Candidates Detail Disability Policy Positions

Washington, Nov. 4 – A new poll shows that voters are more likely to support candidates who prioritize education, employment and disability policies. So while it’s easy to get stuck in the horse race, readers and viewers are looking for coverage about these important issues. That’s even more true for the 56 million people with disabilities (one in five Americans), more than 35 million of whom are eligible voters (one-sixth of the electorate).

So RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities founded in 2013, asked candidates for president, governor and U.S. Senate 17 questions ranging from topics of employment and housing to education, healthcare and more. Thirty-nine down ballot candidates, including 26 for Senate and 11 for governor, from both sides of the aisle (24 Democrats, 14 Republicans, 1 Green Party) have responded so far, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. An additional nine candidates responded that they are not completing any questionnaires during this campaign season. The responses also are geographically diverse, coming from states all around the country as politicians are paying more and more attention to the disability community. This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

RespectAbility fellows, young individuals with disabilities, compiled the responses and packaged stories by topic. Check them out for great policy answers from a wide variety of candidates:

 Accessibility  Healthcare
 Assistive Technology  Housing
 Community-Based Living  Foreign Policy
 Crime & Police Violence  Rape & Assault
 Criminal Justice Reform  Transportation
 Education  Veterans with Disabilities
 Employment

Utilizing candidate responses to both the down ballot and presidential campaign questionnaires, RespectAbility has released 51 state voter guides.

Key Senate race outcomes could be changed by outreach to the disability community, including the races in Maryland, North Carolina and Wisconsin, where at least one candidate in the race has enacted legislation that has impacted people with disabilities.

Since disability does not discriminate, voters with disabilities are every race, age, ethnic group, religion and gender. As the presidential election has become polarized around racial and ethnic lines, disability issues can create the difference between winning and losing.

View your state’s voter guide below:

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Poll Shows Addressing Disability Issues is a Winning Campaign Strategy

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Tel: 202-365-0787
Email: jenniferm@respectabilityusa.org

NEW bipartisan poll of likely voters presented by top pollsters, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, Ph.D., of Quinlan Rosner Research and Republican Pollster Whit Ayes, Ph.D., of Northstar Opinion.

Download the slide presentation (accessible PPT or PDF).

A pie chart describing the percentage of people who either have a disability connection or do not have a disability connection. 16 perent of people have disabilties. 33 percent of peoople have family members with disabilities. 10 percent of people have close friends with disabilities. 49 percent of people do not have a disability connection.

 

51% of likely voters say they personally, a family member, and/or a close friend has a disability 

Washington, DC. – A survey of 900 likely 2016 voters finds that by an overwhelming majority, voters are more likely to support a candidate who prioritizes a series of policies to advance opportunities for people with disabilities. More than 8 out of 10 voters are more likely to support a candidate who prioritizes “ensuring that children with disabilities get the education and training they need to succeed;” 61 percent are much more likely to support the candidate.

Only 65 percent of youth with disabilities graduate high school, 19 percent less than students without disabilities, a White House study found earlier this month. Youth who do not graduate high school are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system and have a more difficult time entering the workforce.

Similarly, 84 percent are more likely to support a candidate who prioritizes “expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities, so they can succeed just like anyone else;” 59 percent are much more likely to do so.

Only one in three working-age Americans with a disability has a job, despite the fact that studies show that 70 percent of the 21-million working-age people with disabilities are striving for work. More than 78 percent of non-disabled Americans are employed.

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. “People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. Companies including Amazon, Starbucks, Pepsi and others have shown that employees with disabilities are loyal, successful and help them make more money. If we find the right jobs for the right people, it can and does increase the bottom line of companies.”

On the issue of “ending rape and assault of children and adults with disabilities,” voters are 87 percent more likely to support a candidate who makes this issue a priority.

People with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of crime than people without disabilities. People with disabilities between the ages of 12-15 and 35-49 were three times more likely to be victims of violent crimes.

Said Stan Greenberg, Ph.D., “This survey is a big lesson in how many people are affected by disabilities and how much it matters for elected officials to hear their very clear message. They too want politicians to do something about the risks they face and our founding principles: anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. Ending rape and assault and expanding job and career opportunities matters for the partisans but most of all, for the undecided in this year’s congressional elections. They want to be heard.”

Likewise, Republican Whit Ayres commented, “We are accustomed to thinking about ‘soccer moms,’ ‘Hispanics’ or ‘values voters.’ But this poll shows that Americans with disabilities – and those who care deeply about them – are a demographic we need to pay attention to in the future.”

“Today, children with disabilities are three times more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault than children without disabilities,” commented Mizrahi. “Every nine minutes an adult with a disability is sexually assaulted or raped. Growing up as a young adult with a disability, I know personally how traumatic this is. As a survivor of rape, it is incredibly reassuring to know how seriously voters view this problem and how it impacts their voting behavior.”

Strong majorities of likely voters also are more likely to support candidates who prioritize other policies to advance people with disabilities, including, “standing up against Hollywood bigotry and negative portrayals of people with disabilities (65%), ensuring that criminal justice reform specifically addresses the issues of the 750,000 people with disabilities incarcerated in America (58%), promoting positive media portrayals of people with disabilities in TV, Hollywood movies and books (58%).

More than half of voters report that they themselves have a disability (16%), have a family member with a disability (33%), and/or have a close friend with a disability (10%).

The Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican polling firm North Star Opinion Research conducted this bipartisan survey phone survey of 900 likely 2016 voters. This survey took place October 21-24 among national likely voters. Likely voters were determined based on stated intention of voting in 2016, and vote history in 2012 and 2014. Data shown in this deck is among all 2016 likely voters unless otherwise noted.

Margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.27 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Of the 900 respondents, 65 percent were interviewed via cell phone in order to accurately sample the American electorate.

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Unveiling new state voter guides …

Washington, Oct. 27 – While the presidential election has taken up much of the news cycle, attention also is shifting to who will control the Senate. As such, RespectAbility has reached out to candidates running for Senate as well as Governor in the 2016 elections with the #PwDsVote Disability Campaign Questionnaire for Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates for people with disabilities.

RespectAbility, founded in 2013, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Utilizing candidate responses to both the down ballot and presidential campaign questionnaires, RespectAbility has released 51 state voter guides.

35.4 million people with disabilities will be eligible to vote in the November 2016 elections, representing close to one-sixth of the total electorate. That’s an increase of nearly 11 percent since 2008.

Thirty-nine down ballot candidates, including 26 for Senate and 11 for governor, from both sides of the aisle (24 Democrats, 14 Republicans, 1 Green Party) have responded so far, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. An additional nine candidates responded that they are not completing any questionnaires during this campaign season. The responses also are geographically diverse, coming from states all around the country as politicians are paying more and more attention to the disability community. This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

Key Senate race outcomes could be changed by outreach to the disability community, including the races in Maryland, North Carolina and Wisconsin, where at least one candidate in the race has enacted legislation that has impacted people with disabilities.

Since disability does not discriminate, voters with disabilities are every race, age, ethnic group, religion and gender. As the presidential election has become polarized around racial and ethnic lines, disability issues can create the difference between winning and losing.

View your state’s voter guide below:


Alabama Kentucky North Dakota
Alaska Louisiana Ohio
Arizona Maine Oklahoma
Arkansas Maryland Oregon
California Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Colorado Michigan Rhode Island
Connecticut Minnesota South Carolina
Delaware Mississippi South Dakota
Washington, D.C. Missouri Tennessee
Florida Montana Texas
Georgia Nebraska Utah
Hawaii Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico West Virginia
Iowa New York Wisconsin
Kansas North Carolina Wyoming

 

RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report are nonpartisan and do not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

Below are links to detailed answers to the questionnaire. Every major party candidate for president, senate and governor was given an equal opportunity to address these issues and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer. Is your state’s candidate missing? There’s still time for him or her to respond and be included! Check out this linked Excel list for candidates’ contact information so you can call, email or tweet them encouraging them to complete the questionnaire!

State Gubernatorial Candidate View Full Answers
Delaware Colin Bonini (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBonini
Delaware John Carney (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCarney
Missouri Chris Koster (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKoster
Montana Steve Bullock (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBullock
Montana Greg Gianforte (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteGianforte
New Hampshire
(lost primary)
Derek Dextraze (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteDextraze
Oregon Bud Pierce (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVotePierce
Utah Mike Weinholtz (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteWeinholtz
Vermont Sue Minter (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMinter
Vermont Phil Scott (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteScott
Washington Bill Bryant (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBryant

 

State Senate Candidate View Full Answers
Alabama Ron Crumpton (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCrumpton
California Kamala Harris (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteHarris
California Loretta Sanchez (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteSanchez
Florida
(lost primary)
Dwight Young (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteYoung
Hawaii John Carroll (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCarroll
Illinois Tammy Dockworth (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteDuckworth
Illinois Mark Kirk (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKirk
Kansas Patrick Wiesner (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteWiesner
Louisiana Foster Campell (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCampbell
Louisiana Caroline Fayard (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteFayard
Louisiana Abhay Patel (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVotePatel
Maryland Kathy Szeliga (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteSzeliga
Maryland Chris Van Hollen (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteVanHollen
Missouri Jason Kander (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKander
Nevada Joe Heck (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteHeck
Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMasto
New Hampshire Kelly Ayotte (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteAyotte
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteHassan
North Carolina Richard Burr (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBurr
North Carolina Deborah Ross (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteRoss
Ohio Joe DeMare (Green) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteDeMare
Oregon Mark Callahan (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteCallahan
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMcGinty
South Dakota Jay Williams (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteWilliams
Vermont Patrick Leahy (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteLeahy
Wisconsin Russ Feingold (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteFeingold
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We’re Partnering With The Mighty!

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership that will bring RespectAbility USA’s resources in front of The Mighty‘s wide-reaching readership. We will have a growing home page on The Mighty and appear on many stories on the site, allowing us to get many more people involved with our organization.

The Mighty is a story-based health community that has created a platform for members of the disability community to tell their stories, connect with others and raise support for the causes they believe in.

We’re dedicated to providing comprehensive, trusted advocacy and information on disability. With this partnership, we’ll be able to help even more people.

We encourage you to submit a story to The Mighty and make your voice heard.

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Another Person of Color with a Disability Shot Dead by Police

Alfred Olango

Alfred Olango

Alfred Olango, a Ugandan refugee, had mental health disability

Washington, Sept. 29 – It’s happened before and unfortunately will most likely happen again soon if nothing is done. The increasing number of people of color with disabilities being killed by police is unacceptable.

In the latest case, Alfred Olango, an African American man with mental health differences, was shot and killed by a police officer in San Diego, CA.

“Why couldn’t you tase him? I told you he is sick – and you guys shot him!” Olango’s sister is heard in a video recorded by a bystander who posted the video on Facebook. “I called police to help him, not to kill him.”

His sister called police saying he was acting strangely and not himself, informing them of his disability.

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Season Finale of Diverse and Fabulous Emmy-Winner #BornThisWay Airs Tonight

A&E Renews Series for Third Season

Text: The Emmy-Award winning series returns: Born This Way with images of the castWashington, Sept. 27 – Following its Emmy win for outstanding unstructured reality show, Born This Way has been renewed by A&E for a third season. This is the first time a series starring a cast with disabilities has won an Emmy Award.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E, follows the lives of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Because its focus is on showing their everyday lives, including employment, efforts for independent housing, loves and more, Born this Way breaks down stigmas surrounding disability.

Show creator and Executive Producer Jonathan Murray, the innovator behind the first-ever reality-show, The Real World, and many other hit shows including Keeping Up with the Kardashians, credits the show’s positive message and groundbreaking vision of diversity on screen with the show’s success.

“In thinking about the show, we wanted to focus on the ability within the disability and I think that is what is exciting to see,” said Murray. “We are also very proud of the fact that our cast is very diverse. Born This Way is not only the first show to win an Emmy that stars people with disabilities – it also has a cast that includes people who are African AmericanHispanic and Asian. This is a breakthrough for those minority communities as well.”

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Presidential Debate: Will the candidates address the slaughter of people with disabilities in America?

Washington, Sept. 26 – Tonight’s presidential debate will cover three topics, each to be discussed for two 15-minute segments: “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America.” As the New York Times explains, “these topics cover a lot of ground and could refer to anything: the economy, national security, domestic policy or the environment, to name just a few.”

The very flexible nature of these topics will allow debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News to ask about current events and recent topics of conversation. One such topic is the increasing amount of people of color with disabilities being killed by police.

Left to right: Keith Lamont Scott and Officer Brentley Vinson. Vinson allegedly shot and killed Scott.

Left to right: Keith Lamont Scott and Officer Brentley Vinson. Vinson allegedly shot and killed Scott.

In a video recorded by Keith Lamont Scott’s wife, viewers hear her pleading with police, telling them that Scott does not have a gun but that he has a TBI, a traumatic brain injury, and is not going to harm them. The video was released on Friday.

In a speech on Wednesday about employment for people with disabilities, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton spoke about Scott’s death.

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22 Candidates Respond to #PwDsVote Down Ballot Campaign Questionnaire

22 Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, Respond to #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 23 – As more candidates begin to understand the importance of including people with disabilities within their campaigns, they begin to think about issues of critical importance to the disability community.

A just-released Pew poll shows that voters with disabilities span the political and demographic spectrum and can determine who wins the elections.

Political campaigns know that this is a swing vote and Sec. Hillary Clinton has made this a new centerpiece of her campaign. Likewise, Republican Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina has made it central to his re-election effort.

To date, 22 down ballot candidates have responded to the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, devoting time and energy to addressing disability issues. Since the first release earlier this month, seven additional politicians have submitted their responses – making a total of 22 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

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Public Apology

“I made mistakes. I am very sorry.” – RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi


Updated on Sept. 26, 2016:

Dear friends and colleagues,

Recently I made inappropriate comments that suggested that I did not value diversity and inclusion or recognize the harm of racism in our world today. I deeply value every human being regardless of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, veteran status or genetic information.

Does that mean that I am free from mistakes? Absolutely not. I made mistakes, and I am very sorry for them. I ask people who were offended to please forgive me. Using language of inclusion and equality is extremely important. So too are actions. Inclusion takes more than just good intentions. It takes a deliberate action plan, education and implementation.

Outside of RespectAbility, I donate to many worthy causes. When I choose to fund a nonprofit organization, I ask them to live up to high standards of diversity and inclusion. I would expect no less of the organization that I co-founded and now lead as a full-time volunteer. While we sometimes come up short as an organization, RespectAbility tries to ensure every person is accepted and respected equally. We always want to learn and to figure out how to improve our work.

To that end, below are the questions that I ask of all the nonprofits that I fund, and the answers to the questions from RespectAbility written by the staff. We are still a start-up organization and truly value opinions and ideas from others. I recognize I have more to learn and have an open door policy to anyone who would like to discuss this more. I am hopeful to have new partners as we move ahead to end stigmas and advance opportunities for all people with disabilities. But again, I made mistakes and am sorry.

Meanwhile, I hope the answers below will give you a larger picture of our very deep and abiding commitment to the equality of all.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
President, www.RespectAbilityUSA.org

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Clinton Set to Unveil Economic Plan for People with Disabilities

22 Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, Respond to #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Hillary CLinton smiling with American flag as backdropWashington, Sept. 21 – Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is devoting this afternoon’s rally to her plan on creating an economy that values people with disabilities. Per an aide, Clinton will propose an economy that “welcomes people with disabilities, values their work, rewards them fairly, and treats them with respect.”

Just yesterday, reality TV star Nyle DiMarco starred in an ad for Clinton that is completely in sign language with English captions. “We’re used to being ignored,” DiMarco says, before stating that there are a lot of people with disabilities without a voice.

“The voice of your vote is the greatest voice we have,” he concludes, urging all people to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton.

It’s important to note, however, that examples of disability outreach are on both sides of the aisle, especially when you look down ballot. Earlier this month, GOP Sen. Richard Burr‘s campaign produced a new statewide television ad in North Carolina highlighting his work in support of the bi-partisan Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This new law, which also was supported by Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, creates new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities in order to pay for qualified disability expenses.

All of this comes at a time of multiple down ballot candidates responding to the #PwDsVote 2016 Senate & Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, devoting time and energy to addressing disability issues. Since the first release earlier this month, seven additional politicians have submitted their responses – making a total of 22 candidates for Senate or Governor to have provided detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

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