Washington, D.C., Oct. 20 – While CDC data shows that one in four adults have a disability, a new report from the Council on Foundations shows that less than 1 percent of foundations have any people with disabilities on their full-time staff, showing that while the philanthropic sector may want to include people with disabilities in their work, they have a long way to go on actually doing so.
“All of us at RespectAbility congratulate the Council on Foundations for conducting this study, as we believe that acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing it,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, a national disability advocacy nonprofit. “I see tremendous goodwill and an interest in doing better, but most foundations still haven’t made a real commitment to including people with disabilities and creating opportunities for them to participate fully in philanthropy.”
This new report echoes the conclusions of RespectAbility’s 2019 Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits study, which found that even among this very well-intentioned sector, most organizations are not doing enough – or anything – to provide people with disabilities the access and accommodations they need to participate, just like anyone else. For example, most foundation websites are not screen reader accessible. This means that someone who is blind could not even access the job postings for most foundations, let alone apply.
RespectAbility has been working to provide resources for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations to help them learn how to include people with disabilities. RespectAbility’s website has an in depth Inclusive Philanthropy toolkit, with tips on etiquette, acronyms, a comprehensive disability FAQ, plus information on specific disabilities. Earlier this year, RespectAbility produced an eight-part accessibility and equity webinar series: Including People with Disabilities in Nonprofits and Foundations. All eight webinars were recorded and are available to watch with open captions on RespectAbility’s website.
RespectAbility’s newest offering is the National Disability Speakers Bureau, with 21 diverse speakers with disabilities available to teach organizations about disability inclusion; and/or to offer their expertise in an array of topics, ranging from Art and Entertainment to Entrepreneurship, Education, Finance, Law, Psychology, Religion (of many faiths) and every vocation in between.
“Organizations are at their best when they welcome, respect and include people of all backgrounds – and this includes people with disabilities,” said Mizrahi. “If your organization is not including people with disabilities because you don’t know how to do it well, RespectAbility is here to help you.”
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi