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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. 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.

Want to get involved? Contact Matan Koch, Vice President for Workforce, Leadership, and Faith Programs, 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 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 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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East Coast: 11333 Woodglen Drive, #102, Rockville, MD 20852

West Coast: 5115 Wilshire Blvd, #231, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Office Number: 202-517-6272



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