There are 4,869,400 Latinx and Hispanic Americans living with a disability in the U.S.
Only 37 percent of working-age Latinx and Hispanic Americans with disabilities are employed in the U.S., compared to 73.9 percent of working-age Latinx and Hispanic Americans without disabilities. This is in line with the rest of the country, with fully one-in-five Americans having a disability and just 30 percent of those who are working-age being employed, despite polls showing that most of them want to work.
While we know that there are currently at least 1,471,367 Latinx and Hispanic students with disabilities in our country, only 59 percent of them complete high school. To compound this issue, students with disabilities of all backgrounds are at risk for entering the school-to-prison pipeline; there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities behind bars in our nation.
While studies show many people within the Latinx, Hispanic and other communities hide their invisible disability due to negative stigmas, some celebrities are using their voice to share their stories, educating people about both visible and invisible disabilities. They are defying the statistics and have remained highly successful with their disabilities. Notable examples include actresses Cristina Sanz, Gina Rodriguez, Michelle Rodriguez and Salma Hayek; artist Frida Kahlo; singers Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez; nonprofit founder Jeison Aristizabal; and Professor Victor Pineda.
Our nation’s economy is strongest when it is inclusive of the value that diverse talent brings to the workplace. These celebrities are making a difference in how audiences, both Latinx and non-Latinx, perceive disability.
Today companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Coca-Cola, Walgreens, Microsoft, EY and others realize that hiring people with disabilities leads to a better bottom line. What these businesses have found is that employees with disabilities are loyal, successful and help them make more money.
RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, and its partners have introduced replicable stigma-reduction and proven employment practices that have helped lead to a 4-fold improvement in jobs for people with disabilities. At the same time, it is helping employers because people with disabilities bring innovation, loyalty and great work. But more people with disabilities need education, skills and jobs for the future.
RespectAbility’s resources, including for philanthropists interested in this sector, will continue to assist with achieving this goal.