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Case Studies

Case Studies

Join us on a journey as three cities work to change their education, training and employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

Los Angeles, California

Since 2017, RespectAbility has been working to improve education, training and employment outcomes for people with disabilities in the wider Los Angeles metropolitan area. There are 65,886 students with disabilities enrolled in Los Angeles public schools – making up fully one quarter of all students with disabilities in California. Unfortunately, these students are not being properly supported. The failure to adequately serve Los Angeles students with disabilities is one reason why adults with disabilities in Los Angeles are faring worse economically than their peers. There are more than half a million working-age Angelenos with disabilities. But while 74.4 percent of Angelenos without disabilities have jobs, only 22.8 percent of Angelenos with disabilities are currently employed.

In 2019, RespectAbility formally partnered with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce (L.A. Chamber) and the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability (DOD). This effort was designed to increase employment opportunities for Angelenos living with a wide range of disabilities. In 2020, RespectAbility, The Los Angeles City Department of Disability, UNITE-LA and Fiesta Educativa released the Finding a Job as a Person With a Disability in Los Angeles toolkit, which offers pathways forward and advice for Angelenos in many different stages of life.

The disability community lives by the motto “Nothing about us, without us.” We must have a seat at any decision-making table that affects us – which is every table, as disability cuts across all other demographics. Those with lived experience know the solutions that work and must be part of the decision-making process. As such, we are actively looking for new partners and new organizations to join our work in California. Want to get involved? Contact Nelly Nieblas, Manager of Policy, Advocacy and Engagement, at [email protected] for more information.


Hollywood, California

RespectAbility is working on changing the narrative in Hollywood to ensure accurate and positive cultural media portrayals of people with disabilities. RespectAbility currently is working with several partners within the entertainment industry on the full inclusion of people with disabilities, both in front and behind the camera, and we are looking for more partners to help move the needle on two core issues: inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and the employment of people with disabilities.

In March 2018, RespectAbility published The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit: The RespectAbility Guide to Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry. The purpose of the toolkit is to help entertainment professionals who wish to ensure they are as inclusive of people with disabilities as possible. Our entertainment media consultants partner with studios, production companies, writers’ rooms and news organizations to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. And our annual Summer Lab aims to help develop and elevate the talent pipeline of professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television and film

As RespectAbility continues this work, the Community of Practice will expand so more people with disabilities are seen for the dignity and abilities that they have – and can contribute to their own independence and the community at large. Want to get involved? Contact Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, at [email protected] for more information.


New York, New York

RespectAbility is dedicated to advancing opportunities for people with disabilities through best practices, model programs and systems advocacy. Key to each of those priorities is understanding the gaps that exist between programs, providers and professionals in communities across the country. Now, we are pleased to announce a brand-new effort focused on New York City’s workforce system. Thanks to an investment from the New York Community Trust, RespectAbility will directly support workforce providers as they learn to better serve job seekers with disabilities.

In total, there are 460,425 working age people with disabilities living in New York City. But of that number, only 148,717 have jobs. That means that about only one in three people with disabilities in New York City have a job, are earning an income and becoming independent. Despite that more than one in ten New York City residents have a disability, people with disabilities make up only four percent of the city’s workforce. Likewise, more than one-third of New Yorkers with disabilities live in poverty.

New York City is a crucial lynch pin in our nation’s economy. The city has a vast population, a vibrant economy and hundreds of employers eager for talented workers. New Yorkers with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. Workforce programs have a fundamental role in empowering job seekers, helping them to develop skills and facilitating connections to employers. Working together to create a national model of success, we will advance opportunities for the people and providers in New York City.

Want to get involved? Contact Philip Kahn-Pauli, Policy and Practices Director, at [email protected] for more information.


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