With the recent release of the National Governors Association’s “Blueprint for Governors,” this month’s EARN Spotlight highlights this important document and the significant work governors across the nation are doing to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. EARN has also posted an interview with Governor Jack Markell on the EARN|Exchange blog where he reflects on the NGA’s initiatives to assist businesses.
NGA RELEASES BLUEPRINT FOR GOVERNORS, STATES
The National Governors Association (NGA) and the NGA Center for Best Practices have released “A Blueprint for Governors,” the final publication that is the culmination of Governor Markell’s 2012–2013 initiative, “A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities.” The blueprint focuses on the role of states in assisting businesses in realizing this important and much needed goal. The Blueprint is organized into five topic areas that emerged from discussions over the course of the year and presents examples of actions governors can take in each area.
Governor Markell’s initiative has spurred action in states across the nation. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed the Employment First Act in his state (see article below). Other governors have also taken steps to increase the employment of people with disabilities, including, among others: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard.
EARN staff had the opportunity to speak with Governor Markell about the importance of positive employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, and the critical roles that state executives can play in creating inclusive employment for everyone. The interview is posted on EARN’s blog, the EARN|Exchange.
On July 31, The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) passed S. 1356, a bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) clearing the way for a full vote by the Senate. The overwhelming vote of 18-3 reflects the hard work done by advocates of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). The next step is a floor vote by the entire Senate, which is tentatively scheduled for September or October, after the August congressional recess. Click here to read more.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL TO INCREASE WORK OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) has signed a new law aiming to increase work opportunities for intellectually and physically disabled Illinoisans. The Employment First Act, HB 2591, makes Illinois the 31st state in the nation to implement statewide policy to establish competitive employment in integrated settings as the first option for people with disabilities, and mandates that every state agency working with individuals with disabilities place employment as the primary agenda item. Click here to read more.
OFFICEMAX JOINS FORCES WITH ASPIRE, KESSLER FOUNDATION TO EXPAND EMPLOYMENT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
OfficeMax, a leading provider of office and facility supplies, technology and services, has joined Kessler Foundation, Aspire of Illinois, the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services to launch Aspire CareerLink, a work training facility in Hillside, Illinois. The training facility utilizes a real-world work environment and specialized curriculum to train people with disabilities for meaningful careers within OfficeMax distribution and retail centers. The partnership is facilitated through a grant from the Kessler foundation. Click here to read more.
DMEC AND CORNELL STUDY SHOWS EMPLOYER CONCERN ABOUT AGING WORKFORCE
The aging workforce is an area of mounting concern to employers, according to a recent collaborative study conducted by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) and Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute (EDI) in the Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School. “Absence and Disability Management Practices for an Aging Workforce” is one of the few studies of its kind to examine the aging workforce from the perspective of disability management professionals. The survey was completed by over 500 employers and over 250 disability management service suppliers and was followed by interviews with select respondents. Click here to read more.
WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY MAY PROVIDE NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
A boom in wearable technology may give people with disabilities a new measure of independence. New consumer interest in wearables like Google Glass means that people will have access to cheaper, more versatile devices that can run specialized apps developed specifically for the needs of people with disabilities, said Greg Priest-Dorman, who is advising Google on the Glass project and has been making his own wearable devices since the mid-1980s. Until now, wearable devices to help people with disabilities were generally developed by medical companies or garage hobbyists who gave little thought to a wider consumer market. Click here to read more.
*In July 2013, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 26.4% for persons with disabilities compared with 71.4% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 45.0%, not seasonally adjusted.
MEET THOMAS E. PEREZ, NATION’S 26th SECRETARY OF LABOR
Thomas E. Perez was nominated by President Obama to serve as the nation’s 26th Secretary of Labor, and was sworn in on July 23, 2013. Previously Perez served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice and as the Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Perez also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno and as special counsel to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, who he advised on civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues. For the final two years of the Clinton administration, Perez served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Click here to read more.
UPDATED ADA DISABILITY LAW HANDBOOK NOW AVAILABLE
An updated version of the ADA National Network Disability Law Handbook is now available for free download. The 110-page handbook is written in a practical “Frequently Asked Questions” format. It provides answers to common questions about the ADA, the ADA Amendments Act, the Rehabilitation Act, Social Security, the Air Carrier Access Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Fair Housing Act Amendments. It is published by the Southwest ADA Center, on behalf of The National Network of ADA Centers. Click here for more resources on the ADA.
U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, USBLN® RELEASE JOINT REPORT OUTLINING STRATEGIES FOR DISABILITY INCLUSION
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted its second corporate disability summit on July 25 with the U.S. Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) to highlight inclusion practices related to disability employment. The groups also released “Leading Practices in Disability Inclusion,” a joint report that outlines specific strategies for businesses to recruit and retain individuals with disabilities and create a diverse workforce, marketplace, and supply chain. The report outlines real-life examples that are important in helping businesses realize opportunities provided by disability employment and the featured companies that have demonstrated success in all aspects of their business operations resulting from the inclusion of people with disabilities. The report also includes a tool to initiate and enhance disability-friendly corporate practices. Click here to access the report.
NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH POSTERS NOW AVAILABLE
Start your National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrations now by downloading or ordering hard copies of the poster bearing the 2013 NDEAM theme “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.” Held officially in October, NDEAM is a national campaign to raise awareness about disability employment issues and highlight the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. ODEP encourages everyone to promote NDEAM all year long.
The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service is awarding 22 grants totaling over $5 million to homeless female veterans and veterans with families to provide job training to help them succeed in civilian careers. The services provided by grantees will include job placement, on-the-job and classroom training, career counseling, life skills and money management mentoring, as well as help in finding housing. Click here to read more.
OFCCP DIRECTOR SHIU KICKS OFF 31st ANNUAL NILG CONFERENCE
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu kicked off the 31st annual conference of the National Industry Liaison Group in Indianapolis on July 31. This was Shiu’s fourth consecutive address to the NILG conference, which also featured a speech on August 1 by Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. Click to view photo slideshow.
U.N. FORUM AIMS TO IMPROVE EMPLOYMENT, LIVING STANDARDS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Member States kicked off a three-day meeting at the United Nations in New York last month with the aim of finding ways to improve living standards and employment for the more than one billion people worldwide living with disabilities. The Conference of States Parties is held each year to exchange experience and ideas for implementation of the Convention, which was adopted in December 2006 and entered into force in 2008. The meeting took place two months ahead of the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on Disability and Development scheduled for September 23, which is titled “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.” Click here to read more.
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U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy