EARN Newsletter: July 2022
Celebrating Neurodivergent Workers, the ADA Anniversary and More!
EARN in Action
Celebrating Neurodiversity in the Workplace
About 20% of adults in the U.S. identify as neurodivergent. Neurodivergent employees bring many skills and talents to the workplace, including new perspectives, creativity and innovation. To help employers recruit and hire neurodivergent employees and create a workplace culture that is inclusive and supportive of them, and in celebration of the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), EARN is sharing its resources throughout July, including the Neurodiversity in the Workplace Toolkit. The toolkit has information on workplace accommodations, business benefits, performance management, mentorship and more.
Best Practices for Federal Contractors
A new online guide developed by EARN and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) offers strategies to help federal contractors comply with their obligations under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and attract, hire, advance and retain employees with disabilities. The guide builds on EARN's Inclusion@Work Framework, which outlines seven components of a disability-inclusive workplace, and includes best practices for implementing them. It also provides a variety of resources from OFCCP, the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and others.
Employer Case Study
A new employer case study highlights an innovative pre-apprenticeship program that trains workers with disabilities for jobs in advanced manufacturing. The program was developed through a partnership between FALA Technologies, a family-owned manufacturing and engineering company in New York’s Hudson Valley, and a local nonprofit organization, the Resource Center for Accessible Living. The partnership has not only helped FALA meet its growing talent needs in a tight labor market, but also offers a model for other companies interested in developing or expanding their disability employment initiatives.
Federal Hiring Authorities from a Disability Perspective
Just over a year ago, on June 25, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. The EO recognizes that the Federal Government must be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility and that federal agencies must work to increase federal employment of people with disabilities. To assist agencies in these efforts, EARN developed a policy brief that outlines several federal hiring authorities that can be used to support employment of people with disabilities, including those with targeted disabilities and disabled veterans.
Disability Employment in the News
National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme Announced
The Department of Labor recently announced that the theme of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) will be “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” Celebrated every October, NDEAM honors the many contributions people with disabilities make to America’s workplaces and economy. “A strong workforce is the sum of many parts, and disability has always been a key part of the equation,” said the Department’s Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn M. Williams. “People with disabilities make up a wonderfully multifaceted group. By recognizing the full complexion of our community, we can ensure our efforts to achieve disability inclusion are, in fact, truly inclusive.”
Disability Pride Month
July is Disability Pride Month, a time to celebrate disability as an identity and fight against stigma and ableism. It is also an opportune time to explore ways to make the world more accessible and inclusive. The American Bar Association has a variety of information and resources to help employers and others celebrate all month long, including the “21-Day Disability Equity Habit-Building Challenge©,” which includes short daily assignments, such as readings, videos and podcasts, as well as discussion questions.
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (MMHAM) is observed each July to bring attention to the unique mental health challenges racial and ethnic minority populations in the U.S. face, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the month, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health is sharing tools and resources to help address the stigma about mental health conditions among racial and ethnic minority populations and provide information about access to treatment options.
Disability Employment and the Digital Divide
A recent report from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) explores the role that lack of access to the internet and inaccessibility of career websites play in employment outcomes for people with disabilities. “Disability and the Digital Divide: Internet Subscriptions, Internet Use and Employment Outcomes” found that workers with disabilities were 13% less likely to have internet access at home and 11% less likely to own a computer, which can limit opportunities for employment. Websites that are not accessible also contribute to higher unemployment rates for people with disabilities.
Accommodating and Retaining Educators with Disabilities
With the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and school safety concerns, it is more important than ever to support educators and help them remain on the job. A new EARN employer case study highlights the critical role workplace accommodations can play in retaining teachers with disabilities. Dianna Ivey, a teacher at Manchester, VT’s Elementary Middle School, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago. Dianna worked with her building administrator and district superintendent to ensure she had the accommodations she needed to remain in the classroom as her condition progresses.