January25,2016

Working from Home: An Inside Perspective

Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

It is no secret that work-at-home jobs offer unique opportunities for job seekers with disabilities and other challenges. After all, it is an “accommodation-ready” environment with no travel or fashion costs.

That being said, it is still working at home and that can seem daunting. We asked two of our long-term work-at-home clients, Qiana from New York and Mary from Colorado, to answer a few important questions to get an insider’s perspective.

How did you handle the transition of going back to work and it being at home?

“The transition to work-at-home was a smooth one. It was actually the route that I wanted to take for a long time. I already had a home office set up. I just had to get a few items depending on the qualifications for different jobs.” (Qiana)

“I handled the transition very well. I had an office in my home already that I shared with my husband so it was perfect to make that mostly my own. I had always worked part-time in the past, so telling family and friends was not a big deal. They were all happy that I was working again.” (Mary)

Read More about Working from Home: An Inside Perspective

January19,2016

Downton Abbey: A Disability-Inclusive Workplace?

Mrs. Patmore, the cook, experiences vision loss. Image credit: PBS

Editor’s Note: The following has been cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog.

Like many people, I’m currently relishing escaping to Downton Abbey for an hour each Sunday night.  For those who haven’t succumbed to this show’s lure, it follows the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants on an English country estate during the early 20th century – a time of dramatic social change.

I’m well aware that on one level, the show is a soap opera in (very) fancy clothing. Downton’s “upstairs” residents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time dressing for and eating dinner, but that’s easy to accept because the costumes and conversations are such a treat.

Visual feast aside, though, the show has some serious subthemes. Most of these relate to changing social mores and are fairly transparent. But others are more nuanced, and one I’ve observed with interest over the years is the show’s depiction of disability-inclusive workplace practices.

As head of the estate and thus employer of many servants, the family patriarch, Lord Grantham, has on several occasions acted wisely when it comes to supporting employees with disabilities. While his character typically longs for the past, on this issue he’s very forward thinking − and I believe today’s employers can learn from his actions.

Read More about Downton Abbey: A Disability-Inclusive Workplace?

January14,2016

We ALL Need Mentors!

National Mentoring Month

By Guest Bloggers Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, and David Shapiro, President and CEO, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership

Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic and professional situations. By preparing young people for college and careers, mentoring also helps develop the future workplace talent pipeline. Mentors can help prepare their mentees for professional careers and assist with their workplace skills. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity.

Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset and youth with disabilities tend to have even fewer mentoring opportunities.

To affirm the importance of mentoring, every president since 1990 has proclaimed January to be National Mentoring Month. In his 2016 proclamation, President Obama declared that “[w]hen given a chance to use their talents and abilities to engage in their communities and contribute to our world, our Nation’s youth rise to the challenge. They make significant impacts in their communities and shape a brighter future for coming generations.” The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and MENTOR: The National Partnership, are collaborating on this blog to help ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in the movement to expand mentoring opportunities for all.

Read More about We ALL Need Mentors!

November23,2015

Improving Transportation for Those with Disabilities a Focus for Startups

Megan Totka, Chief Editor, ChamberofCommerce.com

By Guest Blogger Megan Totka, Chief Editor, ChamberofCommerce.com

If historians give this period a label, they might call it the “Startup Era.” In earlier times, most startup news was relegated to the business pages of your local newspaper or The Wall Street Journal, today a wide variety of startups make it into the front-page headlines.

And some of the most notable startups in recent years have been in the transportation industry: think Uber and Lyft, for two familiar examples.

Articles in the popular press on the exploits of Uber, for example, swing from praise for the company’s innovative business model, to controversial, for its dust-ups with local governing agencies. Legacy taxi companies hate it and it’s banned outright in some countries and cities.

Another area where Uber and Lyft have received some bad press is in their ability to serve the disabled community. There are stories about drivers (who are typically private contractors) refusing to pick up people in wheelchairs and blind passengers with service animals.

Read More about Improving Transportation for Those with Disabilities a Focus for Startups

November17,2015

Economic Independence for Americans with Disabilities Requires Owning and Operating Our Own Businesses

A photo of Clyde Terry, a member of the National Council on Disability (NCD)

By Guest Blogger Clyde Terry, Chairperson, National Council on Disability

Americans with disabilities make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population, roughly 1 in 5, according to the United States census. Living in a world that wasn’t always built with disabled people in mind provides ample opportunities to find solutions to everyday problems that non-disabled folks are likely to miss.

As we look back on the month of October and the landmark 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month observances, I can’t help but wonder: With all the attention being given to disability and employment, how could we be doing more to help people with disabilities launch and operate our own businesses?

Opportunities and real life examples abound — even while on vacation.

For example, when visiting Florida earlier this year, Parisian Charlotte de Vilmorin — a wheelchair user — was surprised to discover how difficult it was to find reliable transportation that she could use. de Vilmorin eventually found an accessible vehicle, but received a second shock when told how expensive it would be to rent — approximately $1,000 for 10 days.

Read More about Economic Independence for Americans with Disabilities Requires Owning and Operating Our Own Businesses