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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…]

“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…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

New Poll Shows 81% Voters Support Allowing SNAP Users to Order Groceries Online for Delivery

Washington, D.C., May 12 – Fifteen states have yet to ensure their high-risk residents can receive online grocery deliveries through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), leading to millions of people with and without disabilities risking exposure to COVID-19 or going hungry.

Nationwide, 11 million Americans with disabilities depend on SNAP, also called food stamps, to pay for groceries and provide for their families.

Since the start of the pandemic, 35 states have a taken a critical step to ensure that the people at the greatest risk from COVID-19 can safely order groceries online. In these states, beneficiaries who depend on SNAP to put food on the table can now order their groceries online and get it delivered to their homes.

However, 15 states have yet to act: Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia.

Yet, according to a new poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of the Center for Voter Information, 81 percent of voters say they favor allowing people who use SNAP to be able to order and pay for groceries and delivery online, so they don’t have to go into stores.

Map of the United States color coded by status of online SNAP. Green and allowed: AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, ID, IA, KY, MO, NC, NE, NM, NV, NY, OR, RI, TX, TN, VT, WA, WI, WV. Yellow and waiting on approval: AR, CT, DE, GA, HI, LA, MD, MA, MN, NJ, OK, PA, WY. Red and no announcements: AK, IN, IL, KS, ME, MI, MS, MT, NH, ND, OH, SC, SD, UT, VA.

Status of Online SNAP as of May 12

[continue reading…]

“Disability inclusion creates synergistic innovation in organizations, and the world in which we live.”

– Carla Boyd

Carla Boyd smiling headshot in front of a brick wallCarla Boyd, a faithful ally to people with disabilities, is the Arizona State Representative for RespectAbility’s Volunteer Corps.

She played an instrumental role in coordinating and facilitating RespectAbility’s Empowerment Training for Female College Students with Disabilities focused on advocacy skills and preparing attendees for civic engagement. The adult and student participants had great dialogue, Carla recalled, and they were grateful for the information they learned from the webinar. Carla currently is promoting RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program within her network of students and disability professionals. [continue reading…]

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