This month, EARN continues its spotlight on disability as diversity as we celebrate the talented athletes who participated in the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, and commemorate Women’s History Month by highlighting some amazing women athletes with disabilities.
The 2014 WINTER PARALYMPICS: STRIVING FOR EXCELLENCE
In Sochi, Russia this month, 550 athletes with disabilities representing 45 countries competed in the 2014 Paralympics in the facilities built for the Winter Olympics. Major events included skiing, hockey, and curling, with divisions in the alpine events for athletes who competed while sitting or standing, and for athletes with visual impairments.
Assistant Secretary Kathleen Martinez recently blogged that the Paralympics represent America’s spirit of inclusion; they are “about more than sports; they’re about learning what’s possible.” A compelling ad from Samsung gives us a glimpse into the lives of Paralympic athletes and dramatically illustrates their grueling dedication as they strive to be the best at what they do.
In recognition of Women’s History Month, EARN celebrates some inspiring women athletes who overcame the challenges of disability in their pursuit of excellence and achievement:
In a recent interview in Diversity Executive, Elaine Katz of the Kessler Foundation discussed the importance of employing people with disabilities, the misconceptions about accommodations, and how employing individuals with disabilities can help make the U.S. workforce stronger. “We have 10 million Americans with disabilities, most of whom want to work,” says Katz. “When more people are earning paychecks, the economy improves. People with disabilities can, and want to, contribute to the economy.” Click here to read more.
TECH COMPANIES HIRING WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES THROUGH THE ARC
The Arc has been placing individuals with developmental disabilities at more than 80 companies in the San Francisco area, particularly in the tech sector, which has seen hires at 13 local firms. Salesforce employs 14 people through The Arc, Zendesk is looking to add more, and Twitter just signed on. The Arc is a nonprofit organization that helps adults with developmental disabilities find employment, with the goal of giving employees the chance at a career, not just a job. The type of disabilities of individuals who were placed range from autism spectrum disorders to Down Syndrome. “This obviously isn’t pure charity,” said Todd Janzen, chief demo officer at Salesforce. “What we’ve found with The Arc is we get really dedicated employees. We get someone who does the job really well, and they do it with a smile.” Click here to read more.
OBESITY AS DIVERSITY?
In July, the American Medical Association labeled obesity as a disease, making it more likely to be treated as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Recent articles in Diversity Executive explore the issue of obesity in the workplace and the ramifications of this decision on employers. Click here to read more.
TRAINING VIDEO ON ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
The Federally funded Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program (CAP) has several training videos that demonstrate Assistive Technology (AT) solutions and reasonable accommodations for a diverse range of disabilities. This CAP video demonstrates AT options for people who are blind or have vision impairments. Accommodations may include tools to magnify hardcopy and onscreen text or scanners and screen readers which can output content as Braille or speech. CAP also provides information on products and services for a diverse range of disabilities. Click here to see EARN’s resources on accommodations.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MARTINEZ: PLANNING FOR A YEAR OF DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT ACTION
In her blog this month, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez outlines some of the priorities for the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in the coming year. A major focus of ODEP’s work will be delivering technical assistance to employers, with special emphasis on ensuring that federal contractors and subcontractors are equipped to achieve the goals of the new Section 503 regulations that go into effect on March 24. These historic changes will help ensure that qualified people with disabilities have equal opportunity to find, secure and keep good jobs. Two key resources in this regard are the ODEP-funded Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN). Click here to read the blog.
*In February 2014, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 24.6% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.7% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 46.0%, not seasonally adjusted.
WRP.JOBS: A NEW RECRUITMENT RESOURCE FOR PRIVATE SECTOR EMPLOYERS
Private-sector employers can now use WRP.Jobs, a no-cost online job board, to find pre-screened college students and recent graduates with disabilities looking for internships and permanent positions. The WRP.jobs portal for non-federal employers is a pilot project developed through an innovative partnership between EARN and DirectEmployers. To access WRP.Jobs, employers can visit www.AskEARN.org and click “Request WRP Candidates” to register. Click here to read more.
PERSPECTIVES CONFERENCE OFFERS COMPLIANCE TOOLS, SUPPORT FOR FEDERAL AGENCIES
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) hosted a webinar February 26 for federal agencies around Executive Order 13548, which calls on the federal government to hire 100,000 individuals with disabilities within five years. “You’ve Just Been Appointed a Federal Disability Program Manager—Now What?” provides tools and support for Disability Program Managers (DPMs) to help guide them through the challenges of meeting these hiring requirements. View the archived webinar here. Read more about EO 13548 and other federal employer requirements.
WEBINAR: MAINTAINING EMPLOYMENT THROUGH ECONOMIC ADVANCEMENT STRATEGIES
The LEAD Center is offering a webinar that will provide information on strategies for enhancing employment stability and improving time on the job through the use of economic advancement strategies. Participants of “Maintaining Employment through Economic Advancement Strategies” will learn how to integrate these strategies into their return to work services and hear stories about on the ground implementation. The webinar will be held March 26 from 3:00-4:30 PM EDT.
ROLE CALL: TOOLS FOR COMPLIANCE
It is important that employers periodically review job qualification standards for each position in their organization to ensure that these do not screen out candidates and employees with disabilities. Check out EARN’s latest resources on conducting a job analysis and writing job descriptions. To learn more about Section 503 requirements for reviewing job qualifications, visit the OFCCP website. For more information and additional resources including EARN’s fact sheets on the new VEVRAA and Section 503 regulations, visit www.askearn.org.
GOVERNOR WALKER SIGNS BILL TO INCREASE JOB TRAINING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a bill that spends more than $35 million on worker training efforts. The money will go toward a series of grants to help eliminate technical college waiting lists for high-demand fields, help high school students get job training for high-demand jobs and help people with disabilities find work. Click here to read more.
DISABILITY STATUS REPORT WEBINAR, APRIL 1
Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute (EDI) will host a free online webinar on April 1 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT to present the findings of the 2012 Disability Status Report. This presentation will explore the Census Bureau’s December 2013 release of data from the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) related to disability and employment, education, poverty, household income and labor earnings. The webinar will be captioned. Click here to register for the Disability Status Report webinar.
PARALYZED PATIENTS HOPE REWALK EXOSKELETON GETS APPROVED BY FDA
A robotic exoskeleton developed by Argo Medical Technologies in Israel may assist people who are paralyzed in taking steps. The ReWalk has an external frame that adjusts to a patient’s legs, with motors that provide movement at the hips and knees and a computer that coordinates movement into a walking pattern. The device is only approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in rehabilitation facilities and not yet for home use. Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy