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Author: Lauren Appelbaum

With 13 Candidates Celebrating the Anniversary of the ADA, Will They Talk About Disability at the Debates?

Washington, D.C., July 30 – This year marks the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) becoming law. The ADA was intended to ensure that people with disabilities could earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. With the Democratic candidates debating this week in Detroit,…

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…

Will Voters with Disabilities Determine Campaign 2020?

Washington, D.C., June 25 – Two separate bipartisan polls following the last presidential election showed that voters with disabilities and their family and friends voted in big numbers for President Donald Trump. Fully three-quarters of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member, or a close friend with disabilities. Therefore, as the 2020 campaign heats up, it is in the best interest of every presidential candidate and the citizens of this country for candidates to recognize disability issues during their campaigns.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the board chair of RespectAbility, a Washington-based nonpartisan nonprofit that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of community. “People with disabilities are politically active swing voters, and candidates should take note of the important issues they care about.”

According to the Census Bureau, more than 56 million Americans live with some form of disability. This can include visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairments or hearing loss to people living with invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

Warren: “Non-negotiable” For Campaign to Be Fully Inclusive of People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., June 17 – Since she began working as a special education teacher, Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she understood “how important it is to live a life of independence and dignity.” Responding to a question posed to all of the viable 2020 presidential candidates by RespectAbility, a nonprofit, nonpartisan…

Rep. Swalwell Calling for Research to “Cure and Alleviate the Diseases and Disabilities that Ail Us”

Washington, D.C., June 17 – In addition to cosponsoring several pending pieces of legislation that would directly impact people with disabilities, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA 15) has outlined how he will include people with disabilities in his campaign and policies in response to a question posed to all of the…

Yang Pledges Increased Accessibility for People with Variety of Disabilities to Become More Engaged in Campaign

Washington, D.C., June 16 – Disability is personal to presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, who has a son on the Autism spectrum. In response to a question posed to all of the viable 2020 presidential candidates by RespectAbility, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with…

Sanders Campaign “Committed to Ensuring Accessibility is at Forefront of Everything we Build”

Washington, D.C., June 13 – The Sanders campaign, which is the only one to have a dedicated page on its website for disability rights, has pledged continued accessibility in response to a question posed to all of the viable 2020 presidential candidates by RespectAbility, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas…

Beto Campaign Pledges to Protect Civil Rights of People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., June 12 – The inclusion of people with disabilities in society is personal to Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, whose youngest sister has an intellectual and developmental disability. While disability has been a part of his life since childhood, he is newly committing to it in this presidential campaign.…

Klobuchar Campaign: Ensuring Inclusion for People with Disabilities is One of Our Basic Values

Washington, D.C., June 11 – For Sen. Klobuchar, disability is not only personal but her past includes a history of legislating for people with disabilities. Responding to a question posed to all of the viable 2020 presidential candidates by RespectAbility, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities…

Gillibrand Campaign Pledges to Prioritize People with Disabilities as Campaign Staff, Volunteers

Washington, D.C., June 10 – Sen. Gillibrand previously committed to having a person with a disability in her Cabinet and now goes further in response to a question posed to all of the viable 2020 presidential candidates by RespectAbility, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for…

Sen. Sanders Pledges to “Champion Expanding the Rights of People with Disabilities”

Sanders Campaign Only One to Have Dedicated Page on Website for Disability Rights Washington, D.C., May 28 – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is no stranger to the presidential primary campaign. As he did in 2016, his campaign has a dedicated page on their website for disability issues. While some of the…

Eight Tips for Presidential Candidates: How to Connect with Voters with Disabilities

By Lauren Appelbaum and Hon. Steve Bartlett Washington, D.C., May 9 – For a presidential campaign to be fully inclusive of people with disabilities, it needs to meet the following requirements: (1) offer captioning with every video it shares or produces, (2) mention people with disabilities and their issues, (3) depict…

As Pennsylvania Gains 6406 Jobs for People with Disabilities, Gov. Wolf’s Employment First Policy Helps Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Find Work

Tom Wolf headshot
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 11 – More people with disabilities in Pennsylvania continued to gain new jobs last year, continuing a trend from the year prior.

The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows Pennsylvania is currently ranked 30th out of 50 states with 329,760 of the 880,799 working-age (18-64) people with disabilities being employed. This gives the state an employment rate of 37.4 percent for people with disabilities. Further analysis by the nonpartisan advocacy group RespectAbility shows that in 2017, the employment rate was at 35.5 percent. From 2017-2018 Pennsylvania’s employment rates increased for people with disabilities as 6,406 Pennsylvanians with disabilities found new employment opportunities.

“37.4 percent employment for people with disabilities represents progress that we must build upon,” said RespectAbility Board of Directors member Richard G. Phillips, Jr. Philips, a Pennsylvania business leader and change agent, was elected to the RespectAbility Board in September 2018.

Maryland Gains 4,353 New Jobs for People with Disabilities as Gov. Hogan Wants to Continue Increasing Employment Opportunities

Larry Hogan headshot
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

Rockville, Maryland, March 10 – More people with disabilities in Maryland continued to gain new jobs last year, continuing a trend from the year prior.

The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows Maryland is currently 16th out of 50 states with 141,870 of the 335,461 working-age (18-64) people with disabilities being employed. This gives the state an employment rate of 42.3 percent for people with disabilities. Further analysis by the nonpartisan advocacy group RespectAbility shows that in 2017, the employment rate was at 41.1 percent. From 2017-2018 Maryland’s employment rates increased for people with disabilities as 4,353 Marylanders with disabilities found new employment opportunities.

In the weeks prior to his re-election, Gov. Hogan made new commitments on jobs for people with disabilities in a proclamation sent to RespectAbility in October in honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month. “Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of workers with disabilities,” said Hogan in the proclamation. “Through local and national campaigns we create greater awareness of the talents and skills individuals with disabilities bring to their employers.”

10,033 New Jobs for People with Disabilities in Colorado as Gov. Jared Polis’ Administration Wants to Ensure Independence

Jared Polis smiling in front of an American flag
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis

Washington D.C., March 9 – Colorado now ranks 11th in the nation for employment rates of people with disabilities with 141,691 of the 311,449 working-age (18-64) Coloradoans with disabilities being employed. The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows Colorado has an employment of 45.5 percent for people with disabilities. Further analysis by the nonpartisan advocacy group RespectAbility shows that during the previous year, Colorado’s employment rate for people with disabilities was 42.7 percent. From 2017-2018 Colorado’s employment rates increased for people with disabilities as 10,033 Coloradoans with disabilities found new employment opportunities. Colorado’s previous Governor, John Hickenlooper, had prioritized jobs for people with disabilities.

Newly elected Gov. Jared Polis showed his commitment to the employment of people with disabilities during his campaign, responding to a questionnaire by RespectAbility, outlining his views on training and hiring people with disabilities. Then-candidate Polis repeatedly cited his work in starting two nonprofits, TechStars and Operation Bootcamp, that helped those in underrepresented communities and returning veterans start their own businesses. Project Bootcamp, he noted, “specifically works with veterans and their families, many of whom live with a disability.”

Presidential Hopeful Gov. Jay Inslee Has History of Advocacy for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., March 1 – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee entered the crowded 2020 presidential race Friday, becoming the first sitting governor to do so. While he is making climate change a leading issue for his presidential bid, he has made disability employment a priority during his governorship. Gov. Inslee announced…

Heard During Klobuchar’s Town Hall: “Down syndrome,” “Alcoholism,” “Autism”

Manchester, New Hampshire, Feb. 19 – Words heard during the CNN Presidential Town Hall with presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) included “Down syndrome,” “diabetes,” “alcoholism,” “addiction” and “autism.” During similar 2016 town halls on both sides of aisle, this did not occur, especially during the early part of the election season.

According to the Census Bureau, more than 56 million Americans live with some form of disability. This can include visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairments or hearing loss to people living with invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

“The disability community is the only minority anyone can join at any time due to accident, illness or injury,” said former Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett is the chairman of RespectAbility, a Washington-based nonpartisan nonprofit that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of community.

Personal Connection to Disability

“I grew up in a family with alcoholism and addiction,” Klobuchar said when asked how being the daughter of an alcoholic affects her stance on health and addiction policy. “I had a lot of times in my life where I was taking the keys away or seeing him drink in the basement and it was a hard thing.”

She also shared a story of how when her daughter was born, she was unable to swallow yet kicked out of the hospital after 24 hours without help. Nearly a third of U.S. families have at least one member with a disability and 10 percent have at least one child with a disability. It is vital for leaders to share personal experiences with all types of disabilities – including addiction – to help reduce stigma surrounding them.

Klobuchar talked about how her state of Minnesota “has a lot of great treatment that I want to bring to the entire country, so everyone has this great treatment.”

“We need to make sure we are there for people, that we have treatment,” she added. “In the criminal justice system, we’re humane, that we use drug courts because once people get good treatment, they can get through anything.”

More than half of the audience raised their hands when asked if they were affected by the opioid crisis during the town hall. Responding to a question on how she would combat the opioid epidemic, Klobuchar said to “change prescribing habits across the country” and to fund treatment for addiction. What she did not mention, however, is that some people with chronic pain and other disabilities need opioids and use them responsibly.

Candidates Who Support Opportunities for People with Disabilities Won Big

Washington, D.C., Nov. 19 – Key senate and gubernatorial candidates from both sides of the political aisle who support opportunities for people with disabilities won big this election, showing that disability rights is a winning issue. There are 56 million people with disabilities (one in five Americans), more than 35 million of…

Disability Advocates Cardin and Hogan Win Re-Elections

Rockville, Maryland, Nov. 9 – Both Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin successfully defended their seats against their challengers, Ben Jealous and Tony Campbell. Hogan and Cardin’s success shows that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. This past year was a year of steady job growth in…

Disability Advocates Casey and Wolf Win Re-Elections

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Nov. 9 – Both Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., successfully defended their seats against their challengers, Scott Wagner and Lou Barletta. Each of these individuals have spoken about the importance of including the more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians living with a disability in society…