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Elements of an Inclusive Workforce Development System

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

The following excerpt is from remarks delivered by Ms. Foster at a national Equal Opportunity Conference in Washington, DC:

It is a privilege for me to be here today, and this has been such an impressive line-up of civil rights experts.

The importance of you and the equal opportunity work you perform in the field of workforce development at this pivotal time in our country’s history cannot be overstated. If we hope to have a stronger, more stable economy at the national level, it must start with you at the local level.

Underlying everything we do in the field of equal opportunity is the concept that we don’t leave segments of our population behind to dead end. We want to help folks in our communities get jobs, or get better jobs. We want to find a way for all members of our community to engage and be productive, contributing citizens.

The vast majority of us and vast majority of the citizens in our communities are not independently wealthy. So, if we aren’t working, we aren’t earning money. And, if we aren’t earning money, we aren’t able to put a roof over our heads, food on the table, or clothes on our backs. And, where does that lead? Logically, it leads to increased demand on our safety net programs—homeless shelters or public housing, food stamps, free medical care, the list goes on.

No one has ever been able to explain to me how a stronger, more stable economy is built on leaving segments of a community behind in our workforce development programs whether it is women, minorities, limited English proficient persons, persons with disabilities, folks of a certain age, Veterans, or folks of certain religious beliefs.

Getting systems in place to move all of our populations forward, and training staff on the use of these systems, is where we need to spend a little time and thought as equal opportunity professionals. Not every customer is going to move along the same track, or at the same pace. The point is to get them moving as opposed to setting them off to the side.

As you work to develop inclusive workforce development systems, keep in mind these four core elements—communication, access, integration, and individualized treatment—must be front and center in your planning. Every speaker here today has addressed one or more of these elements. And, I am going to briefly describe each of these elements, and why they are important.

Communication

Communication takes two forms. First, is the one most of us think of immediately; that is, being able to understand what a customer is saying, and ensuring the customer understands us. So, if establishing that baseline communication with our customer means using a sign language interpreter, captioning, or a language line, than that is what needs to happen.

Now, the next level of communication involves “notice.” Notice to the public of what programs we have to offer, notice about how to access our programs, and notice that we operate these programs in compliance with the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity mandates of WIOA Section 188. Providing notice includes prominently displaying that “Equal Opportunity Is the Law” notice wherever we do business, and publishing our discrimination complaint procedures and forms.

On the other end of things, notice also includes making sure employers, to the extent they use screening tools like e-Verify or criminal background checks, give notice of any disqualifying adverse information to the potential applicant and allow the applicant an opportunity to explain or dispute it.

So, an inclusive workforce development program means we are able to communicate with our customers, and we convey important notices to them about their rights and our obligations under the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of WIOA Section 188.

Access

Access is another core element of an inclusive program. Access means folks have access to apply for, or participate in, our programs or activities. And, denial of access can take a variety of shapes.

One example is holding a training course on the first floor of a building, but folks have to get up the two steps at the entrance to the building. Without a ramp, some folks with mobility disabilities, who qualify to take this course, would be denied access to participate.

Another example of denial of access is one that I came across when I visited a particular locality to conduct training. The job referral counselor at the center would not even consider women for construction-related training or apprenticeship programs in welding, carpentry, masonry, and so on. Here, women who met the essential eligibility requirements for such training were denied access to even to apply for these programs.

And, access is a rising issue as we move forward with more internet-based application and enrollment processes. We are at the very beginning of what I describe as the incoming technology tsunami. The harnessing and use of various technologies on the market will undoubtedly strengthen many aspects of our workforce development programs and activities by building in efficiencies at a greater savings of staffing and money resources.

We’ve already seen the use of technology increase exponentially in the processing of unemployment insurance claims. And, the use of technology is growing in other areas such as computerized matching of a customer’s skills to available jobs in the market.

While these advances work for the vast majority of our populations, certain segments of our community’s population will be left behind. Persons with certain disabilities, and folks who are not able to read or write English very well could be denied access to programs for which they would otherwise be qualified.

I’ve heard some folks ask, why should we build systems around the exceptions? These folks need to come into the 21st Century.

Keep in mind, there is room in this country for all of us. Not every job out there requires an IT background, or access to the Internet. Not every job requires the ability to read, write, or speak English. Landscapers, cleaners, movers, certain construction trades, and caregivers are some examples of occupations that may not require IT savvy, access to the internet, or the ability to speak or understand English.

And, you’ve got some folks who are IT-savvy and understand English but, for example, they have a disability and need some type of auxiliary aid or service to navigate the internet application process.

The key here is to figure out what safety valves can be put in place in your particular community to ensure these populations aren’t left out. And, I think this is an excellent opportunity for the kinds of civil rights experts we’ve heard from today to establish a working group that includes folks like you and other interested stakeholders to work collaboratively to come up with some “best practices,” develop low or no cost resources, and generate ideas for resource-sharing and partnerships in our communities, to get these safety valves in place.

Integration

Beyond communication and access, we have the element of integration.

Decades ago, “Separate but Equal” was considered an acceptable way of doing business—whites could go to certain schools, blacks could go to other schools. Wisdom prevailed and we learned as a society that it is not healthy to divide ourselves by the color of our skin. Each of us has value beyond these surface qualities.

Unfortunately, the “Separate but Equal” concept is still with us, but it has morphed into other areas.

I’ll give you an example.

Too often, our workforce development programs are designed to channel persons with disabilities into separate tracks out of the gate. Regardless of the disability, or what the customer would like to do, we channel the customer to a single person at the center, or to rehabilitative services.

Earlier this year, I was asked to conduct training at a particular locality and visited one of its centers to gather a better understanding of how that locality operated its workforce development programs. The center had four job referral counselors. However, any person with a disability, regardless of the disability, would be referred to the one counselor designated as the “disability job referral counselor.” And, if that counselor was in a meeting, out of the office, or otherwise unavailable, the person with a disability had to make an appointment to come back another day.

On this particular day, a customer who was deaf came in and handed the greeter a resume and a card asking for sign language interpreter services so he could meet with a job referral counselor.

The “disability job referral counselor” at the center was out on vacation, one other counselor had a customer in her office, and two counselors were available.

At first, the center manager was going to ask the gentleman to reschedule a time the following week when the disability job referral counselor returned from vacation.

But, after a little discussion, the center manager called for a sign language interpreter who would arrive in the next 30 to 40 minutes. And, the manager had one of the available counselors at the center call the relay line in the meantime to get the process started.

As an aside, I’ll tell you that the customer on this particular day was a CPA and had advanced degrees in accounting as well as executive level accounting experience for a large company. He had relocated because of his wife’s change of jobs, and wanted assistance finding a job in his new community.

Here, the center provided assistance to him on the day he came, and did not ask that he make an appointment to come back in one or two weeks when the “disability job referral counselor” returned from vacation.

So, offering integrated services means here that each counselor should be able to take each customer in order, without regard to whether the person has a disability, is limited English proficient, is a Veteran, is a woman, and so on.

Individualized treatment

Finally, in addition to communication, access, and integration, our systems need to be designed provide individualized treatment.

The purpose of our workforce development programs is to move folks from unemployment to employment, or to transition folks from certain jobs to better jobs.

If someone comes to one of your centers directly, or comes through the unemployment insurance portal, individualized treatment requires that we start with that individual’s baseline.

What does this mean? It means we take an individual as we find him or her and work from there. We ask the customer, what skills, education, interests, and talents do you bring to the table?

At the other end of the spectrum, we take a look around to see what jobs are in our community and the skills and education required for those jobs. If we find a match, we make a referral.

If we don’t find a match, we look to bridge the gap. The first step across the bridge for some customers may be the local community college to obtain a certification, diploma, or degree. For others, the first step may be attending English as a Second Language classes.

But, keep in mind that not everyone is cut out for these types of educational pursuits. We don’t have to force all of our customers into the school or college pipeline for workforce development.

We’ve got other pipelines. Apprenticeships to learn a trade, on-the-job training, and licensing programs are some examples.

Keep in mind, folks don’t come to us out of nowhere—they have histories, they have skills, they have interests. Our job is to figure out what they bring to the table in terms of skills, education, and experience, and what workforce development pipelines would be suitable given their background and interests. And, if figuring out what someone brings to the table requires the use of a language line, captioning, or sign language interpreter services, then make sure that happens.

At the end of the day, our systems should be inclusive.

Inclusive systems will afford women access to opportunities in nontraditional fields. Inclusive systems mean we won’t skip over persons with disabilities, or persons who are limited English proficient, because we don’t know what to do with them, or because it takes a little extra time to get a sign language interpreter or connect to the language line.

Inclusive systems mean we’ll encourage employers focus first and foremost on an applicant’s qualifications, push the use of screening tools like criminal background checks and e-Verify, for example, as far back in the process as possible. And, we’ll stress the importance of employers giving an applicant the opportunity to explain, challenge, or clear-up any adverse results that surface through the use of these screening tools.

In the delivery of inclusive workforce development activities and programs, the elements of communication, access, integration, and individualized treatment are present.

From unemployment insurance to on-the-job training to resume writing assistance to job referrals to referrals for an apprenticeship program to counseling and many others, the key is to ensure all members of our population know about the programs, and have access to the programs. Make sure we are serving folks in as integrated a setting as possible, not placing folks off to the side because we don’t know what to do with them. And, we give folks individualized treatment to ensure their success.

At the end of the day, if a customer meets the essential eligibility requirements for a workforce development program or activity, then the customer must be allowed to enroll, apply, and participate.

Thank you for your time, and I wish you every success in the important work you do.

OFCCP Updates its Disability and Veterans Community Resources Database for Contractors

Friday, April 4th, 2014

On April 4, 2014, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) added 24 new resources to its Disability and Veterans Community Resources Directory. This database was launched in March 2014 to help contractors find qualified workers with disabilities and veterans, and to assist contractors with establishing relationships with national organizations and local community groups that have access to these workers.

Contractors, as well as others, can visit OFCCP’s updated Disability and Veterans Community Resources Directory on the OFCCP Web site at http://www.dol-esa.gov/errd/resources.html. OFCCP will add more resources to this database in the coming weeks.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (April 4, 2014)

Friday, April 4th, 2014

For more information on any of the following articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

The Changing Workforce – Assistant Secretary Martinez Addresses DMEC Conference

Speaking to an audience of disability management professionals, insurance vendors and HR practitioners at the Disability Management Employer Coalition’s FMLA/ADAAA Employer Compliance Conference in Washington, DC on April 1, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez discussed disability employment and our rapidly “graying” workforce. The conference also highlighted workplace flexibility and return-to-work programs as exemplary practices that benefit workers and employers alike.

Shelly Saves the Future – The Importance of Individualized Learning Plans

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has created an info-comic that illustrates the benefits of having an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) for high school students like Shelly, the star of the comic. ILPs are tools that help students explore their strengths and interests, learn how their interests are related to career options, and connect what they do in high school with college, job and career goals. In an April 2 posting on the Department of Labor’s blog site, Maria Town, policy adviser in ODEP, introduces Shelly’s story of career development.

Opening the Doors of Small Business to People with Disabilities: Moving Up the Ramp – Webinar – April 11, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

This webinar, presented by the Employer Assistance and Resource Network, will help small businesses learn about employing people with disabilities. Topics include the lower than anticipated costs of workers’ compensation, health care and accommodations; the benefits of employing people with disabilities, including retention, productivity, attendance, safety, team performance and financial incentives; and best practices and employment strategies. The webinar will take place April 11, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT.

LEAD Center Publishes Its Quarterly “LEAD On!” E-Newsletter

LEAD On!, the LEAD Center’s quarterly e-newsletter, highlights news and innovations in employment, policy and economic advancement for adults with disabilities. The current edition features stories on the new LEAD Center/National Council for Independent Living community of practice to promote employment and economic advancement; the recently released LEAD Center Policy Roundtable report; the new Section 503 regulations that took effect March 24, and more.

What’s New with Disability.gov?

Disability.gov, the federal government website for information on disability programs and services nationwide, now offers nine “Guides to Information” to help users quickly find a variety of resources on a single topic. The subjects covered include employment, federal government grants, self-employment, housing, transportation and other topics.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases Youth Employment Rate Numbers for March 2014

Employment data for youth with and without disabilities is obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (March 28, 2014)

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

In Pursuit of Inclusive Technology — Assistant Secretary Martinez at CSUN Conference

Hundreds of attendees at the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference sponsored annually by California State University of Northridge (CSUN) gathered last week to explore the vital importance of ensuring technology is accessible to people with disabilities. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez delivered the event’s keynote address on March 20, during which she talked about the U.S. Department of Labor’s efforts to promote the development and adoption of accessible workplace technology by America’s employers, as well as the government’s use of new technologies to advance collaborative policymaking and outreach. “While I’ve certainly experienced the frustration of workplace technology that is not accessible,” said Martinez, “I’ve also seen the promise of universally designed technology that can empower all of us to excel and fully participate — at work, and in life.”

National Online Conversation for Change on Social Media Accessibility Open through April 4

Through April 4, members of the public are invited to participate in a national online dialogue, “Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media — The User Experience,” to examine the accessibility barriers of social media tools faced by individuals with disabilities, including job seekers and workers. Co-hosted by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the National Council on Disability (NCD), this event aims to explore the value of social media in the lives of people with disabilities, particularly around work, and to identify accessibility issues and creative approaches to making social media tools more accessible and usable for everyone. The information gathered from this dialogue will then help NCD and ODEP further collaborate with the social media industry to implement solutions and improve the accessibility of these online tools. The dialogue is the first in a series of three social media accessibility online events to take place over the next three months.

Online Dialogue to Help Shape the 2014 NDEAM Theme Closes March 31

The national online dialogue to share ideas for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is coming to a close on March 31. There is still time to submit your suggestions for a theme that reminds everyone of the valuable skills and talents that people with disabilities bring to the workplace. Don’t miss your chance to contribute to the conversation!

WRP.jobs Online Job Board Open to Private Sector Employers

Private sector employers can now use WRP.jobs, a free online job board, to find pre-screened college students and recent graduates with disabilities looking for internships and permanent positions through the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). WRP candidates represent all majors and include graduate and law students, as well as veterans. The WRP is a government-wide program co-sponsored by the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor to increase employment of people with disabilities in the federal workforce. Through WRP.jobs, interested non-federal employers can post permanent and temporary positions and WRP students can search and apply for these positions using employers’ standard application processes. WRP.jobs is a pilot project developed through a collaboration between the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), the organization that administers the WRP program for non-federal employers, and DirectEmployers, a non-profit consortium of global employers.

OFCCP Launches New Outreach and Recruitment Database for Contractors

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently launched a database to help contractors find qualified workers with disabilities and veterans, and to assist contractors with establishing relationships with national organizations and local community groups that have access to these workers. Contractors, as well as others, can visit OFCCP’s Disability and Veterans Community Resources Directory on the OFCCP website. This new resource supplements the agency’s existing Employment Resources Referral Directory.

LEAD Center Releases March Policy Update — Employment, Health Care and Disability

The March 2014 issue of the LEAD Center’s Policy Update — Employment, Health Care and Disability is now available. This monthly update, created in collaboration with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, provides policymakers, disability service professionals, individuals with disabilities and their families with information about relevant policy developments regarding Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and related topics, with a focus on improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The March edition features stories on the President’s proposed 2015 budget, a recent webinar series hosted by ODEP, CMS and the LEAD Center, states considering private health coverage to low-income adults, a study on the benefits of Medicaid expansion for uninsured people with mental illness and Pennsylvania’s proposed Medicaid expansion.

Fall White House Internship Program — Applications Due April 13

The White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office and prepare them for future public service opportunities. The White House Internship Program’s mission is to make the “People’s House” accessible to future leaders from around the nation. The application for the Fall 2014 White House Internship Program is now open and the deadline is April 13, 2014.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (March 14, 2014)

Friday, March 14th, 2014

For more information on any of these articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Planning for a Year of Disability Employment Action – Assistant Secretary Martinez’s Blog

In a blog that looks ahead to the FY 2015 budget year, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez outlines some of the priorities for the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Among them are a focus on community colleges in the transition of youth with disabilities to the workplace, a commitment to providing technical assistance to employers regarding the new Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act regulations, and a continued collaboration with the Employment and Training Administration on the Disability Employment Initiative.

Join the National Online Conversation for Change on Social Media Accessibility – March 17 – April 4

Members of the public are invited to participate in a national online dialogue, “Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media – The User Experience,” to examine the accessibility barriers of social media tools faced by individuals with disabilities, including job seekers and workers. Co-hosted by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the National Council on Disability (NCD), this event aims to explore the value of social media in the lives of people with disabilities, particularly around work, and to identify accessibility issues and creative approaches to making social media tools more accessible and usable for everyone. The information gathered from this dialogue will then help NCD and ODEP further collaborate with the social media industry to implement solutions and improve the accessibility of these online tools. The dialogue, to be held March 17 to April 4, 2014, will be the first in a series of three social media accessibility online events to take place over the next three months.

ODEP Info-Comic Illustrates the Benefits of Individualized Learning Plans for Youth

An Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) is a set of activities that helps youth take charge of their future. It does this by connecting what youth do in high school with college, job and career goals. ODEP and its research partners have found that ILPs positively impact all youth’s self-determination, leadership abilities, and awareness of career opportunities. As an example of the process, ODEP created an info-comic in which high school senior Shelly learns how to take charge of her future by using an ILP. ODEP also has a “Kickstart Your ILP” toolkit available on its website.

HUD Announces $120 Million for Housing for People with Disabilities

To help prevent thousands of people with disabilities from experiencing homelessness or unnecessary institutionalization, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced about $120 million in funding for state housing agencies to provide long-term rental assistance. Developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) enables persons with disabilities who earn less than 30 percent of their area’s median income to live in integrated mainstream settings. The program reinforces the guiding principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the landmark 1999 Supreme Court ruling in Olmstead v. L.C., which require state and local governments to provide services in the most integrated settings appropriate to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. Application deadline is May 5, 2014.

Maintaining Employment through Economic Advancement Strategies – LEAD Center Webinar – March 26, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT

This webinar, as part of LEAD Center’s Employment mini-series, will provide information on strategies for enhancing employment stability and improving time on the job through the use of economic advancement strategies. Participants will learn how to integrate these strategies into their return to work services and hear stories about on the ground implementation. The webinar will be held March 26, 3:00-4:30 PM EDT. All LEAD Center webinars are captioned and presentation materials are sent to participants in advance of the webinar. For any other reasonable accommodation requests, please contact Brittany Taylor at btaylor@ndi-inc.org.

Disability Status Report Webinar – April 1, 1:00-2:00 PM EDT

Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute (EDI) will host a free online webinar on April 1 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT to present the findings of the 2012 Disability Status Report. This presentation will explore the Census Bureau’s December 2013 release of data from the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) related to disability and employment, education, poverty, household income and labor earnings.
Cornell University researchers will present the latest information and issues associated with disability statistics and the circumstances that people with disabilities face. The webinar will be captioned.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (March 7, 2014)

Friday, March 7th, 2014

For more information on any of the following articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

The Thrill of Being in the Game — Assistant Secretary Martinez’s Blog

In celebration of Team USA’s participation in the Paralympics, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez posted a blog on the importance of the Paralympics in promoting disability inclusion.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Addresses American Foundation for the Blind National Transition Network Summit

At the American Foundation for the Blind’s National Transition Network Summit on February 27 in Brooklyn, NY, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez addressed a group of disability and workforce service providers. She spoke about ODEP’s work to support youth with disabilities who are transitioning from school to work through strategies such as individualized learning plans, soft skills, and work-based learning experiences.

Opportunity for All: The President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget

The President’s FY2015 Budget was released earlier this week. The President’s Budget provides a roadmap for accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity for all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. It invests in infrastructure, job training, preschool, and pro-work tax cuts, while reducing deficits through health, tax, and immigration reform. It also takes a number of steps to expand opportunities for people with disabilities.

LEAD Center Posts “In the Know: Flexible Work Arrangements” Fact Sheet

The LEAD Center has posted “In the Know: Flexible Work Arrangements” on its blog site. This fact sheet describes various best practices for employers when making job modifications to enable employees with disabilities to stay on the job or return to work. “In the Know” is a bi-monthly feature on the LEAD Center blog that highlights important resources and information about the employment, policy and economic advancement of people with disabilities.

Disability.gov PSAs Challenge Assumptions about People with Disabilities

Disability.gov recently released public service announcements (PSAs) in support of the message that people are not defined by their disabilities. Each of the eight PSAs features one of Disability.gov’s “No Boundaries” participants. For the PSAs, each participant chose several words to describe him or herself to paint a broader picture of who they are. The PSAs are downloadable from the Disability.gov site.

Telework Week 2014 Begins with a March Snowstorm — JAN Blog

As Telework Week wraps up, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) posted a new article on its Ask JAN Blog site, “Telework Week 2014 Begins with a March Snowstorm.” The blog focuses on telework as a reasonable accommodation and provides several real life examples of the effective use of telework.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases Youth Employment Rate Numbers for February 2014

Employment data for youth with and without disabilities is obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (February 28, 2014)

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Assistant Secretary Martinez – Advancing Inclusion

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez provided closing remarks to more than 75 Washington, D.C.-area business advocates and allies on February 21 at an LGBT Power Symposium sponsored by the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. “When we make strides toward equality for any community, whether the disability community, the LGBT community, or any other historically marginalized population, it benefits all of us,” said Martinez.

Federal Communications Commission Releases Standards on Closed Captioning for Television

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unanimously approved standards defining the components necessary for high quality closed captions on television. The new standards explain that to be fully accessible, closed captions on television programs must accurately convey dialogue and sounds in the program, and run from the beginning to the end of the program. In addition, captions must be timed so that they generally do not lag far behind the program’s dialogue and must be placed so they do not block other important information on the screen. The new rules also ensure better access to local news on TV. Further, the Order explains how the new standards apply to pre-recorded, live, and near-live programming, and identifies best practices for video programmers, captioning vendors, and captioners. The new rules will be evaluated again one year after they become effective to ensure full access to TV programming.

NCWD/Youth Publishes Article on Individualized Learning Plans in Education Week

In an article, “Planning for Life After High School,” published in Education Week, V. Scott Solberg of the Boston University School of Education, and Curtis Richards with the Institute for Educational Leadership, write about the importance of individualized learning plans (ILPs) in helping students, including students with disabilities, transition between school and college or work while keeping students engaged and families involved in learning. Solberg and Richards, who lead ODEP’s National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth), discuss the research they have conducted on exemplary ILP implementation strategies.

US Business Leadership Network Accepting Applications for Executive Education Scholarships – Deadline March 10

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) is now seeking applications for its new Executive Education Scholarships for certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBE®s) to attend the Tuck School at Dartmouth University for a week-long educational program. These five scholarships, underwritten by Wells Fargo, underscore the role that executive education plays in providing business leaders innovative learning tools for the continuous improvement of their companies. Applicants must be DOBE®s and meet the selection criteria, including USBLN® certification, 3-10+ years in business, and the ability to articulate a future vision and business direction. Applications are due March 10.

Stephen M. Wing “Take Flight” Scholarship for Job Training and Education Open for Applications – Deadline March 21

The Stephen M. Wing “Take Flight” Scholarship is designed to assist individuals committed to advancing their career paths by increasing their employment and education opportunities. Eligible candidates include part-time and full-time students attending trade school, community college or university, participating in internships or enrolled/enrolling in other training programs within three months from May 2014, when the scholarships will be distributed by the Partnership for American Veterans Employment and Education Solutions (PAVES). The scholarship can be awarded in various increments; no minimum request will be ignored. The maximum request may not exceed $5,000 for a single application. Applicants may apply for scholarships to go towards college tuition, books, lab fees, training program enrollment, certification classes and tests, leadership programs, computers and laptops, support and counseling services or other products and services to advance education and employment opportunities. Individuals may nominate themselves or be nominated by peers, co-workers, family members or colleagues. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and a permanent resident of the U.S. Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis, and are due March 21.

Federal Communications Commission Accepting Nominations for Third Annual Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility – Deadline March 31

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking nominations for the third annual Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility. The awards honor outstanding private and public sector initiatives that advance accessibility for people with disabilities. Awards will be given in several categories. The contest is open to any individual or entity in the public or private sector, or a combination thereof. Self-nominations and those made by a third party will be accepted. Winners and honorable mentions will receive their awards from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in June 2014. Nominations must be emailed by March 31.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (February 21, 2014)

Friday, February 21st, 2014

For more information on any of these articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Posts New Blogs in February

Assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez recently contributed two posts to the Department of Labor’s blog site. In “The Benefits of Striking Out,” posted on February 15, Martinez commented on an article written by a mother in the Huffington Post, “My Child with a Disability is Not My Hero.” The article discusses the importance of letting kids with disabilities succeed and fail, just like all kids. On February 19, Martinez penned “Civil Rights in America: We Rise Together,” in which she reflected on the life of Barbara Jordan, a woman of many firsts, including her status as the first Southern African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

White House Office of Public Engagement Disability Community Call — February 26, 3:00-4:00 PM EST

The White House Office of Public Engagement disability community conference call featuring a senior Administration official will take place on Wednesday, February 26, 3:00-4:00 PM EST. The call will provide participants with information about various disability policy issues, introduce Administration officials who work on these issues and solicit participant input. Registration is currently open. The registration confirmation page will display dial-in numbers and a unique PIN, and an email confirmation of this information will be sent to the registrant. The call will be accessible to deaf and hard of hearing participants through live captioning via the internet. Callers are asked to dial in five minutes before the start of the call. This call is off the record and not for press purposes.

Special Olympics Releases Research on Employment and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Special Olympics has released a research paper representing the first-ever nationally-representative data set on the employment situation for adults with intellectual disabilities. The “National Snapshot of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in the Labor Force” was commissioned by Special Olympics, conducted by the Center for Social Development and Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston and administered by Gallup. Findings show that unemployment among people with intellectual disabilities is more than twice as high as for the general population. However, for those who are employed, most experience job stability, want to work, and have proven that they are capable of being employed.

Think Beyond the Label Online Career Fair — March 5, 1:00-4:00 PM EST

Think Beyond the Label will hold an online career fair on March 5, 1:00-4:00 PM EST. The event will connect companies to qualified candidates with disabilities from Think Beyond the Label’s online community of candidates and its partnerships with employment services agencies and student organizations nationwide. Job seekers will have the opportunity to engage with recruiters one-on-one in this real-time forum. Registration is free for job seekers. Think Beyond the Label is a public-private partnership that delivers information, outreach and resources to businesses, job seekers and the public workforce system to ensure greater recruiting and hiring opportunities for job candidates with disabilities.

Henry Viscardi Achievement Award Nominations Due March 15

The Viscardi Center has issued a call for nominations for the Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards, which pay tribute to exemplary leaders in the disability community who have had a profound impact on shaping attitudes, raising awareness and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities. The Awards will recognize individual, academic, athletic, community, government, nonprofit, military, corporate, and business leaders who are working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Individuals of any age, with any type of disability, are eligible. Nominations may be self-submitted or made on behalf of another individual. All nominations must meet the Awards Criteria and be submitted using the online form by no later than March 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM EST. The Award recipients will be announced on May 5, 2014.

Disability.gov Seeks Participants for “No Boundaries” Photo Project

Disability.gov is currently seeking participants for its second “No Boundaries” photo project, which will profile four individuals who embrace the theme of “living well with a disability.” Participants will be chosen to represent diversity in age, ethnicity and nature of disability. The photo shoots will take place the week of April 7 in the Washington, D.C. area. Anyone can apply, but no monetary compensation or reimbursement for travel expenses can be provided.

2014 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award Winners Announced

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has announced Talila Lewis and Jason DaSilva as the winners of the 2014 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award. Lewis, founder and president of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), and DaSilva, an award winning filmmaker, will be presented with their awards, which are given to emerging leaders in the national disability rights movement, at the 2014 AAPD Leadership Gala, on March 18, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award advances the work of Paul Hearne, one of the founders of AAPD and a renowned leader in the national disability community, and realizes his goal of cultivating emerging disability rights leaders. Each awardee will receive $10,000 to help them continue their progress in disability activism.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (February 14, 2014)

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

For more information on any of these articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Executive Order Raises the Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Workers

On February 12, the President signed an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers, including individuals with disabilities. Under current law, workers whose productivity is affected because of their disabilities may be paid less than the wage paid to others doing the same job under certain specialized certificate programs. Under this Executive Order, all individuals working under service or concessions contracts with the federal government are covered by the same $10.10 per hour minimum wage protections. The higher wage will apply to new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts put out for bid after January 1, 2015.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Heads to Sochi for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games

Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, will be traveling to Sochi, Russia as part of the Presidential Delegation to the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, which start on March 7. The Honorable Tammy Duckworth, Member of the United States House of Representatives (IL-08) will lead the delegation. While in Sochi, delegation members will attend athletic events, meet with U.S. athletes, and attend the Opening Ceremony. “It is an honor to be selected to represent President Obama in cheering on the U.S. athletes as they compete in the Paralympics and showcase to the world the best of America—diversity, determination and teamwork,” said Martinez.

Making Online Application Systems Accessible – JAN Webcast – February 26, 2:00 – 3:30 PM EST

The new Section 503 regulations stop short of requiring federal contractors to make their on-line application systems accessible, but the regulations do codify the OFCCP’s position that federal contractors must make reasonable accommodations for any applicants with disabilities who cannot access on-line systems, and further state that making on-line application systems accessible is a recommended best practice. In light of this, many federal contractors are implementing changes to make their on-line application systems accessible. In this free webcast, JAN Consultants will share practical tips and tools to help these contractors succeed in their efforts. The presentation will be held on February 26, 2:00 – 3:30 PM EST.

Best Practices in Disability Recruiting – Think Beyond the Label Webinar – February 24, 2:00 – 3:00 PM EST

Think Beyond the Label will be presenting a free, HRCI-certified webinar on February 24, 2:00-3:00 PM EST, to help federal contractors comply with the new Section 503 regulations regarding hiring people with disabilities. The webinar will focus on what the legislation means, how to find and engage job seekers with disabilities, and how to showcase an organization’s diversity hiring initiatives. Think Beyond the Label is a public-private partnership that delivers information, outreach and resources to businesses, job seekers and the public workforce system to ensure greater recruiting and hiring opportunities for job candidates with disabilities.

The HSC Foundation’s Advocates in Disability Award Program is Seeking the Next Generation of Disability Advocates

The Advocates in Disability Award (ADA) program, funded by The HSC Foundation and the Sarah Beth Coyote Foundation, awards and encourages a young adult with a disability between the ages of 14 and 26 who is dedicated to positively affecting the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. The program also supports an innovative project developed by the recipient to serve and empower individuals with disabilities. The selected recipient is awarded $3,000 in recognition of his or her disability advocacy and receives up to an additional $7,000 in funding support for a project to benefit the disability community. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States at the time of application submission and recipient selection. Applications must be received by 5:00 PM EST on April 11, 2014.

Action Sports Star and Host of MTV’s The Challenge TJ Lavin Stars in New PSA on Disability

“We all should have the same opportunity to achieve the American dream,” TJ Lavin, BMX bike champion and host of MTV’s The Challenge says in a new public service announcement (PSA) created by RespectAbilityUSA, a non-profit organization devoted to reshaping attitudes so that people with disabilities can more fully participate in and contribute to society. Lavin knows how a disability can potentially change a person’s life. In October of 2010, he suffered serious bleeding on the brain, a broken wrist, and an orbital fracture after a bike crash left him in a coma for 9 days. After years of rehabilitation, Lavin is now 100 percent recovered, fully integrated back into society and back as a star MTV host. “People with disabilities deserve an equal chance at employment. While most people don’t do BMX, everyone is just an accident, disease or age related issue away from a disability, said Lavin. “It is time we respect people for their abilities rather than focusing on their disabilities.”

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (February 7, 2014)

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

For more information regarding any of the following articles, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

A Powerful Message for Youth with Disabilities — Assistant Secretary Martinez’s Blog

In a post on the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez recounted the story of Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks, the first legally deaf member of an NFL offense, and his nine-year-old fan Riley Kovalcik who, like Coleman, wears hearing aids. “This heartwarming story reinforces the importance of what I like to call “look-alike mentors” for young people with disabilities — something that lies at the heart of our work at ODEP,” said Martinez.

Inclusive Ads, Positive Portrayals — Assistant Secretary Martinez Discusses Disability-Inclusive Advertising and Entertainment

Leaders in the advertising and entertainment industries, including corporate, industry associations and union representatives along with diversity thought leaders, gathered in New York City on February 4 to discuss the need for disability-inclusive diversity in advertising on large, small and personal screens. Assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez headlined the event, which helped promote an upcoming pair of industry summits called Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0. “Together we have the power to raise awareness and change minds,” said Martinez. “We have the power to foster a more inclusive entertainment industry, and a stronger, more inclusive American workforce in general—one where every person who wants to work, does work, and where America’s promise of equal opportunity for all truly means all.”

LEAD Center Issues January Policy Update — Employment, Health Care and Disability

The LEAD Center’s Policy Update — Employment, Health Care and Disability provides information about relevant policy developments regarding Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and related topics, with a focus on improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The just-released January update features articles on the new CMS home and community-based care services (HCBS) regulations, a proposed bill to fund integrated employment, Medicaid expansion and several articles on managed care for long-term services and supports (LTSS) in various states. Each monthly update will be published to the Resource Center found on the LEAD Center website. Subscribers who sign up to receive LEAD Center news and information will receive notice of each newly published update.

Webinar for New Federal Disability Program Managers — February 26, 2014, 2:00-3:30 PM EST

The “You’ve Just Been Appointed a Federal Disability Program Manager — Now What?” webinar will explore all the tools new federal Disability Program Managers (DPMs) need to be successful and to build a strong foundation for their agency’s disability program. Effective techniques, strategies and programs will be discussed, including the Schedule A appointing authority, targeted recruitment, free resources and much more. The webinar is designed for DPMs with little or no experience in the field. It will be presented on February 26, 2014, 2:00-3:30 PM EST, and is open to individuals with a .gov or .mil email address.

Job Accommodation Network Publishes Quarterly E-News

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has published its first quarterly E-News for 2014. Topics include finding resources for compliance with the new Section 503 regulations and VEVRAA, providing temporary accommodation solutions, and dealing with illegal drug use disclosures, among others. Also listed are links to JAN publications and archived webcasts.

LEAD Center Policy Roundtable Report Now Available

The LEAD Center has released the report from its first bi-annual 2013 Policy Roundtable held July 17-18, 2013 in Washington, DC. These policy roundtables bring together stakeholders — including federal agency leaders, state and local agency policymakers, practitioners and subject matter experts — to share knowledge and promote cross-system collaboration to advance individual and systems level change to promote employment and economic advancement for people with disabilities. The 2013 LEAD Center Policy Roundtable and corresponding report, both entitled “Making Collaboration Real,” focus on building a progressive vision to leverage resources effectively across systems to promote employment and socioeconomic advancement of youth and adults with disabilities.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases Youth Employment Rate Numbers for January 2014

Employment data for youth with and without disabilities is obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.