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In these challenging times, nonprofit organizations, RespectAbility included, find themselves facing a tough fundraising environment due to the COVID-19 and economic crisis. At the same time, due to the same factors, we find the needs for our services to have increased exponentially. Thus, we are especially grateful to our funders, professional staff and volunteers.

We would like to thank the following for financial support of our work: Stanford and Joan Alexander Family Fund; Bank of America Charitable Foundation; Vivian and Raymond Bass; The David Berg Foundation; The Beverly Foundation; the Stanley and Joyce Black Family Foundation; the California Wellness Foundation; the California Workforce Development Board; Carnegie Corporation; the Johnny Carson Foundation; The Coca-Cola Foundation; Shelley and Ruvan Cohen; Comcast NBCUniversal; Cheri Fox; Diane & Guilford Glazer Philanthropies; The Aline and Leo Jacobsohn Foundation; the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles; JP Morgan Chase; the Murray-Reese Foundation; the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation; The New York Women’s Foundation; Richard Phillips; The Roddenberry Foundation; Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation; The Schwartz Creed Foundation; the Marilyn Einstein and Steven Sim Charitable Fund; the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust; Sony Pictures Entertainment; Ann and Andrew Tisch Family Fund; ViacomCBS; the Walt Disney Company; The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; Weingart Foundation; and others.

RespectAbility also wants to thank our terrific volunteer board members: Khadija Bari, Steve Bartlett, Vivian Bass, Linda Burger, Christine Cadena, Ollie Cantos, Stephen Chbosky, Eleanor Clift, Shelley Cohen, Judith Creed, Heidi Daroff, Sneha Dave, Randy Duchesneau, Ila Eckhoff, Andrew Egan, Gabrielle Einstein-Sim, Rick Guidotti, Calvin Harris, Neil Jacobson, Janie Jeffers, Evelyn Kelley, Janet LaBreck, Donna Meltzer, Grace Moss, Jonathan Murray, Jaime Pacheco-Orozco, Richard Phillips, Dr. Victor Pineda, Vincenzo Piscopo, Gerard Robinson, Jim Sinocchi and Delbert Whetter.

This document exists because RespectAbility’s team has laid a great foundation: Nasreen Alkhateeb, Franklin Anderson, Lauren Appelbaum, Eric Ascher, Debbie Fink, Lauren Gilbert, Philip Kahn-Pauli, Matan Koch, Tatiana Lee, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Leah Romond, Ben Spangenberg and Joshua Steinberg. It is also a testament to our summer 2020 National Leadership Fellows: Autumn Blalock, Lily Coltoff, KiAnna Dorsey, Lizzy Francis, Maria Heredia, Nicole Homerin, Chiquita Jackson, Laka Negassa, Ben Rosloff, Stephanie Santo, Angelique Uwabera and Blair Webb.

Special mention must be made of those who did the real work behind this guide. RespectAbility’s professional team of Debbie Fink and Philip Kahn-Pauli were deployed to start pulling together resources. Fink is a former educator, children’s book author and innovator who was commissioned to design an interactive program for students with learning disabilities, bringing it to 4,500 students, educators and parents over a few years’ time. She holds a master’s degree combining education, psychology and public administration from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from American University. Kahn-Pauli is an expert in public policy who helps people with disabilities get the skills and jobs they need to succeed. He has provided testimony on education and jobs for people with disabilities in every state and holds a master’s degree in social policy and philosophy from the George Washington University as well as a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. We also were helped by Heidi Wangelin, one of our previous National Leadership Fellows. This guide was edited by Lauren Appelbaum, who has a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University, undergraduate degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a certificate in secondary school education from Gratz College. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she often publishes articles about the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics.

Special credit on reviewing the accessibility of various resources goes to Baksha Ali, former Community Outreach Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program (Spring 2020); La’Rina Carolina, an alumna of RespectAbility’s Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities (Summer 2019), who also is a web show host and advocate for the Deaf community; and Khadija Bari, RespectAbility board member.

As we began this project, we were blessed when Nicole Homerin, M.Ed. applied for a Community Outreach Fellowship with us. As an incoming doctoral student in special education at California State University, Los Angeles, she has more than a decade of experience working with individuals with disabilities. Homerin received her master’s degree in special education from Boston College, where she was the recipient of the Bernard A. Stotsky/Thomas H. Browne Prize for Excellence in Special Education. In addition, Homerin holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Boston University.

Homerin served as Lead Special Education Teacher at a nonpublic school in Los Angeles for children with multiple disabilities and children who were medically fragile. She spent several years educating children with multiple disabilities at The Campus School at Boston College and in the Deafblind Program at Perkins School for the Blind. She also served as the Assistant Coordinator of Residential Living in the Outreach Program at Perkins School for the Blind. This Outreach Program offers public school students who are blind or low vision with the opportunity to focus on Expanded Core Curriculum areas that can be difficult to address within a school day, such as personal care, health and wellness, independent living and social skills. Homerin did the bulk of the work on this guide and we are deeply grateful for her commitment and thoroughness.

We also want to thank RespectAbility’s chair, Steve Bartlett, a co-author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law 30 years ago. This law gave people with disabilities civil rights and opened new pathways toward independence. This guide builds on that success as well as on the understanding of others that people with disabilities have a right to an education and work – and have talents to contribute – just like anyone else.

As such, our collective goal is to give parents, teachers, students with disabilities and others a roadmap they can follow as they navigate solutions during these challenging times.

Thank you!

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