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White House Summit Focuses on Disability Inclusion

On February 3, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez was at the White House Summit on Disability and Employment, where she spoke as part of a panel on exemplary workplace practices. Additional panels at the event addressed strategies for preparing the next generation of workers with disabilities and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s disability-related provisions. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez delivered the Summit’s keynote. Attendees received the new Resource Guide for Employers on Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities.

Department of Transportation Civil Rights Symposium Features Assistant Secretary Martinez

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez was a featured speaker at the February 3 Civil Rights Symposium hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Martinez discussed the critical role transportation plays in the employment of people with disabilities, as well as her collaborative experiences working on civil rights transportation issues. “Getting the best job, or being in the best employment program, means little if there is no reliable means of getting to work.” said Martinez. The three-day online symposium drew more than 1,000 representatives from federal and state transportation agencies, as well as transportation providers and metropolitan planning organizations.

Assistant Secretary Martinez Wins Braille Award

At an awards ceremony on January 30 in Philadelphia, Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASB) presented a prestigious Louis Braille Award to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. Sponsored annually by ASB since 1959, the Louis Braille Awards honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions on behalf of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. In presenting Martinez with her award, ASB lauded Martinez for her years of efforts to promote policies that enhance employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired.

ODEP Participates in 4th Conference on Employment of People with Disabilities

The 4th Conference on Employment of People with Disabilities was convened on January 29 by Georgetown University in partnership with the National Business & Disability Council at The Viscardi Center, and hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The conference, which was themed “Wounded Warriors – Employing Vets with Disabilities,” focused on the importance of hiring individuals with disabilities and more specifically, what can be done to improve the hiring and retention of Veterans with disabilities returning to civilian life. Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), served on a panel focused on how the recent Section 503 federal contracting regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs could impact Veterans with disabilities seeking gainful employment. Also highlighted at the event was ODEP’s National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center on the Employment of People with Disabilities (Employer TA Center). Attendees learned about some of the Employer TA Center’s resources and tools for employers seeking to recruit, hire, retain and promote qualified individuals with disabilities, including the Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN).

Funding Available for Social Security Administration WIPA Grants

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a funding opportunity for cooperative agreements for Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects. WIPA projects are community-based organizations that provide counseling and support to disabled beneficiaries of the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. A key purpose of these projects is to disseminate accurate information to beneficiaries with disabilities, including transition-to-work aged youth, about work incentives programs and issues related to such programs, to enable them to make informed choices about working and whether or when to assign their Ticket to Work, as well as how available work incentives can facilitate their transition into the workforce. WIPA cooperative agreement awardees will provide services across the country through July 31, 2020, pending availability of funds over a five-year period of performance. Deadline for applications is March 30, 2015.

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

The LEAD Center’s Policy Update – Employment, Health Care and Disability 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 latest update features stories on the members of the U.S. Department of Labor’s new WIOA Advisory Committee, an American Institutes for Research congressional briefing, the introduction of the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act (H.R.188), a proposed Virginia Medicaid budget that would cap hours of home care workers and much more.

EARN Newsletter Released

The latest issue of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network’s (EARN) newsletter features information about two recent disability employment-focused events, the National Organization on Disability’s Disability Employment Tracker initiative, and several upcoming webinars that may be of interest to employers. This week’s Employer Spotlight is Ernst & Young. EARN is a service of the National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center for Employers on the Employment of People with Disabilities (Employer TA Center), which is funded by ODEP under a cooperative agreement with The Viscardi Center.