In this Issue: EARN on Capitol Hill, Inclusion at REI, & More
EARN IN ACTION
EARN on Capitol Hill
On February 4, EARN was pleased to participate in a briefing for Senate staff about how to ensure websites and other electronic communication tools are accessible to all constituents, including people with disabilities. As part of the event, EARN spoke about how accessible technology fits into the Inclusion@Work employer policy framework. Other speakers included representatives from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology, both of which, like EARN, are funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Learn more about accessible technology.
Rise Up and Be Counted: Strategies to Increase Self-Identification
A strong self-identification program can encourage employees with disabilities to bring their “whole selves” to work and thus is an essential component of a workplace that is truly inclusive. But, getting employees to understand the value of self-identifying can be a challenge. During a webinar last month hosted by EARN and the National Industry Liaison Group, panelists discussed ways employers can counter what research has shown to be the main barriers to self-identification. An archive of the webinar is now available on EARN’s website. Access the archived webinar.
Navigating Inclusion at REI
A new employer success story on the EARN website describes how outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is taking steps to make the company, and by extension outdoor recreation, more inclusive for people with disabilities. For example, to build a workforce that reflects the company’s desired customer base, REI has partnered with the National Organization on Disability to recruit and hire people with disabilities to staff its distribution center in Goodyear, Arizona. People with disabilities also work across the company, including in retail positions and as teachers of its popular “Outdoor School” classes. Read the REI success story.
Accolades for EARN
EARN is pleased to announce that its Mental Health Toolkit recently earned a Gold AVA Digital Award in the category of Web-Based Production/Web Element/Microsite. Centered on an employer policy framework known as the “4 A’s,” the Mental Health Toolkit provides background, tools, and resources employers can use to support their employees’ mental health needs. The AVA Digital Awards program is an international competition that recognizes excellence in planning, concept, direction, design, and production of digital communication. Access the Mental Health Toolkit.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT IN THE NEWS
The latest issue of the Business $ense newsletter, published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy, shares plans for DOL’s yearlong celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also highlights resources available to assist businesses in understanding their responsibilities under the law, among them EARN, the Job Accommodation Network, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ADA Primer for Small Businesses and nationwide network of small business liaisons. Read the newsletter.
ABLE Employer Toolkit
Employees with disabilities, or employees who support family members with disabilities, can incur significant costs to maintain health, independence, and quality of life. Tax-advantaged “ABLE” accounts—named for the 2014 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act authorizing them—can be a key support to some employees impacted by disability, whether directly or indirectly. A new ABLE Employer Toolkit available from the ABLE National Resource Center offers resources employers can use to inform employees about ABLE accounts, for instance, as part of onboarding or periodic employee education. Access the ABLE Employer Toolkit.
VR Turns 100
This year marks 100 years since the establishment of America’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) program, which was created by Congress in 1920 to assist individuals with physical disabilities. Today, VR serves people with a range of disabilities, whether visible or not. It also uses a dual-customer approach, working to helps businesses meet their workforce needs and providing consultation and technical assistance. Employers interested in working with VR can contact the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation’s National Employment Team (NET). Learn more about VR’s Centennial or The NET.
American Heart Month and Age-Related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Month
February is both American Heart Month and Age-Related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Month. It is also an opportunity to learn about workplace accommodation ideas for employees who may have heart conditions or vision impairments. As part of its Accommodation and Compliance Series, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers a wealth of information regarding both. Like EARN, JAN is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Read more about accommodations for employees with heart conditions or vision impairments.
Q: We've heard this year is the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and thought we would use the occasion to educate our supervisory staff on the law's requirements. Can you help?
A: You heard correctly! This year marks 30 years since the ADA was signed into law, opening doors of opportunity for millions of Americans with disabilities, including in the workplace. It is a great idea to honor the anniversary by refreshing supervisors’ understanding of the law. You might also consider educating employees about it, for instance, by informing them about your company’s reasonable accommodation policies and procedures.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
February 14, 2020
Deadline: Signature Employment Grants
The Kessler Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2020 Signature Employment Grants, which support innovative ideas for improving employment for people with disabilities. Any tax-exempt organization may apply, including nonprofit organizations, public or private schools, and public institutions, such as universities and governmental entities. The deadline is February 14. Learn more about the grants.
March 3, 2020
Deadline: Disability Employment Tracker
Sponsored by the National Organization on Disability (NOD), the Disability Employment Tracker™ provides companies a confidential assessment of their disability inclusion policies and practices. Completion of the Tracker by March 3 is required to qualify for the “NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal” and DiversityInc’s “Top 50 Companies for Diversity.” Learn more about the Tracker.
March 4, 2020, 1:00 p.m. EST
Webinar: Building Best Practice: Centralized Accommodation Programs
This EARN webinar will explore a best practice related to reasonable accommodations, centralized accommodation programs (CAP), which consolidate the subject matter expertise necessary to assess, evaluate, and select effective and meaningful accommodations. Participants will learn about key considerations when establishing a CAP and a federal contractor’s experiences implementing one. Register for the webinar.
Social & Scientific Systems
After experiencing a spinal cord injury as a result of being hit by a car in 2009, Chanelle Houston, a research analyst, knew she wanted to get back to work as soon as medically feasible. The feeling was mutual; her employer, Social & Scientific Systems in Silver Spring, Maryland, stood at the ready to make any accommodations she needed to do so. A video profile from the Campaign for Disability Employment shares their story.
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.