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Testimony

RespectAbility Advocates for Arizona to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

state flag of ArizonaPhoenix, AZ, September 8 – This week, the Workforce Arizona Council (WAC) met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Grand Canyon State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in Arizona’s workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 449,000 working-age Arizonans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, Arizona boasted a 39.6 percent disability employment rate for its citizens with disabilities. However, thousands of workers with disabilities have been negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic and are looking for new opportunities to develop their skills. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Advocates for California to Close Labor Force Gaps for People with Disabilities

Sacramento, CA, August 11 – This week, the California Workforce Development Board’s Executive Committee met to discuss the status of workforce practices of the Golden State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national, non-partisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 1.9 million working age (18-64) Californians living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 38.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that California’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Advises the National Council on Disability on the Imperative of Fighting Stigmas that Hold Back People with Disabilities

National Council On Disability sealWashington, D.C., August 3 – RespectAbility recently submitted comments to the National Council on Disability (NCD) discussing ways to improve our education system and expand opportunities in the entertainment industry for people with disabilities.

In the comments, RespectAbility recognizes the gaps in our education system which have been widened by the pandemic. RespectAbility called for a specific focus on black, indigenous and students of color with disabilities, who disproportionally face greater challenges in receiving an education. Additionally, RespectAbility proposed the addition of a 13th year in secondary education to provide a fluid transition for students before entering the workforce. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Responds to Request for Ideas on Promoting Access for Voters with Disabilities

RespectAbility Testimony for NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology US Department of CommerceWashington, D.C., July 19 – Last week, RespectAbility submitted comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Request for Information (RFI) regarding voting access for voters with disabilities.

This RFI comes after President Biden signed an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting in March of this year. Within the Executive Order, President Biden called on the NIST, along with the Department of Justice, the Election Assistance Commission and other relevant agencies to “analyze barriers to private and independent voting for people with disabilities, including access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations, and poll worker training.” This is a critical step towards understanding how to improve access for the 38 million eligible voters with disabilities in America who look to cast their ballots in future elections. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Responds to Office of Management and Budget Request for Ideas on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Washington, D.C., July 7 – This week, RespectAbility responded to a request for information from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about ideas, insights, and innovations to advance and prioritize equity issues. This dialogue is only the latest example of how the new Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to address the “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies.”

On his very first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 launching an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” This is critical news for the 12.8 million Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities who have long been harmed by structural racism and who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

“The impacts of racism and ableism on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities have caused harm to so many,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO of RespectAbility. “We must all fight racism and prejudice of all kinds. That work must go well beyond words and move into real systems change so we can create true equity and opportunities. Our society is at its best when all people, including BIPOC people with disabilities, can earn an income and become independent, just like anyone else. Online engagement opportunities like this one offer the chance for policy makers and common citizens to make their voices heard and push our society to become fairer and more inclusive.” [continue reading…]

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Maryland Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Annapolis, MD, June 9 – This week, the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) met to discuss policies and priorities for moving the Old Line State’s economy forward. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in Maryland’s economy.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said the Honorable Steve Bartlett, former Member of Congress, the former Mayor of Dallas and current Chairman of RespectAbility. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to implement policies that will drive a truly equitable recovery that helps people with disabilities and other marginalized communities get back to work.”

There are 324,652 working-age Marylanders living with some form of disability. In the economic expansion prior to COVID-19, fully 43.6 percent of them had jobs. However, because of COVID, more than 1 million workers with disabilities have lost their jobs nationwide. Now, as more Americans get vaccinated and more people get back to work, it is crucial that policy makers implement best practices. [continue reading…]

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Texas Workforce Commission on Solutions for Texans with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform state wide efforts to rebuild the economy and get people with disabilities back to work.

Austin, TX, May 5 – This week, the Texas Workforce Commission met to discuss policies and priorities for moving the Lone Star State’s economy forward. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbiltiy weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in Texas’ economy.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said the Honorable Steve Bartlett, former Member of Congress, the former Mayor of Dallas and current Chairman of RespectAbility. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to implement policies that will drive a truly equitable recovery that helps people with disabilities and other marginalized communities get back to work.” [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Contributes to Online Racial Equity Dialogue with Ideas on Metrics, Measures and Best Practices

Washington, D.C., May 5 – This past week, RespectAbility contributed to the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor’s online dialogue to solicit ideas, insights, and innovations from the disability community about advancing racial and social equity. This dialogue is only the latest example of how the new Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to address the “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies.”

On his very first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 launching an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” This is critical news for the 12.8 million Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities who have long been harmed by structural racism and who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 and resulting economic crisis. [continue reading…]

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Workforce Board on Bipartisan Solutions for Angelenos with Disabilities

Submitted testimony will help inform metro area efforts to rebuild the economy and get people with disabilities back to work.

Washington, D.C., April 28 – Last week, the Los Angeles Regional Planning Unit of the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board invited subject matter experts, self-advocates, community members and their constituents to provide ideas about local and regional planning efforts to build a more equitable economy in a post-COVID world. In response, the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility weighed in with their perspective on how to advance new opportunities for workers with disabilities and close crucial gaps in outcomes for people from marginalized communities.

“The Local Plan and the Regional Plan start out with an admirable goal,” said Nelly Nieblas, RespectAbility’s Manager of Policy, Advocacy and Engagement. “However, neither plan follows up on this aspiration by including people with disabilities in their demographic sections. There are multiple missed opportunities to include people with disabilities within the plans. We hope that we can partner with the Board to fix these challenges in the months ahead.” [continue reading…]

Disability Nonprofit Urges Government to Focus on More Disability Inclusion, Accessibility in the Arts

RespectAbility’s testimony suggests that the NEA can dramatically strengthen their work by including more people with disabilities and ensuring that all grantees’ work is fully accessible to people with disabilities

Los Angeles, CA, April 14 – As the conversations around diversity and inclusion continue to circulate throughout the entertainment industry, RespectAbility is urging the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to make a bigger effort toward including more people with disabilities in their programs, as well as ensuring that all grantees’ work will be full accessible to people with disabilities.

“With a relatively small amount of additional work, the NEA could make a much larger difference in our nation on behalf of the 61 million people with disabilities,” said Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President of Communications at RespectAbility. “What we see and hear in the arts and entertainment media impacts our thoughts and feelings. Positive, accurate representation could remove stigmas that have long held people with disabilities back.” [continue reading…]

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