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Help us engage candidates in the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire

Last winter, RespectAbility sent the #PwDsVote Presidential Campaign Questionnaire to all of the presidential candidates. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton responded in full. While several Republican primary candidates did, Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign has yet to return any answers to the questionnaire.

Now RespectAbility has adapted the questionnaire for down-ballot races, focusing on open and competitive senate and gubernatorial races. Each candidate has received a minimum of two emails in July and August and, with the exception of a few with unlisted numbers, a phone call from a RespectAbility Fellow.

However, many campaigns only respond positively to a constituent, which we have seen in North Carolina with two local volunteers who have taken lead in reaching out to their candidates with success.

We are asking for help from people around the country to call their states’ candidates and urge them to complete the questionnaire. Identify yourself as a constituent, but as we are a nonprofit, please do not identify your political party. The questionnaire itself has been written in a way that is acceptable for 501c3 nonprofits, is nonpartisan and is not electioneering. We will not be using this questionnaire to rate or endorse any candidate.

The linked excel list includes candidates’ email addresses, phone numbers, appropriate contact person (where we could identify) and Twitter handles. In the first column, if there is a note saying the candidate already said they are working on it, then please do not contact them as we do not want to upset them if they are already in process.

Our original deadline is this Monday, August 29. All answers will be published in full on http://therespectabilityreport.org/ and emailed out to members of press who cover disability and/or politics in the candidates’ state in an effort for more coverage of the responses. Our goal is for all major candidates of each state’s race to respond so we can publish both (or all) of them together. If candidates do not respond by Monday but respond following the deadline, we will share their responses at a later date as well.

You may not find your state included because there is not an open and/or competitive gubernatorial or Senate race. If you think we missed one, please let us know. Otherwise, you can still be involved by tweeting at all of the candidates.

Here are some Tweet examples:

@ Please fill out @Respect_Ability’s #PwDsVote disability questionnaire: bit.ly/PwDsVoteQ. We’re 20% of country!

@ Don’t ignore 1-in-5 Americans! Fill out @Respect_Ability’s #PwDsVote disability questionnaire: bit.ly/PwDsVoteQ

Please do not hesitate to contact Lauren Appelbaum (laurena@respectabilityusa.org) with any questions or Twitter how-to tutorials.


 

 




 

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Governor Outreach Toolkit

RespectAbility needs grassroots momentum for our goals to really take root. We have met one-on-one with 43 governors but they want to hear from you! RespectAbility has provided media toolkits on how to contact you editorial board and letters to send to your governor. All you have to do is add your name and send them off in support for improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  

You also can like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for real-time updates on our activities, the progress of disability employment and general work to improve the perceptions of people with disabilities.

Media Toolkit

How to Meet with your Governor and Editorial Boards

 


 

Contact your Governor

 Find your Governor’s contact information by State

 List of Governor’s Addresses

You also can download a complete list of Governor Media and scheduling contacts

Sign up to join in the mission to increase employment for people with disabilities

Read the report from the NGA conference on how governors can work to increase employment for people with disabilities.

Sample Letter to Your Governor

Sample Meeting Request

 

     

 


To:         Governor’s Scheduler (put their name)

From:     Your name, organization

On Behalf of: List all the people who want to come to the meeting (6 leaders would be a good number – give their names, titles and organization names)

Re:         Meeting Request with Governor XXXX

Date:

I am writing to schedule a meeting between Governor XXX and leaders of non-profit/non-partisan disability organizations who want to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream: real jobs at real wages.  We stand ready to be Governor XXX’s partner in enabling people with disabilities (PWDs) to work. Sadly, the percentage of Americans with disabilities who are outside the workforce is exactly the same as it was before the ADA was passed in 1990 (70%). This costs taxpayers hundreds of billions in benefits, and our nation massive opportunity costs as many people with disabilities also have extraordinary talents that could be harnessed to make our nation stronger.

We request for Governor XXX to host a statewide summit on disability employment that includes companies, people with disabilities, non-profits, faith leaders, media, government, philanthropists etc. The goal of the summit would be to start a process that involves all the sectors to break the deadlock of poor performance by meaningful public-private partnerships and new thinking. We also urge Governor XXX to:

  •  Use the Governor’s office and leadership to promote progress through personal statements/op-eds/media events on this issue. We hope that the Governor will focus on employment issues not only during disability awareness month but also throughout the year.
  • Make specific commitments to improving the numbers of people with disabilities who are employed in a real job for a real wage, as well as for disability owned businesses to be created and expanded through best practices, state procurement and other policies.

  • Support a change in focus from a failed system of “from cradle to dependency” to  “from cradle to job and independence” thinking. “Employment first” thinking is really the way to go. This means that public school and other services, including transition efforts, must be geared toward successful employment opportunities and that schools be measured on their success.

  • For your disability jobs/new business summit to create a public-private partnership/task force reporting directly to the Governor in order to achieve specific employment goals.

  • Hold people accountable for better outcomes in the public and private sectors so people with disabilities in their state can be empowered to achieve the American dream.

We celebrate the new toolkit offered by the National Governor’s Association (see (http://ci.nga.org/cms/home/1213/index) and hope you will both follow its recommendations in full.

As a nation we need people with disabilities, especially young people with disabilities, in the competitive workforce at fair, competitive wages. Every American who can work should be encouraged to do so.

We look forward to working with Governor XXXXX’s so we can work together to create new opportunities for self-sufficiency and independence for people of ALL abilities in your state. The people listed above would like to attend the meeting and their bios are at the back of this memo.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please call insert your contact information, phone and email.

Thank you!

 


Sample Letter to Your Governor

Dear Governor,

I am writing to urge you to do more to enable people with disabilities to get jobs.  We share the belief that all people deserve the right to achieve the American Dream. We are pleased that the National Governors Association has focused on this in both “A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities,” as well as the new focus, “America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs,” on workforce development. Our goal is to enable people with disabilities to participate in the workforce so they can be as independent as their skills and efforts can take them. More than 9 million working age Americans with disabilities are currently outside of the workforce. According to polls, the majority of people with disabilities want to work. We believe that America cannot afford to lose the talents and energies of those who can and want to work.  Millions of Americans with disabilities have skills and abilities but currently largely sit on the sidelines of our country. Many of them currently live in or near poverty and most want to work to become independent and to make America stronger. We encourage you to enable millions of Americans with disabilities the opportunity to achieve the American Dream by implementing the ideas of the NGA report “A Better Bottom Line.” See here.   Every American who can work should be encouraged to do so. Thus, we sincerely hope you will implement the recommendations of the NGA report plus to host a statewide summit on disability employment that includes companies, people with disabilities, non-profits, faith leaders, media, government, philanthropists etc. The goal of the summit would be to start a process that involves all the sectors to break the deadlock of poor performance by meaningful public-private partnerships and new thinking. Governor, we also urge you to:  

  • Use your office and leadership to promote progress through personal statements/op-eds/media events on this issue. We hope that you will focus on employment issues not only during disability awareness month but throughout the year as well.
  • Make specific commitments to improving the numbers of people with disabilities who are employed in a real job for a real wage, as well as for disability owned businesses to be created and expanded through best practices, state procurement and other policies.
  • Support “Employment First” thinking is. This means that public school and other services, including transition efforts, must be geared toward successful employment opportunities and that schools be measured on their success.
  • For your disability jobs/new business summit to create a public-private partnership/task force reporting directly to you in order to achieve specific employment goals.
  • Dramatically expand proven programs such as Project SEARCH which is a one-year, school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. This innovative, business-led model features total workplace immersion, which facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and worksite-based training and support. The goal for each program participant is competitive employment.
  • Hold people accountable for better outcomes in the public and private sectors so people with disabilities in their state can be empowered to achieve the American dream.

  We are confident that we can partner with you to create new opportunities for self-sufficiency and independence among people in your state who have disabilities. We recognize that the Governor possesses the leadership skills and platform necessary to promote our joint goal of equal opportunities to people of ALL abilities. We thank you for your leadership on this and other issues.  

Sincerely,