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Millions with Disabilities Still Forced to Choose Between Food and COVID-19

Iowa state flag. Text: Online SNAP in IowaDes Moines, Iowa, May 19 – The disability nonprofit RespectAbility congratulates the USDA and the state of Iowa for enabling people with disabilities who rely on SNAP to avoid the high risk of shopping for food in person. The CDC reports that approximately 90 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have underlying conditions. People with disabilities and other historically marginalized communities are the groups most likely to have these conditions, and are among the most at risk for severe complications from the coronavirus.

“This is potentially lifesaving news for the approximately 98,000 Iowans with disabilities who depend on food stamps to put food on the table,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO of RespectAbility. “We are grateful that Gov. Kim Reynolds and the state of Iowa are committed to supporting the disability community.” [continue reading…]

Read the webinar transcript (coming soon)
Download the accessible PowerPoint
Watch the webinar on YouTube with live embedded captions

Employer engagement is a critical part of a robust and effective workforce development system. Crossing the cultural and communications divide between the worlds of work and disability is critical for expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities. The great state of Iowa has been at the forefront of outreach work to educate business partners on the bottom-line benefits of hiring more and more people with disabilities.

Watch this webinar to learn how Iowa’s Vocational Rehabilitation system has built up a robust network of business partnerships with Kwik-Trip and other diverse firms. Our guests also spoke about the unique challenges of meeting the workforce training needs of youth with disabilities in rural Iowa.

[continue reading…]

Colorado state flagDenver, CO, September 23 – This week, the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Centennial State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in Colorado’s workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Philip Kahn-Pauli, a native Coloradan and RespectAbility’s Policy and Practices Director. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.” [continue reading…]

State flag of OregonPhoenix, AZ, September 15 – This week, Oregon’s Workforce and Talent Development Board  met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Beaver State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion, and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 303,000 working-age Oregonians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, Oregon boasted a 44 percent disability employment rate for its citizens with disabilities. However, thousands of workers with disabilities have been negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic and are looking for new opportunities to develop their skills. [continue reading…]

In Memorial: Justin W. Chappell

headshot of Justin Chappell wearing glasses grayscale photo

1978-2021

Justin W. Chappell, who devoted his life to human and disability rights, was a terrific public speaker and a wonderful friend to everyone who met him.

RespectAbility mourns the sudden loss of Justin W. Chappell, an alumnus of our National Leadership Program, who passed away in his sleep. Along with his husband Ben Spangenberg, our National Leadership Program Director, Chappell has been heavily involved in RespectAbility’s work for many years. Chappell, like Spangenberg, was a wheelchair user born with Spina bifida. He identified as “a gay man with a disability from a multi-racial family.”

Photos of Ben Spangenberg and Justin Chappell with Ted Cruz, at an airport, interviewing Bernie Sanders and at a 2016 Debate

Ben Spangenberg and Justin Chappell on the Campaign Trail in 2016

Chappell and Spangenberg attended numerous national political conventions together and met pretty much every top U.S. elected leader in their efforts to advocate for disability rights. They traveled through Iowa and New Hampshire in both 2016 and 2020 to get candidates on the record on disability issues. Chappell wrote 19 pieces for us from the campaign trail that are available to read at The RespectAbility Report. [continue reading…]

Wyoming state flagCheyanne, WY, September 8 – This week, the Wyoming Workforce Development Council (WWDC) met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Equality State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in Wyoming’s workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 39,349 working-age Wyomingites living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, Wyoming boasted a 52.6 percent disability employment rate for its citizens with disabilities. However, thousands of workers with disabilities have been negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic and are looking for new opportunities to develop their skills. [continue reading…]

state flag of ArizonaPhoenix, AZ, September 8 – This week, the Workforce Arizona Council (WAC) met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Grand Canyon State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in Arizona’s workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 449,000 working-age Arizonans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, Arizona boasted a 39.6 percent disability employment rate for its citizens with disabilities. However, thousands of workers with disabilities have been negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic and are looking for new opportunities to develop their skills. [continue reading…]

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