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RespectAbility Advocates for Oregon to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

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…]

RespectAbility Advocates for Wyoming to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

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…]

RespectAbility Advocates for Arizona to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

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…]

Labor Day, Employment and Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities

Ollie Cantos smiling in front of an American flag

Ollie Cantos

Today we celebrate workers. As a long-time working professional with a disability, I am intimately familiar with the barriers that keep talented people with disabilities out of the labor force. Beyond public policy issues around the benefits systems and work disincentives, popular culture itself and media depictions of disability are a crucial barrier that harm the aspirations of millions of people with disabilities. For decades, people with disabilities like me have been seen as “less than” – as incapable of doing any job or becoming a leader in any career field.

How have many people with disabilities responded to being told what they cannot do? They have paved their own way into a rewarding career by becoming entrepreneurs.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities are self-employed at a rate nearly twice that of their non-disabled peers. As of the 2019 American Community Survey, over 700,000 workers with disabilities were self-employed, enjoying the flexibility and opportunities that entrepreneurship provides. [continue reading…]

New Program for Workers with Disabilities in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state flagHarrisburg, PA, August 31 – Pennsylvanians with disabilities who want to earn an income and become independent have new options for doing so, thanks to a new program signed into law on July 1 by Governor Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania Act 69 means more workers with disabilities in Pennsylvania will be able to pursue employment and earn money without risking the loss of potentially life-saving benefits.

This is important news for the nearly 1 million working-age people living with disabilities in the Keystone State. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania had a 38.8 percent disability employment rate. However, hundreds of thousands of workers with disabilities lost their jobs due to the pandemic and they are now navigating a radically different labor force.

“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,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, Chairman of the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. “Pennsylvania has just expanded the type of program that directly helps people with disabilities enter the workforce without fear of losing the benefits that help them manage their disability. This is a win-win-win for Pennsylvania itself, Pennsylvania-based employers, and people with disabilities.” [continue reading…]

Disability 100 Report: No FTSE 100 Senior Leaders Have Disclosed A Disability

Washington, D.C., August 11 – The logistics company Tortoise and the Valuable 500 Disability Business Initiative recently partnered up to present the first-ever Disability 100 Report. This report looked at Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 (FTSE 100) companies and their willingness to report inclusion measures regarding disability issues. The report covered accommodations, disability disclosures and public statements from company boards concerning disability inclusion. This is a concern because disability issues impact people across all other populations, and methods of inclusion are not typically shared publicly. To ensure more inclusion, there first must be transparency.

The report’s findings showed how much further corporations have to go to achieve disability inclusion. When it comes to managerial positions at FTSE 100 companies, according to this report, none of the executives or senior leaders have disclosed a disability. Only 20 of the 100 companies gave all employees the opportunity to disclose, and 8 of those 20 do not make that information public. One could argue that by not making this information public, FTSE companies are adding to stigmatization of workplace disclosure of disabilities.

Only 71 of the 100 companies meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, ensuring that their websites are accessible for people with various disabilities. The other 29 companies are arguably breaking the law by leaving out people with disabilities. Only 37 of the 100 companies have established disability resource groups. And as of 2020, only five FTSE company boards have released inclusive statements as part of their leadership agenda. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Advocates for California to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

Sacramento, CA, August 11 – This week, the California Workforce Development Board’s Executive Committee met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Golden State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan 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 new 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 1.9 million working age (18-64) Californians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that California’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website. [continue reading…]

Disability Leader from JPMorgan Chase to Speak on ADA Anniversary, Inclusion, and the Future

Jim Sinocchi sitting with a service dog in front of a window with skyscrapers behind him.

Jim Sinocchi

Washington, D.C., July 22 – July 2021 marks the 31st anniversary of when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. On Wednesday, July 28, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, Jim Sinocchi, the Head of Disability Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase, will host a special online conversation to help mark the anniversary and to discuss how to substantively advance disability inclusion, hiring and accommodations in the workplace. Over a long private sector career, Sinocchi has proved himself to be a true thought leader on practical strategies for expanding job opportunities for thousands of people with disabilities and a role model as a businessperson with a physical disability. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Responds to Request for Ideas on Promoting Access for Voters with Disabilities

RespectAbility Testimony for NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology US Department of CommerceWashington, D.C., July 19 – Last week, RespectAbility submitted comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Request for Information (RFI) regarding voting access for voters with disabilities.

This RFI comes after President Biden signed an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting in March of this year. Within the Executive Order, President Biden called on the NIST, along with the Department of Justice, the Election Assistance Commission and other relevant agencies to “analyze barriers to private and independent voting for people with disabilities, including access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations, and poll worker training.” This is a critical step towards understanding how to improve access for the 38 million eligible voters with disabilities in America who look to cast their ballots in future elections. [continue reading…]

2022 Disability Voter Questionnaire for Senate and Gubernatorial Races

Dear candidate:

RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, is preparing nonpartisan state voter guides of Democratic and Republican Senate and Gubernatorial candidates. These guides will cover a variety of issues that impact the 1-in-5 Americans who live with a physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health or other disability. This is being done in conjunction with our online publication, www.TheRespectAbilityReport.org, also known as www.VoteAbility.com, which is the definitive place for voters who care about the intersection of disability and electoral politics. [continue reading…]

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