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Press Releases

Finding Dory, Speechless & Born This Way Prove Disability is Winning Theme for Hollywood

Washington, July 20 – As Hollywood executives are looking for the next big ideas for film and television, they are learning that disability is a winning theme.

Many people are writing about the fact that disability often is absent from mainstream film and television – both the depiction of and, even when a character has a disability, the actor often does not – as detailed in the recently released Ruderman White Paper on Disability in Television.

However, the box office success of Finding Dory and new TV shows such as Speechless are showing that audiences want to see strong, capable role models with disabilities.

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Born This Way Nominated for 3 Emmy Awards, Stigma Busting for People with Disabilities

Image shows smiling faces of the seven cast members with the following text at the bottom: Born This Way - new season July 26 - A&EWashington, July 14 – A&E Network’s critically acclaimed and award-winning original docuseries Born This Way’s honors keep adding up – showing that disability is a winning theme.

Born This Way was nominated for an Emmy this morning for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. In addition, two episodes were nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, the series follows a group of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. During its first season, Born This Way grew across all demographics each episode, with adults 25-54 up 84 percent, adults 18-49 up 64 percent and total viewership up 67 percent by the end of the season. Recently, the series was chosen as one of six honorees for the 2016 Television Academy Honors, an award that recognizes television programming that inspires, informs and motivates.

RespectAbility has been honored to have been consulted during the creation and production of Born This Way and congratulates the entire team for its hard work in achieving this nomination.

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Disability Campaign Questionnaire – Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates

RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, is preparing a nonpartisan voter guide of all viable candidates in several Senate and gubernatorial elections on a variety of disability issues. This is being done in conjunction with our online publication, www.TheRespectAbilityReport.org, which is the definitive place for voters who care about the intersection of disability and electoral politics. Fully twenty percent of the U.S. population (56 million people) has a disability. With the addition of family members of people with disabilities, that percentage increases exponentially to include one in every three households in America affected by disability.

We have email lists of people in each state who have disabilities and/or a family member with a disability. We will share unedited responses with these lists as well as with members of the press who cover these issues in each state.

Our voter guide will be electronic and thus it is vital for candidates to put their positions on their website and give us the specific links to the places they want us to share with the disability community. They may choose to answer each question individually for people with disabilities (PwDs), or to mention PwDs within a larger plan (i.e., your jobs, national security and crime plans) for the entire public.

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#RespectTheAbility Campaign Celebrates Model Employers that Demonstrate Inclusive Hiring on All Levels

#RespectTheAbility campaign spotlights model employers that demonstrate how hiring workers with disabilities benefits the employer, the employee and society

RespectAbility’s #RespectTheAbility campaign highlights the benefits companies reap when they hire talented people with disabilities. Using the hashtag #RespectTheAbility, the campaign hopes to ultimately erase negative and untrue stigmas associated with hiring people with disabilities.

“Many companies hire the best talent out there, no matter what package that talent comes in,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “Employers’ focus should be on the abilities an individual brings to the table to better the organization, not any disabilities the individual may have. It is time for all employers to look beyond the disability, and understand the true value of these employees.”

The #RespectTheAbility campaign began in August 2014 with a focus on Ernst & Young LLP as a case study and featured a conference call with Lori Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader from Ernst & Young, on “Disabilities to Diverse Abilities: Changing the Workplace Paradigm.” The 2015 campaign launched on the heels of the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)’s first Disability Equality Index (DEI) naming 19 companies as DEI Best Places to Work. Developed by the DEI Advisory Committee, a diverse group of business leaders, policy experts, and disability advocates, the DEI is a national, transparent benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective score, on a scale of zero to 100, on their disability inclusion policies and practices.

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Disability and Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success

New Report on Disability and Criminal Justice Reform Shows 750,000 People with Disabilities Behind Bars

Offers Specific Recommendations to Include Disability Lens in Justice Reform Process

Download the Disability and Criminal Justice Reform report in an accessible Word document.
Download the PowerPoint presentation in an accessible PPT.
Watch the video of our panel discussion on Capitol Hill.
Read the transcript of our panel discussion.

Washington, June 20 – As the White House and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle consider criminal justice reform, a new white paper, “Disability and Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success” was released today by the nonprofit disability organization, RespectAbility. The report uses public data previously available but never before assembled and analyzed. It makes a series of recommendations to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline for people with disabilities, to enable incarcerated individuals with disabilities to receive the literacy and life skills they will need when they exit the justice system as well as have access to their human rights, and to help returning citizens become productive members of their communities. [continue reading…]

Advocates Protest Disability Snuff Film “Me Before You”

Washington, June 3 – Disability rights advocates in cities across the United States and around the world are protesting the latest Hollywood movie to end with the assisted suicide or euthanasia of the lead disabled character. Protests already have been held in New York City, Boston and Denver, with more planned throughout opening weekend in Los Angeles, Berkeley, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities.

Me Before You is scheduled for general audience release on Friday, June 3rd. Some cities also have been providing advance screenings. Members of Not Dead Yet UK protested at the London premier on May 24th and garnered significant mainstream media coverage (GuardianBuzzfeed) during the protest and in the days following.

“The last big example of this tired theme was Million Dollar Baby, which came out before the major growth of social media but still resulted in protests covered in the New York Times,” said Stephen Drake, research analyst for Not Dead Yet (USA). “We can’t begin to keep track of the people and cities involved this time.”

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RespectAbility Hires National Leadership Director, Advances Leadership Opportunities

head shot of Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe

New Hire Brian Rowe Offers Nine Years Experience in Disability Field Promoting Skills

Rockville, Md. – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower Americans with disabilities to achieve the American Dream, is proud to introduce our new National Leadership Director, Brian Rowe.

“RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program offers hands-on work experiences and coaching for Fellows over a period of at least nine weeks in a dynamic and supportive environment,” President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “We are excited to announce Brian Rowe’s hiring, which will enable our Fellows to gain leadership skills and develop a portfolio of contacts while advancing our agenda.”

Prior to joining RespectAbility, Rowe worked in the disability field for nine years. He was a Program Manager for a company providing residential support for people with disabilities in Virginia. Rowe worked to accomplish the mission of helping persons with disabilities find happiness in their own homes, in their personal relationships and as contributing members of their communities.  [continue reading…]

Freddie Gray: Nearly Half of People Killed by Police are People with Disabilities

Important to Understand Significance that Gray’s Disability had in Leading to his Death

Washington, May 23 – As the verdict comes down on the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in Baltimore, the first trial of his accused killers has come to an end. One of six officers charged in connection with the arrest and subsequent death of Gray last April was acquitted. However, more attention needs to be paid to the fact that Gray was an individual with a disability and the role disability played in his involvement with the justice system.

Freddie Gray had a developmental disability from being raised in a home surrounded by lead paint in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood. Disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty. Poverty, itself, is linked to racial injustice. Racism can make it harder to escape poverty or receive necessary supports for disability. As a report by The Ruderman Family Foundation notes, a third to one-half of all people killed by police are people with disabilities and this is an important lens that cannot be forgotten when examining cases like Freddie Gray’s.

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RespectAbility Doubles Board: Congressman, TV pioneer and other leaders join RespectAbility’s board

New members include principal authors of the ADA Steve Bartlett and Tony Coelho, as well as inventor of reality television, Jonathan Murray

Rockville, Md., May 10 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower Americans with disabilities to achieve the American Dream, is proud to announce that we have added major leaders to our boards of directors and advisors. Our diverse board of directors now includes the Congressional co-authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the inventor of reality television, and major leaders in philanthropy, communications, management and business. Our board of advisors includes experts who are steeped in disability issues and nonprofit management.

Founded in 2013, RespectAbility works to educate, sensitize and engage Americans to focus on what people with disabilities can do, rather than on what they cannot. RespectAbility seeks to increase the number and percentage of Americans with disabilities who engage in competitive, integrated employment, start and sustain their own businesses, lift themselves into the middle class and participate in their communities. In its first two-and-a-half years, RespectAbility met one-on-one with 43 of the nation’s governors and all of the presidential candidates, including those who have since suspended their campaigns, to discuss issues of concern to people with disabilities – especially employment and stigma. Collaborating with Jonathan Murray and A&E, RespectAbility promoted Born This Way through an event on Capitol Hill and social media, helping to get the show renewed for a second season. RespectAbility’s social media channels continue to grow, with more than 57,000 fans on Facebook and nearly 5,000 followers on Twitter.

“We are thrilled to add a wonderful group of leaders to our boards,” RespectAbility Co-Founder and Chair Donn Weinberg said. “For decades, approximately 70 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities have been outside the workforce. We are building a strong, coordinated and bipartisan voice for the 1-in-5 Americans who have a disability.”

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Rabbis Protest Trumps’ AIPAC Speech Over Disrespect for Minorities Including People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., March 21 – Some Rabbis and other Jewish Americans are protesting Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s lack of inclusion for minorities including people with disabilities ahead of his scheduled speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference this evening.

While many of AIPAC’s delegates who oppose Trump speaking tonight are upset with the businessman’s violent rhetoric on groups like Muslims and Mexicans, the Republican front-runner also has verbally attacked individuals with disabilities, expanding stigmas that have been undermining people with disabilities for ages.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has expressed his concern about Trump’s level of intolerance for several groups including individuals with disabilities.

“We will hold him accountable to all of the groups that he is not just disrespecting but denigrating in his speeches and his policy commitments,” Jacobs said Monday morning. “It is unacceptable in America and it is unacceptable according to our Jewish tradition.”

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