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Salt Lake City, UT, October 7 – Next week, the Utah State Workforce Development Board meets to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Beehive 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 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 146,969 working age (18-64) Utahans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 50.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Utah’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…]

Madison, WI, October 7 – In a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers called on his state to recognize “the critical role that workers with disabilities play in strengthening” Wisconsin’s economy, “especially as we continue to bounce back from the unprecedented economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gov. Evers also noted that Wisconsin is “reaffirming our commitment to providing an environment that encourages and promotes economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and the creation of employment opportunities” for Wisconsinites with disabilities. Evers’ proclamation also called critical attention to the impactful and innovative work of model programs such as Project SEARCH which has helped “more than 1,250 youth and adults with disabilities” find jobs in the competitive workforce.

This is an important public commitment for the 340,868 working-age people living with disabilities in the Badger state. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wisconsin had a 43.5 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 83.2 percent. That means that there is a 39.6 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities.

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Headshots of 15 RespectAbility Summer 2021 Fellows smiling. RespectAbility logo. Text: Summer 2021 Fellow GraduatesRockville, MD, October 6 – Fifteen talented young adults, the majority of whom have disabilities and all of whom are passionate about ensuring equal opportunities for people with disabilities, have completed RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program.

The National Leadership Program trains leaders who are committed to disability issues and plan to go into careers in public policy, advocacy, public relations, journalism, the entertainment industry, diversity, equity and inclusion, fundraising, nonprofit management or faith-based inclusion. The program enables participants to gain skills and contacts while making a positive difference for people with disabilities. [continue reading…]

Albeurquerque, NM, October 6 – This week, the New Mexico State Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Land of Enchantment. 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 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 166,609 working age (18-64) New Mexicans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 35.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that New Mexico’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…]

Nashville, TN, October 5 – “Tennessee passed the State as a Model Employer (SAME) Bill, ensuring that state agencies and departments design and proactively implement best, promising, and emerging policies, practices, and procedures related to the recruitment, hiring, advancement, and retention of qualified individuals with disabilities,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Gov. Lee also recommitted his state to recognizing “the value of employees with disabilities to the state’s current and future workforce,” and celebrated Tennessee’s “public policy accomplishments concerning expanding employment opportunities for citizens with disabilities.”

This is an important public commitment for the more than 533,630 working-age people living with disabilities in Tennessee. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee had a 35.2 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 78.2 percent. That means that there is a 42.9 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities. [continue reading…]

Columbus, OH, October 4 – “Ohio is wholly committed to maximizing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities through education, training, collaboration, and awareness,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Gov. DeWine added that “Ohio is setting a high standard by bringing together businesses and partners to break down the barriers faced by individuals with disabilities who are working or seeking employment.”

This is an important public commitment for the more than 821,099 working-age people living with disabilities in Ohio. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio had a 39.8 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 79.9 percent. That means that there is a 40-percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities in Ohio. [continue reading…]

The National Organization on Disability Announces the 2021 Leading Disability Employers at Annual Forum Bringing Together Global CEOs, Celebrities and Policy Influencers to Reimagine the Future of the Workplace

NOD 2021 Leading Disability Employer sealNew York, NY, October 1 – At the National Organization on Disability (NOD)’s Annual Forum, entitled “Disability Inclusion in the Next Normal”, RespectAbility was honored as a 2021 NOD Leading Disability Employer. Now in its seventh year, the NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal recognizes companies for measuring and achieving strong talent outcomes for people with disabilities. With this recognition, NOD endeavors to shine a light on employers, like RespectAbility, that are committed to building an inclusive workforce by adopting exemplary employment practices for people with disabilities.

“Congratulations to all the 2021 Leading Disability Employers for creating an inclusive and diverse workplace that allows people with disabilities to be successful,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “NOD’s mission is to ensure that no ability is wasted, that all Americans, including those of us with disabilities, have an opportunity for enterprise, achievement, and earnings and that corporate America knows how to put our talents to work. These winning organizations have stepped up and are doing just that. We want to applaud their leadership and thank them for their commitment to hiring and retaining people with disabilities.”

“We are honored to be recognized by NOD with this award,” said Tonya Koslo, RespectAbility’s Director of Finance and Administration who has onboarded hundreds of Staff, Fellows and Lab participants to RespectAbility’s team since the organization was founded in 2013. “We know that authentic leadership is one of the keys to our success. We work hard to ensure that we practice what we preach when it comes to employing people with disabilities.” [continue reading…]

Columbia, SC, October 1 – South Carolina must “reduce the attitudinal and physical barriers that hinder full acceptance of people with disabilities,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Gov. McMaster also recommitted his state to advancing Employment First policies to prioritize employment outcomes for “all working age citizens with disabilities” and recognizing that “a diverse and capable work force” is key to “further advance the economy of the Palmetto State.”

This is an important public commitment for the more than 362,000 working-age people living with disabilities in South Carolina. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina had a 34.3 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 76.8 percent. That means that there is a 42.4 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities. [continue reading…]

Austin, TX, October 1 – “The month of October is dedicated to celebrating and recognizing the indispensable contributions Texans with disabilities provide to the Lone Star State’s economy,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Gov. Abbott, who is himself a wheelchair user, also noted that “promoting disability employment awareness,” “creating more inclusive workplaces,” and “cultivating more employment opportunities for Texans with disabilities” are key priorities in his final year in office.

This is an important public commitment for the more than 1.6 million working-age people living with disabilities in the Lone Star State. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas had a 41.9 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 77.5 percent. That means that there is a 35.5 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities. [continue reading…]

St. Louis, MO, October 1 – In a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month, Missouri Governor Mike Parson reaffirmed “the State of Missouri’s commitment to an inclusive community that increases access and opportunities to all, including individuals with disabilities.”

This is an important public commitment for the more than 463,000 working-age people living with disabilities in Missouri. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Show Me State had a 36.9 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 80.2 percent. That means that there is a 43.2 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities. [continue reading…]

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