The Senate passed a jobs bill in June that aims to streamline federal workforce programs and overhaul the job training system for young people with disabilities. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) authorizes employment centers that help with resume writing, job searches, English as a second language instruction and on-the-job training and has specific programs targeting particularly vulnerable groups, such as laid-off workers and disabled veterans. WIOA also authorizes GEAR UP grants to improve college access for disadvantaged youth and governs a system that trains youth with disabilities for the job market. WIOA would work to steer these young people towards integrated jobs. The bill now heads to the House.
DISABILITY AND RETRAINING PROGRAMS HELP AIR FORCE VETERAN
Richard James, an Air Force veteran, was working as an attorney when he suffered a life changing head injury. Richard became addicted to pain medications and ended up being homeless for a while. Thanks to various Department of Labor programs and grants such as the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program and the Disability Employment Initiative, Richard was able to take advantage of a number of services available to him to turn his life around. He is once more working as an attorney and is a “productive member of society.”
In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities cannot be unnecessarily segregated and must receive services in the most integrated setting possible, including employment. That ruling, known as the Olmstead decision, sparked significant changes in how federal, state, and local agencies support people with disabilities and their families. Thanks to recent rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on home and community-based settings, states will be better able to define the best places for persons with disabilities to receive services, based on the person’s preferences, quality of life and access to the broader community. This will reduce isolation and segregation as well as protect individual rights.
LEAVE AS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION: WHAT’S REQUIRED OF EMPLOYERS NOW?
Employers know that the ADA requires them to provide an accommodation that will allow an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her job. In most cases, the provision of such an accommodation in the workplace seems pretty straightforward. What is often less clear to employers is the connection between extended periods of leave—often in addition to leave required under laws like the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—as a reasonable accommodation.
Kathy Martinez, who has been blind from birth, has advocated for decades for the rights of people with disabilities. As the assistant secretary in charge of the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, she travels the country to encourage businesses to hire people who have disabilities. Recently in Boston to address the annual meeting of the National Braille Press, she spoke with Globe correspondent Jack Newsham about the challenges people with visual impairment s still face and her brief career as a child actor.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES EXPAND FOR WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES
Neil McGrath, a resident of Marshfield, MA, became paralyzed from the chest down following an accident when he was 22 years old. After facing multiple challenges, years of unemployment, and dependence on Social Security Disability insurance, Neil has finally found a job thanks to the Work Without Limits program run by the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This program has a network of employers that want to hire people with disabilities and educates them about recruitment, hiring, and accommodations. One of their network employers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, hired Neil to answer phone calls about insurance claims and benefits. Neil is able to work at home and when he goes into the office for training, he found it to be very accommodating to his needs. Neil no longer receives Social Security Disability Insurance and is able to support his family.
*In June 2014, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 25.6% for persons with disabilities compared with 72.2% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 46.6%, not seasonally adjusted.
STORYCORPS LOOKS TO RECORD DISABILITY EXPERIENCE
In preparation for next year’s 25th anniversary of the ADA, StoryCorps is launching the Disability Visibility Project. StoryCorps, a national nonprofit organization that allows everyday people to record casual, one-on-one conversations in an effort to preserve history, is inviting members of the disability community to share their stories over the course of the next year at a traveling booth as well as at locations in San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. These recordings will be part of a distinct collection housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington and will be also featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
FCC LAUNCHES SUPPORT LINE FOR CONSUMERS WHO ARE DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING USING AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE OVER VIDEO PHONE
The FCC has launched a video consumer support service, the ASL Consumer Support Line, specifically designed to enable individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing to engage in a direct video call with a consumer specialist at the FCC. The service will facilitate communication in the callers’ primary language, American Sign Language (ASL).
THINK BEYOND THE LABEL ONLINE CAREER FAIR, JULY 30TH
If you’re looking for a high impact, cost effective way to reach more qualified candidates with disabilities, showcase your company at Think Beyond the Label’s upcoming online career fair on July 30th. According to Beth Grant, Director of Talent Acquisition at Exelon, “Think Beyond the Label’s virtual recruiting events are designed in a way that allows us to avoid travel costs while still having meaningful interactions with high-quality candidates.”
TBTL connects you to hundreds of qualified candidates with disabilities to help keep your business compliant with new regulations
Past events have attracted hundreds of qualified candidates from countless numbers of industries and geographical locations
These high impact, real time events allow you to connect to candidates from companies similar to yours in a highly interactive, one on one environment
Past participants include KPMG, Aetna, Wells Fargo, Pearson and Capital One
To learn more about effective ways to build diverse, inclusive teams as well as to access more information about this career fair, click here.
OPENING THE DOORS OF SMALL BUSINESS: WEBINAR ARCHIVES NOW AVAILABLE
EARN and The Conference Board recently hosted two webinars on opening the doors of small business to individuals with disabilities that are now archived and available for viewing. “Part 1: Moving Up the Ramp” highlights the costs and benefits of employing people with disabilities, hiring, gaining top management commitment, and best practices. “Part 2: Keeping the Doors Wide Open” focuses on onboarding strategies, accommodations, mentoring, and more.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACCESSIBILITY FOCUS OF PUBLIC EVENT, JULY 17
The Federal Communications Commission will host a public event, “Accessing Social Media” on Thursday, July 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event will take place at the FCC Headquarters at 445 12th Street, SW in Washington, D.C. and will be webcast with open captioning at www.fcc.gov/live. The event will facilitate a collaborative, cross-sector exchange of information about authoring tools, client aps, and best practices.