Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The US Business Leaders Network® Disability Supplier Diversity Program

The US Business Leaders Network® Disability Supplier Diversity ProgramSM (DSDP) offers businesses that are owned by an individual(s) with a disability, including service disabled veterans, an exciting opportunity to increase their access to potential contracting opportunities with major corporations, government agencies, and one another. Through the USBLN® DSDP, your business can obtain Disability-Owned Business Enterprise Certification and get connected to a nationwide network of corporate and government procurement professionals, disability advocates, and other certified disability-owned businesses.

Certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprises are incorporated into the USBLN® Certified Supplier Database, where procurement representatives from major corporations actively seek potential candidate vendors for bidding opportunities. Additionally, certified disability-owned businesses are eligible to participate in DSDP matchmaking and educational seminars for certified businesses. To learn more about the benefits of certification, please download the USBLN® DSDP Business Opportunities Toolkit Overview.

If you have additional questions about the certification process, download the Frequently Asked Questions. If you’d like to begin the application process, download the DSDP Certification Application, Certification Status Qualifiers, Disability Status Qualifier Supplemental Form, and Physician’s Certification of Disability Form.

If you are a corporate or government representative and are interested in adding Certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprises to your supply chain, please contact the DSDP Team.

The USBLN® is the national disability organization that serves as the collective voice of over 60 Business Leadership Network affiliates across North America, representing over 5,000 employers. The USBLN® helps build workplaces, marketplaces, and supply chains where people with disabilities are respected for their talents, while supporting the development and expansion of its BLN affiliates. The USBLN® recognizes and supports best practices in the employment and advancement of people with disabilities; the preparedness for work of youth and students with disabilities; marketing to consumers with disabilities; and contracting with vendors with disabilities through the development and certification of disability-owned businesses.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

US Business Leaders Network TOWER Initiative

The US Business Leaders Network (USBLN) believes the inclusion of students and youth with disabilities in its programming is essential to assist businesses in preparing an American workforce ready to take on tomorrow’s challenges. The USBLN® has created the TOWER Initiative to be proactive in providing both students and youth with disabilities, as well as businesses, the Tools on Work and Employment Readiness necessary to meet the demands of employers. Through the TOWER Initiative the USBLN® is working with our affiliates to provide them with the tools to work with their business partners. These tools are designed to expand mentoring and internship opportunities for students and youth with disabilities.

The USBLN® also provides our affiliates with resources to assist them with creating Student Advisory Councils. This will ensure that a youth voice is present and assisting business as they move forward with their strategic implementation of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce. We also work with our affiliates at the national level to incorporate soft skill development in our interactions with young people with disabilities.

USBLN business members span across all of the great industries of American business. These organizations all realize that there are no limits to the careers that people with disabilities can excel in, working hand in hand with their non-disabled colleagues. For their business members who wish to have a direct impact on fostering new opportunities within their companies for students with disabilities, TOWER Initiative staff are available to provide customized consulting services.

The USBLN® is the national disability organization that serves as the collective voice of over 60 Business Leadership Network affiliates across North America, representing over 5,000 employers. The USBLN® helps build workplaces, marketplaces, and supply chains where people with disabilities are respected for their talents, while supporting the development and expansion of its BLN affiliates. The USBLN® recognizes and supports best practices in the employment and advancement of people with disabilities; the preparedness for work of youth and students with disabilities; marketing to consumers with disabilities; and contracting with vendors with disabilities through the development and certification of disability-owned businesses.

To learn more about the TOWER Initiative or to find out how your company can receive customized solutions contact Gary Goosman, Director of the TOWER Initiative, at 202-349-4259 or gary@usbln.org.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stable Employment and A Career Path Continue the Journey

This is the 7th in a series describing elements along a pathway to employment for persons with disabilities.

Everyone hopes to maintain stable employment. A person with disabilities has the same dreams of being valued and contributing. The professional who supports that person on the job works to ensure that the right supports are there and remain in place so the new employee can be successful and continue to make a difference.

The professional will check with periodically with the employee and the employer to see how things are going. If needed the professional may step back into a more intensive relationship to assist with additional training, orient a new supervisor or co-workers, or help problem solve communication or life challenges. He/she is the advocate for the new employee in negotiating wages, hours, increased responsibilities and career advancement opportunities. The employment plan is evaluated twice a year at minimum and adjusted as needed. The professional will continue to develop the employer relationship and maintain the communications between family and home, the employee and the employer.

The successful outcome of this journey along the pathway to employment is a business with a very loyal and committed employee performing a job that adds value and profit to the bottom line. It is also a person with a disability who receives a pay check for doing work that is valued by his/her employer and who has a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

This is the last in our series describing the elements of a pathway to employment for a person with disabilities.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Getting Off to the Right Start in a New Job

This is the 6th in a series describing elements along a pathway to employment for persons with disabilities.

A satisfying job the matches the employee and the employers needs requires carefully putting place supports that will help the new employee be successful. It may include arranging for public or private transportation to the job with training if required. There most likely will be a customized job description created that the new employee is expected to perform that takes advantage of his/her skills and talents.

The professional supporting the new employee will help with orienting him/her to the job which may include assistance with training. It may also include helping co-workers understand the best method of communication and helping a supervisor understand how to give direction and support. Throughout the professional will maintain continuous communication with the employee, the employer and the employee’s family.

Once the employee is deemed to be stable in the job with “natural supports” in place the professional gradually withdraws from hands on intensive supports by stepping back to allow the employee as much independence as possible. The professional develops a plan for checking back in to see how the new employee is progressing in the new job and remains connected to the employer and to the employees family.

In our June 22nd blog we’ll review Maintaining Employment

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Finding the Right Job on the Pathway to Employment

This is the 5th in a series describing elements along a pathway to employment for persons with disabilities.

All the preparation is done and now it is time to look for that ideal job. The professional supporting the job seeker will conduct a labor market analysis, research and target potential employers, perhaps take the job seeker on tours of businesses of interest. In evaluating businesses to target, the professional is looking for an environment that is suitable to the needs of the job seeker and will use that analysis to help identify potential employers. The professional is also analyzing where the prospective employer will benefit from the talents and skills of the job seeker.

When approaching a potential employer the professional introduces the individual and identifies where the job seeker’s skills and talents match the needs of the business. The professional is also educating prospective employers about the benefits of hiring a person with disabilities as well as ways to overcome barriers to employment such as personal and assistive technology support needs.

It is the professionals responsibility to support the job seeker in negotiating with the prospective employer and to assist him/her in the interview process which might be a traditional interview or could be a working interview where the job seeker demonstrates the skills and talents he/she offers to the employer. The ultimate goal is an employment offer that meets the needs and preferences of the employer and the job seeker.

In our June 17th blog we’ll review Intensive On-the-Job Supports

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Preparing for the Job on the Pathway to Employment

This is the 4th in a series describing elements along a pathway to employment for persons with disabilities.

Having discovered the interests and preferences of the job seeker and assessed those skills and abilities he/she does best, plus needed supports on the job, the focus turns to getting ready to take the responsibilities that go with employment. This step in the process could include learning to travel to and from the job, practicing interview skills, obtaining needed permits such as first aid training or food handler’s permit, developing a resume, and completing employment applications.

Travel training may be needed in order for the individual be comfortable using public transportation or arranging for specialized or private transportation. Interview practice is sometimes accomplished by experiencing mock interviews. A resume may be a traditional resume or it could be a portfolio of work accomplished or a video resume that demonstrates the job seekers skills and abilities. These preparations are helpful to anyone seeking employment and are particularly useful for those individuals who have never before held a job in the community.

In our June 15th blog we’ll review Marketing the Job Seeker and Job Development.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Employment Assessment: The Next Step on the Pathway to Employment

This is the 3rd in a series describing elements along a pathway to employment for persons with disabilities.

Employment assessments are short term interventions often used when the job seeker is not well known or when the discovery process has not revealed the ideal employment conditions or needed supports. These assessments always follow Department of Labor rules and timelines.

An assessment may include developing assessment sites or volunteer positions to try out various tasks and skills. These “Trial Work Experiences” give the job seeker a limited experience in a job to test out preferences, skills, and support needs. The professional supporting the job seeker will be involved in orientation and training and will observe the individual in different community and home settings including familiar and unfamiliar venues. The professional will also research the job market to match the job seekers skills and preferences to possible employment opportunities.

The assessment report describes the job seekers current level of performance, preferences, learning styles, supports or accommodations needed, behavioral challenges (and strategies to reduce the likelihood of the behavior occurring); habits, routines and idiosyncrasies; summary information about potential needs for accessibility, assistance, technology and/or personal assistance in the workplace.

In our June 10th blog we’ll review Job Preparation.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Discovery Process on the Employment Pathway

This is the 2nd in a series describing elements along a pathway to employment for persons with disabilities.

The Discovery Process is when intensive individualized efforts are made to identify a task or tasks the jobseeker could perform at competitive levels as well as other information needed to be sure he/she will be successful in employment (such as assistive technology needs, on the job supports, or other support needs) that a traditional assessment may not provide. This process includes interviewing those who know the jobseeker, observing him or her in different community and home settings to learn more about the job seeker and how he/she demonstrates his/her abilities in different environments.

There may be multiple trial work experiences that give the job seeker limited experience in a job to test out interests and skills. Job trials also provide a way to identify appropriate environmental and support needs as well as tasks in which the job seeker may be competitively employed.

Discovery generally lasts 2-3 months and may be extended if a job task(s) is not identified. The discovery process may also be repeated over the working life of an individual because vocational goals change or the market for that task or skill becomes outmoded. Often volunteer situations at a non-profit are used to give the job seeker some additional time to learn about work culture and to learn more difficult tasks. The professional supporting the job seeker will research the job market to match the job seeker’s skills and preferences to possible employment opportunities.

Discovery is complete once a potentially competitive task or set of tasks are identified and an employment profile is developed that includes: an employment goal that meets the job seekers skills, talents and interests; a direction for job development and a list of specific tasks the individual can perform competitively; timelines for review of progress toward goal and routine review and evaluation.

In our June 8th blog we’ll review Employment Assessment.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Supported Employment Pathway

A committee of Supported Employment Organizations in King County Washington has been working over the past year to create an “Employment Pathway Grid”, an attempt to develop a commonly understood definition of the process by which people with disabilities obtain employment. The desired outcome for a pathway is always paid employment and/or self employment. However, since the process for obtaining employment is individualized, it is not always a linear process requiring all elements described in the “Grid”.

Over the next month we will be exploring each element described in the grid, the tools and strategies used and the measures that define progress for that element. Also included will be definitions for specific elements plus values and critical success factors. Our hope is to help you, our readers, understand what is meant by “Employment Pathway” and something about the process by which a person with disabilities is supported on that journey.

The process begins with Intake. The journey begins with an interview with the job seeker and his/her family. The organization providing the employment services gives an overview of services offered as well as how they are funded. A participant handbook is reviewed and at that initial meeting paperwork and documents, records, history and information is gathered, including Social Security. Job seekers and their families are given documentation that describes their rights as well as their responsibilities. Each job seeker is given resource information that will connect them with funding sources, social security information, and other available resources as needed.

This interview process is designed to give jobseekers and their families the knowledge they need to engage in a successful process and create a shared understanding of all roles and responsibilities. Additionally a preliminary benefits analysis is completed and where appropriate funding through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is secured.

In our June 3rd blog we’ll review the Discovery Element of an Employment Pathway.

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