Assistant Secretary Martinez on “Building Inclusion” — NDEAM Blog

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and in an October 1 blog post, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez reflected on the theme of “Building Inclusion.” Martinez talked about programs and policies as the building blocks that help create a culture of inclusion. “To me, this new paradigm is encapsulated beautifully in this year’s NDEAM theme: Expect. Employ. Empower. Those three brief but powerful words provide a framework for a more holistic approach to increased workforce inclusion of those of us with disabilities.”

Assistant Secretary Martinez Addresses US Business Leadership Network Conference

National Disability Employment Awareness Month got off to a rousing start this week at the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) conference in Orlando, an annual gathering of employers committed to disability inclusion. Speaking on the first full day of the conference, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez helped set the stage for this year’s observance. “People with disabilities are just that—people. Our disability is a part of us, but it’s not all of us,” she said. “The sooner America’s businesses recognize this, the better for all of us—both with and without disabilities.” While in Florida, Martinez also addressed the Circle, a group of companies recognized for exemplary efforts at disability inclusion, and joined Andy Imparato, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities’ Executive Director, in facilitating a policy dialogue with corporate leaders on the topic.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Awards Grants for the Pathways to Careers: Community Colleges for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities Demonstration Project

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy announced $2,007,322 in grants to Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, and Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as part of the Pathways to Careers: Community Colleges for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities Demonstration Project. The awardees will conduct pilot projects that research, develop, test and evaluate innovative strategies for providing inclusive education and career development services to youth with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 24. The aim is to determine what works to help young people with disabilities acquire the skills, degrees and credentials needed for high-wage, high-skill employment so that these effective practices can be shared and replicated throughout the community college system. Local employers will be involved in identifying necessary skills and competencies; assisting with curriculum and program design; providing education and training resources; and hiring qualified program participants. These grants are closely aligned with the Obama administration’s job-driven training principles.

ODEP’s National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center on the Employment of People with Disabilities Cooperative Agreement Awarded to the Viscardi Center

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy announced a cooperative agreement award of $1,848,350 to The Viscardi Center in Albertson, New York, to manage and operate the National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center on the Employment of People with Disabilities. The center will be a resource to assist employers with recruiting, hiring, retaining and promoting people with disabilities by analyzing employer research, policies and practices related to disability employment; researching effective employer engagement strategies; and developing and providing outreach and technical assistance to targeted employers, such as federal agencies, federal contractors, small businesses and state governments.

U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Develop Getting to Work Training Curriculum for HIV/AIDS Service Providers and Housing Providers

Getting to Work: An Online Training Curriculum for HIV/AIDS Service Providers and Housing Providers is an interactive multi-media curriculum, developed collaboratively by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, that assists HIV/AIDS service providers, including housing providers, to understand how employment can add value for individuals, families and communities. It provides proven strategies that service providers can implement to incorporate employment into their approach and create new opportunities for the populations they serve.

Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management Publish 2014 National Study of Employers: Including the Talents of Employees with Disabilities Report

On October 1, 2014, the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published the 2014 National Study of Employers: Including the Talents of Employees with Disabilities report. It is the result of an FWI-Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) collaboration that included new National Study of Employers key questions asked of small and large employers related to using workplace flexibility for their employees with and without disabilities, establishing formal staffing plans that include workplace flexibility, and offering employee resource groups for employees with similar backgrounds or interests. The report proposes recommendations for employers invested in improving employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, noting that “in addition to the general advantages of workflex, it can also help to fulfill requests for reasonable accommodations and create workplaces where such requests are unnecessary because consideration for the diverse talents and life situations of employees is proactively incorporated into universal work processes.” ODEP assistant secretary Kathy Martinez posted a blog about the report, saying, “I’ll never forget the critical role workplace flexibility played in my life, not only early in my career but throughout it. Today, as the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, I’m happy to have the opportunity to pay it forward for all workers.”.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Releases Literature Review of Five Federal Systems Serving Transition Age Youth with Disabilities Final Report

To support the development of an interagency strategy to improve transition results for youth with disabilities, the Office of Disability Employment Policy funded the development of a literature review that focuses on five federal systems that play key and inter-related roles in preparing youth with disabilities as they transition into adulthood: vocational rehabilitation, social security, juvenile justice, behavioral health, and workforce investment. This study summarizes each system’s role, the extent of its use by the population, and central programs and authorizing legislation. In addition, challenges and recommendations for each system are identified, as are common themes and trends across systems.

Easter Seals to Host Facebook Chat on Navigating the Workforce with Disabilities — October 7, 2:00 PM EDT

As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Easter Seals, a partner with the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Campaign for Disability Employment, will host a Facebook chat on “Launching your Career: An Honest Chat about Navigating the Workforce with Disabilities.” The chat will feature panelists discussing their concerns about entering the job market and how they overcame them, networking, internships and more. Questions are encouraged! The chat will take place on Tuesday, October 7, 2:00 PM EDT.