National Leadership Program, Spring 2019
Justin Tapp was a Public Policy Fellow at RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Tapp graduated from The University of Toledo (UT) in Toledo, Ohio in May of 2019 with his bachelor’s degree in Disability Studies and Political Science.
Tapp’s interest in the nonprofit sphere stems from his passion for assisting marginalized groups by advocating, participating in the political process that affects public policy, and strengthening the social and economic awareness for individuals with disabilities. Overall, Tapp is motivated in researching the most accessible inclusion strategies, providing knowledge on the common barriers faced for those with disabilities, and ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. He especially wants to improve policy concerning Title II, Title VII and FMLA.
Tapp’s interests in disability issues comes from UT’s disability studies program. The disability studies program is Ohio’s first and only program that focuses on disability in academic scholarship, social discourse and public policy. Tapp has learned the meaning of human difference and how society accepts or resists certain notions of “normal” behavior, function and appearance. He is learning to understand the full spectrum of human variation, and the challenging barriers that prevent disabled individuals from participating fully in common activities such as socializing in public. Justin also has the privilege to be the Disability Studies Student Organization’s treasurer at UT.
A fact you may not know about Justin is that he identifies as being disabled. He was born with two congenital diseases: klippel-feil syndrome and scoliosis. Tapp enjoys using identity-first language and making sure everyone gets to know him by name instead of by his disability. Tapp is disabled, but he does not consider himself anyone’s inspiration; he just wants to show that disability is able to be included in employment/everyday life with the right accommodations. He specifically would like the world to have a universal design. Tapp especially enjoys teaching others about disability culture. Lastly, he has a hazel-eyed black cat named Hazel Mae that he loves dearly.
Tapp wrote three pieces during the 2019 Summer Fellowship, including a personal reflection. Read them on our website:
- Ensuring Disability Advocacy is a Civil Rights Issue with Neil Romano (May 21, 2019)
- 7,500 African-Americans with Disabilities Lost Jobs (February 28, 2019)
- I am not the suffering Quasimodo dog with short neck syndrome (February 28, 2019)
Tapp also wrote 13 pieces for The RespectAbility Report following the release of the 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, delving into what the statistics mean for each of these states:
- 4,725 new jobs for Ohioans with disabilities as Gov. DeWine takes office (March 21, 2019)
- Utah Becomes 3rd in the Nation for Employment of People with Disabilities (March 21, 2019)
- Texas Gains 3,796 Jobs for People with Disabilities (March 21, 2019)
- Tennessee Gains 4,679 Jobs for People with Disabilities (March 21, 2019)
- Rhode Island Gains 7,758 Jobs for People with Disabilities, Jumps From 47th to 19th in Disability Employment Rate (March 20, 2019)
- 904 South Dakotans with Disabilities Lost Jobs (March 20, 2019)
- New Mexico Gains 7,921 Jobs for People with Disabilities, Yet Ranks 43rd in the Nation for Disability Employment (March 18, 2019)
- Indiana Gains 8,964 Jobs for People with Disabilities as State’s Disability Employment Rate Steadily Increased Over Past Three Years Under Gov. Eric Holcomb (March 17, 2019)
- As South Carolina Loses 6977 Jobs for People with Disabilities, Gov. Henry McMaster Wants More Opportunities (March 16, 2019)
- Missouri Gains 8,040 New Jobs for People with Disabilities as Gov. Mike Parson Makes New Commitment to Expand Employment (March 16, 2019)
- 8,682 Georgians with Disabilities Lose Jobs, Georgia Now Ranks 37th in the Nation (March 15, 2019)
- As 3,900 Kentuckians with Disabilities Lose Jobs, Gov. Matt Bevin’s Goal Is to “Destigmatize” Disability (March 8, 2019)
- 4,800 Idahoans with Disabilities Get Jobs as Gov. Brad Little Says the “Rising Tide Raises All Ships” (March 8, 2019)
Join Our Team
RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.