At 2pm today, the monthly White House Conference Call on Disability Issues began with Mr. Kareem Dale updating callers on the new format for the call, which includes answering some of the questions posted on www.disability.gov. After the format update, Mr. Dale introduced callers to Director Pat Shiu of the US Department of Labor’s Office of Fedral Contract Compliance Programas (OFCCP). The objective of the OFCCP is to enforce the contractual promise of affirmative actionad and equal employment opportunity required of the companies who are contracted to work with the Federal government. Director Shiu spoke to this objetive in relation to Federal contractors and Section 503 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The OFCCP recently published its proposal to improve job opportunities for individuals with disabilities by requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to set a hiring goal of having 7 percent of their workforce be people with disabilities, amongst other requirements. The proposal was published in the December 9th edition of the Federal Register. Director Shiu invited callers and the general public to read the proposed rule and to comment on the proposal. The closing date for public commentary on the rule is February 7th, 2012. There are press releases with more information available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Korean, Vietnamese, Urdu, Hmong, and Laotian. To learn more about or contact the OFCCP, please visit their website to view their page on Frequently Asked Questions (by topic), their seminar and workshop calendar, or various other related topics.
After Director Shiu shared on the OFCCP and the proposed rule, Mr. Dale introduced Dr. Charlie Lakin, PhD, the new Director of the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Director Lakin briefly shared his background with the callers and began to speak about the Mission of NIDRR, which includes the generation, dissemination, and promotion of knowledge so that the lives of people with disabilities are improved. As part of this mission, NIDRR conducts comprehensive programs of research so that people with disabilities are fully included, socially integrated, employed, and living indepdently. Director Lakin also touched on someo of the core areas of NIDRR research, which include employment outcomes, health and function, technology for access and function, and capacity of building. To learn more about NIDRR, please visit their webpage on Frequently Asqued Questions about NIDRR. Dr. Lakin also announced the completion of NIDRR’s Long Term Plan for 2012-2016. A period for public comments will be announced in the near future.
After Director Lakin spoke, Mr. Dale shared several announcements including that the White House Council on Disabilities does not archive these conference calls. Another announcement that Mr. Dale shared is the plan to host conferences in different cities around the country that will deal with disability issues in a local, regional, and national level. The plans for these conferences are still in the works and, as plans are confirmed, Mr. Dale will share where and when these conferences will be. Finally, Mr. Dale announced a townhall meeting will be held outside of the Washington, DC area after the President’s State of the Union Address. This townhall meeting will be held with the disability community and will be led by Mr. Kareem Dale. Details will be posted for the conferences and the townhall meeting as soon as they are made available.