October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! The Office of Disability Employment Policy selected “Inclusion Drives Innovation” as the theme for 2017. “Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.” Here at NARIC we couldn’t agree more!
NARIC has a diverse team, representing multiple abilities and disabilities; racial, ethnic, and language groups; and levels of experience and education. Each person brings their unique skills to the task of supporting the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and in the community. We recognize the benefits of an inclusive workplace, both to ourselves and to the work we do.
For Director Mark Odum, building an inclusive workforce is a deeply personal issue, both here at NARIC and in the community at large. “It’s been my honor to lead a team of diverse talents and abilities, operating with a wide perspective for collecting, synthesizing, and disseminating the wealth of research, resources, and information produced by the NIDILRR community, and the greater disability and rehabilitation community. Through each NARIC staff member’s unique point of view and contributions to the project, we continue to successfully meet NIDILRR’s challenges and goals to improve opportunities for individuals with disabilities to live their best lives in the community of their choice.”
Everyone can have a role in building an inclusive workforce. The NIDILRR community has developed a wide range of resources to support job seekers, employers, and employment and vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors.
For Job Seekers
Young people with mental health conditions getting their start in the job market may be interested in factsheets from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Learning and Working During the Transition to Adulthood (Transitions RTC) on applying for a job, keeping a job, and disclosing a disability at work.
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Living and Participation of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities (TU Collaborative) produced a Practical Guide for People with Mental Health Conditions Who Want to Work (available from the NARIC collection). This illustrated guide offers encouragement and vital information on the importance of work, the ins and outs of work incentives, the challenges of starting a new job and grappling with disclosure, and strategies for long-term success in the workplace.
Job seekers who are blind or have visual impairments may want to explore Career Advantage for VIPs, developed by the project on Transition Services that Lead to Competitive Employment Outcomes for Transition-Age Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments. The eight instructional modules take you through the processes of self-assessment, career exploration, job searching, resume development, job accommodations, and more. Career Advantage VIP can be used by anyone, from those leaving high school to an adult seeking to find or change employment.
For employers, hiring managers, and HR professionals
For those on the hiring side interested in building an inclusive workforce, engaging frontline personnel, and encouraging strategic planning related to changing policies and workforce dynamics that impact the demand for qualified candidates with disabilities, visit the tools, resources, and training available from the Diversity Partners Intervention: Moving the Disability Employment Needle Trough Value Added Relationships Between Talent Acquisition Providers and the Business Community at www.buildingdiversitypartners.org.
The ten regional centers of the ADA National Network provide information, guidance and training on how to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to support the mission of the ADA to “assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” This includes assisting employers in understanding their responsibilities toward employees with disabilities. Check out these resources from the ADA National Network designed just for employers:
- HR Tips features articles, checklists, glossaries and other resources for human resource professionals: http://www.hrtips.org/
- The New England Regional ADA Center’s online learning center features courses on the ADA and employment requirements at http://learn.newenglandada.org/
- Accessible Technology in the Workplace features articles, factsheets, and more for employers to provide electronic information technology that is universally accessible http://accessibletech.org/
For employment and vocational rehabilitation counselors
A recent issue of our Research In Focus series highlighted research from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Outcomes for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired that focused on the keys to employer-agency relationships that lead to successful outcomes for job seekers with visual disabilities. These included reliable, responsible staff; knowledgeable counselors; trust in the relationship; and continued contact. Learn more about their research on building successful VR/employer relationships.
How can you integrate research like this into your VR practice? Visit the RRTC for Evidence-Based Practice in Vocational Rehabilitation at http://www.research2vrpractice.org/ for toolkits, articles, videos, and more!
You may also be interested in these previous Spotlight Blog posts that dive into the research and resources on employment and inclusion from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere, available from the NARIC collection: