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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

According to the Institute on Disability, there are nearly two million working-age (ages 18-64) people living with a disability. Out of that number, over the half a million working-age Californians with disabilities live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Out of that vast pool of potential employees, only 721,536 Californians with disabilities have jobs. In the city of Los Angeles itself, according to the Census Bureau, only 70,837 working-age people with disabilities have jobs. That is out of a total population of over 185,000 working-age Angelenos with disclosed disabilities. In terms of Los Angeles County, according to the data, only 163,363 working-age Angelenos with disabilities have jobs. That means that Angelenos with disabilities only have a 22.8 percent employment rate. At the same time, Angelenos without disabilities have a labor force participation rate of 63.1 percent.

Reducing these gaps should be a critical goal for every workforce program, disability organization and employer in Los Angeles. Indeed, this is a significant pool of potential employees and people who can lift themselves out of poverty.

RespectAbility’s work to fight stigmas, break down silos, bring in best practices and collaboration, change hiring practices, and prepare youth with disabilities for jobs has brought our staff to California many times over the past several years. Now, in 2019, RespectAbility is formally partnering the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce (L.A. Chamber) and the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability (DOD). This effort is designed to increase employment opportunities for Angelenos living with a wide range of disabilities.

Want to get involved? Contact Philip Kahn-Pauli, Policy and Practices Director, at 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 February 2017, we held a webinar with several partners as part of the process of creating a Community of Practice to work on the closely connected issues of disability, diversity, inclusion, poverty and media. We followed that with in-person meetings in the Los Angeles area. Throughout the day, we hosted meetings of leaders in philanthropy, workforce development and entertainment industry who care about diversity, inclusion and employment in Hollywood for people with disabilities. There is great potential to gather committed stakeholders to form a Community of Practice on these issues.

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, at 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 for more information.



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Los Angeles CA 90017

Office Number: 202-517-6272


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