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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. [continue reading…]

Young Voters with Disabilities Say to #RespectTheVote

Washington, D.C., Oct. 22 – A new PSA featuring young adults with disabilities and their allies is urging all voters to have a plan to vote and hold their elected officials accountable.

When politicians plan who to reach out to in their campaigns, they rarely consider the disability population in America. One in four adults in the United States have a disability, all of whom deserve to be considered when policies and plans are made on a government level. Researchers at Rutgers University estimate that approximately 38.3 million people with disabilities already are eligible to vote in this year’s election, which is roughly one-sixth of the electorate. RespectAbility is urging even more to register and vote in the days ahead. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Urges Pollsters to Track the Disability Voice and Vote

Washington, D.C., Oct. 21 – With one in four adults having a disability, the national, nonpartisan disability inclusion organization RespectAbility is urging pollsters and polling firms to include people who live with a physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability in their polling data. For decades pollsters have included demographics by race, gender, age and educational levels. However, voters with disabilities often are left out of polling.

Researchers at Rutgers University estimate that approximately 38.3 million people with disabilities are eligible to vote in this year’s election, which is roughly one-sixth of the electorate. “Millions of Americans with disabilities are more engaged and active than ever before and it’s time for us to be counted, just like anyone else,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. [continue reading…]

New Study Shows Less Than One Percent of Foundations Have Any People with Disabilities on Full-Time Staff

Washington, D.C., Oct. 20 – While CDC data shows that one in four adults have a disability, a new report from the Council on Foundations shows that less than 1 percent of foundations have any people with disabilities on their full-time staff, showing that while the philanthropic sector may want to include people with disabilities in their work, they have a long way to go on actually doing so.

“All of us at RespectAbility congratulate the Council on Foundations for conducting this study, as we believe that acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing it,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, a national disability advocacy nonprofit. “I see tremendous goodwill and an interest in doing better, but most foundations still haven’t made a real commitment to including people with disabilities and creating opportunities for them to participate fully in philanthropy.”

This new report echoes the conclusions of RespectAbility’s 2019 Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits study, which found that even among this very well-intentioned sector, most organizations are not doing enough – or anything – to provide people with disabilities the access and accommodations they need to participate, just like anyone else. For example, most foundation websites are not screen reader accessible. This means that someone who is blind could not even access the job postings for most foundations, let alone apply. [continue reading…]

Californians with Disabilities Release New PSA Calling for Equal Employment Opportunities


Los Angeles, California, Oct. 15 – As a new California law again leaves out people with disabilities, a new PSA featuring Californians with disabilities shows the value of inclusion.

On September 30, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a first-in-the-country mandate that will require boards of publicly traded companies headquartered in California to have at least one director of diverse background by 2021. The bill identifies race, ethnicity, and 11 other categories of diversity, but does not include disability.

“While we in the disability community applaud every facet of diversity, we believe that disability is a critical ‘underrepresented community’ missed by the law,” said Matan Koch, the California Director of the disability nonprofit RespectAbility. “Moreover, we are concerned that companies will potentially opt for tokenism instead of building truly inclusive organizations that value all aspects of intersectional identity equally. Successful diversity and inclusion work is not a ‘one and done’ hire or appointment. It requires a hard look at the sins of the past, while committing to the culture and systems change that create a better future for all of us. Indeed, communities, companies and nonprofit organizations are at their best when they welcome, respect and include people of all backgrounds. This includes people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and identities as well as people with disabilities, who might also have any of these other identities as well.” [continue reading…]

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Grant Funds Organization to Enable People with Spinal Cord Injuries to Advance Their Careers While Advocating for Others

Roque Renteria with his dog on his lap. Roque is a wheelchair user.Washington, D.C., October 9 – A grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation supporting RespectAbility’s virtual National Leadership Fellowship will provide four exceptionally talented adults with spinal cord injuries (SCI) with intensive training to foster advance opportunities for the SCI community in public policy, civic engagement and the film and television industry.

Even before the pandemic, only 27 percent of people with spinal cord injuries were employed 10 years after injury. With more than 358,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in the United States, RespectAbility works to create opportunities so people with spinal cord injury can succeed in their chosen career.

This project was awarded through the Neilsen Foundation’s Creating Opportunity & Independence (CO&I) portfolio’s one-year Community Support Grants. This portfolio supports organizations that provide programs and services that enhance the quality of life for individuals with SCI. [continue reading…]

Franklin Anderson Brings A Passion for Equity and Better Future

Franklin Anderson smiling, standing in front of a waterfallRockville, Maryland, Oct. 9 – Franklin Anderson is quiet and unassuming. Yet, when it comes to advancing equity, access and inclusion, he’s a lion. As RespectAbility’s Manager of Development and Inclusive Philanthropy, he is on the front lines of fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Anderson is a passionate professional who fights for equal rights and opportunities for all marginalized communities. His passion in the disability space is ensuring the disability community has access to education, economic opportunity and fair representation in society broadly. “No effort to benefit a community is complete until it is accessible for all members of that community,” Anderson said. [continue reading…]

Poet/Filmmaker Shireen Alihaji Created Environments for Historically Neglected Identities to Share Their Stories

Shireen Alihaji smiling in front of a fenceLos Angeles, CA, Oct. 8 – Shireen Alihaji is a poet/filmmaker from Los Angeles covering stories on labor rights, environmental justice, hate crimes, human trafficking, gender discrimination, sexual violence, capital punishment, health care equity, immigration/refugee reform, restorative justice, and accessibility for people with disabilities. As a woman with Epilepsy, a child of duel cultural (Iran/Ecuador), and duel faith heritage (Muslim/Catholic), she seeks to create environments for historically neglected identities to share their stories.

“I believe living between intersections creates an awareness for how nuanced the human experience can be,” she said in an interview with RespectAbility. “Because there are so many layers to my experience, I’m reminded that there are so many layers to everyone’s experience. Everyone carries so much history when they enter a room and there is value in that.” [continue reading…]

50 State Guides Released for Voters with Disabilities

Voters with disabilities can learn candidate plans on disability, education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more 

Three RespectAbility team members holding up signs that say "Earn My Vote". Red and blue borders. Text: 2020 Disability Voter GuideWashington, D.C., Oct. 7 – As Americans are voting in record numbers and just before the Vice Presidential debate tonight, the nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility has released 50 state voters guides containing key information on where candidates stand on issues impacting Americans with disabilities.

Voters with disabilities are a massive pool of potential voters who have often been ignored in past elections. However, those voters are now more engaged and active than ever. According to a recent study by Rutgers University, up to 38.3 million eligible voters are people with disabilities. This represents a massive increase in participation by voters with disabilities compared to past elections. Further, millions more Americans have friends or loved ones with disabilities. [continue reading…]

Gisselle Legere’s Deafness Gives Her a Positive Edge in the Writer’s Room

Giselle Legere headshotLos Angeles, CA, Oct. 7 – Gisselle Legere is a drama writer. Her earliest memories are of being woken up at the crack of dawn by the radio, her grandfather listening to Radio Marti, the anti-communist propaganda that the U.S. broadcasts toward Havana. Her family fled from Cuba as political refugees and landed in Miami. Her childhood was shaped by the intense narratives of survivors of oppression and persecution. Although she lost most of her hearing to a childhood vaccine, the memory of that early wake-up call and her family’s history led to an interest in politics and human rights, which eventually led to a career as writer.

Legere is an alumna of the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive lab as well as the Disney-ABC Writer’s program. She was recently staffed on QUANTICO, where her episode “No Place is Home” was nominated for a Women’s Image Award. Yet, she has faced discrimination along the way.

“One of the biggest hurdles I face in the writing industry is not my deafness but people’s assumptions,” she said in an interview with RespectAbility. “Even before I land an interview, future employers make assumptions…that I’ll need a translator, that accommodations will be expensive and difficult, that it’s just not worth the trouble.” [continue reading…]

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