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Rep. Steve Bartlett with RespectAbility Fall 2019 Fellows smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Rep. Steve Bartlett with RespectAbility Fall 2019 Fellows

Rockville, Maryland, Oct. 25 – When Rep. Steve Bartlett, Board Chair of RespectAbility, spoke to the organization’s National Leadership Fellows, he described the talk as BYOA (bring your own agenda). Every person in the room had the chance to have Rep. Bartlett talk about a subject important to them. In the span of an hour, the former U.S. Representative from Texas covered a wide range of topics such as the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, where to get accurate news information from, how to become more involved in politics, and why he became the co-author of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The first topic covered was the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, referring to the extreme polarization happening within the Democratic and Republican Parties. “Things are as bad as they have been since 1856,” said Rep. Bartlett, as he compared politics today to what started the civil war. He said he does not see things getting better for politics in America and thinks there is worse to come before it can get better. He explained how both the Democratic and the Republican parties have gone to their own extremes and are held captive by the 30 percent of people who vote in the primaries. Rep. Bartlett sees a solution for this crisis: a third, independent party. Bartlett has encouraged politicians to run as independent candidates but so far, no volunteers. The American people also need to ask for leadership from our leaders and representatives and demand respect from each side towards the other. [continue reading…]

Governor Henry McMaster smiling in front of an American flag. Columbia, S.C., Oct. 24 – Earlier this month, Columbia hosted the Hire Me SC’ Employer Summit 2019 to connect local employers with potential employees with disabilities. The annual event, sponsored by Able South Carolina and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, showcased a clear message about the workplace skills and readiness of South Carolinians with disabilities.

As stated by Sarah Nichols, Director of Public Relations with Able South Carolina, “there’s a huge untapped workforce of people with disabilities in South Carolina, who can work and they want to work.” Chantel Greenfield from the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System spoke with the press about how her company can look at “all of your various job descriptions” and “what barriers can we remove to be a more inclusive employer.”

This sentiment was echoed by Gov. Henry McMaster who recently declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help advance job opportunities. In a proclamation he stated, “business and community leaders have called for a diverse and capable workforce to further advance the economy of the Palmetto State” and that “South Carolinians with disabilities have the same aspirations competitively work and contribute to their communities everyone else.” [continue reading…]

Debby Fisher with RespectAbility Staff and Fellows smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Debby Fisher with RespectAbility Staff and Fall 2019 Fellows

Rockville, Maryland, Oct. 24 – Young adulthood is characterized by exploration and discovery; employment, housing, friends, partners are just a few of the main aspects of life in flux during the post-college years. Such fluidity in life can cause distress, explained Debby Fisher, PsyD, who spoke to the Fellows in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program last month. She expressed the usefulness of producing at least daily entries in a diary using whichever modality is most comfortable for you – drawing, writing, singing or listening to music – and keeping that diary with you at all times for assisting with understanding yourself and your emotions.

Fisher is well qualified to share emotional management tools as she is a trained psychologist and independent consultant. She has vast experience in both direct therapy with clients and helping implement system changes for nonprofit entities and large social service programs. She believes taking time to recognize the self and understanding how the self works is an important way to prompt change – from the inward out, as well as from the outside in. [continue reading…]

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson smiling in front of the state flag.Little Rock, Arkansas, Oct. 23 – At the beginning of this month, state leaders gathered at the Capitol in Little Rock to celebrate the beginning of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

“We are excited to see so many new avenues opening up in Arkansas and across the nation for individuals with disabilities to work with so many supportive employers,” said Alan McClain, commissioner for Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. “Every day, we see the talent that individuals with disabilities add to our workforce, but this is the time of year when we want to spotlight their value to our state and our economy.”

According to the Institute on Disability, in 2018, 87,920 Arkansans with disabilities had jobs, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 30.8 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help fight stigmas and advance opportunities for Arkansans with disabilities. “People with disabilities offer a wide range of expertise and play an integral role in our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy,” he wrote in his proclamation. “I encourage my fellow citizens to realize the contributions individuals with disabilities add to our workplaces and communities.” [continue reading…]

The Lex Frieden Employment Award medal, which says "Texas Works Best When All Texans Work".Washington, D.C., Oct. 19 – The Lex Frieden Employment Award, which is given to multiple businesses committed to empowering people with disabilities in the workforce, recently honored the H-E-B Corporate offices of San Antonio and a Chick-fil-A store in Allen City.  These businesses are examples of how the Lone Star State is working to improve its employment rate for people with disabilities.

According to the Institute on Disability, 647,977 working-age Texans with disabilities have jobs, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 39.9 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Greg Abbott has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help raise this percentage.

“Not only must we enhance Texas’ workforce system so it better serves Texans with disabilities,” Gov. Abbott stated. “We must engage in disability employment awareness to ensure that all Texans have an equal opportunity to contribute to the workforce that is the foundation of Texas’ continue success and prosperity.” [continue reading…]

The outside of Festival Foods' 67,000-square-foot store in Hales CornersWashington, D.C., Oct. 16 – Festival Foods is a company that is offering opportunities for employment to the disability community. Employing 170 people with disabilities in Wisconsin, Festival Foods continues to reach out to the disability community as a response to a tight labor market.

Festival Foods is one such example of how this state is maintaining its employment rate for people with disabilities.

According to the Institute on Disability, 144,815 working-age Wisconsinites with disabilities are employed, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 41.9 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Tony Evers has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help raise this percentage. [continue reading…]

Including People with Disabilities in Nonprofits & Foundations Accessibility & Equity Webinar Series. Two separate photos of diverse people with disabilities smiling togetherRockville, MD, Oct. 17 – In an unprecedented new partnership, 19 philanthropic and nonprofit organizations have joined together to present a series of free online training sessions on the nuts and bolts of how to include people with disabilities. The series and partnership comes following the recent release of Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits: A Study on the Inclusion and Exclusion of the 1-in-5 People Who Live with a Disability and What You Can Do to Make Things Better,” which shows that while 75% of the sector wants to include people with disabilities, they don’t know how to do it.

Indeed, despite great intentions, the push for diversity, equity, access and inclusion in the field has not yet led to better outcomes for people with disabilities in our sector. Time and time again, organizations unintentionally discriminate against people with disabilities in their grant applications, programming, events, resources, websites and hiring practices.

“It’s all about getting the skills needed to ensure access, opportunity and equity for people with disabilities,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, the nonprofit which convened the partnership and sessions. “Hence, the series was designed by people with disabilities themselves to specifically complement what people told us in the study that they want to learn, and where there are gaps in equity practices.” All eight sessions will be free and online, with live captioning. There will be absolutely no fundraising solicitation. [continue reading…]

A worker with a disability standing outside Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe wearing a hat and shirt with the restaurant's logo on it Washington, D.C., Oct. 17 – Taziki’s Mediterranean Café has teamed up with Magellan Complete Care to create Taziki’s HOPE program. The HOPE program teaches adults with disabilities transferable business skills while working at the Café or growing herbs.

Taziki’s HOPE program is one such example of how this state is improving its employment rate for people with disabilities.

According to the Institute on Disability, 204,103 working-age Virginians with disabilities are employed, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 40.8 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Ralph Northam has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help advance opportunities. [continue reading…]

Cosmos Ristorante & Pizzeria employee Shawn Denton clocks in before the start of his work shift, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Naples.

Photo Credit: Jon Austria/Naples Daily News

Washington, D.C., Oct. 16 – Through the StarAbility Foundation, Shawn Denton has become a model employee at Cosmos Pizza Naples. StarAbilty Foundation offers the program trailblazer academy, which helps people with disabilities find employment through vocational rehabilitation and employment readiness.

However, The StarAbility Foundation is an exception, as far too many Floridians with disabilities are out of work. This month is the perfect time to examine why.

According to the Institute on Disability, 428,638 working-age Floridians with disabilities are employed, putting the state’s disability employment rate at 34.1 percent. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

As such, Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month to help raise this percentage. [continue reading…]

Three images of Latinx people with disabilitiesWashington, D.C., Oct. 13 – The country is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15, 2019 and ends October 15, 2019. National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates their heritage and culture. It is important to note this includes 5.1 million Latinx living with a disability in the U.S.

The Disability Statistics Compendium, released by Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, shows that the employment rate for Latinx people with disabilities stands at 38.6 percent. At the same time, the employment rate for the broader Latinx community without disabilities is 75.3 percent. [continue reading…]

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