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EARN Newsletter: January 2024

Supporting Small Businesses, Mentorship, and More!

EARN in Action

Supporting Small Businesses

EARN’s new Small Business Toolkit aims to help small businesses build a disability-inclusive, diverse workforce. Embracing disability inclusion offers numerous benefits, including greater business reach, lower turnover rates, and an expanding customer base. Using the toolkit, small business owners can learn how recruiting, hiring, retaining, and advancing people with disabilities results in economic advantages while exploring additional topics such as digital accessibility, reasonable accommodations, financial incentives, and more!

This toolkit was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration; the Job Accommodation Network; the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.; the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

Celebrating National Mentoring Month

Observed in January, National Mentoring Month promotes and celebrates the power of supportive and meaningful mentor relationships. Mentoring, especially in the context of employment, positively impacts workers of all ages and from all backgrounds, including those with and without disabilities. It is an effective strategy to increase employee retention, job performance, and career advancement. EARN’s Workplace Mentoring PlaybookTips for Mentoring Student Interns with Disabilities fact sheet, and Mentoring as a Disability Inclusion Strategy resource offer information, tools, and activities for employers and employees interested in establishing workplace mentoring relationships and disability-inclusive mentoring programs.

Discussing Digital Accessibility, Neurodiversity, and Mental Health

EARN recorded a series of three webinars highlighting factors that advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The first webinar features Disability Rights Attorney Eve Hill as she examines the legal landscape of digital accessibility. In the second webinar, award-winning disabled entrepreneur Luticha Doucette explores strategies to build a workplace environment inclusive of neurodivergent employees. And for the final webinar, Kacheyta McClellan, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), and David McGhee, CEO of the Steve Fund, present on employer practices that consider the mental health and well-being of youth transitioning to the workforce, with a particular focus on youth from historically marginalized communities.

Disability Employment in the News

Providing an Accessible Workplace

In 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in the Federal Workforce. The EO states that the Federal Government must be a model for DEIA and must strengthen its ability to recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain employees equitably. With a focus on access to physical spaces and information, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides an overview of the laws with which federal agencies must comply to ensure employees with disabilities can participate fully in the workplace.

Finding Accommodation Solutions

The winter months bring cold weather and less daylight. This can be challenging for employees, especially those with mental health conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that is exacerbated by overcast skies and poor indoor lighting. Common symptoms include oversleeping, fatigue, lethargy, irritability, stress intolerance, and lack of interest in daily activities. Similar to EARN, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)-funded initiative. JAN offers resources on workplace accommodations to help address employees’ symptoms of SAD.


Q: Honoring our newest employee’s language preferences around disability is important to my organization. Does EARN have resources to help us foster an inclusive and welcoming workplace culture?

A: Certainly! EARN’s Person-First and Identify-First Language resource explains the difference between person-first and identity-first language and offers examples of appropriate person-first phrases. If you are not sure what language your colleague prefers, it is always appropriate to ask!

Learn About Inclusive Language

Employer Spotlight

NASA logo. A blue circle with white stars. A red vector and shooting star orbit around the word NASA.

Ensuring Opportunities for Disabled Scientists

In partnership with the Federal Government’s Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), NASA Goddard Space Center recruits and engages undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities for its internship programs such as the Achieving Competence in Computing, Engineering, and Space Science project (ACCESS). NASA’s accessible centralized application process and inclusive mentoring opportunities ensure space for students with disabilities to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career pathways.

The content in this newsletter does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Mark Your Calendar

February 14, 2024, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET
Virtual Meeting: The Federal Government and Neurodiversity

Open only to Federal Government employees, this meeting will explore model programs to enhance opportunities and outcomes for neurodivergent employees, the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), and strategies to bolster the Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED) community’s efforts to advance employment opportunities for disabled federal employees.

Register for the FEED Meeting.

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