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#RespectTheAbility Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Won Shin, senior manager in transaction advisory services at EY, speaks with coworkers Alejandra Preciat and Frances Smith Won Shin, senior manager in transaction advisory services at EY, speaks with coworkers Alejandra Preciat and Frances Smith (photo credit POSITIVE EXPOSURE)

Won Shin, senior manager in transaction advisory services at EY, speaks with coworkers Alejandra Preciat and Frances Smith (photo credit POSITIVE EXPOSURE)

#RespectAbility campaign spotlights model employers that demonstrate how hiring workers with disabilities benefits the employer, the employee and society

Washington, Sept. 30 – RespectAbilityUSA is launching its 2015 #RespectTheAbility campaign in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which begins tomorrow. The campaign highlights the benefits companies reap when they hire talented people with disabilities. Using the hashtag #RespectTheAbility, the campaign hopes to ultimately erase negative and untrue stigmas associated with hiring people with disabilities.

“Many companies hire the best talent out there, no matter what package that talent comes in,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbilityUSA. “Employers’ focus should be on the abilities an individual brings to the table to better the organization, not any disabilities the individual may have. It is time for all employers to look beyond the disability, and understand the true value of these employees.”

The campaign comes on the heels of the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)’s first Disability Equality Index (DEI) naming 19 companies as DEI Best Places to Work. Developed by the DEI Advisory Committee, a diverse group of business leaders, policy experts, and disability advocates, the DEI is a national, transparent benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective score, on a scale of zero to 100, on their disability inclusion policies and practices.

The #RespectTheAbility campaign began in August 2014 with a focus on Ernst & Young LLP as a case study and featured a conference call with Lori Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader from Ernst & Young, on “Disabilities to Diverse Abilities: Changing the Workplace Paradigm.” Now, the 2015 campaign is launching, with a focus on the top DEI-rated national companies like AT&T, Comcast NBCUniversal, Procter & Gamble, and Starbucks. In addition, the campaign will highlight regional and statewide companies with a strong culture of hiring people with disabilities in several of the early primary states in partnership with their state Vocational Rehabilitation Services. RespectAbilityUSA will be releasing new stories highlighting best practices throughout the month and beyond.

The national employment average for people with disabilities is only 30 percent. However, numerous states and local areas have more than 50 percent employment rates for people with disabilities. To see the best and worst states, go HERE.

“With the new passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, every governor must have a plan for expanding employment for people with disabilities by March of 2016,” Mizrahi said. “RespectAbilityUSA is working with a broad range of disability organizations and experts to promote best practices on this front. We are at the intersection of hope and history. Now is the time for public-private partnerships to flourish so that people with disabilities can have jobs, just like anyone else.”

#RespectTheAbility Success Stories

Download our free toolkit, “Disability Employment First Planning Tool,” for more information.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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