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Author: Philip Pauli

RespectAbility Contributes to Online Racial Equity Dialogue with Ideas on Metrics, Measures and Best Practices

Washington, D.C., May 5 – This past week, RespectAbility contributed to the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor’s online dialogue to solicit ideas, insights, and innovations from the disability community about advancing racial and social equity. This dialogue is only the latest example of how the new Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to address the “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies.”

On his very first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 launching an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” This is critical news for the 12.8 million Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities who have long been harmed by structural racism and who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 and resulting economic crisis.

Options for an Equitable Recovery – RespectAbility Advises Congress on Bipartisan Solutions for People with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform Congressional efforts to rebuild the economy and get workers with disabilities back to work.

Washington, D.C., April 7 – Recently, the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee invited subject matter experts, self-advocates, community members and their constituents to virtually provide ideas and insights about rebuilding the economy in a post-COVID world. 

In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbiltiy weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in outcomes for people from marginalized communities. 

The American Rescue Plan: What It Means for People with Disabilities

How will this $1.9 trillion law help the 61 million Americans living with a disability?

Washington, D.C., March 12 – This week, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This massive bill includes a range of policies and programs intended to get more Americans vaccinated, help working families, and lay the groundwork for a post-pandemic economic recovery. Critically, it also contains key proposals that will directly benefit millions of people with disabilities, including helping students with disabilities get back to the classroom and directly sending stimulus checks to many people left out of previous relief efforts.

Former Senator Bob Dole’s Impact on Millions with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Feb. 25 – Last week, former Senator Bob Dole announced that he had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. A one-time GOP presidential candidate and long-time advocate for bipartisan solutions, Dole has been a fixture of Washington, D.C. since he was first elected to the Congress in 1960. Throughout decades of public service, he consistently championed many of the key issues impacting millions of people living with disabilities. He did so both as an ally, and someone who became a person with disabilities in combat during World War II.  

A farm kid from Kansas, Dole enlisted in 1942 and soon was selected to be commissioned as an officer. In 1945, while serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, Dole was wounded by German machine gun fire. He was paralyzed by wounds in his shoulder and with a fractured vertebra in his neck. The wounded Kansan would have to wait nine hours in the freezing cold before he could finally be evacuated to a field hospital. Dole survived with his right arm permanently immobilized and had a long road to recovery that eventually included years of rehabilitation. Like so many people who acquire disabilities, Dole had to relearn key skills and improvise new ways of doing tasks. Because of the impairment in his arm, Dole taught himself to write with his left hand.  

Biden Transition Team Leaves Out People with Disabilities

Sen. Duckworth, Rep. Langevin and Disability & Inclusion Leaders Encourage Biden-Harris to Pick Talented People with Disabilities Washington, D.C., Dec. 31 – Despite promises to the disability community that helped him win the election, President-elect Biden has not yet included people with disabilities among his top appointees, according to transition…

GA Sen. Kelly Loeffler Reaches Out to Voters with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler has reached out to the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities, responding to questions from Sign 1 News earlier this week. 

Local disability organizations such as the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) and national groups such as RespectAbility have been reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

GA Sen. David Perdue Campaign Reaches out to Voters with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – Republican Sen. David Perdue’s campaign has reached out to the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities in statement released earlier this week. 

Local disability organizations such as the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) and national groups such as RespectAbility have been reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

Senate Voter Guide for 1,246,077 Georgians with Disabilities

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 31 – With the fate of the U.S. Senate at stake thanks to the hard-fought Georgia Senate Runoff campaign, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Georgia State Voter Guide. According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Georgians with disabilities is 1,246,077, making up 12.1 percent of the total state population.

2018 employment data shows that there are 658,811 working-age people with disabilities in Georgia. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 238,875 (or 36.3 percent) of those Georgians have a job.

RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate during the entire 2020 election cycle the same key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

GA Senate Candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock Reaches Out to Voters with Disabilities

Warnock Completed RespectAbility Candidate Questionnaire and Recorded Video Response for Georgia Disability Vote Forum

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 29 – Democratic Senate candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock 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. 

Throughout the 2020 election, nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate the same key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Rev. Warnock’s responses follows:

GA Senate Candidate Jon Ossoff Reaches out to Voters with Disabilities

Video statement on the intersection of disability issues in Georgia Senate Runoff

Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 29 – Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff has reached out to the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities in a video message released over the Christmas weekend. 

Local disability organizations such as the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) and national groups such as RespectAbility have been reaching out to Democratic and Republican candidates about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, criminal justice and accessibility. 

However, it has only been in the final few hours of the campaign that candidates are starting to respond. The transcript of Ossoff’s comments can be found below:

Georgia Disability Voter Access, Pollsters & Exit Polls

As the nation waits for the Georgia Senate runoff next week, disability organization calls on pollsters and media to track disability participation and access.

Washington, D.C., Dec. 28 – With the political universe centered on the Senate runoff in Georgia, the unique needs and barriers of Georgians with disabilities could very well factor into to the outcome of the race. Thus, the national nonpartisan disability inclusion organization RespectAbility is asking pollsters, polling firms and political consultants to track voters with disabilities in their demographic data, as well as voter access exit polling.

According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Georgians with disabilities is 1,246,077, making up 12.1 percent of the total state population. 2018 employment data show that there are 658,811 working-age people with disabilities in Georgia. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 238,875 (or 36.3 percent) of those Georgians had a job.

Thus far, there has been little outreach to voters with disabilities from all four Senate candidates in the runoff race. As noted by RespectAbility in November, none of the four candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites. None of the Senate candidates’ websites are fully accessible to the 254,972 Georgians who are blind or low vision. And very few of the candidates’ videos have captions, making them inaccessible to the 328,000 deaf and hard of hearing Georgians.

New COVID Relief –What Does It Mean for People with Disabilities?

The new $900 billion stimulus bill promises more stimulus checks, extends unemployment supports and impacts everything from businesses to schools.  

Washington, D.C., Dec. 22 – After months of partisan gridlock and inaction, the Congress finally approved a massive coronavirus relief bill last night and sent it to the President’s desk. This mammoth bill, totaling more than 5,000 pages of legislative language and with more than $900 billion in spending, becomes law at the same time as the United States crosses the grim milestone of more than 316,000 dead because of the pandemic. 

New, But Smaller Checks for Individuals With and Without Disabilities:

The new bill does include a new round of stimulus checks to be sent directly to millions of Americans with and without disabilities. This new, smaller check will be a one-time cash payment sent from the government to all U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $87,000 ($174,000 if you are married) and each dependent child under age 17. 

As was the case earlier this year, this will explicitly exclude approximately 13.5 million adult dependents who include high school or college students living at home and millions of people with disabilities. This is a major disappoint for many activists, given past bipartisan support to expand support for adult dependents. 

Likewise, because this stimulus check is considered a rebate, it will NOT be counted against the asset limits faced by people with disabilities if spent within 12 months of receipt. However, people with disabilities who are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will have to file their taxes. This could create a major burden for many of the poorest people with disabilities and other low-income communities, many of whom may find access to filling out the forms a challenge. 

As the COVID Death Toll Rises, Disability Group Continues to Warn Against Medical Rationing

With the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine starting, RespectAbility reminds elected and healthcare officials that medical rationing that harms people with disabilities is illegal and wrong.

Washington, D.C., Dec. 17 – Hospitals across the country are being overwhelmed by new coronavirus cases, with data showing more than 200,000 new cases daily. A new report from NPR’s All Things Considered highlights how the lives of people with disabilities are in the balance and medical professionals are denying equal access to care. The disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility reminds elected and healthcare officials that not only does medical rationing harm people with disabilities, it is also illegal and wrong.

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.