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Press Releases

Breaking News: 14 States Give Washington Big Bucks: Deny it to People with Disabilities Who Want Job

Bethesda, Maryland – States around America returned millions of dollars to the federal government that could have been used to enable people with disabilities to get jobs and careers. This is despite the fact that 70 percent of people with disabilities are out of the workforce, and disability benefits and healthcare are costing billions to taxpayers.

Vocational rehabilitation and workforce development programs, when resources are allocated to proven best practices, can enable people with disabilities to secure stable employment. In 2012, vocational rehabilitation agencies helped 177,172 Americans with disabilities get jobs and careers. These programs operate by having the federal government match nearly $4 for every $1 that is spent by the individual states. However, if the states fail to spend the money or come up with matching funds, then the funds go back to the federal government.

“Denying capable people with disabilities the opportunity to get jobs and careers harms them and wastes tax money,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility. “It also hurts employers who are missing out on the real talents that people with disabilities can provide them.”

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RespectAbility Testimony to the National Quality Forum’s HCBS Quality Committee

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Honorable Committee,

Thank you for your leadership in understanding the challenges of meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities served by home and community-based services (HCBS). RespectAbility is a nonprofit working to enable people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, just like anyone else. There are 20 million working age Americans with disabilities, many of whom receive long term services and supports (LTSS).

As identified in 2013 by the Senate Commission on Long Term Care, forty-four percent of those who utilize LTSS are working age Americans between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five. In the District of Columbia itself, there are 40,200 working age people with disabilities between the ages of twenty and sixty-four. Among this population, only 33.9% are employed. It is important to look at not only working age people with disabilities, but also youth. There are 4,800 District residents with disabilities between the ages of sixteen and twenty. Of that number, each year at least 1,200 young people with disabilities transition out of the educational system and into what should be the workforce. Yet this group faces a number of differences and many barriers in their efforts to live in the community.

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Building a Better Baltimore and Beyond

My heart is bleeding for the people of Baltimore and other communities who are struggling with challenges. We have been paying attention to police violence in Maryland for some time. While we focus on disability issues, we are all a part of our community overall.

When a young man with Down syndrome was killed by police in Maryland, it was not an isolated incident. Likewise, too many innocents of all abilities and races are being killed. And still, we recognize and value the role of police and the good intentions of the vast majority of those in law enforcement. No grievance – no matter how big or how real – ever justifies violent attacks on innocent people or institutions.  We must stand up against violence, and do the hard work to create solutions. No one group can do this alone. We must break down silos and work together. However, we cannot afford to make the mistake of thinking this is just about the tragic killing of Freddie Gray. It is about finding holistic solutions.

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Never Forget. Live every day to make a difference.

Today is a somber day. It’s Holocaust memorial day. I am so deeply grateful that my father was able to escape the Nazis in 1939. Most of our family on his side was not so lucky. They were killed. I am so grateful to the many allied troops and others who made freedom and survival possible. Without them the world would be a different place. May the memory of all who died be a blessing, may the lessons of that terrible time never be forgotten.

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Breaking News: Jeb Bush to reach out on disability issues!

Please see the story below about Jeb Bush, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy, doing an event tomorrow to celebrate the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act in Mississippi.  Earlier Gov. Phil Bryant made Mississippi Employment First for people with disabilities. Also make sure to read our piece about Hillary Clinton’s video failing to show people with disabilities here.  We will treat all candidates equally, but we want to see ALL of them covering these issues.

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Clinton Video Skips People With Disabilities

RespectAbilityUrges Hillary: Don’t Forget People with Disabilities! 

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday the Hillary Clinton campaign released its launch video, which included many different individuals and families who represented diversity in America. But nowhere in the video could you see anyone with a disability. This is a key voting group across America, including the four first voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Responding, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of, a national non-partisan organization advocating for America’s 56 million people with disabilities, said, “Fully 20% of Americans have a disability and the majority of voters have a loved one with a disability. We urge Hillary Clinton and all the other Presidential candidates to focus on jobs for people with disabilities. We want to be included in the ‘Opportunity Agenda!’”

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Testimony of Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi to the United States Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities

Honorable Committee,

Thank you for your leadership on expanding opportunities through the successful implementation of WIOA.

As you know from my previous testimony, my name is Jennifer Mizrahi and I am the President of RespectAbility, a national nonprofit working to enable people with disabilities to achieve the American dream. We know that people with disabilities deserve to have jobs and careers, just like anyone else.

Together with our partners NCIL, Best Buddies, NOD, NACDD, and PVA, we have developed the Employment First Planning Tool, which we shared with you earlier I urge you to read and share it along with our state-by-state statistics that can help in state performance metric dashboards.

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RespectAbility urges Presidential candidates to focus on jobs for people with disabilities: “Include people with disabilities in the “Opportunity Agenda!’”

Washington, DC. As presidential candidates and political leaders gather for CPAC, RespectAbility, a non profit, non partisan organization devoted to empowering people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, urged candidates from all parties to put people with disabilities into the “Opportunity Agenda.” Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, “Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve to be able to work to achieve the American dream, just like anyone else.”

Companies including Walgreens, E.Y. (which was formally known as Ernst and Young), AMC and others have shown that employees with disabilities are loyal, successful and help them make more money. When we find the right jobs for the right people it can and does increase the bottom line of companies. There is a substantial body of evidence-based practices that show how people with disabilities can have tremendous success if the right programs are put into place. RespectAbility has developed a resource called the Disability Employment First Planning Tool. This document details what those practices are and what models are most effective.

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Testimony of RespectAbilityUSA

Today I am testifying to the United States Department of Labor on key factors regarding how the new WIOA law is implemented to expand jobs for people with disabilities.

Given that these discussions can impact $17 BILLION a year of how our tax money impacts workforce development, it is vital to use best practices. Please see my summary statement below and the two very important attachments. Together we can really create progress which can reduce poverty and make our country stronger.

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RespectAbility Questions Statement of Sen. Rand Paul on People with Disabilities

Today in New Hampshire Sen. Rand Paul made an unfortunate comment about people with disabilities when he told a group of New Hampshire legislators that people on disability assistance were “gaming the system” and that “over half the people on disabilities are anxious or have back pain – join the club.”

Watch the video:

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