Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Monday, October 31, 2016

National ADAPT in Massachusetts Urges State To End Institutional of Disabled

- - -

Protest for the disabled: 200 people roll through the streets

‘FREEDOM’ TRAIL: Protesting nursing home conditions for the disabled, 200 people in wheelchairs parade to City Hall Plaza yesterday. Photo Credit: Christopher Evans

article by Kristen Giddings for the Boston Herald  | Oct 31, 2016
About 200 people in wheelchairs rolled through the Seaport District to City Hall Plaza to protest nursing home conditions for the disabled yesterday.

“We’re here in Massachusetts to help the citizens of Massachusetts to live in the community and try to get people out of institutions,” said Marilee Adamski-Smith of the advocacy group ADAPT.

Joseph Adamski-Smith said more Medicaid funding in Massachusetts goes toward institutions rather than home- and community-based services.

“We would like those funds to be sent to integrated community living. A lot of people are stuck in nursing homes,” he said.

The protesters included both adults and children, and people with mental and physical disabilities.

The crowd chanted, “We have tasted freedom and we won’t turn back.”

Several people told stories of neglect, abuse and triumph amid the struggles they face.

“I understood from my doctors that I had no choice but a nursing home … it was so much worse than I ever imagined,” said Anne Johansen, 65, who suffers from a progressive neuromuscular disease.

“Nurses get into this meaningless cruelty for no reason … to take away every last shred of dignity.”

Johansen has lived in four different nursing homes.

She described being intimidated while showering, being chased, patients being ignored and neglected and being denied access to the outdoors.

“Eventually I decided I couldn’t live like that and I attempted suicide,” ­Johansen said.

The Boston Center for Independent Living eventually helped Johansen receive Section 8 housing and she now lives in her own apartment in Quincy.

“When you’ve lived in a prison and then you’re free again, boy you know what it’s like,” Johansen said.

“It’s like steak after a famine.”

Chicago Teacher Charged With Broking Autistic Student's Arm While Restraining Him

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Prosecutors have charged a Near West Side teacher with breaking an autistic student's elbow.

Kristyn Iwanski, 26, is charged with aggravated battery to a child. photo: DNAinfo; Chicago Police Dept.

article by Erica Demarest for DNAinfo Chicago | October 28, 2016

Kristyn Iwanski, 26, was teaching at Easterseals Academy, 1939 W. 13th St., on Sep. 16 when she twisted a 12-year-old student's arm so far behind his back that the boy's elbow broke, prosecutors said.

The student in non-verbal, non-communicative and has "profound autism," Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said during a bond hearing Thursday.

The boy requires one-on-one attention, prosecutors said, and Iwanski was trained to occasionally physically restrain the student by holding his hands behind his back.

Iwanski did so about 1:30 p.m. Sep. 16 when the boy struck another student, Scaduto said. Iwanski wrapped the boy's arms behind his back and stood behind him as he tried to head-butt her. The incident was captured on camera, and school officials said this was the correct way to handle the situation, according to prosecutors.

But shortly after 2 p.m., the boy once more tried to hit someone, Scaduto said. That's when Iwanski was captured on camera pulling one of the boy's arms behind his back with such force that his chair moved, according to prosecutors.

Iwanski is accused of twisting the boy's arm upward and backward until it couldn't move anymore. When she eventually let go, Scaduto said, the boy ran away and sat in a corner.

Later that day, the boy's mother noticed he was favoring one arm, prosecutors said. She took him to an emergency room and learned his right elbow was broken.

The mother soon received a text message from Iwanski asking to talk on the phone, prosecutors said. According to Scaduto, the women had never met or spoken before.

Iwanski insisted nothing had happened at school and refused to tell the mother how her son's elbow could've been broken, prosecutors said.

School officials investigated, and Iwanski was suspended without pay, Scaduto said.

In a statement Thursday, Easterseals Director of Communications Kelly Anne Ohde said: "An allegation involving an injury to the arm of a student was made against an employee at Easterseals Academy in Chicago. The employee was removed from the location and will have no contact with the students and clients at Easterseals. Our first priority is the care and safety of the individuals we serve and our employees. We are cooperating with authorities."

According to prosecutors, Iwanski has no prior criminal background. She is charged with aggravated battery to a child causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery to a child with permanent disability.

Iwanski holds a master's degree ins special education and had been with Easterseals Academy for three years prior to this incident, her attorney said.

Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas on Thursday set bail at $10,000.

Tips for Applicants with Disabilities Applying for Federal Jobs

The Federal Government is the nation's largest employer and hires people in many different fields, from accounting to public affairs, health care to law enforcement, engineering to agriculture, and everything in between. Pursuing federal employment and contributing to the lives of all Americans can be personally and professionally rewarding. As a federal employee, you and your family will also have access to a range of benefits available to those who choose federal service.
Understanding the Federal Application & Hiring Process

The hiring process for the Federal Government is unique and different from hiring in the private sector. It uses a variety of hiring authorities and programs authorized by Congressional statutes and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations. The Federal Government also has placed greater emphasis on increasing the number of employees with disabilities in the federal workforce. Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its implementing regulations require federal agencies to affirmatively employ individuals with disabilities.

Here are some important things to be aware of when it comes to the federal application and hiring process:
For More of "Tips for Applicants with Disabilities Applying for Federal Jobs" publication, visit the EEOC at:

White House Remarks of EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang On Employment of People With Disabilities in the Federal Government

Oct. 27, 2017 -- It is an honor to be here with all of you to celebrate the hiring of over 100,000 people with disabilities into the federal government. Through our collective efforts, we have met the goal President Obama set for federal agencies in Executive Order 13548. It is a huge accomplishment, and there are many people to thank for making today possible. I especially wanted to recognize my colleague on the Commission - Chai Feldblum, who unfortunately had a conflict today. She has been a visionary leader who has spent her career advancing the rights of people with disabilities.
I also want to recognize Christine Griffin, who could not be here in person, but who played a special role in making today possible. She is currently executive director of the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts, and, prior to that, she worked on this issue both as an EEOC Commissioner and then as deputy director at OPM, where she oversaw compliance with the executive order from its inception.
We have much to celebrate in achieving this milestone, yet we all know that there is still much more to be done. There are so many qualified people with disabilities who want to contribute their talents and serve their country through federal service. We know that work changes lives. It is vital that we create inclusive workplaces across the federal government and the private sector where people with disabilities can thrive.
Under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, the federal government has an obligation to be a model employer for people with disabilities. For years, EEOC has issued management directives and provided technical assistance to help agencies in achieving that goal. These efforts have played a critical role in assisting the federal government in increasing its hiring of new employees with disabilities. EEOC is now taking the important next step of finalizing regulations that will codify federal agencies' responsibilities under Section 501. I am pleased to report that those regulations were approved by the Commission and currently are being reviewed for clearance by the Office of Management and Budget.  
One of the lasting legacies of this administration will be the unprecedented interagency collaboration across the federal government. These partnerships have been essential in improving the federal workplace for employees with disabilities. One important effort has been the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative, spearheaded by EEOC, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor, and joined by over 10 agencies. Today, this initiative has issued a resource document, "Tips for Applicants with Disabilities Applying for Federal Jobs." This is available on EEOC's website, www.eeoc.gov, and we hope you will share it widely to help more people with disabilities join us in the federal government.
I also want to recognize another important interagency collaboration - the tri-agency work group of OPM, DOL-ODEP, and EEOC - created to positively impact individuals with disabilities where our authorities overlap.
  • For example, when we learned that few agencies actually used the Schedule A hiring authority to hire people with disabilities, and even fewer understood how to apply it properly, the work group revised EEOC's "ABC's of Schedule A" brochures to give more information to federal agencies and the public about how this hiring authority works.
  • When we saw the increasing importance of technology to hiring, the tri-agency work group launched outreach and social media efforts to highlight the need for accessible technology consistent with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
EEOC has also served as a resource to agencies across the federal government to assess barriers to employment and identify steps to eliminate those barriers. Each year, agencies submit affirmative action plans and reports to EEOC. One problem we have seen in these reports is a lack of data about who is applying for federal jobs. It is hard for agencies to improve hiring without knowing who it currently reaches in its recruiting and hiring efforts. To help, EEOC added questions about disability status to its applicant flow form, and continues to work with OPM on this issue.
EEOC also sent a questionnaire to agencies about their use of disability hiring to better understand where we can help. We found that among agencies using Schedule A, many did not fully adhere to the program's rules. In particular, agencies were leaving workers on seemingly perpetual probation, instead of moving them to permanent positions with Merit System protections and advancement opportunities. So we sat down with those agencies to explain the importance of extending permanent positions to people with disabilities hired through Schedule A. After that, we saw hundreds of people with disabilities converted to full-time civil service positions.
To build on this progress, the federal government is committed to exploring new and innovative ways to improve our recruiting, hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities. That is why we are thrilled to have all of you - the thought leaders who are advancing opportunities for people with disabilities - here with us today.
To kick off our discussions and highlight improvements made by the president's executive order, I will now turn it over to our arm chair discussion on federal perspectives on inclusion.
SOURCE: Press Release EEOC | Oct.27, 2016

How Autism Differs in Boys and Girls

AP - CBS News | October 25, 2016
Think autism and an image of an awkward boy typically emerges, but the way autism strikes girls – or doesn’t – may help reveal some of the developmental disorder’s frustrating secrets.
Autism is at least four times more common in boys, but scientists taking a closer look are finding some gender-based surprises: Many girls with autism have social skills that can mask the condition. And some girls do not show symptoms of autism even when they have the same genetic mutations seen in boys with the condition.
Autism may not be the same thing in boys and girls,” said Kevin Pelphrey, an autism researcher at George Washington University.
The causes of autism aren’t known. Genetic mutations are thought to play a role, and outside factors including older parents and premature birth also have been implicated. But the gender effect is now a hot topic in autism research and one that could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating a condition that affects at least 1 in 68 U.S. children.
What science shows
Brain imaging suggests there may be an additional explanation for why many girls with autism have more subtle symptoms than boys, Pelphrey said. Even in girls who clearly have autism, he said, brain regions involved in social behavior that are normally affected are less severely impaired.
Also, recent studies on autism-linked genes have found that girls can have the same kinds of genetic mutations seen in boys with autism, but not show symptoms. They “even need to have twice as many mutations on average to actually manifest with autism,” said Joseph Buxbaum, director of an autism center at Mount Sinai medical school in New York.
He is among researchers trying to identify a “protective factor” that may explain how some girls at genetic risk remain unaffected – perhaps a protein or other biological marker that could be turned into a drug or other therapy to treat or even prevent autism.
That possibility is likely a long way off, but Pelphrey said this line of research has prompted excitement among autism scientists.
Autism Sisters Project
Buxbaum is involved in the Autism Sisters Project, which is seeking to enroll hundreds of families with autistic sons but unaffected daughters. The project began last year with the goal of building a big database that scientists can use to look for genetic clues and protective factors. Girls and their families visit the New York lab to give saliva samples for DNA analysis and efforts are underway to expand DNA collection to other sites.
Evee Bak, 15, hopes her samples will eventually benefit her older brother Tommy. The suburban Philadelphia siblings are just a year apart. They play in a garage band – Evee on drums, Tommy on guitar and vocals. He’s a masterful musician, but has trouble reading social cues and doing things that come easy to other teens, like shopping alone or using public transportation.
Her focus is “taking care of Tommy and making sure he’s happy and healthy,” Evee said.
Tommy was diagnosed at age 3, after he stopped using words he’d learned months earlier and showed unusual behavior including repetitively lining up toys instead of playing with them.
“He’s a wonderful person and I don’t think that we’d ever want to change him,” said his mother, Erin Lopes. But they’d welcome anything that could help him function as independently as possible “because I think that’s what he really wants, is to be independent.”
Making a diagnosis
Autism is diagnosed by observing behavior, there’s no blood test for it. Some experts say gender-based differences highlight a need to develop different ways to evaluate boys and girls.
Autism screening, recommended for kids starting at 18 months, uses tools based on research in autistic boys, said Rachel Loftin, clinical director of an autism center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
One widely used screening questionnaire for parents includes questions like “Does your child play make-believe, make eye contact, seek praise, show interest in other children?” Girls with autism, especially mild cases, often don’t show obvious problems in those categories – they’re more likely than affected boys to play pretend with toys rather than lining them up by size or shape. Loftin said they’re also more likely to show concern for another person’s feelings.
Government data show that all forms of autism, mild to severe, are more common in boys and that the average age at diagnosis is 4 years in boys and girls. But Loftin said anecdotal evidence suggests a two-year lag time in diagnosis for girls, especially those with mild cases. And she suspects many cases are missed or misdiagnosed. That means a delay in early intensive behavior therapy that is the main treatment for autism.
Some girls manage to camouflage symptoms until pressures to fit in at school become overwhelming, delaying diagnosis until around age 8 or 9, said Alycia Halladay, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation, a nonprofit educational and research-funding group which is paying for the Sisters Project.
The prominent autism advocate, professor and author Temple Grandin wasn’t fully verbal until age 4. “It was obvious something was drastically wrong with me,” Grandin said. But she said she learned to adapt, in part because with “1950’s parenting” she was faced with intense encouragement to develop social skills and other talents.
Parents’ concerns
Allison Klein worried about her daughter, Jillian, for three years before the little girl was finally diagnosed with mild autism. Jillian couldn’t tolerate loud noises, she grew withdrawn around her preschool classmates and she lagged behind academically. She was labeled anxious, not autistic.
“She didn’t meet the stereotypical behaviors of no eye contact, no communication, hand flapping,” Klein said. Teachers and doctors suggested she was just shy and would grow out of it.
A few months ago, just before Jillian turned 6, Loftin confirmed Klein’s concerns.
Even Pelphrey, the autism researcher, had a similar experience. His daughter, Frances, was diagnosed almost four years after her behavior raised concerns. She didn’t walk or talk until she was almost 3 years old. She tried to be “cuddly” and interact with others, but sometimes she did so awkwardly.
“Nobody really wanted to make the call,” Pelphrey said. “Had she been a boy, there would have been much more pressure to look into it.”

New York Group Home Report - Workers Stealing From Mentally Disabled Residents 'With Disturbing Regularity,'

New York State employees stole cash from the personal accounts of people with mental disabilities to pay for everything from live shows and restaurant outings to Wal-Mart shopping sprees, according to a report released Thursday by the state's inspector general.

article  by Sandra Tan, for The Buffalo News/TNS | October 20, 2016  
One of those employees with the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Lynn Knightner, stole money from developmentally disabled residents in West Seneca to take her family to see a performance of "How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular" in 2012. She also made "questionable" restaurant gift card purchases to restaurants her colleagues do not remember taking any of their residents to, according to the report.

“With disturbing regularity we have seen the shameless preying on a vulnerable population by those charged with their care,” Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said in a statement.

The pilfering of cash accounts maintained by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities was described as "widespread and prolific." The report highlighted findings from 10 separate investigations across the state, from the Buffalo region to the Hudson Valley and found inadequate accounting safeguards and outright thefts.

Among the mismanagement and thefts highlight in the report and in the inspector general's news release:
- Knightner, a developmental assistant for a West Seneca group home, stole more than $250 from six residents in 2012 to take her own family to see the "How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular." She attempted to cover up the fact that none of the residents went to the show by buying them souvenirs from the show and playing the movie DVD for them so they would be familiar with the story. She also used the residents' money to buy restaurant gift cards and fabricated restaurant receipts. As a result of the investigation, Knightner was arrested and pleaded guilty to larceny and falsifying business records. Knightner’s plea required that she pay restitution to the victims and perform 100 hours of community service

- An employee for a group residence in East Randolph in Cattaraugus County was charged with stealing money from the personal accounts of seven residents in 2013. The investigation also revealed that the residents' personal items, valued at $820, also went missing at the group home.

- In late 2014, an employee pretended to use the personal bank cards of her group home residents outside Albany to buy Christmas gifts on their behalf. In reality she used the bank cards on purchases for herself.

- The house manager for a community residence in the Hudson Valley stole nearly $7,400 from resident accounts to buy name-brand sneakers, musical equipment and a recliner, among other things.

- An employee with a group home in Corning stole $130 in Wal-Mart gift cards that were supposed to be gifts for residents' families in December 2012. The employee, Cheryl Collins, was seen on department store surveillance tape use the cards for herself and was arrested.

The thefts and improprieties were so common and widespread that more cases of theft and abuse were reported to the Inspector General's Office even while the report was being written, according to the release.

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities employs about 23,000 employees, who provide services to approximately 128,000 New York residents with developmental disabilities in institutional and community settings.

In response to the findings, Leahy Scott made recommendations that the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities has agreed to adopt. Recommendations include more training for the handling and oversight of personal cash accounts and new audits to better track and determine how group home residents' money is being spent.

“These heinous crimes not only need to be vigorously investigated and prosecuted," Leahy Scott said, "but significant reforms must also be implemented that not only make such crimes less feasible, but protects the integrity of funds in these personal accounts.”

Friday, October 28, 2016

110th Anniversary of the Chicago Lighthouse, video interview with Dr. Janet Szlyk

Celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, The Chicago Lighthouse is changing lives through its comprehensive community of care for people who are blind, visually impaired, disabled and Veterans. They are expanding their Seniors Program which will include classes in exercise, cooking, art and more. The organization strives to rehabilitate, educate and employ.

The Chicago Lighthouse  850 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago IL

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Report to the President on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity: Oct. 2016

Federal Parity Task Force Takes Steps to Strengthen Insurance Coverage for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
From the national opioid epidemic to disturbing rates of suicide, we see the consequences every day of untreated mental health and substance use disorders.  Access to effective mental health and substance use disorder services can mean the difference between graduating from school and falling behind; between keeping a good job and becoming involved with the criminal justice system; between living a full life in recovery and dying by overdose or suicide. But if those services are needed, will your health insurance cover them in the same way it covers other medical treatment?
Six months ago, President Obama established a Federal Task Force to help make sure the answer is yes.  

U.S. Access Board Meeting and Webcast on Nov. 9th

Laptop with Board meeting on screenThe U.S. Access Board will hold its next meeting on November 9 from 1:30 – 3:00 (ET) at the Board's conference space in downtown Washington, D.C. The public is welcome to attend in person or through a live webcast of the meeting. The meeting agenda includes updates on Board rulemaking and other activities.

A public comment period will be held at the end of the meeting. Those interested in making comments in person or by phone should send an email to Rose Bunales at bunales@access-board.gov by November 2 with "Access Board meeting - Public Comment" in the subject line. Please include your name, organization, state, and topic of your comment in the body of the message.
Further information is posted on the Board's website.
Meeting of the U.S. Access Board       November 9, 1:30 – 3:00 (ET)
Webcast link: www.access-board.gov/webcast
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.
Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


FEMA’s Region VI is now accepting applications for a Regional Disability Integration Specialist position. The open period for these announcements is from Tuesday, October 25, 2016 to Tuesday, November 1, 2016. To apply for this position or for full information, including key requirements and a description of duties, please click the following link to access the job announcement through USAJobs.gov: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/454430400/
This announcement will close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) Tuesday, 11/01/2016 OR at 11:59 p.m. ET on the date the 200th application is received, whichever comes first.
If you have any questions, please email tanjaree.turner@fema.dhs.gov or by TDD: 800-877-8339.
Job Title: Regional Disability Integration Specialist
Department: Department Of Homeland Security
Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Job Announcement Number: FEMA-17-TT-120581-DE
Salary Range$75,167.00 to $97,717.00/ Per Year
Open Period: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 to Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Series & Grade: GS-0301-12/12
Position Information: Full Time – Permanent
Duty Locations:  Denton, TX
Supervisory Status: No
In this position, you will work very closely and under the guidance of the Director of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC), whose mission is preparing individuals and families and strengthening communities before, during and after a disaster by providing guidance, tools, methods and strategies to integrate and coordinate emergency management efforts to meet the needs of all citizens, including children and adults with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

Typical assignments include:

·        Developing and implementing strategies to assist States to ensure accessible transportation options for individuals with disabilities in the event of an evacuation, are easily accessible and available in accordance with policy and procedures.
·        Coordinating to ensure the needs of individuals with disabilities are met and fully included in all components of the National Preparedness System established under section 644 of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006.
·        Promoting awareness throughout FEMA via accessible electronic messaging, intranet, internet, SharePoint sites, regarding strategies for fully including individuals with disabilities.
·        Fostering and developing partnerships with disability advocacy and service agencies to enhance the development of FEMA brochures, newsletters, and other publications which are accessible as required under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act to provide access to disaster information and FEMA services, programs, and benefits.


Soma Land: Water-Based Movement and Disability Culture: Chicago :Nov. 10th, 2016

Bring your own lunch and join us for a lunch time talk with Dr. Petra Kuppers.
As a disabled dancer and scholar, Kuppers works at the intersection of movement and writing, feminist somatics and politicized bodies. In this talk, Petra Kuppers will share and invite discussion about her current work investigating water-based health and wellbeing programs, and their connections to disability culture through the lens of disability, gender, class, race, and age. One of the goals of the project is to advocate for more arts-based wellbeing work in the disability community and share skills and information about career paths and options for disabled movement artists and educators. She will also bring along some copies of her most recent pedagogy text, Studying Disability Arts and Culture, a book full of practical exercises about how to disseminate and discuss disability culture work in classrooms and social justice settings.

Date: November 10th, 2016 (Thursday)
Time: 12:00-2:00
Location: Gallery 400
400 S. Peoria Street,
Chicago, IL 60607

click image to enlarge.

This event is brought to you by
Bodies of Work
Department of Disability and Human Development (DHD)
Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities (CCSPD)
The Wellness Center
Gallery 400, College of Architecture and the Arts

Monday, October 24, 2016

U.S. Dept of Transportation Requires Airlines to Report Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters

Department of Transportation sealThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a final rule that requires U.S. airlines to report data on incidents of mishandled wheelchairs and scooters in addition to other types of checked baggage. Carriers will be required to file with DOT on a monthly basis the total number of wheelchairs and scooters stored in cargo holds and the amount that have been mishandled, including damaged, lost, delayed, or pilfered. This information will be included in DOT's monthly Air Travel Consumer Reports

The new mandate, which takes effect January 1, 2018, applies to any air carrier accounting for at least 0.5% of domestic scheduled passenger revenue. According to DOT, the rule will enable air travelers with disabilities to compare carrier performance in this area and make informed travel decisions. For further information, visit DOT's website or contact Tim Kelly of DOT at tim.kelly@dot.gov or (202) 366-5952.

National Council on Disability Issues 2016 Report on Technology

NCD Report on TechnologyThe National Council on Disability (NCD) has issued a report on measures to ensure access to information and communication technologies for people with disabilities. The document provides recommendations to the President, Congress, and federal agencies, as well as to the technology industry, the private sector, and state and local governments. NCD provided a briefing on the report at the Capitol on October 7 with representatives from industry, disability groups, and federal agencies, including the Access Board.
"In today's world, technological equality for persons with disabilities is a social justice issue," stated NCD Chair Clyde Terry. "To be truly accessible, technological inclusion must be built in from the ground up with every user in mind. Anything else is a step backwards. Anything less creates second class citizens."
Each year, NCD submits a report to the President and Congress outlining recommendations on new and emerging issues affecting people with disabilities. NCD devoted this year's report to technology because of its dominant role in everyday life and its potential to transform society and opportunities for people with disabilities. The report explores how technology can contribute to the lives of people with disabilities in education, employment, health and well-being, and independent living. It also identifies common barriers to accessibility, as well as emerging technologies and innovations, and provides recommendations on policies and practices to promote inclusive technology.

The report urges Congress to establish a "Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities" that sets forth principles for any future technology legislation and ensures fair and equal access to technology. It recommends steps that Congress and federal agencies can take to promote inclusive technology and urges the Access Board and the Department of Justice to finalize outstanding rules on technology accessibility. (The Access Board, as noted above, recently submitted for executive clearance a final rule updating its requirements for information and communication technology covered by Section 508 and the Communications Act). In addition, NCD calls upon industry to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines when designing websites and web-based technologies and to invest in research and development of accessible technology.

The report also outlines steps private and public sector entities can take to procure inclusive technology. The report and related information is available on NCD's website. NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.
SOURCE: U.S. Access Board

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month - 10 Things To Know About #InclusionWorks

In honor of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month  Disability.gov has posted some great resources for the disability community. Disability.gov is the federal government website.

10 Ways to Think about How #InclusionWorks
  1. Celebrating NDEAM. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) takes place every October to celebrate the accomplishments of people with disabilities in the workplace. It’s also a time to reflect on ways that employers, workers, people with disabilities and others can build on that success and strengthen workplace inclusion. NDEAM began as a week-long observance in 1945; since then, it has evolved into a month-long celebration. This year’s theme is #InclusionWorks, which focuses on the key role disability plays in workplace inclusion. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers ideas for ways to celebrate NDEAM, including posting a photo, quote or article on your personal or organization’s social media account with the #InclusionWorks hashtag. If you work in an office, consider hosting a brown bag lunch to discuss ways your workplace can be more welcoming and inclusive to people with disabilities.
  1. ODEP is a Champion for Diversity and Inclusion. ODEP is the only non-regulatory Federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities. The office supports a number of disability employment initiatives and offers resources on topics related to diversity and inclusion, like this guide to building an inclusive workforce. In addition, ODEP provides policy and technical assistance resources that can help you develop inclusive workplace practices. Employers can also find free resources through the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN). Learn more about disability inclusion and implementing inclusive policies and practices. “Business Strategies that Work:  A Framework for Disability Inclusion” is a valuable tool that identifies promising employment policies and practices for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities.
  1. What’s the Buzz(word)? You’ve likely heard the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” tossed around when companies talk about their hiring practices, but what do these terms really mean? Diversity is the recognition that there are people of different races, cultural backgrounds, genders, ages, abilities, classes and more that make up this world and, subsequently, the workplace. Inclusion is the idea that all people, especially those in marginalized groups, should be able to participate equally in social, civic and educational activities. Companies benefit significantly from diverse and inclusive practices – they even makes us smarter. These terms are not just buzzwords: diverse and inclusive practices better serve communities, increase innovation and improve workplace culture.
  1. Disability = Diversity. What do you think of when you hear about “diversity?” Is it race? Gender? Age? Disability is a part of diversity, too. A diverse economy is a strong economy. People with disabilities are an important part of the makeup of a diverse workforce, but they are often underrepresented in employment rates. A diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities gives employers a wider pool of talent to hire from and contributes to the overall success of a company. Disability as a part of diversity matters. There are many ways to encourage diversity through disability inclusion, like taking proactive steps to recruit workers with disabilities and providing workplace accommodations.
  1. A Partnership for Inclusion. The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) is an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy that encourages employers and others to recognize the value and talent people with disabilities bring to the workplace. Through video public service announcements (PSAs), the CDE highlights the message that, “At work, it’s what you CAN do that matters.” The CDE also plays a leading role in NDEAM, helping to promote the important role people with disabilities play in the American workplace. Recently, the CDE partnered with the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to host an NDEAM-themed Twitter chat with former Major League Baseball player and current Gallaudet University Head Baseball Coach Curtis Pride. Several of the CDE’s partners and supporters have also helped spread the word about NDEAM, including the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the National Business and Disability Council at the Viscardi Center. Both USBLN president and CEO Jill Houghton and Viscardi Center president and CEO John Kemp blogged for the U.S. Department of Labor about why “InclusionWorks” for employers and businesses.
  1. How Inclusion Benefits the Workplace. This year’s NDEAM theme, #InclusionWorks, focuses on the key role disability plays in workforce diversity. But why are diversity and inclusion so important for the workplace? Having a diverse workforce that represents the perspectives of all types of people can make businesses more productive, creative and able to respond to market demands. And recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities is a vital part of being inclusive. EARN says that companies that include employees with disabilities, “benefit from a wider pool of talent, skills and creative business solutions.” People with disabilities also represent the third largest market segment in the U.S., so counting individuals with disabilities among your employees can help your businesses better understand and meet the needs of this expanding customer base. In addition, hiring workers with disabilities could mean tax breaks for your business.
  1. Creating an Inclusive Workplace. Employers interested in creating disability inclusive workplaces, but unsure of how to do so can turn to EARN for help. EARN has information on recruiting and hiring employees with disabilities making your workplace accessible and starting disability-focused employee resource groups. Cornell University’s Institute on Employment and Disability also offers tips for human resource professionals about recruiting, hiring and retaining workers with disabilities. Remember that workplace accessibility not only applies to a company’s physical space, but also its information and communications technology, such as websites and online job applications. Ensure your company’s virtual doors are open to all by using the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology’s TalentWorks tool. The Job Accommodations Network has information on workplace accommodations, including typical costs and a new Workplace Accommodation Toolkit. Learn more about workplace inclusion of people with disabilities by reading “Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion.”
  1. Disclosure and Self-Identification. There has been a good deal of discussion about disclosure and self-identification with the changes to Section 503 Regulations earlier this year. Though the terms are similar, they have slightly different meanings. Disclosure is when a person chooses to tell an employer or prospective employer about a disability or health condition. For example, an employee may disclose a disability to his or her employer so they may be given accommodations at work. Young adults entering the workforce may want to familiarize themselves with the what, why, when and how of disability disclosure to feel comfortable choosing whether or not to disclose their disability. A company, usually its human resources department, may ask employees to voluntarily and anonymously self-identify if they are a person with a disability. This can happen during the job application, hiring process or during a workforce survey and responses are kept confidential and only used so the company can keep track of the number of people with disabilities they employee. Watch this video to learn more about self-identification and why it’s important. Learn how to create a company culture that encourages self-identification and disclosure.
  1. Mentoring Makes a Difference. Like Yoda was to Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” trilogy, a good mentor can make a difference in your career path. A mentoring relationship especially helps youth with disabilitiesnavigate employment and find success. Mentor Match pairs young people with disabilities with mentors. The National Mentoring Partnership can help you start a mentoring program in your community. Become a mentorfind a mentor and learn about the value mentoring adds for businesses. Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), hosted by The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), helps students and jobseekers with disabilities find employment. Although DMD is officially celebrated on the third Wednesday of October, mentoring is a year-round effort and you can connect with a mentor at any time in your career. Check out the DMD guide for more information.
  1. 10 Great Quotes about Disability and Work. Find inspiration for inclusion, diversity and disability with these wise words.
    • “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius
    • “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt
    • “There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” Henry Ford
    • “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • “Work is love made visible.” Khalil Gibran
    • “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” Thomas Edison
    • “Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” Martina Navratilova
    • “I choose not to place “DIS”, in my ability.” Robert M. Hensel
    • “Disability doesn’t make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does.” Stella Young
    • “I am different, not less.” Temple Grandin
Don’t forget to like Disability.gov on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and use #DisabilityConnection to talk to us about this newsletter. You can also read Disability.Blog for insightful tips and information from experts in the community.
Read past issues of the Disability Connection newsletter.