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May 13th, 2015 by

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May 13, 2015

What’s New
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Official Theme for NDEAM 2015 Announced
Employers across the nation are encouraged to start planning for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2015, following the announcement this week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy of its official theme—“My Disability is One Part of Who I Am.” Although observed annually in October, NDEAM’s theme is announced each spring to assist organizations in planning activities in advance.

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Read the news release announcing the theme and learn how employers and employees can participate.

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Empowering Interns: Voices from the Blogosphere
Two recent blog posts showcase the value of interns with disabilities in both the private and public sectors. On, Randy Cooper, Disability Program Director at the Department of Defense, profiles the career trajectory of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration employee who launched his career through the Workforce Recruitment Program, while on, the Labor Department’s Tiffany Jolliff describes key takeaways from a recent webinar for employers on cultivating talent through internships.

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Read the blog post and read the EARN blog post..

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Employers Encouraged to Recognize Mental Health Month
May is Mental Health Month—and an opportune time for employers to consider ways they can support employees who may have mental health disabilities through effective accommodations. Last month the Employer TA Center hosted a webinar on this topic in collaboration with the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), an ODEP Alliance partner. Although geared toward the higher education setting, the information presented applies to organizations of all sizes and industry sectors.

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View the archived webinar and learn about accommodation ideas for people with mental health impairments.

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WIOA Advisory Committee Meets for Third Time
Members of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities met for the third time this week, hearing from panelists with diverse perspectives and discussing progress made toward developing its recommendations, the first iteration of which will be delivered later this year. A key provision of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the committee includes two employer representatives, Oswald Mondejar from Partners Continuing Care and Steve Pemberton from Walgreens.

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Learn more about the committee.

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Mark Your Calendar
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The State of Employment for People with Disabilities

May 27, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EST WEBINAR
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Sponsored by the Northeast ADA Center, this panel discussion will explore New York’s Employment First initiative, which began in September 2014. In this context, it will examine the negative impact of the employment gap between people with and without disabilities to the state’s economy and how employers and disability service providers can work together to create more integrated employment opportunities.

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Register for The State of Employment for People with Disabilities.

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Pregnancy and Related Issues in the Workplace

June 9, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EST WEBCAST

Some women may need work adjustments in order to continue working during pregnancy, but employers’ obligations to provide them under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Americans with Disabilities Act have never been completely clear. This Job Accommodation Network (JAN) webcast will address these issues, and feature presentations by JAN Lead Consultant Tracie DeFreitas and attorney Jeff Nowak, a nationally recognized leader on related topics.

Register for Pregnancy and Related Issues in the Workplace.

Public Comments on the ICT “Refresh”


The deadline for providing public comments on the proposed “ICT Refresh” is May 28. Released by the Access Board earlier this year, this proposed rule updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act.

Read about the ICT Refresh, including how to submit comments.

Employer Spotlight

Mohegan Sun  Logo

Mohegan Sun

Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino has discovered a partnership with a local disability service provider to be an effective way to fill its diverse staffing needs. To date, more than 100 employees have come on board through the organizations’ joint training program, the Mohegan Sun Inclusion Academy. According to Jeff Hamilton, the casino’s vice president of human resources, the program’s success stems from staff at all levels feeling invested in the program.

Read about the Mohegan Sun Inclusion Academy.

Spacer2 Spotlight

Fostering Disability-Inclusive Workplaces Through Employee Resource Groups

Fostering Disability-Inclusive Workplaces Through Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are considered an exemplary practice that businesses can leverage to foster a culture of inclusion—one in which employees feel safe to self-identify as people with disabilities and obtain the supports they need to succeed on the job. This new Employer TA Center fact sheet explores how ERGs can benefit employees and employers alike.

Read the ERG fact sheet.

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) is a resource for employers seeking to recruit, hire, retain and advance qualified employees with disabilities. It is a service of the National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center for Employers on the Employment of People with Disabilities (Employer TA Center), which 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


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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May 12th, 2015 by

A new report developed by The Conference Board with support from the Employer TA Center explores research related to disability disclosure in the workplace and identifies strategies for encouraging it in the context of the updates to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act that took effect last year.  Based on the results of a survey of 98 companies and extensive interviews with experts on workplace disability issues, Do Ask, Do Tell:  Encouraging Employees with Disabilities to Self-Identify concludes that many companies can and must do more to build a disability-friendly culture conducive to disclosure in order to meet their goals under the new rules.  It also features a case study on Wells Fargo that illuminates effective practices other companies may be able to replicate.

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May 6th, 2015 by

Employers across the nation are encouraged to start planning for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2015, following the announcement this week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy of its official theme—“My Disability is One Part of Who I Am.”

NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, past and present. Although recognized in October, its theme is announced each spring to assist workplaces, individuals and communities in planning activities in advance.

This year’s theme stems from the ODEP-funded Campaign for Disability Employment’s “Who I Am” television public service announcement, which is currently in distribution nationwide. This PSA features nine diverse people with disabilities—some obvious and some not—sharing the many ways they describe themselves, from personal interests to family relationships to occupations. Among them is actor RJ Mitte, well known for his role in AMC’s critically acclaimed television series “Breaking Bad.”

For more information about NDEAM, including specific ideas for how employers can participate, visit and select “National Disability Employment Awareness Month” from the drop-down menu.

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May 6th, 2015 by

by Tiffany Jolliff

Few can argue with the value of professional internships. For college students and recent graduates, they deliver a way to gain skills and learn about employment options through hands-on workplace experience. And the benefits don’t stop there. Internships also offer employers an easy and effective way to evaluate potential employees and cultivate a pipeline of talent for the future—which is a fundamental goal in today’s competitive marketplace.

But did you know that internships can also assist businesses in achieving their workforce diversity goals? It’s something I understand firsthand as an alumna of an internship program for people with disabilities called the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). I landed my current job in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) through the WRP. And while I credit the experience with changing my life for the better, I also know that it was a strategic move on the part of my employer, which leveraged the WRP as a wise and essential recruitment strategy.

Recently, I had the privilege of moderating a panel that examined this very topic. During an April 29 webinar hosted by the Employer TA Center, five esteemed presenters explored the benefits of hiring interns with disabilities and how employers can take advantage of the WRP and other referral services to connect with them. The discussion was both educational and insightful.

Shannon Offord, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at DirectEmployers, provided a walk-through of the WRP website and shared his organization’s role in connecting private sector companies to the resource. He explained that the WRP links businesses to a database of more than 1,800 pre-screened, highly motivated college students and recent graduates with disabilities through the web portal There, you can post permanent and temporary positions, and WRP students can search and apply for these positions using employers’ standard application processes. Only pre-screened WRP students have access to postings on, making it a great source for qualified candidates.

Next, we heard from two representatives from Northrop Grumman—Dan Ellerman, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Anna Cunningham, a former WRP intern who recently became a full-time employee at the company. In describing Northrop Grumman’s numerous disability inclusion efforts, Dan emphasized the importance of strategic partnerships as a recruitment tool, citing Anna as a prime example of the partnership effect. She was working as a WRP intern for the U.S. State Department when the U.S. Business Leadership Network’s CareerLink Mentoring Program placed her in a mentoring partnership with Dan. The rest is history. “I quickly realized that Anna was a talent we wanted working at Northrop Grumman,” he said, and Anna was soon hired into a full-time position. “I think I’ll be working for her one day,” said Dan.

Our other two webinar panelists echoed those sentiments. Kam Wong, Vice President of Planning & Administration in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at Prudential Financial, discussed Prudential’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and cited internships for people with disabilities as a key piece of its recruitment strategy. A case in point? Fellow panelist Eric SoHayda, a Prudential Senior Data Associate who credits internships as key stepping stones in his career journey. Like Anna, Eric participated in both the CareerLink program and WRP, which ultimately led him to land a position through Prudential’s Abled & Disabled Associates Partnering Together (ADAPT) internship program.

The webinar covered a lot of ground, and you can view the archived version on the EARN website. But for those who missed it, here’s a quick recap of our panelists’ advice:

  • Tap into community partners and the WRP program to find and hire qualified interns with disabilities. Shannon reminded employers to visit to learn more.
  • Be thoughtful in building out your internship strategy. Kam encouraged employers to create positions that will be meaningful to both the intern and the organization, and cultivate an environment where the intern will feel valued.
  • Dan and Kam agreed that successful employment experiences occur when managers are knowledgeable about the needs and abilities of their interns and workers with disabilities. While not all people with disabilities need workplace supports, some do, so managers should understand the reasonable accommodation process. That said, interns with disabilities should be treated like every other intern—acknowledge their differences, but focus on their abilities and job performance.
  • Foster mentor/mentee relationships by getting personal and staying connected. Dan and Anna built a great friendship (through their love of food!) and set an early goal of checking in with each other weekly to discuss Anna’s professional development.
  • Internships are an exceptional way for young people with disabilities to gain valuable workplace experience and open career doors. Once you land a position, be yourself and fully engage. In Eric’s words, “Don’t sit on the sidelines; that’s not where the game is played.”

ODEP and the Employer TA Center are incredibly grateful to our panelists for participating in our webinar on cultivating talent. They are living proof that internships pay great dividends that span inclusion, diversity and human capital goals.

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