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Report Shows Startling Ways People with Disabilities Are Excluded

RespectAbility fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community life.

A new study conducted by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan group which works on inclusion efforts for people with disabilities, found something startling.

The study found that the majority of foundations and nonprofits are excluding millions of people who live with some sort of physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health or other disability. Nearly three-quarters (72%) people who work in the social sector say their organizations have a made a public commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and have policies that prohibit the group from denying people with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in services and activities. Yet, most foundations and nonprofits aren’t doing enough – or anything – to enable people with disabilities to have the access and accommodations they need to fully participate in the good these groups are doing.

So, what can those of us who are committed to full DEI do? RespectAbility outlines some simple, yet important steps to take:

  1. Commit publicly to the inclusion of people with disabilities.
  2. Ensure people with disabilities are included in decision-making positions, not just for issues related to them but for all issues.
  3. Foster an inclusive environment, including the language you use and correct disability etiquette. When you do not know what to do or say, ask the person.
  4. Work with people with disabilities, including organizations like RespectAbility, TAPAbility and
  5. Have an inclusion point person or committee.
  6. Include people with disabilities in your marketing.
  7. Ensure websites and online resources are accessible.
  8. Ensure accessibility of your office and events.
  9. Use vendors with disabilities, or hire people with disabilities.
  10. Promote a disability lens among grantees and members.

The study, “Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits: A Study on the Inclusion and Exclusion of the 1-in-5 People Who Live with a Disability and What You Can Do to Make Things Better” was conducted by RespectAbility. For more information about the study, and for free tools and training for nonprofits and foundations, view:


Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi smiles at camera
President, RespectAbility Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi regularly works with disability organizations, national, state and local policy leaders, workforce development professionals, media, employers, philanthropists, celebrities and faith-based organizations in order to expand opportunities for people with disabilities.

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