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Cartoon of two people with disabilities in front of voting booths. Text: Disability Issues Candidate Questionnaire

Washington, D.C., Oct. 27 – As voters head to the polls, candidates for U.S. Senate and governor, as well as local candidates in New York City and Los Angeles, have outlined their views on ensuring equal employment opportunities for the one-in-five Americans with a disability by responding to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility.

Candidates from all sides of the aisle completed the questionnaire, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. The responses also are geographically-diverse, coming from states around the country, as politicians are paying more attention to the disability community.

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ thoughts on certain issues.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.” [read more…]

Debbie Niderberg headshot

Debbie Niderberg

One of the most powerful words we come across in Breishit – Genesis – is “Hineni” – I am here. When Abraham answers, he is responding to a call to action.

Hineni evokes a profound and timeless message about responsibility for our world and our community. A central question for educators and parents is how are we raising and empowering all of our children, to find their voice and their place in our community?

Although I direct an organization that supports struggling learners, it was not until this year, when I participated in an intensive, year-long Israeli leadership program in my non-dominant language, that I experienced what it was like to have a learning disability.

As the only native English speaker, I estimate that I was working five times harder than the Israeli participants. With each presentation, I was listening to try to understand the discourse, translating it for myself to take notes in English, thinking about what I wanted to say and how to say it with my limited word bank, and trying to jump into the rapid fire Israeli dialogue. In leadership roles and facilitation, I continuously strategized based on what I felt I was equipped to handle. I adapted to different cultural norms and tried to jump in to the fast paced banter of Israeli jokes and references that were often foreign to me. [read more…]

Image of the cast of speechless and GLAAD's Where We Are on TV report

Los Angeles, California, Oct. 26 – GLAAD’s 2018-2019 Where We Are on TV Report includes the only analysis of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks of characters with disabilities. Largely known for tracking the number of LGBTQ+ characters on broadcast and cable networks, as well as streaming services, the Where We Are on TV Report also tracks racial, gender and disability inclusion on television.

The amount of regular primetime broadcast characters counted who have a disability has slightly increased to 2.1 percent, but that number still vastly underrepresents the actualities of Americans with disabilities. There are seven characters across all three platforms tracked (broadcast, cable, streaming) who are HIV-positive, a substantial increase from last year’s two.

While the 2018-19 season will see 18 characters with disabilities, versus 16 in 2017-18, that number still vastly underrepresents the actual number of people with disabilities, representing less than one-sixth. Furthermore, while more than one-third of LGBTQ+ adults have a disability, GLAAD’s report found only four LGBTQ+ characters with disabilities.

It is clear that representation matters. Just as GLAAD will continue to work alongside the industry to tell LGBTQ+ stories on screen and further the conversation through their year-round work, RespectAbility, a nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, will continue to do so for full representation of people with disabilities – including those with disabilities who are LGBTQ+. [read more…]

Gov. John Carney Headshot

Gov. John Carney

Washington, D.C., Oct. 24 – Gov. John C. Carney has proclaimed October 2018 to be Disability Employment Awareness Month in Delaware.

“People with disabilities bring their own unique strengths to the work environments and deserve an equal opportunity to pursue careers and success,” writes Carney in his proclamation. “Employers throughout our state must continue the important work to create positive and inclusive environments for people with disabilities… The State of Delaware is committed to maintaining a workforce that values inclusion, where all Delawareans, no matter their disability, are seen as contributing members of their workplace.”

This proclamation follows a solid year of job growth which saw 1,691 Delawareans with disabilities found new jobs. [read more…]

iCare4Autism LogoThis October, to help celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, ICare4Autism hosted its annual conference in Washington, D.C. The focus for this year’s conference was on apprenticeships for high school students with autism and other disabilities. The main takeaway from the conference is that autism can be a strength and even a desired trait for competitive integrated employment in the community.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are work-based programs that combine schooling and work. People who go through apprenticeship programs can learn a trade in various fields such as construction, carpentry, gardening, recycling, computer coding, medicine or financial services. Students who graduate from an apprenticeship often go on to a secure, good paying job in the community.

What is iCare4Autism and Who Came to the Conference?

iCare4Autism is a nonprofit located in New York and works with students with autism. The CEO is Josh Weinstein, and the organization focuses on education and transitional services. Presenters emphasized competitive integrated employment, a term used for jobs with a living wage and opportunities for advancement. Competitive, integrated jobs are community based and integrate both people with and without disabilities in the same workplace.

Policymakers from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and The Texas Workforce Commission spoke about advancing opportunities for people with disabilities and best practices to promote employment success. Attending the conference was a diverse audience of doctors, educators, job coaches and nonprofit staff. Special guests also included Congressmen Don Beyer from Virginia and Donald M. Payne from New Jersey. [read more…]

Governor Tom Wolf headshot

Gov. Tom Wolf

Washington, D.C., Oct. 19 – Gov. Tom Wolf has declared October to be Disability Employment Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

“Workplaces that welcome the talents of all people, including people with disabilities, are a critical part of efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy.” writes Wolf in his proclamation. “This month will reinforce the value and talent people with disabilities add to our workplace and communities and affirm Pennsylvania’s commitment to be an inclusive community.”

This proclamation comes after a year of steady job growth for people with disabilities. Last year, 6,993 Pennsylvanians with disabilities got new jobs. [read more…]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo headshot

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Washington D.C., Oct. 19 – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared October as National Disability Employment Month (NDEM) in New York.

“New York affirms its commitment to promoting diversity in the workplace by highlighting the rich talent and abilities that exist…and promoting inclusive communities that welcome individuals with all types of disabilities,” writes Cuomo. “New York’s government agencies that serve individuals with development and/or intellectual…mental health disabilities have affirmed the state’s commitment to community living by developing implementation plans which include collaboration among many partners that will foster…the creation of more employment options.”

This commitment from the governor comes at a time when jobs for people with disabilities has been increasing in New York state. Last year, 5,081 New Yorkers with disabilities gained jobs. [read more…]

In support of GLAAD and Disney | ABC Television Group Be Inspired’s #SpiritDay campaign to end bullying, RespectAbility staff and Fellows created a video about the importance of stopping bullying and choosing kindness instead.

RespectAbility, a national nonprofit working to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, recognizes the importance of ending bullying against LGBTQ individuals, including against those who identify as a member of both the disability and LGBTQ communities. Read about some of RespectAbility’s staff and Fellows’ experiences:

Headshot of Governor Kate Brown

Gov. Kate Brown

Washington, D.C., Oct. 18 – Gov. Kate Brown has declared October 2018 Disability Employment Awareness Month in Oregon.

“Workplaces welcoming talents of all people, including people with disabilities, are a critical part of our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy,” writes Brown in her proclamation. “In the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Oregon’s Employment First initiative, we can improve and expand access to education and opportunities for people with disabilities to integrate into the workplace.”

Brown adds, “By working together to open doors of opportunity for all Oregon residents, including for those with disabilities, we can help fulfill the promise of our great State.”

Even as more people with disabilities got jobs nationally, 2,241 Oregonians with disabilities lost their jobs last year. The sobering reality of this fact gives Beaver State residents the chance to pause and think about what can be done to improve outcomes. [read more…]

John Kasich headshot

Gov. John Kasich

Washington, D.C. Oct. 18 – Gov. John Kasich has declared October 2018 Disability Employment Awareness Month in Ohio.

“Maximizing the skills and talents of all Ohioans is essential to our state’s success and the skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workforce, in both the public and private sectors, are vitally important,” writes Kasich in his proclamation. “Ohio’s workforce is enhanced when individuals with disabilities are employed and Ohio is fully committed to working with individuals to utilize their education, qualifications, talents and experiences to help them achieve employment.”

Citing the transformative work of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Kasich added, “Ohio is setting the standard for bringing business leaders and disability stakeholders together to reduce barriers faced by those seeking employment.”

This proclamation follows a solid year of job growth that saw 6,707 Ohioans with disabilities get new jobs last year. [read more…]

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