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Press Releases

Florida Gov. DeSantis commits to furthering opportunities for Florida’s Disabled Workforce

Cosmos Ristorante & Pizzeria employee Shawn Denton clocks in before the start of his work shift, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Naples.

Photo Credit: Jon Austria/Naples Daily News

Washington, D.C., Oct. 16 – Through the StarAbility Foundation, Shawn Denton has become a model employee at Cosmos Pizza Naples. StarAbilty Foundation offers the program trailblazer academy, which helps people with disabilities find employment through vocational rehabilitation and employment readiness.

However, The StarAbility Foundation is an exception, as far too many Floridians with disabilities are out of work. This month is the perfect time to examine why.

According to the Institute on Disability, 428,638 working-age Floridians with disabilities are employed, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 34.1 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help raise this percentage. [continue reading…]

More Latinx People with Disabilities Are Entering the Workforce

Three images of Latinx people with disabilitiesWashington, D.C., Oct. 13 – The country is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15, 2019 and ends October 15, 2019. National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates their heritage and culture. It is important to note this includes 5.1 million Latinx living with a disability in the U.S.

The Disability Statistics Compendium, released by Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, shows that the employment rate for Latinx people with disabilities stands at 38.6 percent. At the same time, the employment rate for the broader Latinx community without disabilities is 75.3 percent. [continue reading…]

Oklahoma’s Gov. Stitt is Committed to Continuing Employment Growth for People with Disabilities

Photos of the outside of Edmond's Super Scoop and the inside of the ice cream shop with an employee waving and smiling at the camera

Edmond’s Super Scoop ice cream store

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Oct. 12 – Edmond’s Super Scoop ice cream store will continue their tradition of hiring people with disabilities in a new merger with Hank’s Coffee Shop. “So often we forget they are left out,” says the Executive Director of the newly merged store, Not Your Average Joe, about people with disabilities.

Not Your Average Joe is one such example of how Oklahoma is improving its employment rate for people with disabilities.

127,608 working-age Oklahomans with disabilities are employed, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 37.6 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Kevin Stitt has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help raise this percentage.

[continue reading…]

Employment for People with Disabilities Matters to North Carolina’s Gov. Cooper

A woman with a disability making coffee at 321 Coffee.Washington, D.C., Oct. 11 – At North Carolina State University, 321 Coffee is a nonprofit coffee shop fully staffed by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities getting payed above minimum wage. CEO Lindsay Wrege is working to open a store front to create more opportunities for people with disabilities.

321 Coffee is an exception, however, as the vast majority of North Carolinians with disabilities are out of work. This month is the perfect time to examine why.

232,875 working-age North Carolinians with disabilities are employed, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 33.8 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Roy Cooper has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help raise this percentage. [continue reading…]

Diana Romero: Award-Winning Producer with Multiple Sclerosis Continues to Find Success in Hollywood

Filmmaker Diana Romero dressed in black, smiling. Romero is a wheelchair userLos Angeles, Oct. 11 – Award-winning producer Diana Romero has worked in the industry for more than a decade. When she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), she approached it the only way she knew how – with a sense of humor.

“When I started having issues with my legs, I withdrew from everything, because of a feeling of shame and embarrassment, mostly coming from not knowing how to live life without the use of my legs,” Romero said in an interview with RespectAbility. “It wasn’t until I decided to travel alone for six weeks that I regained confidence and then took it to the stage. Because I know a lot of people who don’t have disabilities look at me and they think, I wonder what’s wrong with her. I want people to see what my everyday life is. I want people to hear what I deal with…look at the things that happened to me in a humorous way…to me that’s healing… I don’t dwell on it; it doesn’t keep me depressed.” [continue reading…]

Majority of Voters Have Disability Connections

  • 85% of voters find it very or somewhat important that presidential candidates have campaign events and websites that are open and accessible to people with disabilities, just like everyone else.

  • 73% of voters are more likely to support candidates for elected office who will make ensuring that children with disabilities get the education and training they need to succeed a priority.

  • 70% of voters are more likely to support candidates for elected office who will make expanding job and career opportunities for people with disabilities a priority, so they can succeed just like anyone else.

Rockville, Maryland, Oct. 10, 2019 – A new poll reveals that 85 percent of registered voters say it is very or somewhat important to them that presidential candidates have campaign events and websites that are open and accessible to people with disabilities, just like everyone else. Voters with disabilities themselves are more enthusiastic about participating in the 2020 elections (52 percent), four points higher than the national average. Despite both of these data points, none of the presidential candidates on either side have made their websites and social media fully accessible to voters with disabilities. [continue reading…]

Dyslexia Showcased on NBC’s Perfect Harmony

Los Angeles, Oct. 10 – NBC’s Perfect Harmony is, at heart, a show about saving and being saved. The show was billed as being about former Princeton University music professor Arthur Cochran (Bradley Whitford) saving an out-of-tune church choir, but the choir, led by Ginny (Anna Camp) ends up saving him back.

An important subplot revolves around Ginny – her love life and her son, who often gets in trouble for acting out at school. Arthur discovers the reason for her son Cash (Spencer Allport) getting into fights at school – “having trouble reading.”

“Every time he looks at a page, the letters float around. It’s called dyslexia,” Arthur tells Ginny. “A lot of successful people have had it. Yates, Churchill, Tom Cruise.”

Ginny is relieved, having thought she caused his bad performance at school “by getting a divorce.” [continue reading…]

Andrea Lausell: Disability Pride & Hispanic Heritage Pride as One 

Andrea Lausell leaning against a staircase railing in front of a wallLos Angeles, California, Oct. 9 – As people with disabilities turn to YouTube to create content and normalize their experiences, Andrea Lausell is quickly becoming a YouTube star for her honest conversations about disability.

For Lausell, disability was not a negative word that her family was afraid to use. In fact, her parents taught her to be proud of it. They told her it was okay not to be able to do something.

“My mom just always said, as a matter of fact, said, ‘I’m disabled,’” Lausell recalled during an interview with RespectAbility, stating how unique that is based on her Latinx culture.

There is not a world in Spanish that describes disability unless it is a negative word like broken or bad, Lausell said, describing how her paternal grandmother was very distant toward her as a child and only speaking Spanish. [continue reading…]

The Voice’s Will Breman Breaking Boundaries and Tackling Low Expectations for Singers with Disabilities

Los Angeles, California, Oct. 8 – Will Breman introduced himself to America on NBC’s The Voice by identifying that he is on the Autism spectrum through a joke.

“It’s interesting when someone asks, ‘you seem so socially awkward, do you have Asperger’s?’ Because usually that’s my pickup line, since I have it [Asperger’s].” With that joke, Breman began the process of winning over the audience and the coaches on The Voice.

Breman is a singer and songwriter who hails from Santa Barbara, California. In his introductory package, Breman talked about how he has limited interests and how it was difficult not having a lot of friends growing up. He also touched on how some people told him that he wouldn’t amount to anything. With that, Breman was addressing the low expectations that many people with disabilities face. Breman said that “music became [his] biggest solace and helped [him] express [his] feelings in a way that would otherwise not come naturally to [him].” He said the opportunity to be on The Voice and “break those boundaries down” would be “mind-blowing” to his 12-year-old self. [continue reading…]

The Rookie’s Casual Inclusion of Learning Disabilities Fights Stigmas

Eric Winter as Tim Bradford wearing a police uniform with badge on The Rookie

Eric Winter as Tim Bradford on The Rookie

Los Angeles, Oct. 7 – For a highly regarded police officer, stating that you may have a learning disability may seem tough to do. But by including this as a new storyline on The Rookie, ABC primetime is highlighting a very common disability.

When Officer Tim Bradford (Eric Winter) orders Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil) to read him a newly assigned book, telling her “I memorize best when I hear it,” Chen hesitantly tells him, “you might have a learning difference.”

“Technically it’s classified as a disability, but it really just means that you’re wired to process information differently,” she continued. “In your case, through hearing, rather than reading.” [continue reading…]

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