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Archive for April, 2015

U.S. Department of Education: A message from President Obama (Apr. 29, 2015)

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Earlier today, President Obama sent the following email to the White House email list. In the email, he talks about the lasting influence of Ms. Hefty, his fifth-grade teacher. We thought we’d pass it along.

I credit my education to Ms. Mabel Hefty just as much as I would any institution of higher learning.

When I entered Ms. Hefty’s fifth-grade class at Punahou School in the fall of 1971, I was just a kid with a funny name in a new school, feeling a little out of place, hoping to fit in like anyone else.

The first time she called on me, I wished she hadn’t. In fact, I wished I were just about anywhere else but at that desk, in that room of children staring at me.

But over the course of that year, Ms. Hefty taught me that I had something to say — not in spite of my differences, but because of them. She made every single student in that class feel special.

And she reinforced that essential value of empathy that my mother and my grandparents had taught me. That is something that I carry with me every day as President.

This is the simple and undeniable power of a good teacher. This is a story that every single kid in this country, regardless of background or station in life, should be able to tell. Sharing stories like these helps underline the vital importance of fighting for that reality.

This week, we’re starting that conversation, and I want you to add your voice to it.

Today, I’ll honor Shanna Peeples as the 2015 National Teacher of the Year — and I’d like you to share which teacher, like Ms. Hefty, helped shape your education. You can do that here, or by using the hashtag #ThankATeacher online.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to a local library that serves as a hub of learning in the Anacostia community of Washington, D.C. America’s librarians, like our teachers, connect us to books and learning resources that help us dream big. They help ensure that we continue learning throughout our lifetime. And that’s something that more kids ought to be able to access.

So while I’m at the library, I’ll announce new efforts to provide popular books to millions of underprivileged children and young adults around the country and connect more students to their local libraries — because we know that reading just 20 minutes a day can make a tremendous difference in a student’s success.

Online, I want you to join the conversation by sharing which book was critical to making you who you are today using the hashtag #BooksForAll. (We all have one.)

And on Friday, as I work on the commencement address I’ll deliver at South Dakota’s Lake Area Technical Institute next Friday, I want you to share with me how far community college has taken you. For a number of folks on our staff here, it’s taken them all the way to the White House.

This week, we’re focusing on those fundamental people, places, and stories that made us who we are today. So whether it’s a teacher who inspired you, a book that changed you, or a college that shaped you — I want to hear from you. We’ll be responding to and sharing your responses all week long.

I’m looking forward to hearing your stories.

President Barack Obama

Environmental Justice: EPA’s screening and mapping tool webinars (Apr. 28, 2015)

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

The U.S. EPA will be holding three webinars about its soon-to-be-released EJSCREEN, EPA’s new environmental justice screening and mapping tool.

What?

Learn about EJSCREEN, EPA’s new environmental justice screening tool. The tool offers powerful data and mapping capabilities that display environmental and demographic information at a high geographic resolution across the entire country. Each webinar will offer the same information.

When?

May 12, 2:00 – 3:30 pm (EST)
May 28, 1:00 – 2:30 pm (EST)
June 3, 3:30 – 5:00 pm (EST)

How do I register?

RSVP for the event at http://us-epa-ejscreen-presentation.eventbrite.com. Webinar materials will be forwarded to participants a week before each presentation. If you have questions, contact olp.kevin@epa.gov.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (Apr. 24, 2015)

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities to Meet May 11-12, 2015

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (the Committee) will hold its third meeting on May 11-12, 2015 via webinar. The meeting will be open to the public and will take place each day from 1:00-5:00 PM EDT. During the meeting, the Committee will hear expert testimony, and the Committee’s four subcommittees will report on their efforts to date and discuss next steps in their work. There will be a public comment period on May 11, 3:00-4:00 PM EDT. Instructions on submitting comments can be found in the Federal Register Notice. Members of the public wishing to participate in the webinar must register by May 4.

JAN Archives Webcast on Drugs and Alcohol under the ADA

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) recently archived its April 14 webcast on “Drugs and Alcohol under the ADA.” In the webcast, Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., JAN Principal Consultant, addressed the intricacies of how the ADA applies to drug and alcohol issues in the workplace, focusing on questions that employers often ask when they contact JAN. Batiste presented real life situations and solutions to illustrate her answers. In addition to the webcast, the PowerPoint presentation and transcript are available on the JAN Webcast Rewind page, where archived versions of all of JAN’s webcasts can be found.

LEAD Webinar — WIOA and the Unified State Planning Process — Part 2 of 4-Part Series on WIOA — April 29, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT

The “WIOA and the Unified State Planning Process” webinar, to be held April 29, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT, is the second part of the LEAD Center’s four-part series on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The first in the series, “WIOA from a Disability Perspective: An Overview,” has been archived on the LEAD website. The third webinar “WIOA Youth Services” will take place on June 24, while the fourth, “Section 188, the Nondiscrimination Provisions of WIOA,” will be presented on September 24.

LEAD Center Publishes Two Policy Briefs on WIOA Notices of Proposed Rulemaking

The LEAD Center has published two new Policy Briefs outlining and summarizing the April 16 Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Title I and Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The brief “Summary Description from a Disability Perspective — Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Workforce Development Activities) Notices of Proposed Rulemaking” outlines those provisions in Title I of WIOA pertaining to workforce development activities of particular applicability to individuals with disabilities and individuals with a barrier to employment. The brief “Summary Description of Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (State Vocational Rehabilitation Program) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” discusses the implementation of new guidelines as proposed for State Vocational Rehabilitation Services programs and State Supported Employment Services programs under Title IV of WIOA.

Department of Education to Hold Public Meetings on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services within the Department of Education has announced plans to hold two public meetings to seek comments about the proposed regulatory changes contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that was published in the Federal Register on April 16, 2015, which would implement statutory changes to the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the State Supported Employment Services programs, as well as provisions governing Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wage that fall under the Secretary of Education’s purview. The meetings will take place on April 30, 2015, in Washington, DC, and May 20, 2015, in Sacramento, CA. The meetings will provide the public with the opportunity to present public comments on only the separate NPRM amending 34 CFR parts 361, 363, and 397, which is the NPRM associated with Docket ID ED-2015-OSERS-0001. It is likely that each participant will be limited to five minutes. Speakers may also submit written comments at the public meetings. In addition, the Department will accept written comments through www.regulations.gov, as explained in the separate NPRM.

OFCCP’s National Annual Benchmark for VEVRAA Now 7 Percent (Apr. 21, 2015)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

OFCCP updated the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Benchmark Database on its website, based on 2014 end-of-year data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Now, the Annual National Benchmark is 7 percent – a slight drop from the previous 7.2 percent benchmark. National and state information has also been updated in the VEVRAA Benchmark Database for federal contractors and subcontractors who calculate an individualized hiring benchmark using the five-factor method.

The Annual National Benchmark, as well as data for calculating individual hiring benchmarks, can be found at http://www.dol-esa.gov/errd/VEVRAA.jsp.
Effective March 24, 2014, contractors required by VEVRAA to develop a written affirmative action program (AAP) must also establish a hiring benchmark for protected veterans each year or adopt the national benchmark provided by OFCCP. Under either approach, contractors must compare the percentage of employees who are protected veterans in each of their establishments to the hiring benchmark set for that establishment. Contractors should use the result of this comparison when assessing the effectiveness of their veteran outreach and recruitment efforts. This VEVRAA Benchmark Database provides additional information regarding the establishment of hiring benchmarks and easy access to the national and State data that may be needed to establish these benchmarks.

For more information about VEVRAA requirements, please visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/vevraa.htm, or contact the OFCCP Help Desk, at 1-800-397-6251 (TTY: 1-877-889-5627) or online, at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/askofccp.htm.

Office of Disability Employment Policy: Business Sense “The Autism Advantage” (Apr. 21, 2015)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Today, smart businesses of all shapes and sizes are redefining their perceptions of ability and finding new ways to capitalize on talent. Instead of focusing on perceived limitations of workers and job-seekers, they zero in on the tangible skills they bring to the table. It’s an approach that pays great dividends for employers — and for people with disabilities.

In fact, a recent Huffington Post blog post discussed how corporate America is tapping into the many talents that people with autism can bring to the workplace, and how having them as part of their workforce is good for the bottom line.

Reflecting this, employment is playing a central role in this year’s Autism Awareness Month, which is held annually in April. In recognition of this year’s theme, “The Autism Advantage,” the U.N. General Assembly has launched an employment “Call to Action,” inviting businesses to commit to hiring people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Businesses interested in tapping into the talents of people with autism can take advantage of a number of free resources to help them do so successfully. For instance, the Job Accommodation Network’s Accommodation Ideas for Autism Spectrum Disorders offers tips on interviewing, communicating with and supporting the on-the-job performance of people with autism. JAN also provides one-on-one support to employers over the phone at 1-800-526-7234 (Voice) or 1-877-781-9403 (TTY). Such resources quickly prove that the only things standing between employers and the pay-offs of the “autism advantage” are the right workplace supports.

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (Apr. 17, 2015)

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Public Comment Invited on Proposed Rules to Implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The departments of Labor and Education have announced five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and are seeking public comment. WIOA, signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014, is the first major reform to federal job training programs in more than 15 years. WIOA is designed to improve the coordination of employment and training services across federal agencies, strengthen collaboration with state and local partners, and provide Americans with increased access to training, education and other support to succeed in the job market and in their careers. The comment period for the proposed rules ends June 15, 2015.

Department of Labor Announces Availability of Disability Employment Initiative Grants

The Department of Labor has announced the availability of approximately $15 million in grants through the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) to state workforce agencies to develop flexible and innovative strategies to increase the participation of people with disabilities in federally funded education and training programs. The grants are the sixth round of funding through the DEI, a joint program of DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Workforce agencies interested in applying for this funding should visit www.grants.gov. The deadline to apply is June 11, 2015.

The Washington Center Welcomes Acting Assistant Secretary Sheehy

Expanding the concept of diversity to include disability was the theme of a workshop at the Civic Engagement and Leadership Event held April 10 at The Washington Center (TWC) in Washington, DC. Acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Jennifer Sheehy addressed an audience of college students from across the nation and around the world who are participating in TWC’s spring internship semester. “Now more than ever, students with disabilities have a range of career choices and companies eager to access their talents,” said Sheehy, who also emphasized the importance of bringing all aspects of one’s identity to work.

Accommodating Employees with Mental Health Disabilities in Higher Education Webinar — April 23, 1:00-2:00 PM EDT

In this webinar, participants will learn why, how and when to accommodate employees with mental health disabilities in the higher education employment setting. In addition to addressing the legal framework for the provision of such accommodations, speakers will provide practical guidance and strategies higher education HR professionals can use to respond confidently to reasonable accommodation requests from employees across all sectors of their institution and develop a well-planned process that will lead to sound decisions. Several real-life accommodation situations and solutions from colleges and universities across the country will also be presented. The webinar, sponsored by the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) in coordination with the ODEP-funded Employer TA Center, and featuring speakers from the Job Accommodation Network and The Viscardi Center, will be held April 23, 1:00-2:00 PM EDT.

Latest EARN Newsletter Now Available

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network’s (EARN) latest newsletter was released on April 15, featuring information on several upcoming educational events, a new public service announcement from The Arc of the U.S., recent articles on disability employment and more. This issue’s employer spotlight is a Microsoft pilot program launched during Autism Awareness Month to hire more people with autism spectrum disorders. EARN is a service of the National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center for Employers on the Employment of People with Disabilities, which is funded by ODEP under a cooperative agreement with The Viscardi Center.

EEOC Issues Proposed Rule on Application of the ADA to Employer Wellness Programs

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) describing how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. The EEOC’s proposed rule would provide guidance to both employers and employees about how such wellness programs can comply with the ADA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act. The NPRM is available in the Public Inspection portion of the Federal Register, and will be officially published on April 20, 2015. The comment period ends June 19, 2015.

FTA to conduct webinar on Capital Investment Grant program guidance (Apr. 13, 2015)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

The Federal Transit Administration will host a webinar on its recently released Capital Investment Grant Program Proposed Interim Policy Guidance this Thursday, April 16 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm Eastern time at https://connectdot.connectsolutions.com/ftacapitalinvestmentsguidance/. The webinar will review the contents of the proposed guidance and address participants’ questions about the guidance.

Note that audio and video will be provided through the link above; there is no separate call-in number. Advance registration is not offered. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the Capital Investment Grant Program webpage afterward.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (Apr. 10, 2015)

Friday, April 10th, 2015

EARN Webinar – Cultivating Talent for Tomorrow: The Value of Interns with Disabilities – April 29, 2:00-3:30 PM EDT

This webinar will address the benefits of hiring interns with disabilities and how employers can take advantage of the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) – a free referral service – to connect with them. Presenters will include a former WRP intern, an employer that successfully uses WRP as a recruiting tool, and representatives from DirectEmployers and the Employer TA Center, which partner to provide access to the WRP for private sector companies. The webinar, to be held April 29, 2:00 PM-3:30 PM EDT, will be facilitated by Tiffany Jolliff from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, which co-sponsors the WRP.

JAN to Host Live Twitter Chat – April 21, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) will hold a live Twitter chat on April 21, 2:00-3:00 PM EDT. This will be an opportunity to discuss personal assistants as workplace accommodations. The public is encouraged to participate by submitting questions and comments using the hashtag #eyeonJAN. JAN Principal Consultants will use this opportunity to discuss what JAN means by “personal assistants.” Personal assistants include job coaches, personal attendants, job assistants, interpreters, readers, and service animals. This Twitter chat will touch on what personal assistants do, common legal issues, and real-life situations and solutions.

LEAD Webinar – WIOA and the Unified State Planning Process – Part 2 of 4-Part Series on WIOA – April 29, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT

The “WIOA and the Unified State Planning Process” webinar, to be held April 29, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT, is the second part of the LEAD Center’s four-part series on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The first in the series, “WIOA from a Disability Perspective: An Overview,” has been archived on the LEAD website. The third webinar “WIOA Youth Services” will take place on June 24, while the fourth, “Section 188, the Nondiscrimination Provisions of WIOA,” will be presented on September 24.

FDWC Webinar: “Inclusion Across the Employment Lifecycle: The Role of Centralized Accommodation Funds” – April 15, 2:00-3:30 PM EDT

The second Federal Disability Workforce Consortium News Hour webinar of 2015 will take place on April 15 from 2:00-3:30 PM EDT. This webinar will address how centralized accommodation funds (CAFs) promote success for federal employees with disabilities across the employment lifecycle by helping to eliminate misconceptions and foster an environment in which they feel “safe” asking for the accommodations they need to optimize their productivity. Participants will learn what CAFs are, how they help promote disability disclosure, and the steps federal agencies can take to establish or enhance them.

U.S. Department of Education: Developing New Apps for Impact (Apr. 10, 2015)

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Good afternoon–

As our schools and communities become more connected, the demand for high-quality educational apps is on the rise.

Teachers and parents are looking for new ways to engage our kids, but unfortunately, many of the current apps aren’t addressing the most urgent needs in education.

This is why I’m excited to announce that the U.S. Department of Education is releasing The Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Developers, Startups and Entrepreneurs.

Our team spent years gathering input from educators, developers, and researchers to design a guide that will help apply technology in ways that will transform education in America and increase opportunity for all students.

Technology holds tremendous power in closing opportunity gaps, and meeting the needs of all students, regardless of zip code, race, color, national origin or family income.

The guide highlights 10 specific areas where developers can focus their efforts for greatest impact, and work to address some of the most urgent needs expressed by educators, parents, and students across the country.

Read more about the Developer’s Guide, and download it here.

Richard

Richard Culatta
Director of Educational Technology
U.S. Department of Education

Another Step Toward Equality for LGBT Workers by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez (Apr. 8, 2015)

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Today, President Obama’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination goes into effect. It prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will now receive new legal protections designed to ensure they are judged by the quality of their work, not who they are or whom they love.

As I said when the executive order was announced, this is a civil rights victory consistent with our founding principles. It will mean a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents of more of our people. It advances the principle that we should be leaving no one on the sidelines, that America is strongest when it fields a full team.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, in the East Room of the White House, July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Each year, federal contractors and subcontractors receive billions of taxpayer dollars to supply goods, provide services and perform construction work for government agencies. In return, they are held to a reasonable standard that they may not discriminate in hiring, firing, pay, promotion and other employment practices. Until today, it was discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability and status as a protected veteran that was prohibited. Now, in the first expansion since 1974, LGBT Americans enjoy these same protections.

The obligation not to discriminate covers every type of new and modified federal contract – from companies that build our highways and manage our IT infrastructure to those that run our cafeterias, produce our military uniforms and stock our supply closets. And it applies to every establishment of those contractors and subcontractors – not just the ones directly involved in performing the contract. While these protections for LGBT workers go into effect today, they do not require employers to undertake new record keeping, data analysis, goal setting or other similar affirmative action. Nor are employees and job applicants required to identify their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Many of the largest federal contractors already ban sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. They understand that it’s both good for their bottom lines and the right thing to do. And we at the Labor Department have been working hard to make this process as easy as possible for contractors. Compliance assistance and other resources are available online, as is information for workers and job applicants who wish to file a complaint.

Equality under the law means equality under the law for everyone. It means giving everyone the chance to go as far as their hard work will take them. Today is an important mile marker on the path to workplace equality, but our efforts are far from finished. We will move with all haste, bringing to bear the full resources of this department to implement and enforce these new protections on behalf of the LGBT Americans who work for federal contractors.