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Author: Philip Pauli

RespectAbility Submits Testimony to Committee Developing New National Autism Plan

Washington, D.C., December 3 – This past month, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), a federal advisory committee dedicated to addressing policy issues impacting people on the autism spectrum, actively solicited public feedback to help develop a new 2021-2022 IACC Strategic Plan. In response, RespectAbility, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of neurodiverse people in the workforce.

“I’m proud to serve on the Board of RespectAbility and support these extraordinarily helpful recommendations to enhance disability inclusion in the federal workforce. Simply put, the federal government needs to set a positive example as the country’s largest employer by adopting all the best practices that it tells the private sector to do through OFCCP and ODEP,” said Craig Lean, a board member of RespectAbility, a neurodiversity advocate, and former federal official.

Lean went on to add that: “The federal government should appoint a Chief Accessibility Officer of the United States, conduct annual self-audits of hiring, compensation, and promotions for individuals with disabilities, and develop neurodiversity and autism at work programs. Likewise, the federal government should commit to increased hiring of individuals with disabilities in all agencies, instead of leaving it up to the ad hoc discretion of individual agencies whether to do so. There is so much more that could be accomplished if the federal government would follow its own excellent advice to businesses.”

There are approximately 3.5 million Americans living on the autism spectrum and there are many more people who have yet to be diagnosed. Further, prevalence has been increasing over time and as of the 2020 school year there were approximately 717,000 students on the Autism spectrum in America’s K-12 system.

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises California on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Sacremento, CA, December 1 – This week, the California Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Golden State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan 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 1.9 million working age (18-64) Californians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that California’s state workforce board 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.

New Draft Report Advances Critical Solutions around Voting Access for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., November 26 – This past month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft copy of their report looking at barriers and accessibility for voters with disabilities. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization, submitted a short letter and detailed data on where things stand for voters with disabilities after the 2020 election and looking ahead to the 2022 election cycle.  

“Our past voter survey work shows that 74 percent of likely voters are touched by disabilities,” said former Rep. Steve Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and is the immediate past Chairman of RespectAbility. “Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril. Some of the closest elections in recent years have been won by candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities. Glenn Youngkin did it in VirginiaSteve Daines did it in Montana, just as President Biden, and Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock did in Georgia. All of them made their campaigns accessible to voters with disabilities.” 

Earlier this year, the Biden Administration released Executive Order 14019. This E.O. directed key federal agencies to dig into issues of “difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places.” Looking closely at supporting voting access for communities of color and citizens with barriers to voting, such as disabilities, this Executive Order prompted the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) solicited online, public feedback from constituents across the country.  

Glenn Youngkin Wins Virginia Governor’s Race

Richmond, VA, November 3 – Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin has won a hotly contested race to become Virginia’s next Governor, beating Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin responded to RespectAbility’s Disability Voter Questionnaire for Senate and gubernatorial candidates in a letter detailing his priorities and vision for Virginians with disabilities.  RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization…

What Biden’s Build Back Better Framework Means for People with Disabilities

The White House outlines framework for the Build Back Better Act, but what does it mean for 56 million Americans with disabilities?

Washington, D.C., October 30 – As October slips into November, the White House is working hard with Congressional leaders to finalize the details, priorities and projects to be funded by the forthcoming Build Back Better Act. After extensive meetings in recent days, a new framework was announced for the forthcoming legislation.

“This framework will guide the drafting of legislative language,” the White House said in a prepared statement released along with the framework. “When enacted, this framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”

This framework has the potential to impact the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities in significant ways through new investments in childcare, health care, and education. However, given how much of this bill is up in the air, a critical question needs to be asked: what specific pieces of this framework directly touch on disability issues?  

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Utah on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Salt Lake City, UT, October 7 – Next week, the Utah State Workforce Development Board meets to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Beehive 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 new 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 146,969 working age (18-64) Utahans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 50.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Utah’s Workforce Development Board 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.

RespectAbility Advocates for Colorado to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

Denver, CO, September 23 – This week, the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Centennial 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 Colorado’s 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 Philip Kahn-Pauli, a native Coloradan and RespectAbility’s Policy and Practices Director. “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.”

McAuliffe Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in Virginia’s Governor Race

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, immigration, climate, criminal justice and more. Richmond, VA, Sept. 16 – Democratic candidate and former Governor Terry McAuliffe has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not…

Glenn Youngkin Addresses Disability Community in New Letter

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

Richmond, VA, September 14 – In a new letter, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has outlined his key priorities for the disability community if he is elected the next Governor of Virginia.

One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group and the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are more than 1 million people with disabilities living in the Old Dominion state. 

Youngkin is running against Democratic candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and you can read McAuliffe’s responses here.

The full text of Glenn Youngkin’s letter follows: 

Furin 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, September 7 – Republican candidate and nonprofit President Rhonda Furin 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 Furin’s responses follows:

New Program for Workers with Disabilities in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA, August 31 – Pennsylvanians with disabilities who want to earn an income and become independent have new options for doing so, thanks to a new program signed into law on July 1 by Governor Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania Act 69 means more workers with disabilities in Pennsylvania will be able to pursue employment and earn money without risking the loss of potentially life-saving benefits. 

This is important news for the nearly 1 million working-age people living with disabilities in the Keystone State. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania had a 38.8 percent disability employment rate. However, hundreds of thousands of workers with disabilities lost their jobs due to the pandemic and they are now navigating a radically different labor force. 

“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,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, Chairman of the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. “Pennsylvania has just expanded the type of program that directly helps people with disabilities enter the workforce without fear of losing the benefits that help them manage their disability. This is a win-win-win for Pennsylvania itself, Pennsylvania-based employers, and people with disabilities.”

Wildstar 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 30 – Republican candidate, musician, entrepreneur, and father Nickolas Wildstar 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 Wildstar’s responses follows:

Gallucci 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 27 – Republican candidate, pastor, CEO, and consultant Sam Gallucci 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 Gallucci’s responses follows:

Baade 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 26 – Democratic candidate, mother, teacher, and small business owner Holly Baade 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 Baade’s responses follows:

Collins 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 25 – Green Party candidate and small business owner Heather Collins 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 Collins’ responses follows:

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:

Newman 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 19 – Republican candidate, farmer and psychologist Robert C. Newman II 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 Newman’s responses follows:

California Disability Voter Guide

As Recall Election Arrives, 4,131,700 Californians have Disabilities

Candidates weigh in on the most important issues that impact the disability community

Sacramento, CA, August 17 – Ballots are already being mailed to voters and on September 14, 2021, Californians with and without disabilities will go to the polls to vote in the California Gubernatorial Recall Election. The eyes of the nation are on the Golden State as voters ultimately decide whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom and appoint a new leader in his place. According to the 2020 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are 4,131,700 Californians living with some form of disability and they make up 10.6 percent of the state’s population.

Voters with disabilities want access in democracy, just like anyone else. At the same time, they have specific issues of interest. For example, in the economic expansion prior to COVID, only 38.2 percent of more than 1.9 million working age (18-64) Californians with disabilities, had jobs.

Symmon 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 10 – Republican candidate, community volunteer and author Joe Symmon 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 Symmon’s responses follows:

Dr. Ross 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 9 – Democratic candidate, attorney and physician Dr. Brandon Ross 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 Ross’ responses follows: