In celebration of the holiday season, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) offices will be closed beginning December 25, 2013 and will reopen January 2, 2014. As always, employer resources are available online 24/7 at www.AskEARN.org. The staff at EARN wishes you the happiest of holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
CONNECTING RESEARCH TO BEST PRACTICES
At the Employer Practices Rehabilitation Research Center (EP-RRTC) “State of the Science” conference held in Washington, D.C. on October 22-23, employers, researchers, and policy makers came together to explore how best to translate research into practice and ways to implement changes that will positively impact the employment of individuals with disabilities. Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) delivered the conference keynote address and focused on the new 503 regulations, and Judy Young , manager of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), discussed highlights from the research findings and panel discussions.
Workers with disabilities are paid about 10% less than other workers in similar jobs, and 8% less in total compensation, including wages, health insurance and vacation time, according to a new Cornell University study. Research by Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that people with disabilities are more likely to opt for jobs that pay lower wages but offer strong benefit packages. “Employers need to be looking at wage gaps in their own workforce,” said Linda Barrington, executive director of Cornell’s Institute for Compensation Studies. “A lot of companies do that for gender, they do that for race, ethnicity. People with disabilities — and (the) pay gap for people with disabilities need to be included in every company’s checklist as they go through and say ‘do we have fair pay practices.'” Click to read more.
“THE DISABILITY ADVANTAGE”: STRATEGIES FOR INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE STRATEGIES
As part of the Max Starkloff Speaker Series sponsored by the nonprofit Starkloff Disability Institute, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez addressed a diverse audience of employers, job seekers and service providers in St. Louis on December 5. Exploring the theme of “The Disability Advantage,” she spoke about her own experiences as a person with a disability, and discussed strategies for enlightening today’s employers on inclusive workplace practices. EARN staff member Kathleen Lee was in attendance.
(Caption: Assistant Secretary Martinez, second from left with attendees.)
“By working together, I know we can make inclusion not just a buzz word, but a reality,” said Martinez. “Ultimately we can change the landscape of disability employment, because with each person that gets hired, the barrier of fear is lowered.” Click here to read more.
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER SIGNS WORKER TRAINING LAW FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on December 6 signed Senate Bill 274 into law, which is part of his Worker Training initiatives agenda designed to help people get back to work. The measure increases state funding for vocational rehabilitation services and allows the state to maximize federal funds. With this legislation, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development expects to serve approximately 23,000 jobseekers with disabilities over the next two years. This legislation will allow the state to fund nine positions, increasing the number of people served. “This legislation is great news for people with disabilities who want the independence that comes with having a job,” Governor Walker said. “This will allow us to assist more people with employment services and counseling. We can also help more employers hire workers with disabilities, offering a great advantage for both the employee and employer.” Click here to read more.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES REACT TO MANNEQUINS CREATED IN THEIR IMAGE
This month, holiday mannequins in the windows at a clothing store on Zurich’s main drag, the Bahnhofstrasse, were replaced with ones modeled after five disability activists. A video that was developed and circulated across the globe shows standard mannequins being recast to resemble the curved back of Miss Handicap 2010 Jasmin Rechsteiner and the amputated lower leg of Paralympic gold medalist Urs Kolly, among others. Placed in storefront windows and decked out in sequins and bow ties, the figures attract both curious stares and a surprising number of smiles from passersby on the busy downtown street. Click here to view the video.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
December 3rd marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, sponsored by the United Nations. The theme for this year’s commemoration was “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.” The theme calls attention to the challenges that people with disabilities face around the world due to physical environments, transportation systems and information technologies that are inaccessible. The UN calls on member states and people around the globe to take steps to address these societal and structural challenges faced by people with disabilities. Click here to read more.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MARTINEZ HITS GRAND SLAM WITH MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) welcomed Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez to its annual meeting on December 8 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. PBATS, which includes trainers from all 30 Major League Baseball clubs in North America, recently launched a multi-year campaign called “Ability Transcends Challenges” to highlight the talents of people with disabilities through public service announcements, events and other activities. “You, and the entire Baseball community, are in a powerful position to educate businesses about the value and talent people with disabilities add to America’s workplaces and economy,” noted Martinez. Click here to read more.
*In November 2013, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 26.5% for persons with disabilities compared with 71.0% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 44.5%, not seasonally adjusted.
OFCCP WEBINAR SERIES SUPPORTS FEDERAL CONTRACTOR COMPLIANCE WITH NEW SECTION 503 AND VEVRAA REGULATIONS
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has announced that the “Moving Toward Compliance” series will begin December 17, 2013. The five scheduled webinars support federal contractor compliance with the new Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and will focus on data collection, affirmative action program development, and outreach and recruitment requirements under the new regulations. Click for more information and to register.
NEW RULES: ASKING ABOUT DISABILITIES WITHOUT BREAKING THE LAW
The rules that apply for asking about disabilities differ greatly, depending on whether the inquiry is made before or after a job offer, whether the inquiry is about the nature of the disability or a reasonable accommodation, and under new rules for federal government contractors, whether the inquiry is made as part of an effort to undertake affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. So, what are the rules? Click here to read more.
NEWEST DATABASE OF COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES NOW AVAILABLE FOR INTERNSHIPS/CAREERS
Private businesses and federal agencies nationwide offering internship opportunities or seeking qualified temporary and permanent job candidates from a variety of fields can now access the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), a free database of postsecondary students and recent graduates, including veterans, who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace. Federal employers can search the WRP database directly, while private employers work through the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN). EARN will conduct a targeted search of the database to find candidates who match the employer’s requests. Click here to read more about searching for students through EARN.
REGISTER NOW: HOW TO DESIGN AND DELIVER AN ACCESSIBLE WEBINAR
Access to individuals with disabilities, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who are blind or have low vision must be provided. This applies whether you are participating in a webinar or presenting one. The Great Lakes ADA Center has worked together in providing a monthly webinar series and has developed some technical assistance to assist others in ensuring accessibility. This session will examine the use of interactive features, captioning, audio connections, and other features as it relates to those who are planning to provide webinars as well as those who are developing webinar platforms. The session speaker is Robin Jones, Director of the Great Lakes ADA Center. Objectives include:
Be able to identify at least 3 barriers that individuals with disabilities experience when accessing webinar platforms and content and how to address them.
Be able to identify at least 3 features that impact accessibility in the design and delivery of webinar content
Be able to identify features within a webinar platform that need to be considered when choosing among various options
Identify at least 3 resources, and other tools for creating an Accessible Webinar
VIRTUAL CAREER FAIRS ANNOUNCED FOR 2014
Think Beyond the Label announced the dates of their 2014 online career fairs. The career fairs will connect companies to qualified candidates with disabilities from Think Beyond the Label’s vast online community of job seekers and through its partnerships with employment services agencies and student organizations nationwide. Join a career fair to find qualified talent and publicize your commitment to building inclusive, high-performing teams. Click here for more information and to register.
NCRE PRESIDENT’S AWARD ANNOUNCED
Each year, the National Council on Rehabilitation confers the President’s Award, which recognizes a truly superior state-federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) program among state agencies. It is an opportunity to share innovative and creative efforts with colleagues. The recipient of the 5th annual NCRE President’s Award is the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), whose two-term Commissioner James A. Rothrock is a 1978 graduate of the VCU Department of Rehabilitation Counseling. The award was presented to Commissioner Rothrock on November 5, 2013, in Washington, D.C. by NCRE President Jared C. Schulz, Ph.D. Click here to read more.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES TO OFFER CLOSED CAPTIONING ON WIRELESS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Southwest Airlines will be among the first carriers in the United States to introduce closed captioning to its wireless video entertainment product when the low-cost giant rolls out CC in early 2014. The move will come as welcome news to the many deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) passengers who have been calling on airlines here and abroad to offer CC on in-seat and wireless IFE systems. Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy