Q&A: RespectAbility’s Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

‘The right equipment can help people achieve independence’
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Monday, June 26, 2017

WASHINGTON – This summer, RespectAbility, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, will mentor 12 young leaders from around the country who want to advance disability issues and who want careers in media, public policy and advocacy. HME News recently sat down with co-founder Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi to talk about the organization’s successes and future goals.

HME News: Why was RespectAbility formed in 2013?

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi: We really felt the need to take the pity lens away from disability and work for more employment opportunity and empowerment for maximum success.

HME: What have you accomplished in the past four years? What do you hope to accomplish in the next four years?

Laszlo Mizrahi: We’ve met with 46 of America’s governors to talk about how they could realign state programs to enable employment opportunities for the disabled.  In particular, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania have helped create thousands of new jobs for people with disabilities in their states. As for the next four years, we’d like to facilitate what we see as the rising awareness in Hollywood of the importance of including people with disabilities in their movies and TV programming.

HME: Can you tell us about the #RespectTheAbility campaign and what it has accomplished?

Laszlo Mizrahi: We’ve focused on how hiring people with disabilities helps employers make more money.  Frankly, the disabled are often more loyal to employers and have more talent.

HME: Why is it important to improve how the media portrays people with disabilities?

Laszlo Mizrahi: Fairness toward the disabled community shouldn’t be considered simply an act of charity. Right now, viewers almost never see people with disabilities on TV.  For example, 20% of the population is disabled and yet only 2% of actors on TV portray disabled characters.

HME: How do you see the role of HME providers in helping people with physical disabilities live independently and achieve their professional goals?

Laszlo Mizrahi: The right equipment can help people achieve independence.