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Author: Philip Pauli

Georgia Senate Candidates Deny Access to Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Nov. 12 – Despite there being more than 1.2 million Georgians with some form of disability, all four Senate candidates in the most hotly contested Senate races in America have thus far failed to reach out to voters with disabilities. Indeed, none of the four candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites, and none of their websites are fully accessible to voters who are blind or deaf.

The failure of Georgia Senate campaigns to reach out to voters with disabilities is in stark contrast to President-elect Joe Biden who made outreach to the disability community a key part of his winning strategy. A poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of RespectAbility in the major battleground states in the days leading up to Election Day found that 60 percent of voters with disabilities say they have or were planning to vote for Joe Biden, compared to 35 percent of voters with disabilities supporting President Trump. This showed a shift from 2016, when a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group found that voters with disabilities split their votes between President Trump (46 percent) and Secretary Hillary Clinton (49 percent).

Hickenlooper, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Colorado Senate Race

Denver, Colorado, Nov. 3 – Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has won a hotly contested race for the Colorado Senate seat, beating Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner.  

Senator-Elect Hickenlooper 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. Sen. Gardner, despite multiple requests, did not respond to the questionnaire.

Holcomb, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Second Term as Indiana’s Governor

Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 3 – Incumbent Republican Governor Eric Holcomb has won a second term as Indiana’s governor, beating Democratic challenger Dr. Woodrow Myers.

Gov. Holcomb 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. Gov. Holcomb’s opponent, Dr. Woodrow Myers, also completed the RespectAbility questionnaire.

2020 Candidates on English Language Learners and Immigrants with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Oct. 12 – The 2020 election is an election unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a clear light on many of most important inequities that define American life. The continued spread of a deadly disease has forced millions of students to learn virtually and left hundreds of school districts scrambling to adopt new technologies. At the same time, even as more employers embrace telecommuting, millions of immigrants remain essential workers and must risk exposing themselves to COVID-19 in order to earn a paycheck. 

With these critical questions being discussed and debated across the country, RespectAbility has been actively inviting all candidates in key Senate and gubernatorial races on both sides of the aisle to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire. 

The disability community is, by nature, intersectional. Immigration advocacy organization IMM Print advocates estimates that there are up to “1.5 million undocumented individuals…with a disability.” Further, Census Bureau data shows that there are more than 44 million immigrants living in the United States and out of that number, up to 6 million are probably living with a disability.

As part of its commitment to fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, RespectAbility included questions that specifically address both the need for effective education for students with disabilities and the place of immigrants with disabilities in America today in its disability voter questionnaire. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to respond and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

In the questionnaire, Question 6 specifically asked candidates: In our nation’s public schools, there are 6.3 million students with disabilities. The changing demographics of America are reflected in these students, with 11.4 percent of students with disabilities nationwide, almost 720,000, also identified as English-language learners. Their accommodation needs are compounded by the fact that many come from households that do not speak English at home, adding an extra challenge for parental interaction. It can also be harder to diagnose disabilities in children when they are English language learners. Additionally, immigration issues and fears over the public charge rule impact students with disabilities, their families and the wider workforce. What policies would you advance to enable students and their families who are English language learners with disabilities to succeed in school and employment?

Below, read the answers from the candidates who responded:

Biden and Trump Face Off in First Debate: Disability Issues Absent

Washington, D.C., Oct. 2 – When former Vice President and current Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off against current President Donald Trump at this week’s debate, many important topics of conversation were neglected. Critically, the widely watched and discussed debate ignored many of the issues most important to the 60 million American living with some form of disability.

As has happened in past debates, the most explicit mention of disability-related issues came in the context of the candidates debating about their radically different visions for healthcare access in America today. Former Vice President Biden expressed concern in the debate that President Donald Trump wanted to “strip 20 million people of their healthcare….and 100 million people who have preexisting conditions would lose their healthcare as well.” Speaking at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio for the first of three scheduled presidential debates this year, the President countered by wildly speculating that Biden would “take away private healthcare insurance” options. In reality, Biden has expressed and continues to express support for a public option for those who do not have access to Medicaid expansion.

Gideon Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for Maine Senate Race

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

Sara Gideon
Sara Gideon

Portland, ME, Sept. 24 – Democratic Senate candidate and Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Speaker Gideon’s responses follows:

1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of AsianAmerican students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy? 

Every child deserves the opportunity to have a quality education that prepares them to enter the job market and thrive. As Speaker and in the Legislature, I’ve worked to invest in public education and ensure that every student has access to that opportunity. As Senator, I will be a strong advocate for public education, including increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that all students have the resources necessary to reach their full potential. I also support making sure that students with disabilities have the support they need to succeed in school, whether that be additional support professionals, accessibility measures, or other steps to ensure that every student can succeed in school. 

Jones Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for Alabama Senate Race

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

headshot Doug Jones
Alabama Incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones

Montgomery, AL, Sept. 23 – Incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Sen. Jones’ responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

Too often, state and local school districts, parents and students are left on their own to navigate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). For many parents, this is a real challenge.

Unfortunately, in many school districts, students with disabilities are pigeonholed into a one-size-fits-all approach. As a result, those students often struggle to reach their maximum potential. I believe school districts need to take a broader approach towards evaluating all students, especially students with disabilities.

A teacher shortage also exists in terms of trained teachers and counselors for special needs students, especially in rural districts. I have introduced a bill, the Classrooms Reflecting Communities Act, that would help alleviate the teacher shortage crisis in Alabama and in communities across the United States. Importantly, my bill would authorize grant programs that would prepare prospective teachers to support students with disabilities and English language learners.

Tillis Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for North Carolina Senate Race

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

headshot Thom Tillis
North Carolina Incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis

Raleigh, NC, Sept. 16 – Incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Tillis’ responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed strain and major disruptions on our children, parents, teachers, and communities in North Carolina. That is why one of my highest priorities during this pandemic has been to secure emergency relief funds for our schools and students. I worked to secure $13.2 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for K-12 schools and students and an additional $3 billion in flexible emergency block grants designed to enable state governments to decide how best to meet the needs of their students and school districts. These funds are already being used in North Carolina to support the academic needs of at-risk students and students with disabilities through additional in-school support, after-school programming, tutoring, and hiring more teachers and teacher assistants to serve our special needs student population. 

I believe that the opportunity to work and pursue self-sufficiency plays a critical role in giving students with disabilities the critical skills needed to compete in a job-driven economy. We must work to ensure that students, including those with disabilities, have the skills and tools needed to find high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand jobs, which is why I was a strong supporter of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. I am working in coordination with our school districts, the Department of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education as they work to get students back to receiving stable and reliable education during this unprecedented time and I will continue to advocate for the needs of our students during this pandemic.  

14 Candidates for Governor and Senate Complete Disability Questionnaire

Washington, D.C., Sept. 14 – With 50 days left until Election Day and with many voters deciding to vote early, candidates across the political spectrum are reaching out to a previously ignored block of voters: people with disabilities.

Polling conducted earlier this year showed that more than half of the electorate in the battleground (59 percent) self-identifies as having a disability (16 percent), having a family member with a disability (32 percent) or having a close friend with a disability (11 percent).

According to Rutgers University, 14.3 million citizens with disabilities voted in 2018. Those voters will be crucial as both Democrats and Republicans vie for votes this year. In response to this opportunity, campaigns and candidates across the country are going on the record about their policies and plans to help Americans with disabilities. Those plans are being documented online by RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

RespectAbility is a non-partisan group and have been thorough in reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates equally. The team at RespectAbility is still actively soliciting responses to their questionnaire from campaigns that have not yet done so.

RespectAbility has been actively engaging with campaigns to both educate them about disability issues and to get campaigns to complete RespectAbility’s 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire.  You can find full, detailed converge online at https://therespectabilityreport.org.

Holcomb Responds to Disability Candidate Questionnaire for Indiana Governor Race

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

headshot Eric Holcomb
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb

Indianapolis, IN, Sept. 11– In response to RespectAbility’s 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for Senate and Governor Races, Indiana’s Republican Governor Eric Holcomb and Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch have responded with the following letter detailing some of their past efforts to support Hoosiers with disabilities and their shared vision for the future of Indiana. The full text of their letter follows:


Supporting Hoosiers with disabilities is an issue that Governor Holcomb and Lt. Governor Crouch are passionate about. Lt. Governor Crouch has been a champion of Hoosiers with disabilities throughout her entire career in public service and her passion for this issue continues to have a tremendous impact on the approximately 100,000 Hoosiers with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The very first bill governor Holcomb signed into law was one that provided more transportation options for students with disabilities. He also signed landmark legislation that supports the independence of Hoosiers with disabilities and created the taskforce for assessment of services and support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Lt. Governor Crouch chaired this taskforce.

Myers Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for Indiana Governor Race

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

headshot Woody Meyers
Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Meyers

Indianapolis, IN, Sept. 11 – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Dr. Myers’ responses follow:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

All students in Indiana deserve a high quality education that prepares them for success post-graduation, especially students with disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the inequities in our public school system due to 16 years of Republican-led efforts to privatize public schools. To better prepare students with disabilities for the workplace, we need to increase school funding to provide the resources for additional support staff in the classroom for individualized attention, make sure our schools are a welcoming environment where students with disabilities are integrated into mainstream classes, and specific job training where appropriate. We can do more to close the achievement gaps for marginalized students, including our students with disabilities, by investing in the resources and personnel needed to ensure success.

Cooper Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for North Carolina Governor Race

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

headshot Roy Cooper
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

Raleigh, N.C., Sept. 11 – Incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Gov. Cooper’s responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

As we begin an unprecedented school year, we need to make sure we are supporting our students with unique learning needs. That’s why I directed $95.6 million in new funding to help support K-12 and postsecondary students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who can benefit from support.

My office has made major strides in the Leandro case, which addresses the disproportionate funding and underfunding of our schools. The state in that case has agreed to lift the cap on funding for students with disabilities and increase funding by more than $460 million over the next eight years, and we will work to get that done. As a downpayment on those investments, I included $6.2 million in state funding and $17 million in federal funding to provide more supports to students with disabilities.

Greenfield Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for Iowa Senate Race

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

headshot Theresa Greenfield
Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield

Des Moines, IA, Sept. 11 – Democratic Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Greenfield’s responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

As the mother of a son with a disability, this is personal to me. I support fully funding the federal share of the Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA). The federal share of IDEA funding is now less than 14 percent, far short of the 40 percent Congress promised to provide. This is especially important because the failure to fund IDEA fully has shifted costs to the states, forcing them to choose between raising taxes and cutting critical services. Congress should also lift the budget caps and increase funding for Title I programs for the students most in need, Title II funding for teacher development, IDEA funding for students with disabilities, and community schools.

Salango Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for West Virginia Governor Race

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

headshot Ben Salango
Kanawha County, WV commissioner Ben Salango

Charlestown, WV Sept. 11 – Democratic Governor candidate and current Kanawha County commissioner Ben Salango 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Salango’s responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

As Governor, I would spend every penny of the $1.25 billion in federal relief West Virginia received. There is a whole pot of money sitting there unused that could be directed to preparing our schools for virtual learning by ensuring access to the internet and safer in-person learning by stockpiling PPE and sanitation. We need to make sure our next generation of students is prepared for the workforce, regardless of their abilities or risk of COVID-19 complications.

Unlike the current Governor, I would develop a plan with legislators, county commissioners, mayors, educators, and parents to use relief funds wisely and keep the promise of a quality education for all.

Walsh Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for New Mexico Senate Race

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

headshot Bob Walsh
New Mexico Libertarian candidate for the Senate Bob Walsh

Santa Fe, NM, Sept. 10 – Libertarian Senate candidate Bob Walsh 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Walsh’s responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

The Constitution did not give Congress authority over education. The New Mexico Constitution requires free public schools sufficient for the education of all the children. A recent judgment enjoined the State to ensure that New Mexico schools have sufficient resources. The judgment includes resources necessary to give children with a disability the opportunity to obtain a uniform and sufficient education, an education that prepares them for college and career. Congressional action would be both unconstitutional and unnecessary.

Davis Completes Disability Questionnaire for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District Race

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

headshot Moe Davis
North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate Moe Davis

Raleigh, NC, Sept. 10 – Democratic congressional candidate, retired U.S. Air Force colonel, attorney, and educator Moe Davis 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Davis’ responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of AsianAmerican students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college.What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

Public education is the cornerstone of our Democracy. I support the goals of the U.S. Dept of Education, including the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office for Civil Rights, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Office of Postsecondary Education. These important offices have all played critical roles in ensuring access, equity, and opportunity to students with disabilities. They need to be fully funded with adjustments for inflation. I will work to include funding for specific technologies necessary to support students with disabilities and will listen to advocates who work tirelessly on their behalf. IDEA and ESSA are essential and should never be considered for cuts. All students should be strongly encouraged to take the same general tests with necessary accommodations, with only students with the most significant disabilities taking alternate tests based on alternate assessments. All students with disabilities should get an opportunity to graduate with a regular diploma. 

Cooney Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for Montana Governor Race

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

headshot Mike Cooney
Montana Lt. Governor Mike Cooney

Helena, MT, Sept. 10 –  Lieutenant Governor of Montana and current Democratic candidate for Governor Mike Cooney 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Cooney’s responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

Education is a great equalizer in a 21st century economy, and making education more accessible to everyone is a cornerstone of my platform. As governor, I will fight to supply students and schools with the tools they need to support remote learning, technology upgrades, and related expenses amidst the unprecedented toll the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Montana’s education system. I will also permanently provide inflationary increases in Special Education funding to ensure Montana kids with disabilities have equal access to a free quality public education.

Daines Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire for Montana Senate Race

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

headshot Steve Daines
Montana Sen. Steve Daines

Helena, MT. Sept. 10 – Incumbent Republican Senator Steve Daines 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 key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Sen. Daines’ responses follow:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

We need to ensure that all Americans with disabilities have access to the education opportunities that best fit their needs.That’s why I have always supported school choice – we need to be empowering parents and students to find what best fits them. As a father of four children, I understand that what one kid needs isn’t the same as what the other may need – that’s why as families, we must have the tools to ensure each one of our children has the education opportunities that’s the best option for them. I was proud to support IDEA funding, which provides critical education resources for those with disabilities and I’ll continue working to ensure those with disabilities have the resources they need to get the education they deserve and compete in today’s economy.

Biden Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire

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

Joe Biden
Former Vice President and Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden

Washington, D.C. Sept. 9 – Former Vice President and Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden 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. The answers to the questionnaire will be turned into nonpartisan voter guides in states across the country. This questionnaire builds on candidate outreach work done earlier this year during the Democratic Presidential Primary as well as past work in 2018 and 2016. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Biden’s responses follows:


1. Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more issues and concerns for all students and their families, but this is especially true for students with disabilities. Additionally, the gap in graduation and drop-out rates between students with and without disabilities continues to undermine their futures. For example, in the class of 2018, only 66 percent of Black students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. Furthermore, just seven percent of students born with a disability graduate from college. What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire the critical and marketable skills necessary to compete in a job-driven economy?

I will start by fully funding and enforcing IDEA and tripling Title I funding to increase resources available to educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities. I will support efforts to recruit and retain special education teachers, including diverse special education teachers, and provide professional development opportunities to all teachers and paraprofessionals who work with students with disabilities. Our Administration will promote universal design in teaching practices and classroom features, such as instructional techniques, classroom materials and resources, classroom seating, testing, and note-taking. To address the disparity in school discipline, including suspension, expulsion and segregation, I will fully implement the special education significant disproportionality regulation that the Obama-Biden Administration put in place and support the passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which will end the use of seclusion and prevent and decrease the use of physical restraints in schools.

I will ensure that school districts are meeting their obligations under IDEA to provide transition services to all students with disabilities by the time they turn 16, and encourage them to start even earlier—at age 14 so they can graduate ready for continuing education or employment. I will direct the Department of Education to provide additional guidance to states and school districts on ensuring that all pathways to college and the workforce, such as advanced coursework, dual enrollment opportunities, and high-quality career and technical education, are accessible to all students with disabilities.

I will increase funding for programs such as the Model Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities Coordinating Center and the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (TPSIDs), which provide funding to community colleges and 4-year colleges and universities to create inclusive postsecondary programs for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I will direct the Department of Education to provide guidance to all postsecondary programs to accept the accommodations students with disabilities have used in pre K-12 settings for postsecondary settings.