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What Do Candidates Say About People with Disabilities Regarding Transportation Issues?

Washington, Nov. 3 – While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has enabled many people with disabilities to have physical access and more rights, numerous challenges still remain. Fully 70 percent of working-age people with disabilities do not have a job, the same rate it was when the ADA was passed…

Candidates Talk About their Plans for Employment and People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 2 – While 72 percent of Americans without disabilities are employed, only 32 percent of Americans with disabilities are. However, two-thirds of Americans with disabilities report that they want to work and are unable to find a job. Some of the barriers to work people with disabilities encounter are a lack of sufficient education or training, employer or coworker attitudes, and the need for job accommodations.

People with disabilities are particularly underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), which are where the fastest growing careers are located. Barriers to higher education for people with disabilities along with inaccessible laboratories and workshops are two reasons why STEM fields are particularly lacking in employees with disabilities. According to some experts like Kamau Bobb, despite these barriers, people with disabilities have made significant contributions to the STEM fields. The White House recently honored 14 people with disabilities working in STEM fields as Champions for Change, showing the capabilities of people with disabilities if they are given access to all fields of employment.

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 promoting employment among 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 5 in the gubernatorial/senate questionnaire: “Do you have a proven record on enabling, or a plan to enable, people with disabilities to have jobs, careers and to start their own businesses? Do you have specific strategies for youth employment for people with disabilities and/or sector strategies such as jobs and careers in STEM, hospitality, healthcare and elder care?” This was adapted from a similar question, number 3, in the presidential questionnaire.

Though the candidates proposed a variety of solutions to improve employment for people with disabilities, candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties brought up their support for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans.

“As a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I worked closely with fellow committee members to draft and pass H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, legislation containing specific language to promote the employment of individuals with disabilities,” said Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican running for Senate in Nevada. “Once that bill was signed into law, I sent several letters to the Departments of Education and Labor to ensure it is properly implemented, particularly the provisions dealing with the “competitive integrated employment” rules for disabled workers.”

His opponent, Democrat Atty. Gen. Catherine Cortez Masto, called for more support for small business owners and entrepreneurs with disabilities, as well as increased training opportunities.

“I support greater access to workforce training and apprenticeship programs in community colleges, high schools and vocational schools aimed at training our workforce for 21st century jobs,” she replied. “I would encourage participation from youth with disabilities to train for careers in these fields.”

You can read 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:

Washington’s Senate & Gubernatorial Races Offer Opportunity to Highlight Disability Rights

Washington, Oct. 18 – As voters get ready to head to the polls in Washington, RespectAbility has released its Washington Disability Voter Guide for the upcoming senate, gubernatorial, and presidential races. Republican Bill Bryant is challenging incumbent Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee while Republican Chris Vance is challenging incumbent Sen. Patty Murray…

Minnesota’s Disability Voters Guide Released

Washington, Oct. 14 – As voters get ready to head to the polls in Minnesota, RespectAbility is releasing its Minnesota Disability Voter Guide for the upcoming presidential election. Democrat Hillary Clinton has completed the #PwDsVote Disability Campaign Questionnaire, but Republican Donald Trump has yet to do so. The #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign…

Colorado Disability Voters Guide Released

Senate Candidates Have Yet to Complete #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire   Washington, Oct. 13 – As voters get ready to head to the polls in Colorado, RespectAbility is releasing its Colorado Disability Voter Guide for the upcoming senate and presidential elections. Republican candidate Darryl Glenn is challenging Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet…

Recognizing the Impact of Voters with Disabilities on National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day logoWashington, Sept. 27 – Today, we celebrate National Voter Registration Day. With the election only 41 days away, time is running out for people to complete their voter registration. As we encourage all voters to ensure they are registered, it also is important to call attention to the importance of voting rights by talking about barriers that keep people from exercising their right to vote.

This day comes at a critical time not only for the presidential election but also for the one in five Americans who have a disability. The electoral power and political impact of voters with disabilities are being recognized like never before. From front page news stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post to groundbreaking political research by Pew Research Center and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, Americans with disabilities are being recognized as a potentially decisive voting bloc. Just this past week, Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech about disability employment.

Will Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Disability Employment Impact Conversation Topics at First Debate?

Hillary Clinton speaking in Orlando behind a pocium with Anastasia Somoza seated in a power wheelchair next to her

Washington, Sept. 26 – Tonight’s presidential debate will cover three topics, each to be discussed for two 15-minute segments: “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America.” As the New York Times explains, “these topics cover a lot of ground and could refer to anything: the economy, national security, domestic policy or the environment, to name just a few.”

The very flexible nature of these topics will allow debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News to ask about current events and recent topics of conversation. One such topic is employment for people with disabilities, as was highlighted by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech in Orlando last week.

Speaking in a packed gym at the Frontline Outreach Youth and Family Center, Clinton pledged to fully support “a group of Americans who are, too often, invisible, overlooked and undervalued, who have so much to offer but are given too few chances to prove it.”

“If you don’t know you know someone with a disability, I promise you, you do,” Clinton added. “But their disability is just one part of who they are.”

Saying that the inclusion of people with disabilities in the economy would be “a vital aspect of my presidency,” Clinton went on to detail a few policies.

Recognizing the Power of Voters with Disability: Polling, Marching, Voting

a voter with a disability casting his ballotWashington, Sept. 20 – Last week, statistician Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog published an in-depth article examining the potential electoral impact of voters with disabilities in the 2016 election. This article, entitled “One in Six Eligible Voters Has A Disability,” documents in great detail the diverse demographics of the disability community and describes some of the crucial barriers impacting voting rights for people with disabilities.

Reporting on a new study from Rutgers University, FiveThirtyEight stated that “approximately one-sixth of November’s electorate will be comprised of people with disabilities” for a total of “34.6 million” eligible voters with disabilities. This new report also finds that the number of eligible voting-age people with disabilities is growing faster than potential voters without disabilities.

This research confirms past efforts by RespectAbility to estimate the potential power of voters with disabilities to swing the outcomes of competitive elections. In 2014, RespectAbility collaborated with Republican and Democratic pollsters on a survey of likely voters in battle-ground states. In total, this survey found that 56 percent of likely voters identified as people with disabilities and/or had a close friend or family member with a disability.

“We are accustomed to thinking about ‘soccer moms,’ ‘Hispanics’ or ‘values voters.’ But this poll shows that Americans with disabilities – and those who care deeply about them – are a demographic we need to pay attention to in the future,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres stated at the time.

Growing Disability Council Highlights Importance of 400 Delegates with Disabilities

Text: The Disability Vote Counts! Disability Action for Hillary, with HRC shown in sign language
These pins showing HRC in sign language were given out at the Disability Council meeting on Monday.

Philadelphia, July 27 – With 400 delegates self-disclosing a disability, the Disability Council is growing. Along with Disability Action for Hillary, the Council is energizing Americans with disabilities during the Democratic National Convention.

“Our goal is to get as many people all over the country involved with the campaign,” former California Rep. Tony Coelho said at the first meeting on Monday. “It is important for our community that everyone knows that we are committed, we are involved and we can make a difference in this election.”

According to word searches compiled by The New York Times, the word disability did not even register on the word clouds during the 2012 conventions by either party. But that has changed with the 2016 cycle.

In addition, 400 delegates with disabilities are attending the DNC, which is a 35-percent growth since 2012.

Oregon Disability Voter Guide: State Working to Increase Workforce Collaboration

State Working to Increase Collaboration between Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Other Workforce Organizations Washington, May 16 – As voters head to the polls in Oregon tomorrow, RespectAbility is sharing its Oregon Disability Voter Guide. There are 571,982 people with a disability in Oregon, 274,900 of whom are of working age (between the ages…

Ahead of Democratic Primary, Kentucky Disability Voter Guide Released

State Ranks Near Bottom in Country in Employment Rate of People with Disabilities at Just 27.3 Percent Washington, May 16 – As voters head to the polls in Kentucky tomorrow, RespectAbility released its Kentucky Disability Voter Guide. There are 734,781 people with a disability in Kentucky, 399,100 of whom are of working age…

Rabbis Protest Trump’s AIPAC Speech Over Disrespect for Minorities Including People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., March 21 – Some Rabbis and other Jewish Americans are protesting Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s lack of inclusion for minorities, including people with disabilities, ahead of his scheduled speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference this evening. While many of AIPAC’s delegates who oppose Trump speaking tonight are upset…

Bush Talks Education, Jobs for People with Disabilities

Washington, Dec. 12 – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in order to help people with disabilities achieve the American Dream through access to appropriate education and employment, you must include people with disabilities in the decision process. “One of the things I insisted on was that people with disabilities…

Gilmore on Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Washington, Dec. 12 – Since leaving government, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore was named to the Board of Directors of the Alexandria, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, which recognizes businesses that hire people with disabilities. The presidential hopeful talked about this initiative as well as how he has helped people with…

Clinton Reaffirms Commitment to be Strong Voice for People with Disabilities

Des Moines, Nov. 17 – Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton pledged to be a strong voice for people with disabilities. “This has been a strong concern and priority of mine,” Clinton said in an exclusive interview with The RespectAbility Report immediately following the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa Saturday night. The former Secretary…

Ahead of Dem Debate, A Look at Clinton’s Dedication to Disability Issues

Des Moines, Nov. 14 – While presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton had a shaky start with outreach to the disability community, recently she has talked about issues such as autism and treatments for mental illness. In addition, her campaign website has a page dedicated to disability issues and campaign staffers are beginning…

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