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.

Interactive Accessibility is proud to congratulate the Top 50 Corporations for Diversity winners.  It is exciting to see businesses set the bar high and to assure that they have a diverse workforce.  

The global economy represents people from all walks of life including different ages, races, ethnic background, genders, sexual preferences, and abilities.  This diverse group has never been a more formidable voting and buying power.  Companies that ensure that their services, products and solutions are designed to include and appeal to this diverse customer base will continue to be winners.  The leaders know the importance of assuring their workforces reflect the makeup of their customer base.

"Our firm is proud to have a diverse workforce.  We are excited to follow in the steps of giants like Wal-Mart, AT&T, IBM, Northrop Grumman, Office Depot and Cisco Systems.  Businesses of all sizes can learn a lot from these leaders.  Please join us in recognizing these leaders in diversity and inclusion."
— Kathy Wahlbin, Interactive Accessibility, CEO and Founder

America's Top Organizations for Multcultural Business Opportunities

View the complete list of winners.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy will host a free, live audio discussion as part its AT Works series about accessible technology in the workplace. Inspiring Innovation — Engaging Citizens in the Development of Accessible Workplace Technology, will be held on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 from 2 - 3 p.m. Eastern Time. 

You can participate in this event by conference-call and the event will be live audio-captioned. No registration is required. 

Visit Disability.gov for more information about how assistive and accessible technologies can advance the employment and independence of people with disabilities.


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