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Author: Eric Ascher

Mayor Buttigieg Prioritizes Mental Health and Suicide Prevention at Disability Forum

Noting High Intersection Between Disability and LGBTQ+ Communities, Buttigieg Addresses Bullying Epidemic

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 26 – The 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary is heating up, and in recent polls, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been surging in Iowa. Earlier this month, he released a comprehensive plan for the disability community and rolled it out at a Democratic Party Candidate Forum, Accessibility for All, on disability issues in Cedar Rapids. This forum was the first time in the 2020 campaign cycle that disability issues were the main topic of discussion.

As a veteran, he placed a particular emphasis on mental health and suicide prevention, saying that “the place we need to get to as a country is where it is as routine to talk about and act on mental health issues as we would a physical challenge.” Mental health is the most common disability that people in America have, so Mayor Buttigieg’s emphasis on it was notable.

Seven Democratic Campaigns Prioritize Disability Issues in Accessibility for All Forum

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 24 – Earlier this month, seven presidential campaigns made history together as they participated in a Democratic Party forum, Accessibility for All, focused on issues affecting people with disabilities. This is the first time this campaign season that a forum was held specifically on this topic.…

8 Democratic Campaigns Participate in Forum Focused on People with Disabilities and Health Care

Washington, D.C., Nov. 1 – Tomorrow in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, eight campaigns are set to participate in a history-making Accessibility, Inclusion, and Outreach Conference focused specifically on issues that affect people with disabilities. This is important, as while recent polling suggests that voters with disabilities themselves are more enthusiastic about participating in the 2020 elections than the nation at large, none of the campaigns are yet fully accessible to the disability community.

“It is vital for the democratic process to be open to all people and all means all – including people with disabilities,” said Lauren Appelbaum, vice president, communications of RespectAbility. “The majority of voters have a friend or family member with a disability or have a disability themselves. It is truly exciting that eight campaigns will be focusing their attention on addressing the 1-in-5 people living in America with a disability.”

Seven of the Democratic candidates will participate themselves. They are:

  • Sen. Cory Booker 
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Rep. John Delaney
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Mr. Andrew Yang 

Additionally, former Sen. Chris Dodd will speak on behalf of Vice President Joe Biden.

According to “Accessibility For All Now,” the organizers of the Forum, candidates will answer questions posed by people with disabilities and members of the Linn County Medical Society, which is co-hosting the forum. 

Presidential Hopeful Rep. Ryan Has History of Advocating for Mental Health Awareness

Washington, D.C., May 23 – Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan took office in 2003, but he gained notoriety in 2016 when he challenged then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, saying that a new generation of leadership was needed in the Democratic Party. Now, Rep. Ryan is running for President. When examining his record…

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Aims to Include Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., May 19 – Massachusetts Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has made her mark in the field by releasing major new policy proposals on a weekly basis. But how does she fare on disability issues? When analyzing polls, it is integral to identify the participants’ demographics and…

Presidential Hopeful Rep. John Delaney Supports Independence for People with Disabilities

Rockville, Maryland, May 18 – John Delaney, the former Democratic Representative for Maryland’s 6th District until January 2019, announced his intention to run for President in 2017, making him the first declared candidate in the race. Since being elected to Congress in 2012, Delaney neither introduced nor cosponsored any bills…

Examining Presidential Hopeful NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Record on Disability

New York City, May 17 – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is currently in charge of America’s largest city, and now he is running for President. As mayor of NYC, he represented 455,000 working-age people with disabilities in the city, as nearly half of all working-age New Yorkers with disabilities live in the greater New York City metropolitan area.

According to Vice, “Commissioner Victor Calise is working on making New York ‘the most accessible city in the world.’” And the de Blasio administration has taken some concrete steps to move New York closer to that goal. But as the article’s title suggests, the city has a long way to go.

Under Mayor de Blasio, the city has launched NYC ATWORK: a successful program to provide resources and opportunities to job-seekers with disabilities. This effort is overseen by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, led by Commissioner Victor Calise. NYC ATWORK helps connect people with disabilities looking for jobs and businesses looking to hire qualified individuals. The Mayor’s office is also behind Project Open House, which “removes architectural barriers in the homes of people with permanent disabilities.”

Presidential Hopeful Gov. Steve Bullock Has History of Advocacy for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., May 16 – Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is running for President on the idea that he is a Democratic Governor in a red state who knows how to work with people on both sides of the aisle. But how does he fare on disability issues? While running for…

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…

Disability Supporter Cuomo Wins New York Gubernatorial Re-Election

Down Ballot Disability Supporters in New York City Also Win Big New York City, Nov. 8 – Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Marcus J. Molinaro for New York’s governorship. In the weeks prior to the election, Cuomo made new commitments on jobs for people with…

Disability Supporter Brown Wins Oregon Gubernatorial Re-Election

Rockville, Maryland, Nov. 8 – Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Knute Buehler for Oregon’s governorship. In the weeks prior to the election, Brown made new commitments on jobs for people with disabilities in a proclamation sent to RespectAbility in October in honor of Disability Employment…

Disability Advocate Cardin Wins Re-Election to U.S. Senate

bencardinRockville, Maryland, Nov. 6 – Sen. Ben Cardin has won a third term in the U.S. Senate. The incumbent Senior Senator from Maryland defeated Republican Tony Campbell.

During the campaign season, Cardin responded to a disability issues questionnaire for Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit national organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to the campaign of Republican Tony Campbell, but received no response to the questionnaire from them.

In responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Cardin’s campaign said that, “Senator Cardin has championed the cause of inclusion and full political and economic equality for individuals with disabilities in the United States and abroad.”

“Senator Cardin voted for the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and advocated for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He has stayed active in disability issues by leading and supporting legislation and letters that promote the rights of individuals with disabilities. He maintains multiple staff who advise him on this issue from the perspectives of civil rights, labor, and health.”

Maryland has more than 334,505 working age people with disabilities, but 58.9 percent of them are out of work. That means that just 41.1 percent are employed. In comparison, 80.2 percent of working-age residents of Maryland without disabilities are employed. Maryland ranks 17th in terms of employment rate for people with disabilities.

This past July, new center at the University of Maryland opened that will be dedicated to employment possibilities for youth with disabilities. The Center for Transition and Career Innovation for Youth with Disabilities will be a division at the School of Education. The center will conduct research work on college and job preparation for high school students with disabilities. The University of Maryland, College Park will partner with the Disabilities Department, the Division of Rehabilitation Services and the Division of Special Education & Early Intervention Services for the center.

Meanwhile, youth with disabilities, along with adults with disabilities, can find services in the state’s active Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). DORS connects businesses with people with disabilities, who have the job skills, during the hiring process. In 2017, they matched 2,565 employees with disabilities to different jobs. They also offer counseling, career assessments, technology and training. Likewise, DORS offers business owners and hiring managers awareness training, inclusion initiatives and consultations.

Read Cardin’s full response to the questionnaire below:

2018 #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for New York City Candidates

Questions Focus on Issues Relating to Education, Employment and Stigma

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. Currently, there are 948,000 people with disabilities living in New York City. That includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

RespectAbility, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities, is asking candidates to answer five key questions that impact the close to one-million people with disabilities in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. All responses in full will be reported in The RespectAbility Report, a nonpartisan political commentary on U.S. elections with a focus on disability issues and used in our New York City Disability Voter Guide. The RespectAbility Report is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is for educational purposes.

Below are the questions for all NYC area candidates. Please limit each answer to no more than 250 words.