Employment

Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media – The User Experience, will be a virtual town hall dialogue examining the accessibility barriers of social media for people with disabilities. The dialogue is put on by The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the National Council on Disability. The public is invited to participate.

The Event will take place Monday, March 17, to Friday, April 4. It will be the first in a series of three social media events on accessibility held online and taking place over the next three months.

The Value of social media in the lives of people with disabilities will be explored through the conversation during the event. Focus will be on work and identifying accessibility issues and creative approaches to make social media tools more accessible and usable. As a participant you will be able to discuss your social media experiences and submit ideas, comments and vote on potential solutions.  

You can register for the event, which is being coordinated under ODEP’s ePolicyWorks initiative.

The Indian Federation of United Nations Association (IFUNA) in association with Friends of Differently Abled (FODA) recently launched an employment website for people with disabilities. The website will link employers and persons with disabilities who can register with the site and upload the pertinent information. Those who upload their details can get help at Dr. MGR Janaki School in Saligramam on Saturdays from 4pm to 8pm.

Microsoft has announced their Microsoft DisAbility Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship is designed to empower and enable high school students with disabilities:

  • Go to college
  • Recognize the impact of technology
  • Seek careers in technology

The overarching goal of the scholarship is to increase enrolment in higher education and, ultimately, help decrease the unemployment bias for people with disabilities.

All candidates must be high school students who are living with a disability and plan to attend a two or four year university or college program. Further, they must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA and have declared a major from the approved list in the scholarship guidelines on the application.  

For more information on applying for the scholarship see the Scholarship Description on Microsoft’s site.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) just released a new study on health-care transition and employment. Because an individual’s ability to manage their health is critical to going to school, learning, and transitioning into employment, ODEP commissioned this study in 2012 to better understand the relationship between disability (including chronic health conditions); health and wellness; and transition and employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. Moreover, the study examined the role health-care providers play in establishing employment expectation.

Read the full policy brief on Health-Care Transition and Employment

On October 16 the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will host the STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities. Students with disabilities grades 3-12 will interact with college students and professionals with a variety of disabilities who have successful careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Among the accomplished panelist, Sina Bhram, who is blind, will share how he overcame challenges to become a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University and is now helping others break down barriers similar to the ones he faced. Read more about STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities.

Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act passed, Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, recently released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities. In a recent blog post, Governor Markell explains that, “only 20 percent of the 54 million Americans living with a disability are employed or seeking employment, compared to almost 70 percent of people without disabilities.” That is why he released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities as a blueprint for governors, which is not about feel-good social policy but about employing individuals with disabilities because it is good business.

“In a survey of employers last year, 78 percent said they believed people with disabilities were discriminated against in employment,” explains David Matthews, CCS Disability Action Chief Executive.

According to the CCS Disability Action in New Zealand, there is clear evidence of discrimination against people with disabilities when it comes to access to employment. Both the United Kingdom and the United States collect quarterly data on the unemployment rate amongst people with disabilities but New Zealand does not. However, the evidence is still clear.

“People with disabilities are overrepresented on benefits and in unemployment. In 2011, 35 percent of people on a main benefit claimed a disability allowance. Only 45 percent of people with disabilities were in the labor force compared to 77 percent of people without disabilities,” said Matthews. He went on to say that they would not know if they were actually addressing the issue without accurate data. Read more about how New Zealanders with Disabilities Face Employment Discrimination.

Since I am a web accessibility analyst, I have the good fortune of being mobility impaired.  Of course, I only can say this regarding my work.  It is like being a veterinarian and not having pets.  Without the personal experience, you couldn’t empathize with the pets’ guardians.  You wouldn’t observe subtle, unique signs that a dog or cat is not feeling well.

Unemployment for people with disabilities rose slightly last month to 13.6% - up from 12.9%,  Shaun Heasley reported on June 7, 2013 in the online news, Disability Scoop

“The Labor Department began tracking employment among people with disabilities in October 2008. … Data on people with disabilities covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. The first employment report specific to this population was made available in February 2009. Now, reports are released monthly.” said Heasley.

Improved accessibility in electronic products, websites, documents and mobile applications can help close the unemployment rate gap between people with disabilities and the general population, which is now around 7.6%.   Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of Global Literacy at Benetech shared some success stories on Huffington Post in May.

By improving accessibility, persons with disabilities have a better chance at education, employment and improved quality of life.

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