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Young Voters with Disabilities Say to #RespectTheVote

Washington, D.C., Oct. 22 – A new PSA featuring young adults with disabilities and their allies is urging all voters to have a plan to vote and hold their elected officials accountable.

When politicians plan who to reach out to in their campaigns, they rarely consider the disability population in America. One in four adults in the United States have a disability, all of whom deserve to be considered when policies and plans are made on a government level. Researchers at Rutgers University estimate that approximately 38.3 million people with disabilities already are eligible to vote in this year’s election, which is roughly one-sixth of the electorate. RespectAbility is urging even more to register and vote in the days ahead.

The one in four adults with the disability include people with spinal cord injuries, low vision or who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, as well as those with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, Autism or other disabilities. The sheer number of people with disabilities makes them the nation’s largest minority community.

Voting is one of the fundamental ways to impact public policy around healthcare, transportation, employment, housing, and every other aspect of day-to-day life.

“Despite the limitations cause by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many ways to be sure that our votes count, and the Fellows at RespectAbility want to help raise that percentage even higher,” said RespectAbility Community Outreach Fellow Autumn Blalock, who wrote and produced the PSA. “Now is the time for the disability community to show up and show out again so that our voices are heard.”

RespectAbility, the creator of the PSA, is an education and advocacy nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. The organization previously released a series of PSAs focused on inclusive philanthropy and on disability employment.

RespectAbility also has collected responses from candidates from both sides of the aisle on key issues of importance to the disability community. Their answers can be found at

In response to this desire and the ticking clock for voter registration and the deadline to receive mail-in ballots across the country, the RespectAbility Fellows created this PSA and a social media hashtag – #RespectTheVote. This hashtag is all about understanding the power that a single vote has. “The right to vote is so invaluable,” says Policy Fellow Chinyere Azike in the video. “You have it, you should use it!”

Team of People with Disabilities and Their Allies Created PSA

Produced by Blalock, the PSA was edited by Ben Rosloff, Communications Fellow. It features clips of Policy Fellow Chinyere Azike; Jewish Inclusion Fellow Blair Webb, Policy Fellow Stephanie Santo, Nonprofit Management Fellow Maria Fernanda Heredia, Community Outreach Fellow Autumn Blalock, and Policy Fellow Zoltan Boka.

Speaking in their own words, the Fellows briefly explain why voting is important to them and encourage others to make their plan to vote. For more information on how candidates in your state stand on disability issues, visit RespectAbility’s nonpartisan voter guide at Then share why you are voting is important to you using #RespectTheVote!


Chinyere Azike: I vote because it’s one of the decisions that impacts every aspect of our lives.
Blair Webb: I vote because I believe in justice.
Stephanie Santo: I vote because we need fair representation.
Maria Fernanda Heredia: I vote because representation and visibility matter when creating a more equitable community.
Autumn Blalock: The Fellows at RespectAbility would like to remind you to Respect The Vote! Voting isn’t just checking a box; it’s exercising your power!
Chinyere Azike: The right to vote is so invaluable. You have it, you should use it.
Maria Fernanda Heredia: Make sure to use the hashtag #RespectTheVote to share your story.
Autumn Blalock: Go to to see our voter guides and learn about voting in your state.
Stephanie Santo: Once you’ve made your plan, please use the hashtag #RespectTheVote to tell others why you are planning on voting this October or November.
All: Respect the vote.

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates.

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

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