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Author: Philip Pauli

Stimulus Package Becomes Law – Here’s What It Means for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., March 27 – President Trump signed into law today the $2 trillion-dollar emergency stimulus aimed at propping up the economy during the current crisis. This law is unprecedented in its scope and is meant to help our nation respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even now, government agencies are going to work to implement the new law.

Millions of Americans living with disabilities are wondering what this new law means for them and whether they will see any benefit. The short answer is yes, but how far the law will go to help people with disabilities who are uniquely at-risk to the impact of the virus remains an open question.

Elected Officials Need to Hear from Constituents with Disabilities – Here’s How

Washington, D.C., March 27 – In these uncertain times, people with disabilities, their friends and their families are looking to elected officials at every level of government for answers. Often, however, people do not know how to connect to their members of Congress or how to send a message to their governor, state legislators or local officials. 

Thanks to technology, it has never been easier to reach out and make one’s voice heard. Every voice matters and leaders need to know that the disability community is an integral part of their voter base. 

Voter Guide for 373,391 Nevadans with Disabilities

Nevada Ranks 9th in the Country on Jobs for People with Disabilities

Reno, NV, Feb. 19 – In the run up to the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus, the nonpartisan disability organization RespectAbility has released its Nevada State Voter Guide. 

According to the recently released 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Nevadans with disabilities is 373,391 and they make up 12.5 percent of the total population. Research conducted in the 2018 election shows that 74 percent of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ positions on certain issues.

Days Before the Iowa Caucus, Sanders Unveils New “Fighting for Disability Rights Plan”

The Vermont Senator pledges to “incorporate disability issues into every other area of public policy.”  

Washington, D.C., Feb. 1 – With just days to go before the Iowa Caucus, Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders released his own comprehensive disability policy plan. Much like that of fellow progressive candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Sanders’ plan covers the broadest possible spectrum of disability issues including “housing, health care, education, transportation, technology and many others.” If elected, Sen. Sanders commits to “incorporate disability issues into every other area of public policy” and “to promote access, autonomy, inclusion and self-determination for all.” 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Plan for People with Disabilities: “Economic Security, Equal Opportunity, and Inclusion”

Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate completes RespectAbility Candidate Questionnaire

Washington, D.C., Jan. 7 – Posted last week on her website, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has released a comprehensive statement on disability policy covering critical issues such as employment, health care, education, technology and the social safety net. Subsequently, the campaign completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire by the disability advocacy group RespectAbility.

Her responses to questionnaire reflect technical expertise drawn directly from diverse leaders in the disability community. 

“People with disabilities are still fighting for economic security, equal opportunity, and inclusion – and they are not fighting alone,” Warren said. “As president, I will work in partnership with the disability community to combat ableism.” 

Further, she aligns her campaign commitments to the “the four goals of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.” Establishing a new “National Office of Disability Coordination to ensure that federal programs work together to support people with disabilities” is one way she intends to keep her promises if elected. 

“Policy is Personal” Says Senator Elizabeth Warren in New Disability Rights Plan

Washington, D.C., Dec. 2 – Under the banner headline of “Fighting for an Accessible and Inclusive America,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pledges she “will always fight for the full inclusion of people with disabilities.” The presidential candidate’s thorough plan to address disability rights highlights both her record of advocacy in areas such as employment and education while also pledging major actions on health care and inclusion. Her disability rights plan concludes by making it clear that this “policy is personal.” 

1,156 New Jobs for People with Disabilities in Washington State as Gov. Jay Inslee Launches 2020 Campaign

Washington, D.C., April 12th – While nationally 111,804 jobs were gained by people with disabilities, 1,156 went to people with disabilities living in Washington State. The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows there are 480,828 working-age (18-64) people with disabilities living in Washington State. Out of that number, only 194,948 have jobs.…

1,441 Wisconsinites with Disabilities Lose Jobs as Gov. Tony Evers pledged major commitment to student with disabilities

Washington, D.C., April 8 – During the 2019 National Governors’ Association winter meeting, newly elected Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said that “education is the most important issue in Wisconsin” and pledged a $1.4 billion dollar investment in his state’s schools. Out of that investment, Gov. Evers pledged a “600 million dollar…

Expansion of Best Practices leads to 19,745 new jobs for Californians with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., April 2 – Nationwide 111,804 people with disabilities got new jobs last year, including 19,745 new jobs for Californians with disabilities. The Golden State now ranks 35th among the 50 states in terms of the employment rate for people with disabilities. The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows there…

2,240 New Jobs for Louisianans with Disabilities as Gov. Edwards Launches Reelection Campaign

Washington, D.C., April 2 – While 111,804 jobs were gained by people with disabilities, 2,240 went to Louisianans with disabilities. The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows there are 361,642 working-age (18-64) people with disabilities living in Louisiana. Out of that number, only 122,683 have jobs. That means…

GOOD NEWS! 11,473 new jobs for New Yorkers with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., April 1 – Nationwide 111,804 people with disabilities got new jobs last year, including 11,473 new jobs for New Yorkers with disabilities. The Empire State now ranks 38th among the 50 states in terms of employment rates for people with disabilities. The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows there…

1,691 new jobs for people with disabilities in Delaware

Washington, D.C., March 13 – As the economy expands, for the first time in decades people with disabilities are gaining jobs, success and independence. According to new data, 16,91 more people with disabilities in Delaware became employed. People with disabilities have previously been left out of periods of economic growth, today’s workforce…

14,846 new jobs for people with disabilities in Colorado

Gov. Hickenlooper receives RespectAbility Award for job gains among Coloradans with Disabilities. Washington, D.C., March 13 – As the economy expands, for the first time in decades people with disabilities are gaining jobs, success and independence. According to new data, 14,846 more people with disabilities entered Colorado’s workforce last year. People with…

24 Governors Celebrate Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

26 States Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a Proclamation or Event (highlighted in red)
States Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a Proclamation or Event (highlighted in red)

Rockville, Md., Oct. 25 – In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), 26 governors have joined together to show their support through public proclamations, executive orders and press statements. Expanding employment opportunities is not partisan, as both Democrats and Republicans are quick to recognize the abilities of what people with disabilities can accomplish.

“Disability Employment Awareness Month is a great way to emphasize the importance of the contributions of persons with disabilities,” said Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana. “Our businesses and communities can greatly benefit from the integrated, competitive employment of persons with disabilities.”

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s NDEAM statement argued that “people with disabilities offer a wide range of expertise and play an integral role in our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy.”

The nation’s governors are critical partners in the continuing effort to advance job opportunities for millions of people with disabilities. Governors can drive policy, prioritizes programs and bring attention to what people with disabilities can accomplish if given a fair chance. Over the past four years, RespectAbility, a nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, has had the pleasure of meeting with 44 governors to talk about disability employment and advocate for best practices. We have forged partnerships with Republicans and Democrats alike, who are committed to the idea that people with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.

Voters with Disabilities Matter – This Year and Every Year

National Voter Registration Day logoWashington, Sept. 26 – RespectAbility is honored to participate in the sixth annual National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a nonpartisan effort to encourage people to register to vote and make their voices heard in our nation’s political process. Today, organizations nationwide will register thousands of new voters.

However, if you read the news today, many people might feel discouraged, disconnected or unconvinced that their voices matter. Last year, it was clear that getting the vote out mattered with the high stakes of a presidential race and key Senate contests across the country. What about this year? Why should people get out, get registered and get out the voter in a quiet year like 2017? The reason is simple.

As the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” Did you know that 59 of the 100 largest cities in America are holding elections this year? Did you know there are 36 mayoral races and more than 360 city council races in 2017 alone? In communities across the country, local, municipal and state elections are taking place this year.

Dannel Malloy Links Medicaid, Mental Health and Employment for People with Disabilities

Gov. Dannel Malloy wearing a suit seated behind a large wooden desk with an American flag in the background
Gov. Dannel Malloy

Washington, March 1 – Employment opportunities for people with disabilities are critically linked to other important issues such as Medicaid and mental health support. per Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut.

Malloy said his state his ‘”working hard… to make sure we are expanding opportunities for people with disabilities and differences.”

Addressing a press conference hosted by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Saturday, on the sidelines of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, the Democratic governor also talked about the importance “of taking care of people in other ways, including healthcare.”

Malloy pointed to fellow Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO), David Ige (D-HI), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) and Tom Wolf (D-PA) to say that “every state…that has been able to expand Medicaid has expanded treatment for mental illness in their state.”

He spoke with pride about Connecticut being ranked as the number one state in the country on mental health care. That ranking, published by the mental health advocacy group Mental Health Alliance, is based on a variety of factors including survey data and access to coverage.

Malloy tied the issue of Medicaid coverage with employability for people with disabilities in Connecticut.

“When people get treatment for their medical conditions or their mental conditions, they are employable,” he said. “That is what our goal needs to be.”

Malloy is the current chair of the DGA and is responsible for leading his party’s efforts to win gubernatorial elections across the country. He wasted no time in talking about a “lack of calculation on how much money spent on health care is actually saving” taxpayers in terms of proposed repeals of the Affordable Care Act. He accused Republican leaders of “dissembling a program and just shifting the cost to the states.” In his view, “programs that we have built to help the disabled get employed…will be wiped out.”

Despite Malloy’s statements at the DGA and his personal experiences with dyslexia, the reality facing Connecticut’s disability community is much more complex. According to calculations made based on data from the 2016 Disability Statistics Compendium, 9,274 people with disabilities left Connecticut’s workforce – the second worst job loss of any state. Between 2014 and 2015, Connecticut’s employment rate for people with disabilities dropped from 40.2 percent to only 35.2 percent. That means the Constitution State dropped in the state rankings to the 26th spot. Out of 190,691 working age people with disabilities in Connecticut, only 67,517 are employed.

The RespectAbility Report reached out to several disability leaders in Connecticut to comment on the Governor’s remarks. Kathleen Flaherty is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, a statewide nonprofit agency that provides legal representation to low-income individuals living with mental health conditions.

Flaherty expressed her organization’s gratitude for the state’s “legislative leadership for recognizing that we have to continue to invest in services and supports that enable people with mental health conditions and other disabilities to thrive in our communities.”

However, she went on to express deep concerns with some of the critical budgetary choices being made in Hartford. “On-going state budget concerns have resulted in cuts to…vital programs” that serve Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents, she said.

Flaherty also emphasized that “smart investments of state resources ultimately save the state money” and she expressed her hope to find together “a solution that works for all of Connecticut’s citizens.”

Sandy Inzinga of the Connecticut Association of the Deaf (CAD) was direct in her criticism of Malloy’s choices and their disproportionate impact on the Deaf community.

“We’re kind of going backwards,” Inzinga said. “They have deleted funding for lots of different programs.”

Inzinga point out that the State of the State address had been rendered inaccessible to Connecticut’s Deaf community by the lack of ASL Interpreter services.

As previously reported by The RespectAbility Report, in June 2016, 25 people were laid off from the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Interpreting Unit within Connecticut’s Department of Rehabilitation Services. The cuts came as part of a restructuring effort to reduce debt in the state budget. Services are no longer be provided by the state and are instead be issued through part-time employees or private providers. The state made this move in anticipation of saving approximately $30 per hour per interpreter. These measures left many people who are deaf and hard of hearing without a voice. Malloy implemented the budget cuts without a transition plan for those who receive ASL services as well as for the interpreters. This has since impacted daily living situations in schools, courts, hospitals and countless other situations.

Gov. Malloy speaking at DNC, standing behind podium, wearing black suit, white shirt and blue tie
Gov. Dannell Malloy

Malloy spoke last year at the Democratic National Convention about his personal experiences with disabilities and has been open about his dyslexia. He talked about how, through accommodations, he became “the first learning-impaired person to take the essay portion of the bar exam orally.”

Critics question why this personal experience is not necessarily reflected by policy choices to better support Connecticut’s disability community.

Inzinga pointed out the fact that the governor is “taking [away] our accommodations, our interpreters. I don’t understand that, even though he has…personally experienced the need for accommodations.”

Brian Sandoval Speaks with Pride about Jobs for Nevadans with Disabilities

Washington, Feb. 28 – Speaking abut the improving economy of Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval said “it has to be an economy that is available to everyone,” especially for Nevadans with disabilities. Speaking with The RespectAbility Report on the sidelines of the National Governors Association’s Winter Meeting, the Republican governor stressed the importance…

Matt Mead on Wyoming’s First in the Nation Standing on Jobs for People with Disabilities

Washington, Feb. 27 – With 57 percent of their citizens with disabilities employed, the state of Wyoming has good reason to be proud. Speaking with The RespectAbility Report at the National Governor’s Association’s Winter Meeting, Gov. Matt Mead credited Wyoming’s “culture and heritage” for why his state has the highest employment…

Asa Hutchinson Talks about Jobs for People with Disabilities in Arkansas

Washington, Feb. 27 – According to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, jobs matter because “everybody, no matter of a disability or not, has a desire to work, a desire to contribute and to be meaningful in life.” Speaking at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, the Republican governor of Arkansas also emphasized the critical impact…

Doug Ducey Talks Civics Education and Students with Disabilities at NGA

Washington, Feb. 26 – At a special session of the National Governors Association’s Winter Meeting, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona focused on the importance of civics education for all students, including children with disabilities. He introduced a video presentation from the Joe Foss Institute about the lack of civic knowledge and…