Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keep People Working In Our Communities

In support of individuals with disabilities currently working, and those transitioning into employment, the Community Employment Alliance asks our Washington State Legislators to:

1. Maintain Funding for Supported Employment Services
People with developmental and other disabilities rely on supported employment services for the training, guidance and follow-along support they need to stay employed.
Employers have been promised the sustained delivery of these services as a critical component of their hiring decisions. Without ongoing job supports, employer’s trust is broken. Future new hires will be in jeopardy.

2. Ensure Supported Employment Services for People Receiving "State Only" Funding
Safeguard supported employment services for those who do not qualify for Federal waivers.
Allow for continued process of movement to waiver or establish other supports.

3. Fund Transition Services for Individuals Moving from School to Work
Dollars spent to assist entry into jobs and careers provides return on the State's Special Education investment for transition graduates.
Remedy the funding gap for 2009 graduates who had no funding due to not being on Federal waivers.

4. Restore Funding for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)
Restoring the $4 million cut would generate $16 million in Federal match.
DVR is a crucial


For Informaton Contact
Seth Dawson, 360-754-3290
or sethdawson@att.net

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

20th Annual Legislators’ Forum on Developmental Disabilities for King County

On November 23rd the Arc of King County and the King County Parent Coalition for Developmental Disabilities will host the 20th annual Legislators’ Forum for King County Legislators. This annual event has been well attended in the past and has had broad community support. In 2008 over 650 people attended, including 37 legislators and Congressional staff, DSHS secretary and DDD Director. This is the largest gathering of the Developmental Disabilities community each year. There will be family members, advocates, county, regional and state staff and opportunity to talk with legislators before and after the program. The forum provides an opportunity for Legislaotrs to hear directly from families and people with disabilities.

Location: Doubletree Guest Suites, Tukwila (Southcenter).
Time: 6:30 PM check-in, program starts at 7 PM

Speakers will include self-advocates, family members and community members. All interested persons are welcome! There is no charge.

For more information contact Betsy McAlister, Assistant Coordinator, Arc of King County bmcalister@arcofkingcounty.org.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Recommended Reading: Dive In: Springboard into the Profitability, Productivity, and Potential of the Special Needs Workforce by Nadine Vogel ($32).

Get this book! Nadine is trusted by many leading CEOs because she really knows what she is talking about. If you work in HR, if you are disabled, if you want to be supportive of other disabled people at work or in your family...you need to read DIVE IN!

Dive In really is an important discussion on a subject that has been sorely neglected for far too long. It not only provides insights into the profitability, productivity, and potential of the special needs population, it provides clear - and often simple - examples of how to create a dynamic, diverse and all-inclusive work environment. It should be required reading for everyone in business.

This book is fabulous and a must read for anyone who manages others but really for everyone, everywhere. After all, people with disabilities or those who have children with disabilities are everywhere.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Disabled Workers; Creatively Tough

Excerpted from Business Week Diversity October 2, 2009, 1:18PM EST

By Ralph Braun*

Sometimes employers hesitate to hire an adult with a disability because of a misguided sense that the person may not be able to handle the job when the going gets tough. I've used a wheelchair for most of my life, and I would argue that people with disabilities are in fact better equipped for acute problem-solving than their peers without disabilities. That's mainly because we're experts in finding creative ways to perform tasks that others may take for granted.

My own company, BraunAbility, started as a solution to a problem I faced when my employer relocated and I had to find my own transportation. It wasn't long before I quit my job to focus full time on the growing demand for products such as wheelchair-accessible minivans. The fact is, employees with disabilities can do for your business what they've done for themselves: Move it forward, one step (or wheel turn) at a time.

*Ralph Braun is CEO of BraunAbility in Winamac, Ind.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Disabled Workers; Technology Closes the Gap

Excerpted from Business Week Diversity October 2, 2009, 1:18PM EST

By Ralph Braun*

Let's start with a top worry for any company: the bottom line. Studies by Sears and DuPont have shown that hiring workers with disabilities does not translate into higher accommodation costs, such as adapting office space or equipment. As studies by the President's Job Accommodation Network committee have shown, most workers with disabilities require no special accommodations. Among those who do, 15% cost the employer nothing. A little more than half of the workplace modifications cost $500 or less, 12% cost from $501 to $1,000, and only 22% exceeded $1,000.

Given that the average employer spends $2,683.20 annually per employee on retirement plans (calculated for a full-time employee), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of accommodating special needs is negligible. Additionally, technologies that are commonplace today—such as the Internet and voice-recognition software—are eliminating many of the remaining obstacles for workers with disabilities.

According to the Labor Dept.'s survey, employers also expressed concern that hiring people with disabilities would increase worker-compensation rates or the use of sick time. Wrong again. A study conducted by DuPont showed that absentee rates are virtually equal between employees with and without disabilities. As for workers' compensation, insurance providers calculate premiums based on the relative job hazards and the likelihood of an accident. Disabilities among workers are not a factor in insurers' formulas, nor should they be: According to the study, the safety records of both groups (with and without disabilities) were identical.

*Ralph Braun is CEO of BraunAbility in Winamac, Ind.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Disabled Workers; Employer Fears Are Groundless

Excerpted from Business Week Diversity October 2, 2009, 1:18PM EST
By
Ralph Braun*

Studies show that hiring the disabled does not lead to higher accommodation costs, worker comp, or sick leave, yet these myths persist. Technology closes the gap.

Recent data indicate that the economy is starting to stabilize, which is good news for millions of jobless Americans. While it's no comfort that the unemployment rate has pushed past the 9% level in recent months, it has actually edged down from 9.5% in July, to 9.3% in August for Americans without any physical disability. For people with disabilities, the jobless situation has been catastrophically worse. In the fist year the government has kept such data, unemployment has soared month by month, rising from 15.1% in July to 16.9% in August. Worse, if precedent is any indication of future trends, many people with physical disabilities still may not be able to find work in the impending recovery.

Even in times of economic abundance, many working-age Americans with disabilities remain out of work. A 2008 DePaul University study showed that only 40% of the more than 21 million working-age adults with disabilities are employed, either full- or part-time. Why? Statistics show that employers assume it would be challenging to hire people with special needs, including those who use wheelchairs, are legally blind, hard-of-hearing, or have other physical disabilities.

As a business owner and employer who uses a wheelchair, I know firsthand that having a physical disability shouldn't exclude someone from becoming a fully productive member of the U.S. workforce. But it's alarming to learn of how many employers do not share this attitude. The Labor Dept.'s 2008 Survey of Employer Perspectives on the Employment of People with Disabilities found that companies fear that hiring people with disabilities will lead to higher employment costs and lower profit margins. In the same survey, company executives also expressed concern that workers with disabilities lack the job skills and experience necessary to perform as well as their non-disabled counterparts. Employers were also uncertain about how to take potential disciplinary action with a worker with disabilities.

*Ralph Braun is CEO of BraunAbility in Winamac, Ind.

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