In this Issue: Self-ID Strategies, Tips for Accessible ERG Events, & More
EARN IN ACTION
Strategies for Increasing Self-Identification of Disability
EARN, in collaboration with the Office of Disability Employment Policy and its Alliance partner, the National Industry Liaison Group, recently published a new guide focused on strategies companies can use to encourage employees with disabilities to self-identify, whether they are being invited to do so for voluntary or required affirmative action purposes. Specifically, Engaging Employees to Measure Success: Innovative Approaches to Encouraging Self-Identification of Disability provides ideas for how to counter what research has shown to be the main barriers to self-identification. It also includes examples of innovative approaches some businesses have used to increase self-identification rates and track progress. Access the guide (PDF).
Planning Accessible ERG Events
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)—which 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer—provide employees an opportunity to network; address common issues and concerns; and receive support from those who share similar backgrounds, interests, or experiences, including people with disabilities. To facilitate interaction among members, ERGs often plan a variety of events, both online and in-person. It is important to ensure such events are open and accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities, even when the ERG itself is not disability-focused. To help, EARN recently partnered with the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology to develop a new fact sheet. Access the fact sheet.
Employer Financial Incentives
As business owners close out their books for 2019, taxes may be top of mind. During year-end tax planning, small businesses in particular may benefit from learning about various financial incentives, including tax credits and deductions, they may qualify for if they hired people with disabilities and/or made modifications to increase the accessibility of their facilities for employees and customers. To help, EARN has a webpage outlining federal and state tax benefits, including many that support worksite accessibility enhancements and accommodations, as well as several initiatives specific to veterans and return-to-work/stay-at-work programs. Access the Employer Financial Incentives webpage.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT IN THE NEWS
Seeking Innovative Ideas for Inclusion
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living (ACL) is running a challenge through which businesses can earn cash prizes to expand their recruitment and retention efforts to be more inclusive of workers with disabilities. Through the challenge, ACL aims to learn about innovative models for disability inclusion that can be replicated by other companies in order to increase employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities and recognize companies that are demonstrating leadership on this critical economic issue. Proposals are due by February 14, 2020. Learn more about the challenge.
Ensuring Inclusive Holiday Gatherings
With the holiday season in full swing, many companies will be gathering employees to celebrate the year past and toast to success in the one ahead. In planning such parties—whether around the holidays or any time of year—it is important to make sure all employees, including employees with disabilities, can join in the festivities. For helpful guidance on planning accessible, inclusive parties, the Mid-Atlantic Americans with Disabilities Act Center’s “Guide to Accessible Events and Meetings” offers tips that can assist with everything from venue selection to catering to food allergies and sensitivities. Access the guide.
Section 503 Focused Reviews
Last month, Craig Leen, director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, issued a statement about the agency’s increased emphasis on Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act through focused reviews and the resources it offers employers to assist in meeting their responsibilities under the regulation. Section 503 requires federal contractors and subcontractors to treat all qualified job applicants and workers equally and fairly, regardless of disability, and to take proactive steps to recruit, hire, retain, and advance qualified individuals with disabilities. Read Leen’s message.
Q: We are considering establishing a central point of contact for accommodations for people with disabilities across our company. Do you have resources to help?
Yes! It sounds like what you are considering is a centralized accommodation program (CAP), which consolidates—whether via a single office, location, and/or staff member—the expertise needed to assess, evaluate, and select effective accommodations. A CAP may also consolidate funding for accommodations. We recently published a guide that explains CAPs in detail, including key decisions involved in designing them. Read Increasing Disability Inclusion: Centralized Accommodation Programs as a Best Practice (PDF).
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
January 14, 2020, 12:00 p.m. ET
Workshop and Webinar: The ADA: Employment Rights and Protections for People with Developmental Disabilities
This workshop, offered in-person at the Arc of Northern Virginia and via webinar, will address the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) protections for both job seekers and employees with developmental disabilities. It is part of a free series of trainings offered by the Arc of Northern Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Participation is free, but registration is required. Register for the January 14 workshop or webinar.
January 31, 2020
Deadline: Disability Equality Index Registration
The deadline to register for the 2020 Disability Equality Index® (DEI) is January 31. Sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN, an EARN partner, this confidential benchmarking tool allows employers to receive an objective rating on their disability inclusion policies and practices; companies that score 80 percent or higher are named “DEI Best Places to Work.” Learn about the DEI.
Vertical Harvest is a hydroponic greenhouse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming that helps meet a year-round demand for local produce in a mountainous area with only a four-month outdoor growing season. Healthy food is not the company’s only product, though. Through a partnership with the state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and service provider CULTIVATE, it also develops employment opportunities for Wyomingites with disabilities. A new documentary, “Hearts of Glass,” chronicles the first 15 months of the company’s operation, including its innovative employment model.
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 K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Disability and Employment. For more information, visit AskEARN.org.
Preparation of this item was fully funded by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy in the amount of $8,000,000 (four-year total grant amount) under Cooperative Agreement No. OD-33975-19-75-4-36. 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.