AskEARN | EARN Newsletter: March 2023 Skip to main content

EARN Newsletter: March 2023

Remembering Judy Heumann

Remembering Disability Rights Leader Judy Heumann

A U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) blog honors the life and work of pioneering disability rights leader Judith “Judy” Heumann, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 75. In the blog, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams highlights Judy’s groundbreaking efforts to ensure equal access and opportunity for people with disabilities, including her pivotal role in the historic “504 sit-in” at the San Francisco Federal Building in 1977.

As a child, Judy was denied the right to attend public school because she used a wheelchair due to contracting Polio as a young child. She was also denied a teaching license because of her disability and sued the New York Board of Education for discrimination, eventually becoming the first teacher in the state to use a wheelchair. She helped found several disability advocacy organizations and held senior level positions in the federal government, including as Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services during the Clinton Administration and as the State Department’s first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights during the Obama Administration.

“Her courage and fierce advocacy resulted in the Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – landmark achievements that increased access to education, the workplace, housing, and more for people with disabilities,” said President Biden in a White House statement.

EARN in Action: A Focus on Accessibility

EARN to Share Resources on Accessibility Throughout April

Accessible workplaces benefit all workers, including those with disabilities, and help support employee retention and productivity. Employees at every level can play a role in making an organization accessible. Throughout April, EARN will share strategies and information on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter to help employers, human resource professionals, and others advance accessibility within their organization. Learn more about accessibility best practices, how to develop an organization-wide accessibility plan, and the role accessibility plays in an inclusive work environment.

EARN Video Showcases Employers’ Accessibility Efforts

A new video available on features accessibility experts from leading companies and organizations sharing how they ensure products and services are accessible for both customers and employees. Filmed during a meeting of diversity and inclusion professionals hosted by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the video includes interviews with Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, T-Mobile’s Senior Accessibility Strategist Claudia Gordon, and Disability:IN’s Chief Accessibility Officer Jeff Wissel. Throughout the video, accessibility leaders offer advice for employers on effective strategies for advancing workplace accessibility and building support so these efforts are sustainable.

Recording of EARN Accessibility Webinar Now Available

A recorded version of EARN’s webinar “Organization-Wide Accessibility: Everyone Plays a Part” is now available on The webinar, which features guest panelists from Northrop Grumman and Texthelp, explores ways employers can develop and maintain a fully accessible workplace, from creating an organization-wide accessibility plan to encouraging employees at all levels to embrace and implement accessibility best practices. An accompanying learning guide outlines the business benefits of embracing accessibility and provides additional resources for employers.

Disability Employment in the News

Workers with Disabilities in Skilled Trades

As part of an ongoing series exploring disability employment data, DOL published a blog last month focusing on data related to disabled workers employed in skilled trade jobs such as construction, transportation, farming, and maintenance and repair. An analysis of responses to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey found that a quarter of employed people with disabilities are working in skilled trade professions, with the largest number working in the transportation field. DOL also published a data spotlight on employment of Black workers with disabilities in skilled trade professions. Findings in the data spotlight include that 23.6% of Black workers with disabilities are working in skilled trades, with the largest percentage employed in the transportation industry.

Honoring the Achievements of Black Disabled Americans

In celebration of Black History Month, the White House held a “Roundtable with Young Black Leaders with Disabilities.” The event highlighted the achievements of young Black people with disabilities, including Shawn Aleong, a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities; Elijah Armstrong, Founder of Equal Opportunities for Students; Jalyn Radziminski, Director of Engagement for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; Neli Latson, a disability justice advocate; and Raven Sutton, a National Black Deaf Advocates Youth Ambassador. In conjunction with the roundtable, the White House released “The Biden-Harris Administration’s Work to Support Black Disabled Americans” fact sheet, which outlines the Administration’s efforts to advance equity through Executive Orders and administrative actions and by providing funding and resources.

Celebrating Disabled Women During Women’s History Month

Throughout history, women with disabilities have broken down barriers and challenged stereotypes. During Women’s History Month, learn about disabled women who have made significant achievements in art, science, aviation, professional sports, and more by visiting the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum’s “Women with Disabilities” webpage. From Harriet Tubman to disability rights activist Kitty Cone, find out more about disabled women who changed the world.

President Biden Signs Executive Order Expanding Efforts to Advance Racial Equity and Support Underserved Communities

On February 16, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14091: Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through The Federal Government. The new EO expands on EO 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which President Biden signed on his first day in office. EO 14091 will help further strengthen racial equity through federal government support of underserved communities, including disabled people.


Q: My company does work for the federal government and I would like to help my staff understand federal contractor responsibilities under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, especially those related to nondiscrimination and affirmative action for people with disabilities. Does EARN have any resources that can help?

A: Yes, we do! Visit EARN’s Federal Contractor Requirements page to learn more about federal contractors’ and subcontractors’ responsibilities under Section 503 related to nondiscrimination and affirmative action. There you will find strategies for meeting your organization’s disability-inclusion goals, encouraging self-identification, and finding candidates with disabilities. We also offer a Section 503 Best Practices guide that was developed in partnership with DOL’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs. The guide builds off of EARN's Inclusion@Work Framework for Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization and offers strategies and resources for implementing each of the framework’s components.

Visit the Federal Contractor Requirements Page Visit the Section 503 Best Practices Guide

Employer Spotlight

Inditex logo with logos of its brands surrounding it.

Inclusion is a Fashion Statement at Inditex

The world’s largest clothing retailer recently announced that it is significantly expanding its disability inclusion efforts. Inditex, the parent corporation behind Zara and other fashion brands, announced that it plans to double the number of people with disabilities the company employs over the next two years, with the goal of hiring more than 1,500 disabled workers for positions in stores, warehouses, offices, and other vital business operations.

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

Now Open!
Online Event: Mental Health Matters: A Series of National Online Dialogues on Workforce Mental Health Policies

The State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED), an ODEP initiative, launched a series of four online dialogues to explore and advance workforce mental health policies. Through April 3, the public is invited to join these conversations by submitting ideas, as well as commenting and voting on ideas submitted by others, on four priority topic areas:

  • Benefits policies that meet the needs of those with mental health conditions.
  • Access to workplace care and supports for those with mental health conditions and reducing associated social stigmas.
  • Mental health provider and service disparities in underserved communities.
  • Behavioral health workforce shortages and the establishment of state resource systems.

These online public engagement events will build upon and inform the work of the Mental Health Matters: National Task Force on Workforce Mental Health Policy, convened by SEED, to develop resources and policy frameworks that effectively support workers’ mental health needs and bolster the behavioral health care workforce.

Register for the Dialogues.

April 7, 2023, 12 p.m. ET
Webinar: nTIDE Lunch & Learn

This webinar will provide an overview of the National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Jobs Report, as well as updates from the field of disability employment. Presenters include Andrew Houtenville from the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, John O’Neill from the Kessler Foundation, Denise Rozell from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and a special guest panelist.

Register for the nTide Webinar.

April 13, 2023, 1 p.m. ET
Webinar: How Lincoln Park Zoo Creates Full, Just, and Integrated Accessibility

This webinar hosted by the Great Lakes ADA Center will explore how Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo ensures accessibility for the 3.5 million visitors it attracts each year, as well as its hundreds of staff members and volunteers. Learn how accessibility is built into infrastructure projects, educational programs, digital media, staff training, and more. The session will include the opportunity for participants to ask panelists questions.

Register for the Accessibility Webinar.

April 18, 2023, 2 p.m. ET
Webinar: Accessible Events and Conferences: How Accommodating Are You?

Are you planning a meeting or conference? Be sure to join the Great Lakes ADA Center for this webinar to learn how to ensure your event is accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities. Topics will include effective communication, physical access, and program access. Considerations for emergency preparedness will also be discussed.

Register for the Accessible Events & Conferences Webinar.

April 30, 2023
Deadline: HIRE Vets Medallion Award

The deadline to apply for the 2023 HIRE Vets Medallion Award is April 30, 2023. Sponsored by DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, this annual program recognizes employers of all sizes with exemplary track records in recruiting, employing, and retaining veterans, including disabled veterans.

Learn more about the Hire Vets Medallion Award.

Related Content

information about EARN