texans with Disabilities

Texas Ranks 12th in the Country on Jobs for People with Disabilities by Chris-Mike Agbelie In the run up to the 2020 Texas Democratic primary, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Texas State Voter Guide. According to the recently released 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number…

2020 Disability Voter Guide

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. 

Several high-profile candidates recently submitted their completed questionnaires: 

On ADA Anniversary, O’Rourke Calls for Americans with Disabilities to Have Full Access to Education, Opportunity and the Workforce

Washington, D.C., July 30 – “The ADA is a landmark law—but recently, it has been under attack,” Beto O’Rourke tweeted in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) on Friday. “29 years after its passage, let’s build a country where Americans with disabilities have full access to education, opportunity,…

How Accessible and Inclusive Are the Presidential Candidates’ Campaigns?

How to Tell If a Presidential Campaign is Inclusive of People with Disabilities Washington, D.C., June 26 – On the eve of the first round of Democratic debates, it is important to remember that one important group of swing voters are people with disabilities, who comprise 20 percent of our…

Julián Castro’s Message of “People First” Includes People with Disabilities Too

Washington, D.C., May 16 – Julián Castro (D-TX), the former Mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Obama Administration, has had a campaign that emphasizes the importance of putting “People First,” a clear jab at President Donald Trump’s “America First” doctrine. However, since…

Presidential Hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand Intentional about Inclusion of People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., May 14 – New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is fighting to be the first woman elected President of the United States. But she has pledged to fight for people with disabilities as well. Gillibrand might not have a disability herself, but she has recognized that for a presidential…

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