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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New Report: Hispanics 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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First Ever Senate/Governor Disability Vote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Sept. 6 – Employment. Stigma. Education. Criminal Justice. Independent Living. Sexual Assault. Housing. Transportation. Adaptive Technology. Fifteen candidates for Senate or Governor have given detailed answers about their views on these issues for people with disabilities.

The more than 56 million people with disabilities in the U.S. have a long list of policy concerns for the candidates running for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2016. Only one-in-three working-age Americans with a disability has a job, despite the fact that studies show that 70 percent want to work. Moreover, according to Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, more than 750,000 people with disabilities are behind bars in our nation. Disability is the only minority group that people can join at any time due to accident, illness or aging.

RespectAbility, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, asked candidates on both sides of the aisle to complete a 16 (for gubernatorial) or 17 (for Senate) question survey. The questionnaire asked for their positions on a range of issues important to the disability community, a group that makes up fully one-in-five Americans. Their answers are posted verbatim and in full on The RespectAbility Report, a publication that covers the intersection of disability and politics.

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

So far, four candidates for governor from Delaware, Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont (two Republican candidates and two Democratic candidates) have submitted a response. On the Senate side, RespectAbility has received eleven responses from candidates. The Senate responses are from seven Democrats and four Republicans from Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida.

Said RespectAbility’s president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, “Since disability doesn’t 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.”

And candidates have begun to use disability in their campaign ads. Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton superPAC, released two ads in swing states targeting Trump’s treatment of people with disabilities – Dante, featuring a 17-year-old African American boy with a disability, and Grace, featuring parents of a child with spina bifida.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan‘s first ad tells the story of her son Ben, who has cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair user and is nonverbal. She is running for New Hampshire’s open Senate seat.

Just today, GOP Sen. Richard Burr‘s campaign is out with 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.

Below are links to detailed answers to the questionnaire.

Text in image: #PwDsVote 2016 Senate and Gubernatorial Disability Questionnaire, mage in background - two individuals at voting booths, one in a wheelchair and one using a white cane

State Gubernatorial Candidate View Full Answers
Delaware Colin Bonini (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBonini
Missouri Chris Koster (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteKoster
New Hampshire Derek Dextraze (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteDextraze
Vermont Phil Scott (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteScott

 

State Senate Candidate View Full Answers
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
Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMasto
North Carolina Richard Burr (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteBurr
North Carolina Deborah Ross (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteRoss
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteMcGinty
Wisconsin Russ Feingold (D) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteFeingold
Florida (lost primary) Dwight Young (R) http://bit.ly/PwDsVoteYoung

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

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Paralympics: Stigma Buster for People with Disabilities

Washington, Sept. 6 – Fully 56 million Americans – one in five – have a disability. Disability does not discriminate – it happens to people of every race, ethnic group, gender and age. It can happen to anyone at any time due to accident, illness or aging. Yet people with disabilities are frequently seen for what they CANNOT do, rather than what they CAN do. The Paralympics show the remarkable physical achievements of serious world-class athletes with disabilities. ESPN has a primer on the Paralympics that is worth reading.

Thanks to NBC, this year’s Paralympics games will have television coverage that is similar to the Olympics television coverage, a first for the Paralympics, which begin tomorrow night. NBC will show 66 hours of the Games, a 60.5-hour increase over the coverage that was given to the London 2012 Paralympics.

This summer’s Paralympics will feature more than 4,300 athletes competing in 22 sports, making this year’s Games the largest to date. The Paralympics is only for people who have one of the 10 eligible impairments, which include visual impairments, amputations and cerebral palsy. To prevent competition where the least impaired athlete always wins, athletes are separated into classes based on the limitations of their impairment. Paralympians spend years training and competing in qualifying competitions to make it to the Paralympics.

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