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Press Releases

2020 Disability Voter Guide

Three RespectAbility team members holding up signs that say "Earn My Vote". Red and blue borders. Text: 2020 Disability Voter GuideVoting has begun in the 2020 election, and the disability community has a lot at stake. The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate the same seven key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities. Below you can read responses from candidates who have already taken the time to address the concerns of voters with disabilities.

RespectAbility is still accepting responses to the candidate questionnaire from campaigns, so if a candidate has not answered the questions, please invite them to do so. We hope that this information will enable you to make informed decisions in this election. You can find full, detailed converge online at https://therespectabilityreport.org.


Issue Voter Guides

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RespectAbility Celebrates Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by Announcing New Officers and Board Members

Los Angeles, CA, July 27 – RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, has elected new Board leadership as well as added tremendous new board members.

Ollie Cantos, previously a Vice Chair, now takes the helm as the organizations’ Chair, as the current Chair, Steve Bartlett’s term comes to a close. Bartlett was lead co-author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is celebrating its 31st anniversary this month. During his tenure, RespectAbility expanded dramatically, impacting public policy on workforce and COVID-19 related issues; consulted on 100+ entertainment media projects; and trained dozens of disabled people for leadership.

Ollie Cantos smiling in front of an American flag

Ollie Cantos

Cantos, a blind civil rights attorney who was ABC News Person of the Week, has been active in the civil rights arena since 1990. With past leadership roles at the Disability Rights Legal Center, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Justice Department’s Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and the White House, he currently is Special Assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Cantos adopted Colombia-born triplets – Leo, Nick, and Steven – all of whom have become distinguished Eagle Scoutssurvived COVID-19 together, and are blind as well. [continue reading…]

Entertainment Law is the Unsung Hero in Producing a Project

Three panelists and ASL interpreter on a zoom meeting together smilingLos Angeles, July 22 – When starting out a career in the entertainment industry, many creators find themselves needing to learn how to protect their intellectual property and navigate various contracts. That is where entertainment lawyers often play a role. Entertainment law is often the unsung hero that makes it possible for a script to make it on screen without any hiccups.

As the RespectAbility Lab for Entertainment Professionals continues to expand its teaching and mentoring opportunities, additional sessions are added to ensure all participants are fully prepared to continue advancing their career in the entertainment industry. As such, RespectAbility Board Member Delbert Whetter sat down with Anita Surendran and Zachary Stein of Granderson Des Rochers LLP to discuss one of the most daunting aspects of filmmaking. [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…]

Recruiters from Various Studios Demystify the Corporate Talent Acquisition Process for RespectAbility Summer Lab Participants

Screenshot of panel discussion with five speakers and an ASL interpreter on Zoom.Los Angeles, CA, July 15 – “We’re not necessarily looking for a culture fit, but a culture add,” Rebecca Martinez, a recruiter from ViacomCBS, told 30 participants in RespectAbility’s Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities. “What voices are not represented within the department? So, it’s not about fitting in. It’s what value do you bring? What does your unique set of skills and experience bring to the organization?”

As part of Week Three of the Lab, talent acquisition recruiters from various studios visited the Lab to share insider tips and tricks of breaking into the corporate entertainment world. [continue reading…]

Disclosing your Disability in the Workplace with RespectAbility’s Leah Romond and Matan Koch

Headshots of Leah Romond and Matan Koch smilingLos Angeles, July 15 – RespectAbility’s 2021 Summer Lab Fellows recently were joined by RespectAbility’s own Matan Koch, Vice President for Workforce, Leadership, and Faith Programs, as well as Leah Romond, Senior Production Advisor at RespectAbility, for a conversation around when and how to disclose your disability in the workplace. Despite the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many still face workplace discrimination as early as the interview process. Due to this, Koch and Romond took the time to share insight with the Lab participants, covering topics such as how to ask for accommodations and when it’s the right time to talk about your disability with your employer. [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…]

2021 Disability Voter Questionnaire for California Governor Recall Election

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 a nonpartisan voter guide for the 2021 California gubernatorial recall election. The guide 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…]

Selling Your Story with Tatiana Lee and Eileen Grubba

Los Angeles, July 13 – On the third week of RespectAbility’s Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities, actors and disability advocates Tatiana Lee and Eileen Grubba teamed up to lead a conversation on how to pitch yourself to industry professionals.

Tatiana Lee smiling outside in a parking lot.

Tatiana Lee

Entering the entertainment industry is an incredible feat as a person without a disability. And those with disabilities encounter the extra challenge of fighting to be taken seriously after being historically excluded. However, Lee was inspired by the lack of representation and decided to embody the Black disabled women she did not see on TV when she was younger. Lee is a model, actress, writer and producer, as well as an Instagram influencer. She has starred in projects such as Jade, Footloose, and Together and Better. [continue reading…]

Bipartisan Bill Helps Americans with Disabilities Seek Work without Losing Benefits

The western front of the United States CapitolWashington D.C, July 9 – On June 17, 2021, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Work Without Worry Act. This piece of legislation would allow Americans with disabilities to take on employment opportunities without the fear of losing higher Social Security benefits.

Currently, if an adult has a disability that began before the age of 22, they may be eligible for Social Security’s Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit. This benefit considers these adults to be dependents on their parent(s) and as such their benefits, like any child under the age of 18, rely on their parent’s Social Security contributions and earnings. [continue reading…]

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