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Washington, Feb. 26 – RespectAbility is releasing its Super Tuesday Disability Vote Guide. The #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire was designed for people with disabilities (PwDs) and those who love them to know where candidates stand on the issues. The questionnaire asked all of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle to comment on 16 disability questions. Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders responded by addressing all of the questions, and have significantly different views on the issues. Dr. Ben Carson and Gov. John Kasich filled out parts of the questionnaire, and also have significantly different views. Despite numerous requests in person and by phone and email, the campaigns of Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump have not yet filled out the questionnaire.

Fully one-out-of-five voters have a disability, and 52 percent of likely voters have a loved one with a disability. Only 34 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities have jobs, despite the fact that the vast majority want to work. More than 11 million working age people with disabilities are now living on government benefits in our country.

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Washington, Jan. 30 – RespectAbility has released its first #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire for people with disabilities (PwDs).

“Fully one-out-of-five voters have a disability, and 52 percent of likely voters have a loved one with a disability. There are 56 million Americans with disabilities, and we have the ability to determine who wins or loses elections,” RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “In the early voting states there are 357,730 people with a disability in Iowa, 166,258 PwDs in New Hampshire, 680,038 PwDs in South Carolina and 357,035 PwDs in Nevada. Our community will play a major role in the outcome of this election, and it is vital for us to know where the candidates stand on our issues.”

The questionnaire asked all of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle to comment on 16 disability questions. Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders filled out all of the questions and former Gov. Jeb Bush filled out almost all of the questions. While there are three candidates who answered the questions very thoroughly, they have dramatically different ideas about how to deal with the issues. It’s extremely important to read their full answers so that you can understand their important differences. Issues in the detailed questionnaire include employment, stigma, education, safety, transportation, housing, healthcare, foreign affairs and other issues. Several of the candidates did not yet take the time to fill out the questionnaire, but Dr. Ben Carson and Gov. Chris Christie filled out parts of the questionnaire.

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#RespectTheAbility Campaign: Spotlight on Iowa

Em’s Coffee Company: Bringing Independence To Independence, Iowa

Emilea Hillman, owner of Em’s Coffee Co.

Emilea Hillman, owner of Em’s Coffee Co.

Independence, Iowa, Jan. 22 – “I like to be the boss.”

That’s one thing Em’s Coffee Co. owner Emilea Hillman likes most about being self-employed.

In a town that has seen several coffee shops go out of business after only two years, Em’s Coffee Co. continues to be a strong, vibrant business since its opening six years ago.  Hillman, who arrives at 6 a.m. to make the coffee and open her business, is seriously committed to her work, her employees, and her customers.

Hillman is well known in Iowa for leaving a segregated workshop and becoming a business owner with the support of her family, the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services’ Self-Employment Program and other agencies. Born with a congenital condition causing a lack of nerve tissue connecting the left and right side of her brain, her parents were given little hope that she would learn to walk or talk, much less that she would ever be gainfully employed.

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#RespectTheAbility Campaign: Spotlight on Iowa

Physical Limitations Don’t Stop the Spece Brothers From Making Their Dreams Come True

Independence, Iowa, Jan. 21 – Brothers Jake and Josh Spece may have spinal muscular atrophy and use wheelchairs to get around, but neither allows his physical limitations to get in the way of his dreams.

Josh Spece, Sue Spece, and Sue’s mother, JoAnn Johnston

Josh Spece, Sue Spece, and Sue’s mother, JoAnn Johnston

While Jake owns Johnston Creek Farms, where he provides customized feeding and tending of baby calves for farms and agribusiness in the area, his brother Josh owns and operates In The Country Garden and Gifts, a garden and gift shop located on the family dairy farm. Josh founded the shop business in 1998 with some artistic collaboration from his mother, Sue Spece.

High expectations and family engagement are key parts of promoting independence and improving employment outcomes for young people with disabilities. It is clear Sue Spece instilled this spirit in her sons from an early age, which is a big factor in ensuring positive results.

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RespectAbility is asking all presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle to fill out a questionnaire on disability issues. 

During this presidential campaign, we have had the pleasure of covering all the candidates and their views on disability issues. Coverage of all the candidates can be found here: www.TheRespectAbilityReport.com. We have large email lists of thousands of people in each of the early primary and caucus states who have disabilities and/or a family member with a disability. As you probably know, 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability, coupled with all of the family members, that percentage increases exponentially to include one in every three households in America.

We are preparing a questionnaire for all presidential candidates on a variety of disability issues. The #PwDsVote Presidential Campaign Questionnaire will be electronic and thus it is vital for candidates to put their positions on their website and give us the specific links to the places you want us to share with the disability community. Candidates may choose to answer each question individually for people with disabilities (PwDs), or to mention PwDs within a larger plan (i.e., jobs, national security and crime plans) for the entire public.

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Image saying VOTE with O being an image of a person in a wheelchair

America has 56 million people with disabilities, comprising the largest minority group in America, and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time.

Washington, Jan. 14 – Ahead of tonight’s Republican debate, the disability community is finally being heard and paid attention to by the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle.

In a new ad released today, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush highlights his fight for the rights of people with disabilities. Last week, Secretary Hillary Clinton became the first candidate to announce an Autism plan following a week of talking about related issues including mental health parity and Alzheimer’s research. Three candidates – Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Rick Santorum – have a section on their websites dedicated to disability rights.

In the past few weeks, nearly all of the candidates on both sides of the aisle have answered questions on low employment rates, high crime rates and lack of accessibility issues while campaigning in Iowa. In comparison, during the 2012 cycle, the word “disability” was very rarely even uttered.

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African Americans with Disabilities Much Less Likely to Be Diagnosed and Receive Services

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 11 – As the Democratic candidates for president address the Black and Brown Forum tonight, the nation’s mayors are calling on the candidates to speak out on urban issues impacting America’s cities.

A major issue in cities across the country is violence. People with disabilities (PwDs) are twice as likely to be victims of crime than people without disabilities. In addition, they are more likely to be victims of police attacks.

“With twice as many Americans with disabilities under physical attack and repeatedly victims of police violence, we have a long way to go in America before people with disabilities can be safe, respected and have the same opportunities as everyone else. Additionally, minorities are far less likely to get the screening and services they need for early interventions that can help them succeed in jobs and in life,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility.

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#RespectTheAbility Campaign: Spotlight on Kwik Trip

Kwik Trip’s Retail Helper Program a “Blueprint” for Other Companies

Exterior of a Kwik Trip Store

Exterior of a Kwik Trip Store

Washington, Dec. 28 – Officially, Luke Cohran’s title at Kwik Trip’s Store 761 in La Crosse, Wisc. is retail helper. Unofficially? He’s the store singer. Whether he’s cleaning the gas pumps, restocking the coolers or checking inventory, 23-year-old Cochran can be found crooning.

“Our customers get such a joy out of Luke,” says Terry Johnson, the store leader who hired Cochran just over a year ago through the Wisconsin-based company’s Retail Helper program, which employs people with disabilities. Job duties include stocking, cleaning and food preparation, with shifts built around employees’ bus schedules. To start, employees work a maximum of 15 hours a week, a schedule that allows them to continue to receive disability benefits while gaining skills and independence. Once they master their job skills, they may apply for other positions at the stores.

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Justin Chappell in a wheelchair interviewing Bernie Sanders using an iPad

Justin Chappell interviewing Bernie Sanders

I’m Justin Chappell, one of The RespectAbility Report’s newest reporters. I also have Spina bifida, and, as a result, use a wheelchair. But this does not limit me. There are negative stigmas out there that discriminate against people with disabilities. But these stigmas are inaccurate and I live a very full life. Today I own my own place, am married to the love of my life, and now, on behalf of RespectAbility, I am interviewing presidential candidates!

The RespectAbility Report is a new online publication sponsored by the nonprofit disability rights and opportunity group RespectAbility. Our publisher, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, worked at Campaigns & Elections magazine and had a newspaper column for many years. Our editor, Lauren Appelbaum, has advanced degrees in journalism and worked in NBC News’ political unit with Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell.

Personally, I have worked for Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, a major disability leader who was key to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), as well as in the Independent Living movement. Our team is filled with self-advocates and experts on disability issues and we have a thriving fellowship program where young leaders can get concrete skills in politics, journalism and public policy. Our publication focuses on the intersection between politics and disability issues.

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People with disabilities twice as likely to be victims of crime

Dec. 2 – In a developing story, at least 14 people are dead and 17 others are wounded in a California shooting on the grounds of the Inland Regional Center, which serves people with developmental disabilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

“We hope for the best for the victims of violence in San Bernardino, California,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility said. “Our hearts and prayers are with them and their families.”

With nearly 670 employees, the Inland Regional Center serves those with developmental disabilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to the center’s Facebook page.

The center has provided services to more than 30,200 people with developmental disabilities and their families for at least 40 years. The nonprofit organization serves children, adults and seniors.

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