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Category: Congress

Veterans & Disability: What are the Candidates’ Positions?

Washington, Nov. 1 – As veterans complete their service to their country, they require employment to sustain a living, provide a place to live and contribute as they reenter civilian life. There are currently 495,000 veterans who are unemployed. Many of them need job training and/or psychological counseling for post-traumatic…

Candidates Discuss Plans for America’s Assistive Technology Industry

Washington, Nov. 1 – The technology industry in the United States is growing, with 200,000 jobs added to the industry in 2015, bringing the total of U.S. tech industry workers up to 6.7 million. This growth provides ample opportunity for innovation in the field of assistive technology. Assistive technology promotes greater…

Where do Candidates Stand on Police Violence and Crime Against People with Disabilities?

Washington, Oct. 31 – Nearly half of all people killed by police in the U.S. have a disability. Yesterday Terrance Coleman, a black man with paranoia and schizophrenia, was shot and killed by two police officers in Boston. Coleman’s mother had called for an ambulance to take her son to a hospital and the police officers arrived to accompany the EMTs. They shot him when he refused to leave with the EMTs; there are conflicting reports if Coleman had touched a knife that was on a nearby kitchen table.

The week prior Deborah Danner, a black woman with schizophrenia, was shot and killed by a New York City police sergeant. The police knew of her disability and had been called to her apartment before, but this time the officer did not follow protocol for dealing with someone with a mental illness.

While the vast majority of officers only want to protect the community they patrol, officers not properly trained in dealing with people with disabilities are bound to make mistakes. Resources such as the new Police-Mental Health Collaboration Toolkit have been designed to help police learn how to interact with people who have disabilities.

Violence against people with disabilities is a larger issue than just police brutality, however. People with disabilities, particularly those with cognitive disabilities, often are targets for bullying, assault and robbery. The most recent statistics available found that the rate of violent crime against people with disabilities is twice that of violence against people without disabilities.

As part of the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire, the nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility asked candidates running for Senate or Governor about their plans to address the issue of violence against people with disabilities. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to respond and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer. The quotes in this article are the candidates’ answers to question 11 in the gubernatorial/senate questionnaire: “People with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of crime as those without disabilities. People with disabilities also are far more likely to suffer from police violence, partially because manifestations of disability can be misunderstood as defiant behavior. Do you have a plan to address these issues?” This was adapted from a similar question, number nine, in the presidential questionnaire.

The majority of both Republicans (66 percent) and Democrats (74 percent) acknowledged a need for more police training and education about how to handle situations that involve people with disabilities.

“News reports over the past few years have included tragic accounts of the deaths of people with disabilities during confrontations with police, and this is something that we must take seriously,” said Sen. Richard Burr, who is a Republican running for re-election in North Carolina. “I support full funding for programs to train our law enforcement officers so that they are properly prepared for interactions with people with disabilities.”

Burr’s opponent, Democrat State Rep. Deborah Ross, also called for more training. “We must increase police training on how to work with people suffering from mental illnesses, reduced cognitive abilities, or other disabilities.” Ross replied. “We must also protect people with disabilities from discrimination, stigma, poor health, and violent crime.”

Check out all of the candidates’ full responses below:

Candidates Discuss Plans for Students with Disabilities

Washington, Oct. 31 – Only 65 percent of youth with disabilities graduate high school, 19 percent less than students without disabilities, found a White House study earlier this month. Youth who do not graduate high school are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system and have a more difficult time entering the workforce.

More than 6.5 million students in public education receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including special education or other accommodations to help them succeed. Studies have shown, however, that students in higher education have a harder time accessing proper accommodations.

As part of the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire, the nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility asked candidates running for president, senate or governor about their plans for the improving education for youth with disabilities. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to respond and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

The quotes in this article are the candidates’ answers to question six in the gubernatorial/senate questionnaire: “Do you have a plan to enable students with disabilities, including those from historically marginalized communities and backgrounds, to receive the diagnosis, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations/services they need to succeed in school and be prepared for competitive employment?” This was adapted from a similar question, number five, in the presidential questionnaire.

While Democrats and Republicans are divided on many education specifics, when it comes to educating youth with disabilities, candidates from both sides of the aisle spoke of their support for IDEA, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

“Last year, I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a much needed update to our nation’s education policy, and the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in December 2015,” responded Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is a Republican running for re-election in New Hampshire. “This important legislation will truly ensure that every student has the opportunities they need to succeed in the classroom and be prepared for their futures.”

“My first position in public service was serving on the Advisory Committee to the Adequacy in Education and Finance Commission, and I have continued this advocacy throughout my time in public office,” wrote current New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat running for the senate seat. “I will continue to push for these priorities in the U.S. Senate, and I will work to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to make good on Congress’ commitment to support special education.”

You can read the candidates’ full responses below:

North Carolina’s Bruce Davis Completes #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Oct. 21 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, has asked Senate and gubernatorial candidates on both sides of the aisle to fill out a questionnaire on disability issues. Other down ballot candidates who requested a copy of the questionnaire also were…

The Importance of Down Ballot Elections for Disability Rights

Updated Oct. 17 to include additional candidate responses Washington, Oct. 11 – While the presidential election has taken up much of the news cycle, attention also is shifting to who will control the Senate. As such, RespectAbility has reached out to candidates running for Senate as well as Governor in the…

30 Candidates Respond to #PwDsVote Down Ballot Campaign Questionnaire

30 Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, Respond to #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 29 – As more candidates begin to understand the importance of including people with disabilities within their campaigns, they start thinking about issues of critical importance to the disability community.

A recently released Pew poll shows that voters with disabilities span the political and demographic spectrum and can determine who wins the elections.

Political campaigns know that this is a swing vote and Sec. Hillary Clinton has made this a new centerpiece of her campaign. Likewise, Republican Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina has made it central to his re-election effort.

To date, 30 down ballot candidates have responded to the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, devoting time and energy to addressing disability issues. Since the first release earlier this month, 15 additional politicians have submitted their responses – making a total of 30 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

22 Candidates Respond to #PwDsVote Down Ballot Campaign Questionnaire

22 Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, Respond to #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 23 – As more candidates begin to understand the importance of including people with disabilities within their campaigns, they begin to think about issues of critical importance to the disability community.

A just-released Pew poll shows that voters with disabilities span the political and demographic spectrum and can determine who wins the elections.

Political campaigns know that this is a swing vote and Sec. Hillary Clinton has made this a new centerpiece of her campaign. Likewise, Republican Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina has made it central to his re-election effort.

To date, 22 down ballot candidates have responded to the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, devoting time and energy to addressing disability issues. Since the first release earlier this month, seven additional politicians have submitted their responses – making a total of 22 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

Clinton Set to Unveil Economic Plan for People with Disabilities

22 Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, Respond to #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Orlando, Sept. 21 – Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is devoting this afternoon’s rally to her plan on creating an economy that values people with disabilities. Per an aide, Clinton will propose an economy that “welcomes people with disabilities, values their work, rewards them fairly, and treats them with respect.”

Just yesterday, reality TV star Nyle DiMarco starred in an ad for Clinton that is completely in sign language with English captions. “We’re used to being ignored,” DiMarco says, before stating that there are a lot of people with disabilities without a voice.

“The voice of your vote is the greatest voice we have,” he concludes, urging all people to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton.

It’s important to note, however, that examples of disability outreach are on both sides of the aisle, especially when you look down ballot. Earlier this month, GOP Sen. Richard Burr‘s campaign produced a new statewide television ad in North Carolina highlighting his work in support of the bi-partisan Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This new law, which also was supported by Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, creates new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities in order to pay for qualified disability expenses.

All of this comes at a time of multiple down ballot candidates responding to the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, devoting time and energy to addressing disability issues. Since the first release earlier this month, seven additional politicians have submitted their responses – making a total of 22 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

More Candidates Respond to Senate / Governor Disability Vote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 19 – Since the first release earlier this month, six additional politicians have submitted their responses for the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire – making a total of 21 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

The more than 56 million people with disabilities in the U.S. have a long list of policy concerns for the candidates running for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2016: Employment. Stigma. Education. Criminal Justice. Independent Living. Sexual Assault. Housing. Transportation. Adaptive Technology.

RespectAbility, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, asked candidates on both sides of the aisle to complete a 16 (for gubernatorial) or 17 (for Senate) question survey. The questionnaire asked for their positions on a range of issues important to the disability community, a group that makes up fully one-in-five Americans. Their answers are posted verbatim and in full here on The RespectAbility Report, a publication that covers the intersection of disability and politics.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

#PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire: Call to Action

Washington, Sept. 7 – With just 61 days until Election Day, RespectAbility is calling on all candidates for governor or Senate to complete the #PwDsVote Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire.“PwDs” stands for “people with disabilities.” So far, Hillary Clinton and 15 candidates for Senate or Governor from both parties have done so. Now we’re calling on you to help to encourage the remainder. A number of candidates, including Donald Trump, have yet to fill out a nonpartisan candidate questionnaire on issues vital to America’s 56 million citizens with disabilities!

Call and tweet candidates and demand that they respond to the questionnaire. Tell them why it’s important to you!

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale. Why are we focusing on candidates for governor and U.S. Senate? The reason is simple. We hope that voters who care about disability issues will have the opportunity to compare how the candidates responded to the same questions in their own words.

The questionnaire itself has been written in a way that is acceptable for 501c3 nonprofits, is nonpartisan and is not electioneering. RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

First Ever Senate / Governor Disability Vote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 6 – Employment. Stigma. Education. Criminal Justice. Independent Living. Sexual Assault. Housing. Transportation. Adaptive Technology. Fifteen candidates for Senate or Governor have given detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

The more than 56 million people with disabilities in the U.S. have a long list of policy concerns for the candidates running for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2016. Only one-in-three working-age Americans with a disability has a job, despite the fact that studies show that 70 percent want to work. Moreover, according to Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, more than 750,000 people with disabilities are behind bars in our nation. Disability is the only minority group that people can join at any time due to accident, illness or aging.

RespectAbility, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, asked candidates on both sides of the aisle to complete a 16 (for gubernatorial) or 17 (for Senate) question survey. The questionnaire asked for their positions on a range of issues important to the disability community, a group that makes up fully one-in-five Americans. Their answers are posted verbatim and in full here on The RespectAbility Report, a publication that covers the intersection of disability and politics.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

Calling All Disability Activists – Engage Your State’s Candidates to Complete #PwDsVote Questionnaire!

Image saying VOTE with O being an image of a person in a wheelchair
America has 56 million people with disabilities, comprising the largest minority group in America, and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time.

Washington, Aug. 29 – We’re calling all disability activists to join us in engaging candidates in open and competitive senate and gubernatorial races to complete the #PwDsVote Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire!

RespectAbility Unveils #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates

Questions Focus on Issues Relating to Employment and Stigma

Image of two people voting - one blind and one in a wheelchair
America has 56 million people with disabilities, comprising the largest minority group in America, and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time.

Washington, Aug. 7 – Last winter, RespectAbility sent the #PwDsVote Presidential Campaign Questionnaire to all of the presidential candidates. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton responded in full. While several Republican primary candidates did, Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign has yet to return any answers to the questionnaire.

Now RespectAbility has adapted the questionnaire for down-ballot races, focusing on open and competitive senate and gubernatorial races. This gives the disability community an opportunity to make a difference by contacting these candidates and urging them to complete the questionnaire. RespectAbility has provided the candidates’ email addresses and Twitter handles for people to do so. They are below.

Celebrating ADA on the Sidelines of the DNC

Gov. Jack Markell wearing a gray suit talking behind a podium with the text: #ABLE2WORK #ADA26
Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE) / Photo via AUCD

Philadelphia, July 31 – Gathered in the city of brotherly love, more than a hundred disability activists celebrated the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Tuesday.

Current and former officials touted the importance of the ADA and focused specifically on disability employment and economic empowerment for people with disabilities.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell talked about making employment for people with disabilities his platform while leading the National Governors’ Association – something he said other governors questioned.

“But I knew something: that when we focus on the ability rather than the disability, it’s amazing what we can accomplish together,” the governor said. “I also knew that in a world where Democrats and Republicans so often cannot find common ground, that this was an issue where we would find a way to work together.”

America: Land of Opportunity for People with Disabilities

Tammy Duckworth walking on stage with her prosthetic legs, wearing a black suit with American flag in background
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on the fourth day of the DNC (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Philadelphia, July 29 – Rep. Tammy Duckworth offered a simple but powerful message of the American spirit and inclusion on the last night of the Democratic National Convention.

“I worked hard, but I had a lot of help from my community and country,” she said. “My story is not unique. It’s a story about why this country is the greatest nation on earth.”

Duckworth represents multiple groups who often are overlooked in American politics. She is the first Thai American to be elected to U.S. Congress, as well as the first woman with a disability to become a member of the House of Representatives in 2012.

Edwards, Van Hollen Differ in Records on Fighting for People with Disabilities

Rockville, Md., April 25 – In what has been described as a race centered on “identity politics,” Maryland Democrats face a significant choice as they look to replace an icon of the U.S. Senate. After 30 years of services, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the senior senator of Maryland, is retiring.…