Skip to main content


Double Duty: Hire a Veteran with a Disability

By Marlene Ulisky on November 09, 2017

As an employer, do you want to easily find valuable and talented employees to fill your job openings AND incentivize your workplace diversity? If inclusion and diversity is important to you and your workplace culture, look no further and hire a veteran with a disability.

In the past, when you received and reviewed resumes and applications, did you see military job titles such as “Multiple Launch Rocket System Crew Member” or “Electronic Intelligence Interceptor” or “Senior Non-commissioned Logistician?” Or did you read between the lines and look for more? Did you even set up an interview to learn more? Don’t let qualified veterans slip by.

The military engrains many skills which are transferable from military jobs to civilian jobs. Although some of the hard skills may be challenging to translate into jobs that aren’t specialized positions, many soft skills can easily translate into their civilian equivalents. Some identifiable skills include:

•    Evident interpersonal skills, leadership, punctuality, and discipline

•    Proven team player

•    Ability to perform under pressure

•    Demonstrated respect for procedures

•    Willingness to accept criticism and take direction

•    Attention to details

In addition to the skills and abilities veterans with disabilities bring to the workforce, there are federal tax credits available to employers who hire individuals from target groups. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is one of the federal tax credits available, but there are others on the Department of Labor's Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) website. Employers who hire multiple WOTC qualified employees can make a significant dent in their federal income tax liability while being rewarded with valuable and diverse employees.

You may wish to begin your search by collaborating with your local CareerOneStop Business Center, a partner of the American Job Center network, or use their Civilian-to-Military Occupation Translator to identify civilian occupations that match relevant military experience and similar skills. Another great resource for employers, managers, or human resource professionals is the Veterans Employment Toolkit from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Every employer will find benefits to hiring veterans with disabilities. Make a difference and make a positive impact today by hiring a disabled veteran and give back to those who have protected our nation.

Comment | Permalink

Inclusion Drives Innovation: The Mobile Accommodation Solution App

By Lou Orslene on October 24, 2017

The World Health Organization reports globally there are more than 1 billion people with disabilities. Increasingly, chronic health conditions and disabilities are becoming more commonplace in the workplace.

This has major implications for employers large and small.

How an employer engages, develops, recognizes, and supports job applicants and employees is critical to creating a diverse pool of talent in the workplace, and, more importantly, optimizing the productivity of every worker to increase job satisfaction and business performance. Engaged employees are also crucial to the innovation that leads to increased market share.

Many enterprises have and continue to understand the contributions of workers with disabilities and the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. Over the past few years none have been more aggressive than a global U.S. broadcasting and cable television company. Hiring a person with a disability in a leadership position to guide their efforts, this company is one of the best examples of the spirit of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme, “Inclusion Drives Innovation.” They understand the value of employees with disabilities to drive innovation resulting in a larger market share.

Strategic enterprises know every employee is different—from abilities to job needs, from how they consume information to how they prefer to collaborate and communicate with others. And these employers therefore understand employees with disabilities can make unique and significant contributions. This is particularly true if organizations are smart enough to effectively accommodate employees with disabilities who might need adjustments.  Accommodations provide equal opportunity for employees with disabilities and, if respectfully provided, create inclusive and productive workplaces.

Workplace accommodations enable the best abilities of candidates and employees with disabilities. Providing employees with these supports ensures productivity and engagement. Strategic enterprises also find ways to capitalize on this process to understand the needs of individuals with disabilities, older employees with chronic health conditions, and others who may have an impairment. Products and services for this large and growing market can differentiate an enterprise and drive profits.

For many organizations, the accommodation process can be disjointed, reactive, and inconsistent across divisions or lines of business. This makes it difficult to enable new employees with disabilities to perform their job tasks successfully. It also creates challenges for aging employees with chronic health conditions who are working to remain productive. The results of poorly developed and implemented accommodation processes are lower retention rates, increased hiring and retraining costs, loss of highly qualified talent, and draining of essential institutional knowledge.   

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and managed by the Center for Disability Inclusion at West Virginia University, we at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) hear from tens of thousands of employers per year. With a global reputation for being a thought leader on disability and the workplace, the JAN team knows inclusion is not without challenges,  including continually educating talent acquisition managers about effective accommodation processes and practices. In addition to the often stated challenges, today's workplaces are more mobile than ever creating a new set of challenges.

These challenges became the genesis for our Mobile Accommodation Solution (MAS), a first-generation mobile workplace accommodation case management app to help U.S. businesses create inclusive workplaces for employees with disabilities. The app is designed to provide real-time case management while guiding talent acquisition and managers through best and emerging accommodation practices. The long term goal of the app is to institutionalize or normalize accommodations throughout the enterprise.

IBM Accessibility Research, with its long history of advancing people with disabilities and creating accessible technology solutions, was the ideal partner for us at the Center for Disability Inclusion on this project. After receiving funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), we were on our way to creating an accessible mobile solution that would help engage employees with disabilities at all stages of the employee life cycle. 

Users of the MAS app will be able to manage requests for workplace accommodation in real time from iOS and Android tablets or smartphones. The app will provide users with a suite of fillable, accessible forms and the capability to store, print, and export records that can be imported into enterprise information systems.

In addition, MAS should help eliminate process confusion, reduce redundancy, fulfill requests in a timely manner, and provide consistent support across a global enterprise. The MAS helps employers to hire, retain, and advance employees with disabilities; to provide equal opportunity; to create inclusive workplaces all while supporting employers to meet the obligations of government regulations and keep historical accommodation records for legal and personnel purposes.

We at the Center for Disability Inclusion are very excited about working with IBM to develop and deploy MAS and look forward to helping more employers create inclusive workplaces, thereby realizing the untapped potential that everyone, including people with disabilities, can bring to the workplace. A formula I always keep in mind is “Accommodations = Inclusion = Innovation”.

The MAS iOS app is expected to be available at the App Store by late 2017; while the Android app is expected to be available in 2018. 

Comment | Permalink

Your First Job Should Not Be Your Last

By Nancy Boutot on October 12, 2017

I want a job, or two, or three…

Can you answer the following question?

On a load chart, values above the bold line mean:

a.    Capacities based on tipping
b.    Capacities based on structural competence
c.    Capacities should be reduced by 20%
d.    On tire capacities

Know the answer? Me neither, because I am not a heavy equipment operator! So what is my point here? Sometimes we test people on things that can be irrelevant. That can be especially true when administering vocational evaluations to people with disabilities, when we test for things that just don’t matter, such as IQ, reading level, speed, or skills that simply do not pertain to the work they are interested in performing.

If you tested me on load charts, or how many widgets I could put together in an hour, I would fail miserably because I do not know what a load chart is, and I don’t want to put widgets together! Or, perhaps, I do like putting widgets together, but the day you tested my speed I was not feeling well, and it was decided I would never be a widget maker.

Many of us forget that a lot of trial and error went into finding the jobs we currently have. As a trainer, I used to ask job coaches and employment specialists how many jobs they have ever had. I asked this question because time and time again I heard of people with disabilities being deemed as “unemployable” simply because the professionals working with them felt they couldn’t keep a job. Hey, I once had a job that lasted one day, and another that lasted three! This is what I mean by trial and error. Isn’t that how we learn what we like and don’t like? Aren’t those experiences, both the good ones and the bad ones, what shape our conditions for future job success? They sure are!  In fact, it is all that experience that leads us to better paying jobs that require certain levels of experience.

When you think about those first jobs, did you have a vocational evaluation to get these positions? Probably not. While writing this blog, I decided to ask the staff at National Disability Institute what some of their first jobs were. We had several newspaper deliverers; a couple folks who worked on the family farm or in the family business; a number of waiters and waitresses; some babysitters, dishwashers, construction workers, and cashiers; along with a camp counselor and a lifeguard. Many of you reading this blog can probably identify with one or two of these yourselves! Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is anything bad about any of these jobs. There is value in ALL work. But, it is important to remember a few things about those first jobs. First, no one made us take a vocational assessment before getting the job to make sure we could succeed. Second, many of us did not succeed! And lastly, no one told us we could not work again because some of those initial jobs didn’t work out. It is what’s called dignity of risk, meaning respecting each individual's autonomy and self-determination. We all make mistakes and it can take a while to master things, even the things were are good at! In the meantime, we are building self-esteem, garnering respect from others, developing a sense of accomplishment, becoming a part of a team, and of course, getting paid!

So, how many jobs have you had? Take a moment and try to count them all up. My best guesstimate is somewhere near 25-27. That seems like a lot doesn’t it? Or does it? In the past 26 years, I have held four jobs. It just took me 22 jobs (in almost as many years) to figure out what I really wanted, and boy was it worth it!

About the Author: Nancy Boutot is a Manager of Financial Empowerment at National Disability Institute (NDI). Nancy provides training on Social Security work incentives, benefits planning and work supports and other asset development strategies to empower individuals and communities to maximize financial capabilities. Prior to joining NDI, she spent eight years with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in Florida and 14 years directing nonprofit community based employment programs in Florida and New Jersey. Nancy earned her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, a Master of Science from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is also a certified Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) through Virginia Commonwealth University’s National Training Center.

Comment | Permalink