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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RespectAbility Congratulates WIOA Advisory Committee on Submission of Final Report to Congress

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez with the Committee, January 22, 2015

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez with the Committee, January 22, 2015

Washington, Sept. 16 – Yesterday marked the close of a key part of the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). On Thursday, Sept. 15, the WIOA Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) submitted their final report the Secretary of Labor and to Congress. This Advisory Committee was a two-year effort to examine the most critical employment issues facing people with disability. The Committee worked hard to explore policies and practices that will advance opportunities for people with a wide range of disabilities. The conversations that the Advisory Committee shared were often challenging, but the committee members preserved to complete their mission. You can read the Committee Final Report in full here: ACICIEID Final Report

RespectAbility was honored to have the opportunity to present our insights via our public testimony on several occasions in 2015 and in 2016.

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BREAKING NEWS: Ford Foundation Stuns with New Announcement

headshot of Ford Foundation President Darren Walker

Ford Foundation President Darren Walker

Washington, Sept, 12 – There are no words that can express our joy and appreciation with the Ford Foundation and its groundbreaking president, Darren Walker, for making history today. The Ford Foundation, with this major announcement, is the first major foundation to confront its ableism. Read the full announcement: Ignorance is the enemy within: On the power of our privilege, and the privilege of our power.

Moreover, the Ford Foundation has a deep and meaningful commitment to address it, and make things better. The repercussions that will be felt from this earth-shattering news for the one billion people on earth who have a disability are unprecedented.

Below you will find an op-ed from two of our board members, Rep. Tony Coelho and Rep. Steve Bartlett, who also co-authored the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Please read the full statement from Darren Walker and the op-ed below. If you would like to interview our Chairman Donn Weinberg, President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi or the authors of the ADA who wrote the op-ed below about this historic move,  please reach out to Jennifer at JenniferM@RespectAbilityUSA.org or to our Communications Director Lauren Appelbaum at LaurenA@RespectAbilityUSA.org.

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The Emmys: Seeing African Americans with Disabilities in Hollywood

Washington, Sept. 12 – For the first time in history, a TV show staring people with disabilities has won an Emmy Award – and one of the stars, John, is African American! The glass ceiling-breaking show is Born This Way, A&E Network’s critically-acclaimed and award-winning original docuseries, which airs Tuesday nights at 10/9c. Beating out five other series including previous winners Deadliest Catch and InterventionBorn This Way won the Emmy for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Series at the Creative Arts Emmy Celebration Sunday evening.

The show documents real life as John continues to pursue his dream of becoming a rap artist and entertainer, but has a lot of life skills to master before he is ready to live on his own.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, the series follows a group of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Recently, the series was chosen as one of six honorees for the 2016 Television Academy Honors, an award that recognizes television programming that inspires, informs and motivates.

Until now, no series starring people with disabilities of ANY background has ever won an Emmy Award – and Born This Way includes positive images of African Americans. We know that basketball star Magic Johnson has AIDS, dyslexia and ADHD. Hall of Famer Michael Jordan also has ADHD. Actor Danny Glover has dyslexia. And we are all aware of the successes of famous musicians Harry Belafonte and Stevie Wonder, both of whom are individuals with a disability. It is really important when people with disabilities can be seen by the ABILITIES they have.

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The Emmys: Seeing Hispanics with Disabilities in Hollywood

Washington, Sept. 12 – For the first time in history, a TV show staring people with disabilities has won an Emmy Award– and one of the stars, Cristina, is Hispanic! The glass ceiling-breaking show is Born This Way, A&E Network’s critically acclaimed and award-winning original docuseries, which airs Tuesday nights at 10/9c. Beating out five other series including previous winners Deadliest Catch and Intervention, Born This Way won the Emmy for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Series at the Creative Arts Emmy Celebration Sunday evening.

The show documents real life as Cristina and her fiancée Angel continue to look forward to their wedding, but have a lot of life skills to master before they are ready to live on their own.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, the series follows a group of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Recently, the series was chosen as one of six honorees for the 2016 Television Academy Honors, an award that recognizes television programming that inspires, informs and motivates.

Until now, no series starring people with disabilities of ANY background has ever won an Emmy Award — and Born This Way includes positive images of Hispanic Americans. We know that actress Michelle Rodriguez has ADD and superstar Selma Hayek has dyslexia. It is really important when people with disabilities can be seen by the ABILITIES they have.

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BREAKING NEWS! Glass Ceiling Broken at Emmy Awards!

First Series Starring Cast with Disabilities, Born This Way, Wins

Born This Way cast and producers celebrating their Emmy win on stage at the Emmy Awards. Executive Producer Jonathan Murray holds the Emmy Award.

From left to right: Barry Hennessey, Rowan Wheeler, Jonathan Murray, Gil Goldschein, Megan Bombgaars, Sean McElwee, Cristina Sanz, Steven Clark , Elena Ashmore, John Tucker, Rachel Osterbach, Laura Korkorian (standing behind Rachel)

Washington, Sept. 11 – For the first time ever, a series starring a cast with disabilities has won an Emmy Award. Born This Way, which is in its second season on A&E, won for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Series beating out five other series including previous winners Deadliest Catch and Intervention. In addition, two episodes from Born This Way were nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program but lost out to HBO’s Project Greenlight.

A&E Network’s critically acclaimed and award-winning original docuseries Born This Way’s honors keep adding up – showing that disability is a winning theme.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E, follows a group 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 Jonathan Murray, the innovator behind the first-ever reality-show, The Real World, and many other hit shows including Keeping Up with the Kardashians, said the cast members of Born This Way remind all of us that “every individual has something to contribute.”

“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 American, Hispanic and Asian. This is a breakthrough for those minority communities as well.”

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New Report Shows Lack of Representation of People with Disabilities in Film

Washington, Sept. 8 – Only 2.4 percent of all speaking or named characters in film were shown to have a disability in 2015, according to a new report by The Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Inequality in 800 Popular Films.

This statistic is not representative of the number of Americans with a disability, which is one-in-five, or 20 percent.

Researchers led by Dr. Stacy L. Smith examined 800 top films from 2007 to 2015 (excluding 2011) and the 35,205 characters in them – noting their gender, race/ethnicity, LGBT status and disability status. This is the first time that an MDSC report included an examination of the presence of disability.

Of the top-grossing 100 films of 2015, 45 films failed to depict a character with a disability. Ten of the films featured a leading or co-leading character with a disability, of which four had PTSD. Only three were women. None were from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups. The majority of the characters with a disability were supporting (54.3 percent) or “inconsequential roles (32.4 percent).”

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New Report: People of Color With and Without Disabilities Absent from Film

Washington, Sept. 8 – Only 2.4 percent of all speaking or named characters in film were shown to have a disability in 2015 and none of the leading character were from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, according to a new report by The Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Inequality in 800 Popular Films.

This statistic is not representative of the number of Americans with a disability, which is one-in-five, or 20 percent. Furthermore, as the report points out, “the portrayal of characters with disability is out of line with population norms in the U.S.” in terms of representation of other demographics – gender, race/ethnicity and LGBT status.

“Depictions of disability are not only marginalized,” the report says, “they also obscure the true diversity of this community.”

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