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April 27th, 2016 by

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April 27, 2016

What’s New

Top Companies for Diversity, Including Disability
DiversityInc released its list of 2016 “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” last week at an event in New York City attracting more than 900 senior executives. Kaiser Permanente took the top spot in the rankings. Also released were 13 lists for select specialty areas, including a “Top 9 Companies for People with Disabilities.” Leading that list was Northrop Grumman, followed by Lockheed Martin, EY, Comcast NBCUniversal, Accenture, Sodexo, Prudential Financial, Monsanto and The Hartford Financial Services Group.

Read more about the event and rankings.

Disability Training – Just-in-Time!
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has released two new online training modules: The Value Proposition for Engaging People with Disabilities and Disability Awareness to Increase Your Comfort, Confidence and Competence. These two modules are the latest in JAN’s “Just-in-Time” training series. Fully accessible, these “turn-key” curricula offer an easy way for organizations to demonstrate a commitment to a disability-friendly workplace – and diligence in ensuring all employees understand their responsibilities in fulfilling it. Best of all, they’re free!

Access the training modules.

Section 501 NPRM Webinar Recap
An archive of EARN’s Apr. 14 webinar, Reaffirming the Commitment: Understanding the Proposed Changes to Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, is now available for anyone unable to participate in the live event, which featured Akinyemi Banjo from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy; Aaron Konopasky and Anupa Iyer from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and Bobby Silverstein from Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC. In addition, EARN’s National Project Director, Brett Sheats, wrote a blog post summarizing key takeaways.

Access the archive or read the blog post.

Positive Signals in Disability Employment
According to the latest monthly National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) report issued by the Kessler Foundation and the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, steady economic indicators signal an upswing in the employment rate for people with disabilities. Although the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities decreased slightly from March 2015 to March 2016, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased by almost half a percent, which can be interpreted as a sign of good news to come in the year ahead.

Read the report.

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Mark Your Calendar

Trends from the 2016 Disability Employment Tracker™

May 4, 2016, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET WEBINAR

In this webinar, Barbara Spitzer of the National Organization on Disability and Dr. Pete Rutigliano of Sirota Consulting will share information on the trends revealed by the 2016 Disability Employment Tracker™, an annual corporate self-assessment tool focused on inclusive employment practices.

Register for the webinar.

nTIDE Lunch & Learn

May 6, 2016, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. ET WEBINAR

This webinar, hosted monthly in correspondence with the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly job report, will share results of the latest National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) findings, along with the latest news and updates from the world of disability employment.

Register for the webinar.

Identifying What People with Physical Disabilities Want and Need to Know About Employment

May 12, 2016, 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. ET WEBCAST

This webcast will present findings from research conducted on the employment of people with multiple sclerosis; however, all stakeholders with an interest in improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities, including employers and service providers, are encouraged to attend.

Register for the webcast.

Employer Spotlight

Rising Tide Car Wash

Rising Tide Car Wash

Rising Tide Car Wash opened in 2013 as the brainchild of John D’Eri, an entrepreneur whose son, Andrew, has autism. The Parkland, Florida establishment employs a number of people on the autism spectrum, and both John and Andrew’s brother, who manage the business together, actively work to help other business owners understand the value people with disabilities can add to their bottom line.

Learn more about Rising Tide Car Wash and other inclusive businesses.

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AskEarn.org Spotlight

Recruiting Interns & Recent Graduates

Recruiting Interns & Recent Graduates

With summer right around the corner, many employers may be considering taking on interns interested in gaining work experience in their chosen fields of study. The EARN website offers information to assist in ensuring such opportunities are open to all qualified individuals and a positive experience for employer and employee alike.

Read the Recruiting Interns & Recent Graduates webpage.

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a resource for employers seeking to recruit, hire, retain and advance qualified employees with disabilities. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy under a cooperative agreement with The Viscardi Center. For more information, visit AskEARN.org

 

Preparation of this material was funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, Grant No. [OD-26451-14-75-4-36]. This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Click Here to Subscribe to the EARN Newsletter!

 

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April 25th, 2016 by

 

In February, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment of people with disabilities by federal agencies. To help federal agencies and other interested stakeholders understand the proposed changes, we at EARN recently hosted a webinar dedicated to the topic.

More than 200 people registered, and we were thrilled to be able to engage them with presentations by a number of people with intimate knowledge of the NRPM:  Akinyemi Banjo, Policy Advisor with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (which funds EARN); Aaron Konopasky, Senior Attorney Advisor in EEOC’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)/Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) Policy Division; Anupa Iyer, Policy Advisor in EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations; and Bobby Silverstein, Principal at Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC and a leading expert on disability policy.

Mr. Banjo set the stage, noting that the proposed updates outlined in the NPRM aim to strengthen the regulation and thereby reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to serving as a model employer of people with disabilities.  Mr. Konopasky and Ms. Iyer then provided an overview of the NPRM, noting the differences between the current and proposed rule, which, in addition to combining and clarifying existing requirements, includes two requirements: achieving set representation rates and providing personal assistance services for employees who require them due to disability.

Related to the former, under the current rule, each agency establishes its own goals, while the proposed rule would establish uniform goals across all agencies, specifically 12 percent for people with disabilities and 2 percent for people with certain targeted disabilities.  Agencies’ affirmative action program plans would need to adopt these goals at both higher and lower levels of federal employment (GS-11 level and above and GS-10 level and below).  The reason for this split is to rectify an imbalance; current Office of Personnel Management data show that people with disabilities currently are disproportionately represented at lower levels of employment. Related to personal assistance services, the proposed rule would require agencies to provide them to employees who, because of a disability, need them to help with activities such as eating and using the restroom while at work.

Of course, setting new goals is only part of the equation; agencies must adopt strategies to achieve them. That’s what Mr. Silverstein addressed and what we at EARN were particularly interested in—because many of the best practices he described are things all employers, public or private, can adopt to foster a more disability inclusive workplace, whether because they have to, or want to, or both.

Detailed descriptions about these best practices can be found in Federal Agency Employment Strategies:

A Framework for Disability Inclusion, but a quick summary of examples he cited include expressions of commitment by top leadership; the establishment of agency-wide team/taskforces and/or disability-focused Employee Resource Groups; events and awards; inclusion of EEO efforts in hiring managers’ performance goals reviews; and conducting training and education for all employees.  Additional federal-specific best practices relate to use of Schedule A, which allows agencies use a special authority to hire (and promote) people with disabilities without requiring them to compete for the job, and the Workforce Recruitment Program, which facilitates both internships and long-term opportunities for highly qualified college students and recent graduates with disabilities.

I encourage anyone who was not able to attend to access the webinar archive and/or review EARN’s policy brief on the Section 501 NPRM. Both provide a wealth of insights and information that federal agency representatives and others may benefit from, especially if they are interested in submitting comments on the NRPM, which are being accepted until April 25.

 

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April 14th, 2016 by

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April 13, 2016

What’s New

“Do Ask, Do Tell” Webinar Recap
An archived version of EARN’s highly attended Feb. 18 webinar, “Do Ask, Do Tell: Tapping the Power of Disability Diversity and Self-Identification,” is now available for anyone unable to participate in the live event, which featured presentations by national thought leaders on the topic. In addition, EARN posted responses to questions asked during the webinar that were unable to be answered due to time constraints, and its National Project Director, Brett Sheats, wrote a blog post summarizing key takeaways.

Access the webinar archive or read the Q&A or blog post.

Accessible Online Job Applications: More Than a Best Practice
Two recent blog posts highlight the compelling business case for making online job applications accessible to all qualified candidates, including those with disabilities. In the first, Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu recounts the recent International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference and introduces TalentWorks, a new resource to help employers ensure eRecruiting tools are accessible. In the second, small business digital accessibility leader Sassy Outwater discusses her experiences job searching in the digital age as a person who is blind.

Read Lu’s blog post or Outwater’s blog post.

The Foundation for Inclusion
What’s the foundation for disability inclusion in the workplace? The reasonable accommodation process. And what’s the foundation for that? The interactive process, says Lou Orslene, Co-Director of the Job Accommodation Network. In a recent guest blog post for Disability.gov, Orslene stressed the need for a blueprint for providing reasonable accommodations that clearly outlines what all involved – from recruiters to supervisors to human resource professionals – need to know and do when someone needs an accommodation or adjustment at work.

Read Orslene’s blog post.

EEOC Fact Sheet for Small Businesses
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a fact sheet to help small business owners better understand their responsibilities under the federal employment anti-discrimination laws it enforces, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Preventing Discrimination is Good Business” provides a broad overview of the laws as well as information about EEOC resources available to help small business owners comply with them. To assist the increasing number of small businesses owned by people whose first language is not English, it is available in multiple languages.

Access the EEOC fact sheet.

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Mark Your Calendar

Reaffirming the Commitment: Understanding the Proposed Changes to Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act

April 14, 2016, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EDT WEBINAR

This webinar, hosted by EARN, will address key highlights the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking recently issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in efforts to update, clarify and centralize the standards that it uses to review and approve federal executive branch agencies’ plans for complying with Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. Participation is free, but registration is required. So reserve your spot today!

Register for the webinar.

ADA In Focus Series, The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model: Enabling Accessibility Options

April 20, 2016, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. ET WEBINAR

In this webinar, Part 2 of a series hosted by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, Bill Curtis-Davidson, Senior Director of Policy and Program Services, SSB BART Group, will discuss the Digital Accessibility Maturity Model and how it can help companies design, manage and improve their digital accessibility operations. Those who did not participate in Part 1 of the series, which took place on April 6, can access it online from the registration page.

Register for the webinar.

Building Accessible Online Recruiting and Hiring Systems

April 21, 2016, 2:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET SPEAKER SERIES

This virtual talk, one in a monthly series sponsored by the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT), will feature Denis Boudreau, senior web accessibility consultant for Deque, who will talk about the bottom line argument for accessible eRecruiting tools and the simple steps that web developers and designers can take to ensure that job seekers with disabilities are not excluded from employment opportunities.

Register for the PEAT Talk.

Employer Spotlight

Ultra Testing

Ultra Testing

Four years ago, entrepreneurs Rajesh Anandan and Art Schectman launched an initiative to hire people with autism to work with their software testing company. Today, they run a highly successful New York-based business, Ultra Testing, in which three-quarters of their employees are on the autism spectrum. In support of National Autism Awareness Month, Ultra Testing created a website, Different Better, through which some of their employees, both neurodiverse and neurotypical, share their stories.

Learn more about the Different Better website.

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AskEarn.org Spotlight

Section 501 NPRM Policy Brief

Section 501 NPRM Policy Brief

In February, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment of people with disabilities by federal agencies. In addition to combining and clarifying existing requirements, the proposed changes address set representation rates and the provision of personal assistance services. This EARN policy brief summarizes the NPRM in order to assist stakeholders in submitting comments, which are due by April 25.

Read the Section 501 policy brief.

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a resource for employers seeking to recruit, hire, retain and advance qualified employees with disabilities. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy under a cooperative agreement with The Viscardi Center. For more information, visit AskEARN.org

 

Preparation of this material was funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, Grant No. [OD-26451-14-75-4-36]. This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Click Here to Subscribe to the EARN Newsletter!

 

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April 3rd, 2016 by

 

By Brett Sheats, National Project Director, Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)

A few weeks ago, EARN had the pleasure of hosting a webinar on encouraging disability self-identification in the workplace – a topic about which there has been a lot of discussion the last two years, given the updates to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act that went into effect in March 2014.

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