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8 Tips for Newly Elected Officials on How to Connect with Constituents with Disabilities

By Lauren Appelbaum and Hon. Steve Bartlett

Washington, D.C., Feb. 7 – As newly elected officials begin their service, it is important that America’s largest minority group are included in policy discussions in a meaningful way. Thus, RespectAbility put together an easy guide with eight tips for leaders and their staff to ensure they reach this important constituent group.

1) Start right away on building connections to people of disabilities and disability groups in the same way that you do with other groups of constituents. 

America has 56 million people with disabilities, more than 20-million of whom are working age. Polls show that the majority of constituents either have a disability or a loved one with a disability. The extended disability community — when you include family members, those with close friends with disabilities and those who work on behalf or volunteer for a disability cause — is 63 percent of Americans. We want to be included in all policies that impact our lives and we are ready to be your partners in success. [continue reading…]

Senate Voter Guide for 1.2 million Georgians with Disabilities

Photos of four candidates in Georgia Senate runoff elections. Georgia state flag in middleAtlanta, GA – The Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP) is proud to release its nonpartisan voter guide. Most of the partners of GDVP are nonprofit organizations and this voter guide is for educational purposes only, as GDVP does not rate or endorse candidates. The purpose of the guide is to help voters know the positions of the candidates and to provide some resources to help Georgians vote. GDVP has asked each of the Democratic and Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate the identical questions about issues affecting people with disabilities. Not all of the candidates have responded in full, but all responses that the partnership has received are reported here in full without editing.

According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Georgians with disabilities is 1,246,077. 2018 employment data shows that there are 658,811 working-age people with disabilities in Georgia. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 238,875 (or 36.3 percent) of those Georgians have a job. [continue reading…]

Georgia Disability Voter Access, Pollsters & Exit Polls

As the nation waits for the Georgia Senate runoff next week, disability organization calls on pollsters and media to track disability participation and access.

Photos of four candidates in Georgia Senate runoff elections. Georgia state flag in middleWashington, D.C., Dec. 28 – With the political universe centered on the Senate runoff in Georgia, the unique needs and barriers of Georgians with disabilities could very well factor into to the outcome of the race. Thus, the national nonpartisan disability inclusion organization RespectAbility is asking pollsters, polling firms and political consultants to track voters with disabilities in their demographic data, as well as voter access exit polling.

According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Georgians with disabilities is 1,246,077, making up 12.1 percent of the total state population. 2018 employment data show that there are 658,811 working-age people with disabilities in Georgia. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 238,875 (or 36.3 percent) of those Georgians had a job.

Thus far, there has been little outreach to voters with disabilities from all four Senate candidates in the runoff race. As noted by RespectAbility in November, none of the four candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites. None of the Senate candidates’ websites are fully accessible to the 254,972 Georgians who are blind or low vision. And very few of the candidates’ videos have captions, making them inaccessible to the 328,000 deaf and hard of hearing Georgians. [continue reading…]

New Focus Group Report Shows Lack Of Attention To Georgia Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Dec. 22 – Control of the United States Senate depends on two runoff elections in the state of Georgia. While a lot of money is being spent by the candidates and other organizations to get out the vote, a new report about two focus groups indicates that Georgia’s disability community is not getting enough attention in these races. In fact, at the time these focus groups were conducted, none of the participants were able to recall having seen or heard anything from the Senate candidates regarding people with disabilities.

On behalf of RespectAbility and the Georgia Disability Vote Partnership (GDVP), Greenberg Research and Democracy Corps conducted 2 sets of online video focus groups among registered voters with disabilities in Georgia; one group of white women on December 16th and one group of Black women on December 17th. According to Greenberg Research and Democracy Corps, “for voters with disabilities, health care costs and accessibility are the dominant issues right now.”

A lot of money is being spent on nonpartisan voter communications and turnout in Georgia, but little of it is accessible or targeted to voters with disabilities who can make the difference. None of the candidates’ websites are accessible to the 254,972 Georgians who are blind or low vision. Additionally, very few of the candidates’ videos have captions, making them inaccessible to the 328,000 deaf and hard of hearing Georgians. [continue reading…]

Keeping Issues that Affect Us Front and Center

Ila Eckhoff, RespectAbility Board Nominating Committee Co-Chair, in Iowa with RespectAbility Former Fellow James Trout and Communications Associate Eric Ascher with 2020 presidential candidates Julian Castro and Elizabeth Warren

Ila Eckhoff, RespectAbility Board Nominating Committee Co-Chair, in Iowa with RespectAbility Former Fellow James Trout and Communications Associate Eric Ascher with 2020 presidential candidates Julian Castro and Elizabeth Warren

To say that this election year was unusual is a drastic understatement! In January I traveled to Iowa with RespectAbility to raise the visibility of issues that affect people with disabilities during the presidential primaries. This was one piece of RespectAbility’s ongoing work to enable people with disabilities to participate in our democracy.

I have cerebral palsy. I also am a managing director at a large asset manager in New York. There is significant evidence that diverse teams, including those with disabled individuals, make better decisions and create better economic outcomes for the companies that employ them. Everyone deserves the right to have a job, be independent and choose their purpose. [continue reading…]

Disability Representation Matters in Cabinet Picks, Says National Disability Group

National organization RespectAbility calls for leaders with disabilities and their proven allies to be included in the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

Biden transition logo with a bald eagle and the number 46.Washington, D.C., December 7 – With only weeks to go until Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, the Office of the President-Elect is rolling out names and nominees for critical cabinet positions throughout the federal government. However, despite repeated promises to build a cabinet that will “look like the country,” the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility is expressing concern about the critical need for more leaders with disabilities among those announcements.

“If the President-Elect wants to build the best team that he can, then he needs to ensure more leaders with disabilities and our proven allies are represented across the total scope of government,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO of RespectAbility. “The decisions made in the months ahead by the Biden-Harris administration are going to significantly impact the one-in-five Americans living with disabilities. Out of the more than 500 people named as part of the transition process, we only know of four individuals who have public disabilities or disability experience.” [continue reading…]

Georgia Senate Candidates Deny Access to Voters with Disabilities

None of four Senate candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites, and none of their websites are fully accessible to voters who are blind or deaf

Photos of four candidates in Georgia Senate runoff elections. Georgia state flag in middleWashington, D.C., Nov. 12 – Despite there being more than 1.2 million Georgians with some form of disability, all four Senate candidates in the most hotly contested Senate races in America have thus far failed to reach out to voters with disabilities. Indeed, none of the four candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites, and none of their websites are fully accessible to voters who are blind or deaf.

The failure of Georgia Senate campaigns to reach out to voters with disabilities is in stark contrast to President-elect Joe Biden who made outreach to the disability community a key part of his winning strategy. A poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of RespectAbility in the major battleground states in the days leading up to Election Day found that 60 percent of voters with disabilities say they have or were planning to vote for Joe Biden, compared to 35 percent of voters with disabilities supporting President Trump. This showed a shift from 2016, when a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group found that voters with disabilities split their votes between President Trump (46 percent) and Secretary Hillary Clinton (49 percent). [continue reading…]

Disability Allies Win Races for Senate & Governor

Updated Nov. 10

Washington, D.C., Nov. 4 – It is the morning after Election Day 2020 and many results are still being counted. RespectAbility stresses the importance of counting every vote, particularly as many people with disabilities chose to vote early – both in-person and via mail – in this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states have not counted all of their early voting ballots yet.

Although many results are still not finalized, several candidates who support opportunities for people with disabilities already have been declared as winners. These individuals completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. [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…]

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.


Issue Voter Guides

[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…]

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