Washington, D.C., Feb. 24 – As governors convene in Washington, D.C., for the 2017 National Governors Association Winter Meeting, Americans with disabilities are finding their economic outcomes vary greatly based on where they live. For example, 57.1 percent of working-age people with disabilities in Wyoming have jobs, while only 24.4 percent of people with disabilities in West Virginia are employed.
According to the newly released 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, only 34.9 percent of U.S. civilians with disabilities ages 18-64 living in the community nationally had a job in 2015, compared to 76.0 percent for people without disabilities. Out of almost 20 million working age people with disabilities, only 7.1 million people with disabilities have a job. Millions who would rather be working are living on government benefits instead.
However, looking at national statistics only tells part of the story facing millions of job seekers with disabilities who want to become independent and earn an income. Digging into the data compiled by the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC) actually shows serious differences in employment outcomes at the state level. In fact, there are some states where people with disabilities are twice as likely to be employed as in other states.
Wyoming leads the nation with 57.1 percent of their citizens with disabilities employed. Wyoming is followed by the Dakotas where 51.7 percent of South Dakotans with disabilities have a job and 48.6 percent of North Dakotans with disabilities are employed. Other top 10 states include Nebraska with a 48.6 employment rate for people with disabilities, Minnesota (47.5), Iowa (46.3), Utah (45.8), Kansas (42.8), Alaska (42.6) and Wisconsin (41.2).
Minnesota under Gov. Mark Dayton, saw the biggest job gains for people with disabilities out of the top 10 states, with 12,652 Minnesotans with disabilities entering the workforce between 2014 and 2015.
Looking back at RespectAbility’s 2016 report on the best and worst states for workers with disabilities, Hawaii, Colorado and Nevada have since dropped out of the top 10 states. In fact, the number 10 spot has been claimed by Wisconsin, up from number 16 in 2016 and edging out Nevada by 0.1 percent.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker consistently has championed the issue of jobs for people with disabilities both in his past State of the State Addresses and in public appearances throughout the state. In particular, Walker consistently has worked hard to expand the number of highly successful Project Search sites in his state, providing youth with intellectual and development disabilities opportunities to successfully transition from school to work.
|Table 1 – Top 10 States for Workers with Disabilities|
|State Ranking||State||Total # of PwDs (Aged 18-64)||# of PwDs
|Total # Jobs Gained + or Lost –||Percentage of PwDs Employed|
|1||WY||37,643||21,508||+ 4,042||57.1 %|
|2||SD||51,131||26,419||+ 339||51.7 %|
|3||ND||38,112||18,582||– 414||48.8 %|
|4||NE||101,734||49,485||+ 2,194||48.6 %|
|5||MN||297,630||141,257||+ 12,652||47.5 %|
|6||IA||180,139||83,391||+ 1,280||46.3 %|
|7||UT||155,508||71,185||+ 6,085||45.8 %|
|8||KS||184,791||79,132||+ 2,570||42.8 %|
|9||AK||47,039||19,951||+ 1,741||42.6 %|
|10||WI||351,787||144,815||+ 4,327||41.2 %|
Los Angeles, Calif. – As Hollywood gets ready to celebrate the Oscars this weekend, a glaring omission of nominees is evident. No known actor or other individual with a disability was nominated for an Academy Award. By not including authentic disability in the diversity conversation, Hollywood leaves out the largest minority in the U.S.
“Hollywood has to catch up with its audience,” RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “Diversity must really mean diversity – and that includes the one-in-five Americans who has a disability. Disability needs to be a part of every conversation on diversity. When films and television shows lack the inclusion of disability in their diversity efforts, Hollywood is disenfranchising the one-in-five Americans who have a disability.”
The only example of this is Life, Animated, which was nominated for the full-length documentary category. The film shows how Owen, a young man with Autism who was unable to speak as a child, and his father are able to connect using Disney animated films.
Four Oscar Nominations for Best Picture go to Films with Disability Connections
Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture, four have themes or sub-plots related to disability. However, none of those roles are played by an actor with a known disability. Manchester by the Sea includes themes of mental health, alcoholism and drug use. Likewise, Moonlight includes story lines surrounding drug addiction. Arrival, a science-fiction film, includes a child with cancer.
Fences, a film that has received multiple accolades for its racially diverse themes, also includes a disability storyline. Lead character Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington)’s older brother Gabe Maxson (Mykelti Williamson) sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during World War II. Children in the neighborhood often torment Gabe. When Troy bails Gabe out of jail for disturbing the peace, Troy unknowingly signs a paper that routes half of Gabe’s pension to a psychiatric hospital, forcing Gabe to be institutionalized.
Williamson does not have a disability himself, which is quite common when it comes to casting actors portraying people with disabilities. The Ruderman White Paper on Disability in Television found that non-disabled actors on television play more than 95 percent of characters with disabilities. When an actor mimics someone from any minority group, whether it be racial or disability, he takes a job from an actor who genuinely has that characteristic and perpetuates that group’s under-representation in the industry.
Insights from CSG’s Work Matters Report
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
1:30 p.m. ET
J. Edward (Ted) Townsend III, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
Faced with serious barriers to employment, many Americans with disabilities find new ways to earn an income and enter the workforce. According to the Department of Labor, fully 10 percent of individuals with disabilities who are working are actually their own bosses.
That is why an entire chapter of the Coalition of State Government’s new Work Matters report talked about strategies for state governments to support Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship for people with disabilities. Join us for a detailed conversation with J. Edward (Ted) Townsend III of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Together, we will talk about this ground breaking report and policies that can support the entrepreneurial dreams of people with disabilities.
At RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, we have been working with several partners within the entertainment industry on the full inclusion of people with disabilities – in front and behind the camera. On Feb. 8, we held a webinar with several partners as part of the process of creating a Community of Practice to work on the closely connected issues of disability, diversity, inclusion, poverty and media.
The webinar is being followed up with in-person meetings for interested parties based in Los Angeles and New York City. We are looking for partners to help move the needle on two core important issues: inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and employment of people with disabilities.
Our most recent events were held on on Feb. 21, 2017 in Los Angeles. Throughout the day, we hosted meetings of leaders in philanthropy, workforce development and entertainment industry who care about diversity, inclusion and employment in Hollywood for people with disabilities. There is a great potential to gather committed stakeholders to join together to form a Community of Practice to work on the closely connected issues of disability, diversity, inclusion, poverty and media. We hope this gathering will inaugurate a Community of Practice composed of key stakeholders to move the needle on two core important issues: inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and employment of people with disabilities.
Please contact our Communications Director at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Rockville, Md., Feb. 6 – While many commercials during last night’s Super Bowl focused on diversity and inclusion, the majority did not include people with disabilities.
Coca-Cola reran an ad from the 2014 Super Bowl. “It’s Beautiful” features people of different backgrounds singing “America, The Beautiful” in different languages.
Likewise, Airbnb’s “We Accept” also showcased people of a variety of backgrounds. The ad is set to music with text laid over close-ups of people’s faces that read: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” The ad ended with the hashtag #WeAccept, which went viral by halftime.
Google’s “Google Home” commercial included multiple minority groups by showing homes with rainbow pride flags and mezuzahs and people from all races cooking, eating, dancing and enjoying life.
Yet all three of these ads, which promoted inclusion of diverse people, failed to include people with disabilities, which is the largest minority in America, with almost one-in-five Americans having a disability. The disability community often is forgotten in diversity conversations in Hollywood and elsewhere.
Donn Weinberg re-elected as chair, ADA co-author Steve Bartlett as Vice Chair, Cal Harris Treasurer and Shelley Cohen Secretary
New members include communications stars Andrew Egan and Calvin Harris, philanthropist Aaron Orlofsky, criminal justice expert Janie L. Jeffers and CEO coach Dr. Dee Soder
Rockville, Md., Dec. 13 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, is proud to announce the election of new officers, as well as new additions to the boards of directors and advisors. Rich in diversity and expertise, the board includes a cross section of national leaders from U.S. Congress, Hollywood, philanthropy, communications and private sector. Moreover, the board of advisors added respected leaders in nonprofit management with deep roots in disability issues.
“We are thrilled to bring such a talented group of leaders with fresh perspective to our boards,” stated Donn Weinberg, Co-Founder and Chair of RespectAbility. “People with disabilities have long been denied entry into the workforce, ultimately depriving 70 percent of working-age Americans a chance to impact our evolving economy. The diverse and bipartisan board we assembled is dedicated to this fight.”
In addition to welcoming five new members to RespectAbility’s boards, Weinberg was re-elected chair for another term. Former Rep. Steve Bartlett was elected Vice President. New board member Calvin Harris was elected Treasurer, and Secretary Shelley Cohen was re-elected to serve another term.