A new smartphone app that can detect subtle changes in the voices of persons with bipolar disorder was created to help these individuals go for assistance before a full blown manic episode strikes. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is marked by extreme highs and lows in mood. This app can recognize mood instability so individuals with this impairment may seek early intervention and be treated promptly.
Web developer Helen Chang is blind and works at a multi-national technology services corporation. Helen is just one example of an employee with a disability who has found a job that matches her skillset, and an employer who has an engaged and outstanding employee because of an inclusive culture. The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that talented people with disabilities are able to find, secure, and keep good jobs. The recent update to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act aims to ensure that more employers will foster a culture of inclusion for job seekers with disabilities. Read the article here.
ACCOMMODATING YOUR CLIENTS
“Is your office free of obstacles? Are your restrooms accessible to people with mobility impairments?” An attorney with a solo practice focusing on immigration law recently authored an article in the journal of the America Bar Association highlighting the need for offering accommodations for clients. If you have a business open to the public, there is a strong chance that you will have a client with a disability. As a business committed to inclusive practices, it is important not only to accommodate employees, but clients as well. This article will help readers evaluate the accessibility of their offices and provide common, easy-to-implement strategies to allow equal access to everyone. Read the article here.
FIRST OF ITS KIND HOTEL WILL TRAIN, EMPLOY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The “Arc of Indiana,” an organization that empowers people with developmental disabilities, decided to build an accessible hotel. This unique establishment will also provide training and employment for people with disabilities, giving them the necessary skills and experience to be successful in the hospitality industry. Since this industry is growing at a fast rate, these efforts will be an important step in narrowing the gap in unemployment between people with and without disabilities. Read the article here.
JOB TRAINING GOES HIGH-TECH FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM
Many adults with autism have difficulties with interviewing skills and, consequently, with getting jobs. Recently a virtual reality computer program has been adapted to train adults with autism to improve their interviewing skills. The program simulates an interview and its voice recognition software enables it to give feedback. A recent study done on this software demonstrated an improvement for the group that practiced with the interview simulator before having an in-person job interview. The software is available online for a free trial at jobinterviewtraining.net.Read more here.
MEETING THE DEMANDS OF AN EXPANDING HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE
The health care industry continues to dominate the “list of occupations with high demand” in the next few years. This large demand may be quite promising for people with disabilities, who remain an untapped source of labor in the industry. In March, ODEP staff met with partners to focus on strategies for employing people with disabilities, including veterans, to fill this gap. Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy contends, “People with disabilities not only represent an untapped talent pool that can help respond to looming labor shortages in nursing and other health care occupations, but they also offer significant value and insight that can improve care for patients and families.” Read the blog post here.
COURT SAYS TELECOMMUTING MAY BE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION, ALLOWS EEOC CASE TO PROCEED
Is telecommuting a viable option for employees with disabilities in light of recent technological advances? A recent court case involving the Ford Motor Company and the EEOC on behalf of a former Ford employee with a disability ruled in favor of the employee. Jane Harris suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, causing her to miss a lot of work, which led to her termination. Harris’s request to telecommute was denied by Ford after an unsuccessful trial period. The EEOC claimed that working at home was a reasonable accommodation thanks to advances in technology, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed with in a 2-1 decision. This ruling could have an impact on prior ADA case law as physical presence at a workplace may no longer be necessary for all jobs. Read the article here.
Information about disability data *In April 2014, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 25.3% 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 46.1%, not seasonally adjusted.
NATIONAL DISABILITY AWARENESS MONTH 2014 ANNOUNCED
The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the 2014 official theme of National Disability Employment Awareness Month: “Expect. Employ. Empower.” Observed in October, NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about disability employment and honors the many diverse contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. Read the news release here.
NEW EP-RRTC WEBSITE LAUNCHED
The Rehabilitation and Research & Training Center on Employer Practices Related to Employment Outcomes among Individuals with Disabilities (Employer Practices -RRTC) announces the launch of their new website: www.employerpracticesrrtc.org. The site contains information summarizing the research that was presented at the October 2013 State of the Science Conference along with research briefs, links to papers, and as well as online tools and resources. The site also features short videos clips of representatives from business, government and academia, sharing their perspectives on the importance of the findings of the Employer Practices-RRTC to date. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @EP-RRTC to receive up to the minute information on publications, resources, and related information as it becomes available!
EEOC CAUTIONS AGAINST USING SAMPLE POLICY, FORMS FOR ADA ACCOMMODATION REQUESTS
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released an informal discussion letter that may prompt some employers to reexamine their own policies and forms related to reasonable accommodation requests to ensure the documents comply with the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAAA). In this letter, the EEOC explains why particular statements and questions in the sample disability accommodation policy and related forms may violate the ADAAA. Read more here.
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES ONLINE VETERANS EMPLOYMENT CENTER
A new online resource, called the Veterans Employment Center, is now available for veterans and their spouses to assist them in finding jobs. In connection with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, the Department of Veterans Affairs worked with employers, the Departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and the Office of Personnel Management to design and develop the site and incorporate features of existing online employment tools within government. In addition to job listings, veterans will have access to tools such as resume-builders and military skills translators. Approved employers will also have access to the site, allowing them to search for resumes with specific skill sets. The website can be found at www.ebenefits.va.gov. Read the news release here.
GRADUATION RATES FALL SHORT FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
More Americans are graduating high school than ever before, but students with disabilities remain far behind their peers, a new report finds. Nationally, 80 percent of public high school students earned a diploma on time during the 2011-2012 school year compared to just 61 percent of those with special needs according to data released in April from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Read more here.
COMPANIES ASK WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES TO CHECK THE BOX–AND THAT’S A GOOD THING
Blogger Joe Entwisle is in favor of the new Section 503 regulations, which set a target of seven percent of the workforce of federal contractors and subcontractors to be comprised of employees with disabilities. Joe explains how the self-identification form works and why it opens opportunities for both companies and workers with disabilities. Read the blog post here.
IT STARTS WITH YOU
Recent studies show that 44% of adults with intellectual disabilities are in the labor force and 21% of those face unemployment, more than double those without disabilities. Despite these alarming statistics, people with intellectual disabilities are among some of the top performing employees in their companies. By hiring more people with intellectual disabilities, employers not only gain a valuable employee, but also contribute to making their business more inclusive while setting the tone for others to start doing the same. Read the blog post here.
EARN is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy