EARN joins the nation in celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit www.AskEARN.org and the EARN|Exchange blog all month for resources and reflections on the ADA and its implications on employers and people with disabilities.
CELEBRATING THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
In recognition of the 23rd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this month, the EARN|Exchange blog is presenting a series of articles that focus on the ADA and its continued impact on employment and disability issues. “Reflections on the ADA” features an interview with Susanne Bruyere, director of EARN and Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute (EDI).
The Senate voted on July 18 to confirm Thomas E. Perez as labor secretary, making him the latest of President Obama’s nominees to earn confirmation. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest disability rights organization, applauded the Senate’s confirmation. Earlier this year, AAPD and a coalition of 64 disability organizations endorsed Perez’s nomination and worked to educate policymakers on his merits. Perez has helped more Americans with disabilities today live independently, have greater educational opportunities and enjoy a higher quality of life. To find out more information, please go to www.PWDforPerez.org. Click here to read more.
FRESH FROM WAR, VETERANS NEED INTERPRETERS TO LAND JOBS
According to Alex Horton, public affairs specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs, military veterans and hiring managers are at an impasse: employers are looking for the skills veterans possess, but military jargon goes one way and business lingo the other, often leaving both parties lost in translation. A report issued last year by the defense think-tank Center for a New American Security found skill translation was the number one negative factor that hiring managers encountered when screening veteran applicants. Veterans load their résumés with acronyms an emphasize team achievements over individual accomplishments while employers fail to extract familiar concepts and terms from military taxonomy. Click here to read more.
EEOC PLANS TO REVISE JOINT RULES WITH DOJ, OFCCP
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plans to issue notices of proposed rulemaking that would amend joint regulations with the Justice Department and the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs pertaining to disability discrimination complaint processing, according to EEOC’s semiannual regulatory agenda released July 3. EEOC’s regulations at 29 C.F.R. part 1640 establish procedures for processing and resolving complaints or charges of disability bias filed against federal financial aid recipients subject to Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is enforced by the commission, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is enforced by DOJ. Meanwhile, EEOC has similar rules at 29 C.F.R. part 1641 regarding OFCCP, which enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act’s disability bias protections that apply to federal contractors and subcontractors. For both sets of proposed rules, EEOC expects to “revise the definition of certain terms and clarify the procedures for referring these complaints/charges” between the respective agencies. The commission also “will explore ways” to make parts 1640 and 1641 “more consistent” with each other and to establish a memorandum of understanding between EEOC and OFCCP. Click here to read more.
SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR CREATES DISABILITY TASK FORCE
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has announced the formation of a task force to study the employment of South Dakotans with disabilities as part of his Employment Works! initiative. Led by the state Department of Human Services, the task force will bring the private and public sectors together to ensure people with disabilities are a vital part of South Dakota’s workforce, and will offer a broad spectrum of perspectives that will include the voices of people with disabilities and their family members, the business community, representatives of state government, service providers and nonprofit stakeholders. Click here to read more.
NEW GADGETS, TECHNOLOGIES HELP PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FIND WORK
An increasing number of people with disabilities are able to find and keep jobs as well as engage more broadly in their communities because of new technologies specifically aimed at helping them better communicate or complete tasks. “In the professional careers, technology has helped increase the employment rate immensely. It’s actually allowed us to participate in office careers more than ever before,” said Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor, Disability Employment Policy. Ms. Martinez has been blind since birth. Click here to read more.
*In June 2013, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 26.4% for persons with disabilities compared with 71.2% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 44.8%, not seasonally adjusted.
FREE ADA ANNIVERSARY TOOLKIT
On the ADA Anniversary, July 26, and throughout the year, celebrate the advancements made through the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in your workplace. While much progress has been made, much remains to be done.
According to DisabilityScoop.com, there is a new adviser at the White House focusing specifically on disability issues. Claudia Gordon is now serving as a liaison between the Obama administration and the disability community as associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. Gordon replaces Kareem Dale who was the first-ever special assistant to the president for disability policy. Dale, who was hired early in President Barack Obama’s first term, left the post earlier this year. Click here to read more.
REPORT SHOWS PROMISE OF INTEGRATION FALLING SHORT FOR MANY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
A Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee report unveiled today by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) revealed that 14 years later, many states are failing to live up to the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The report, titled “Separate and Unequal: States Fail to Fulfill the Community Living Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” is the result of requests for information sent by Chairman Harkin to all 50 states on the progress made to transition individuals out of institutions. Harkin is the Senate author of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Click here to read more.
NEW WORKPLACE ERGONOMICS REFERENCE GUIDE
The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) is offering a guide to give examples of appropriate workstation ergonomics and advice for employing these strategies. This guide will be helpful for businesses by improving the work of employees and ensuring their safety while operating in the office. Click here to access the guide.
BILLS TO PROHIBIT EMPLOYMENT BIAS BASED ON MILITARY SERVICE, VETERAN STATUS
Under identical bills (S. 1281, H.R. 2654) introduced in the House and Senate July 11, military veterans and current members of the armed forces would be protected against discrimination in employment and housing based on their military status. The proposed Veterans and Service Members Employment Rights and Housing Act would make it an unlawful employment practice to refuse or fail to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate in terms and conditions of employment against any individual because of such individual’s military service. The bill also would bar discrimination against veterans in residential real estate matters by making veterans a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. Click here to read more at Bloomberg BNA.
ACCESS TO WEBSITES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: A NEW FRONTIER
Court decisions and new federal regulations expected this year could clear the way for better access for people with disabilities to the Internet under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA civil rights law, which prohibits discrimination based on disability, was enacted in 1990 before the Internet boom. The law, among its many points, requires that accommodations be made in public areas for people with disabilities. In many cases, lawyers say websites should be considered virtual public spaces and operators forced to comply. Click here to read the report.
FINALIZATION OF VETERANS, DISABILITY RULES ON AGENDA
According to DOL’s semiannual regulatory agenda released July 3, the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs may issue this month its long-awaited final rules updating federal contractors’ affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations toward certain protected categories of veterans and individuals with disabilities. Click here to read more.
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U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy