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RespectAbility Recommends New Strategies to Promote the Success of Youth with Disabilities on Benefits

RespectAbility Submits Comments to the Social Security Administration in Response to Request for Information on Strategies to Improve Adult Outcomes for Youth Receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Rockville, Md., Jan. 26 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, submitted the following comments to the Social Security Administration in response to their Request for Information (RFI) to elicit ideas, strategies, and best practices related to improving adult economic outcomes for youth aged 14 to 25 with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We are a national, non-partisan, nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. We advocate for the 1-in-5 Americans who have a physical, intellectual, sensory, learning, attention, mental health or other disability. This includes 6 million students with diagnosed disabilities who are enrolled in America’s public schools. We invited SSA to sustain its commitment to improving outcomes for youth with disabilities by considering the range of best practices that are achieving transformative results.  [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Submits Comments to New York State Boards of Regent to Promote the Success of Students with Disabilities

Public Comments on Proposed Amendment to Section 100.5 of the Commissioner’s Regulations Relating to the Superintendent Determination Option

Download the testimony’s companion PowerPoint (PPT).

Overall, only 64 percent of students with disabilities graduate high school compared to 83 percent of students without disabilities

Overall, only 64 percent of students with disabilities graduate high school compared to 83 percent of students without disabilities

Rockville, Md., Jan. 19 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, submitted public comments relating to the pubic education system in New York City. Please read the full testimony below:

The P-12 Education Committee’s goal of increasing graduation rates for students with disabilities in New York is commendable. Yes, New York’s high school graduation rate for students with disabilities is significantly below the national average. Clearly efforts are needed to ensure that all New York students show equal advancements through school. However, RespectAbility believes that lowering the bar and reducing requirements is not the best way to support the dreams and aspirations of students with disabilities or society overall which needs the talents that people with disabilities can bring to us all. We invite the Board of Regents to sustain its commitment to improving the quality of education provided to New Yorkers with disabilities and we offer our help to reach that goal. We encourage you to use best practices that other states have successfully adopted to improve outcomes. We are excited to share our ideas and to find ways to collaborate.

RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. We are a national organization but believe fundamentally in the positive impact that state leaders can have on disability issues. We work with a broad coalition of partners across government, the private sector and public organizations to help solve problems. As such, we are submitting the following comments to the New York P-12 Education Committee regarding the proposed amendment to Section 100.5 of the Commissioners regulations relating to the Superintendent Determination Option for certain students with disabilities to graduate with a local diploma.

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RespectAbility Takes Stand Against Disproportionate Use of School Discipline as Substitute for Good Teaching

RespectAbility Submits Testimony to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Intersections of Students of Color with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Jan. 17 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, submitted testimony to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in strong support of ending the disproportionate, unjust and counterproductive use of suspensions and expulsions for children with disabilities and students of color.

“The continued use of these tools of exclusion worsens educational outcomes and decreases safety for all students,” RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, wrote. RespectAbility advocates for the 1-in-5 Americans who have a physical, intellectual, sensory, learning, attention, mental health or other disability. This includes six million students with diagnosed disabilities who are enrolled in America’s public schools.  

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NEW MAJOR STUDY: People with Disabilities More Likely to be Arrested

Rockville, Md., Nov. 30 – A brand new and very important study from Cornell University focuses on intersectionality around youth of color and English-as-a-Second-Language learners with disabilities. The fact is that often people see only race and ethnicity when they think about marginalized communities, and forget that disability impacts every ethnic group, gender identity/orientation and race.

On Friday, December 8, beginning at 9:00 am ET, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public briefing: The Intersection of Students of Color and Students with Disabilities, and School Discipline Policies. Current data suggests that school discipline practices have had a profoundly negative impact on students of color and students with disabilities, and that students of color with disabilities face even higher disproportionate impact from discipline practices than white students with disabilities. This causes a lot of students to either be expelled or drop out, which links to the data you see below, which is a result of the school-to-prison pipeline. This public session will live-stream and there will be call-in line (listen-only): 800-479-9001, conference ID 8362937. If attending in person, you should RSVP to publicaffairs@usccr.gov.

RespectAbility’s own white paper, Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, showed that more than 750,000 people with disabilities are behind bars in America today. Find a special report on it from the PBS NewsHour.

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26 Governors Celebrate Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

26 States Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a Proclamation or Event (highlighted in red)

States Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a Proclamation or Event (highlighted in red)

Rockville, Md., Oct. 25 – In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), 26 governors have joined together to show their support through public proclamations, executive orders and press statements. Expanding employment opportunities is not partisan, as both Democrats and Republicans are quick to recognize the abilities of what people with disabilities can accomplish.

“Disability Employment Awareness Month is a great way to emphasize the importance of the contributions of persons with disabilities,” said Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana. “Our businesses and communities can greatly benefit from the integrated, competitive employment of persons with disabilities.”

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s NDEAM statement argued that “people with disabilities offer a wide range of expertise and play an integral role in our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy.”

The nation’s governors are critical partners in the continuing effort to advance job opportunities for millions of people with disabilities. Governors can drive policy, prioritizes programs and bring attention to what people with disabilities can accomplish if given a fair chance. Over the past four years, RespectAbility, a nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, has had the pleasure of meeting with 44 governors to talk about disability employment and advocate for best practices. We have forged partnerships with Republicans and Democrats alike, who are committed to the idea that people with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.

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National Employment & Disability Survey Shows Few Companies Have “Disability” as a Part of Their Diversity Efforts

Companies that do include people with disabilities, however, find it successful

Graphic Text: Kessler Foundation 2017 National Employment Disability Survey Supervisor PerspectiveWashington, D.C., Oct. 17 – A new study, entitled the National Employment and Disability Survey Supervisor Perspectives and conducted by the University of New Hampshire, was released in the U.S. Capitol in honor of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The survey showed that very few companies have an intentional plan as a part of their diversity efforts to include people with disabilities. Indeed, while 28 percent of organizations have disability hiring goals, only 12 percent of companies include disability as part of their diversity efforts. In comparison, 45 percent have hiring goals for other types of diversity. Even though disability advocates are saying that disability is part of diversity in the workplace, that message is still not getting across to businesses.

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Voters with Disabilities Matter – This Year and Every Year

National Voter Registration Day

woman with a cane and man in a wheelchair at voting boothWashington, Sept. 26 – RespectAbility is honored to participate in the sixth annual National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a nonpartisan effort to encourage people to register to vote and make their voices heard in our nation’s political process. Today, organizations nationwide will register thousands of new voters.

However, if you read the news today, many people might feel discouraged, disconnected or unconvinced that their voices matter. Last year, it was clear that getting the vote out mattered with the high stakes of a presidential race and key Senate contests across the country. What about this year? Why should people get out, get registered and get out the voter in a quiet year like 2017? The reason is simple.

As the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” Did you know that 59 of the 100 largest cities in America are holding elections this year? Did you know there are 36 mayoral races and more than 360 city council races in 2017 alone? In communities across the country, local, municipal and state elections are taking place this year.

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27 Years After ADA, Employment for People with Disabilities Still Too Low

A black and white photo of an American flag with the stars in shape of a wheelchairRockville, Md., July 26 – As the nation celebrates the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is still so much work that needs to be done.

Fundamentally the ADA was a civil rights bill; this law guaranteed legal protections and physical access for the nation’s largest minority. The ADA reduced physical barriers to the world of work, transportation and independent living. Because of this law, millions of Americans with disabilities have been able to go to school, participate in the political process, live independently in the community and enter the workforce to pursue a better future for themselves and their families.

However, since its passing, not much has changed by way of employment of people with disabilities. The law has done so much to remove physical barriers without removing many attitudinal barriers.

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Post Capitol Hill Shooting: Finding Bipartisanship & Success

Rockville, Md., June 15 – Yesterday’s shooting outside of Washington, D.C., reminds us about the dangers inherent in bitter partisanship and political uncertainty. As pollster Frank Luntz said, “If there ever was a chance for Republicans and Democrats to stand up and say, ‘Stop,’ this is it.” This master communicator reminds us that “we all believe in the Constitution, we all believe in the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Among those principles is the idea that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. Despite the fact that job openings just hit a record high, only one in three people with disabilities have jobs. For a nation with more than 6.4 million openings, we cannot afford to ignore the talents of 22 million working age people with disabilities.

Lost in the headlines was a White House announcement about apprenticeships. This is great news for many, but what about students with disabilities? What chance do they have to access work-based learning or gain the skills that employers need?

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Unprecedented New Job Gains for People with Disabilities

National Numbers Improve: Spotlight on WI as 4,327 more Wisconsinites with disabilities get jobs, earn an income and become independent

Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker unveils plan to reward schools that help students with disabilities get jobs

Eau Claire, WI, Apr. 7 – As labor markets tighten and people with disabilities prove to be a solution for market growth, RespectAbility will join Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a national leader on employment and opportunities for people with disabilities, for a tour of three dynamic and successful inclusive employers across Wisconsin. Gov. Walker will be highlighting the success stories of Wisconsinites with disabilities and talking about several new initiatives that are preparing more people with disabilities enter Wisconsin’s workforce.

Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker

Between 2016 and 2015, 4,327 more people with disabilities entered Wisconsin’s workforce, driving the state’s disability employment rate higher to 41.2 percent. That means Wisconsin is vastly outperforming other states such as New York and Connecticut, where people with disabilities are leaving the labor force each year. According to data from Disability Statistics Compendium, Wisconsin now is one of the top 10 states with the highest employment rates for people with disabilities.

Wisconsin is at the forefront of nationwide gains in terms of disability employment. In a new report published by the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), people with disabilities have experienced a solid year of job growth.

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Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

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