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Author: Shereen Ali

New Small Business Administration Equity Action Plan Overlooks Unique Challenges Faced By Disabled Entrepreneurs

Washington, D.C., May 3 – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a new equity action plan, focusing on strengthening entrepreneurs from underserved communities. The action plan addresses barriers to diversity and inclusion for small business owners, in conjunction with the executive order EO (13985), “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” The new SBA initiative aims to facilitate access to financial resources, products, and consultation services for underserved populations so that they can start, run, and grow their own businesses. However, people with disabilities face unique challenges with starting their own business, raising capital, dealing with technology, managing credit, and approaching business counseling, and unfortunately, the SBA’s Equity Action Plan does not fully take these challenges into account.

Facilitating Access to Capital

The SBA action plan discussed the gap in capital access for business owners who are seeking less than $150K in funding, and especially loans under $10,000. The SBA plans to bridge this gap by launching smart e-loan programs, such as the “Community Advantage” and “Lenders Match,” to become more inclusive. These integrated online platforms will target the credit and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets. However, the plan did not speak to the accessibility of using such online platforms, nor the potential effect on matching borrowers with disabilities and their organizations with potential lenders.

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RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA, May 3 – Ahead of the upcoming primary election, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Pennsylvania Disability Voter Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are approximately 1.8 million people living in Pennsylvania with some form of disability. The disability community makes up 14.5 percent of the state’s population. 

Nationwide, one-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. 

RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire. Below you can read responses from candidates on the ballot in Pennsylvania who have already taken the time to address the concerns of voters with disabilities. 

New State Bill Promises Californians with Disabilities Unconditional Healthcare

Sacramento, CA, March 18 – The new California state budget contains a major piece of good news for Californians with disabilities. By 2024, the asset limit for older adults and people with disabilities to access Medi-Cal programs will be removed, achieving a long-standing policy goal for advocates and agencies based in California. 

In 1965, the Social Services created Medi-Cal as a welfare program along with Head Start, Jobs Corps, and the Food Stamp Act. Fifty years later, Medi-Cal has grown more substantial and more powerful in securing affordable medical care for disabled and older Californians. Older and disabled Californians rely on Medi-Cal to cover pricey medication, nursing home expenses, in-home healthcare, and other costs not fully covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Almost one in three Californians are Medi-Cal beneficiaries. But as it stands today, the program only covers a small segment of low-income individuals and families. This is because eligible individuals must not have a monthly income of more than $1200 or $2000 in savings. This is an exceptionally low rate, well below California’s definition of a low-income person. According to Covered California income guidelines and salary restrictions, if an individual makes less than $47,520 per year, they are considered low-income. This disadvantages many seniors and individuals with disabilities, jeopardizing their financial stability and preventing them from having any extra income, any savings, a house, or even a car.

Gov. Hochul pushes New York to Become Model on Disability Employment

Albany, NY, February 10 – This past week, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York announced new plans to create a comprehensive design for workforce development strategies in the Empire State. Gov. Hochul has launched a seven-pronged initiative that will establish New York as a national model for the employment of individuals with disabilities and protection for all working New Yorkers. This initiative comes as part of her “State of the State 2022 Agenda” to upscale the local economy and labor force in New York state. 

The pandemic hit New York hard. As of fall 2021, the Empire State’s job deficit far exceeded that of every other state. Currently in New York, the unemployment rate is three times higher than the national average. 

“In order to come back stronger, we must be creative with our approach and work directly with regional partners who have been on the ground helping connect New Yorkers with employment,” Gov. Hochul said. “New York State is committed to ensuring its disabled workers have equal opportunities and are supported in the workplace and beyond. We are committed to making sure those with disabilities have fair and quality employment options in this state.”

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

Olympia, WA, December 15 – This week, the Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Evergreen 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 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 478,673 working age (18-64) Washingtonians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 42 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Washington’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.

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

Indianapolis, IN, November 18 – This week, the Indiana Regional Workforce Development Boards’ Youth Committee met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Hoosier 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 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 464,000 working age (18-64) Hoosiers living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 39.5 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that  Indiana Regional Workforce Development Boards 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.

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

Jefferson City, MO, November 10 – This week, the Missouri Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Show Me 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 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 463,213 working age (18-64) Missourians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 36.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Missouri’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.

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

Topeka, KS, October 8 – This week, the Kansas State Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Sunflower 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 208,624 working age (18-64) Kansans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 44.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Kansas’ 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.