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Press Releases

30 Talented Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities Accepted into RespectAbility’s Second Annual Summer Lab

Sponsors include Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal, Final Draft, Fox Corporation, Murray/Reese Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS and The Walt Disney Company

Summer Lab 2019 participants smile together around a statue of Mickey Mouse at The Walt Disney animation studios

Summer Lab 2019 participants at The Walt Disney Studios. Credit: Jeff Maynard

Los Angeles, California, June 11 – After unprecedented competition from around the world, 30 individuals have been accepted into RespectAbility’s second annual Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-session virtual summer Lab series for talented people with disabilities interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, will take place June 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities.

“This program continues building the talent pipeline of young and mid-career professionals with disabilities working behind the scenes while also enabling hundreds of studio executives to learn about the talents and benefits of hiring people with disabilities,” said Program Director Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility’s Vice President, Communications who leads RespectAbility’s Hollywood Inclusion efforts and authored the nonprofit’s Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit. “While we will not be on location at studios this year like in 2019, we are thankful for all the studios that will be virtually hosting us beginning on June 16.” [continue reading…]

40+ Jewish Groups Announce Partnership for Disability Access & Inclusion Training Series

Los Angeles, California, June 10 – A coalition of more than 40 Jewish organizations, led by the disability nonprofit RespectAbility, is pleased to announce a new Jewish Disability Access & Inclusion Training Series. This seven-part series, which will run virtually from June 23 through August 11 is a collective offering to the Jewish world so Jewish organizations can welcome, respect and include people with disabilities from all backgrounds in the important work that they do.

Jewish organizations partnering in the series include the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), Reconstructing Judaism, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Jewish Women International (JWI) and dozens of others. Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of JFNA said, “We will have reached a major milestone in Jewish community building when we no longer need to identify ways to remove barriers to participation.” [continue reading…]

New Toolkit Helps Organizations Ensure Their Zoom and Other Virtual Events Are Accessible to All

Washington, D.C., May 21 – The COVID-19 pandemic is causing organizations to transition many events and conferences that originally were in-person to virtual ones. The good news is that it is easy to make online events accessible to everyone if you know how. A new toolkit published on Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) by the disability nonprofit RespectAbility aims to help organizations do so.

A recent national inclusion study conducted by RespectAbility, in partnership with The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Nonprofit Times, found that even before the pandemic, only 14 percent of people say their organizations use video captions to ensure people who are deaf or hard of hearing can use the content. Captioning services are easy to use and often are free and yet 86 percent were not even attempting to take advantage of such tools.

“We know the majority of people want to be inclusive, but they do not know what they do not know,” said RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. [continue reading…]

Massive Victory for People with Disabilities who Use SNAP (Food Stamps)

“In less than six weeks, amidst an unprecedented situation, USDA has expanded SNAP online purchasing to 36 states and the District of Columbia – nearly three-quarters of the states, covering 90% of SNAP households.”

Washington, D.C., May 22 – On Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that 90% of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households now will be able to safely access food during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a major life-saving milestone achieved by the efforts of various disability advocacy groups, including the nonprofit RespectAbility.

In early April, RespectAbility Board Members Ollie Cantos, whose blind triplet sons are currently recovering from COVID-19, and Janet LaBreck held several virtual convenings for people with disabilities. During these gatherings, participants discussed the difficulties for people who are blind to socially distance while grocery shopping and conducting other essential business, necessitating the ability to shop online. [continue reading…]

Entertainment Professionals With Disabilities Achieve Major Breakthrough that Will Help Millions

Washington, D.C., May 22 – On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that 90 percent of households that rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will soon have access to safe food delivery online. This is a major life-saving milestone that is partially the result of a group of entertainment professionals, in partnership with the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility, who created a campaign to ensure that people who use SNAP can do so through online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationwide, 11 million Americans with disabilities depend on SNAP, also called food stamps, to pay for groceries. Prior to the pandemic, just six states allowed SNAP users to order food for delivery. With this week’s announcements, 37 states plus the District of Columbia soon will accept SNAP food stamps online. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue also announced that more businesses and retail stores will accept SNAP benefits online. [continue reading…]

COVID-19 Economic Benefits How-To Guide

Washington, D.C., May 19 – As more Americans with and without disabilities are caught up in the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are wondering where to find answers to life-or-death questions.

What do I do if I’m a person with a disability and lost my job because of COVID-19?

You are not alone. A monthly report published by the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), shows that nearly one million working-age people with disabilities lost their jobs. That represents a 20 percent reduction of the number of workers with disabilities in our nation’s economy. There is a significant question whether those jobs will ever come back.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) website has a comprehensive run-down on what you as an individual with or without disabilities needs to know about accessing unemployment benefits if you are an eligible worker. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Congratulates Spring 2020 National Leadership Fellowship Graduates

Talented Young Leaders Looking for Job Opportunities During Pandemic 

Rockville, Maryland, May 17 – Ten talented young adults, many of whom have disabilities and all of whom arepassionate about people with disabilities, have just completed RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. The group came together at RespectAbility, a national nonprofit fighting stigma and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate all aspects of community, where they learned about disability advocacy and gained relevant career experience.

Fellows gained the real-world skills required to become highly employable and impactful once they enter the workforce. Each specialized within areas of the organization that aligned with their career goals, including: public policy, nonprofit management, communications and community outreach. Throughout the semester, they gained hands-on career experience, such as policy briefing, grant writing, social media content curation and media outreach, as well as soft skills including networking, public speaking and issue advocacy.

With the ongoing COVID crisis, Fellows had to adjust quickly to working productively from home, which meant taking a crash course in becoming accountable for their own productivity in an less structured environment. Fellows joined daily meetings via Zoom that included all staff and Fellows. They were involved in organizing and participating in numerous grassroots town halls where they were able to find out how the pandemic was impacting people with disabilities, what solutions worked, and to fight for of solutions that work. [continue reading…]

Hollywood Professionals with Disabilities Help Millions Gain Safe Access to Food

Online Ordering and Food Delivery Urgent for 11 Million People with Disabilities on SNAP  

Los Angeles, California, May 14 – A group of entertainment professionals, in partnership with the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility, have created a campaign to ensure that people who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can do so through online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new video featuring those who use wheelchairs, are blind and are immunocompromised from all over the country urges governors and the USDA to cut the red tape and allow SNAP users to order safely from home. [continue reading…]

Grassroots Campaign Urges Governors and USDA to Ensure 11 Million People with Disabilities Have Safe Access to Food

15 States Deny Access to Safe Food Options for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., May 14 – People with disabilities – including those who use wheelchairs, are blind and are immunocompromised – from all over the country created a video campaign to urge governors and the USDA to ensure that people who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can do so through online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nationwide, 11 million Americans with disabilities depend on SNAP, also called food stamps, to pay for groceries. Fifteen states have yet to ensure their high-risk residents can receive online grocery deliveries through SNAP, leading to millions of people with and without disabilities risking exposure to COVID-19 or going hungry. [continue reading…]

New Poll Shows 81% of Registered Voters Support Allowing SNAP Users to Order Groceries Online for Delivery Using Food Stamps

51% of Voters Want to Vote By Mail

Washington, D.C., May 13 – According to a new poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of the Center for Voter Information, 81 percent of registered voters (84 percent of voters with disabilities) say they favor allowing people who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to be able to order and pay for groceries and delivery online, so they don’t have to go into stores.

But 15 states have yet to ensure their high-risk residents can receive online grocery deliveries through SNAP (also known as food stamps), leading to millions of people with and without disabilities risking exposure to COVID-19 or going hungry. An additional 13 states have applied to the USDA and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. so that people with disabilities can use their food stamps to deliver groceries. However, they are in wait mode – living in fear and in need of safe access to food.

“Ensuring people can use SNAP to order food online to receive via delivery does not cost the government any more money,” said RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “It is heartening to see that this polling data showing that 81 percent of voters support this initiative is nonpartisan, with both Democrats and Republicans in support.” [continue reading…]

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