DIEP newsletter, Issue 8 (December 2022)

Disability Inclusive Employment Policy RRTC

Disability Inclusive Employment Policy
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Newsletter


December 2022 – Issue 8


Welcome to the eighth issue of the Disability Inclusive Employment Policy RRTC Newsletter. 

Today’s unprecedented health, social, and economic challenges raised by the coronavirus pandemic require a retrospective, present-day, and prospective view of U.S. employment policy for individuals with disabilities. Over the next four years, the goal of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on “Disability Inclusive Employment Policy” (DIEP) will be to design and implement a series of studies that produce new data and evidence on policy levers to increase employment rates of persons with disabilities with the objective of informing current and future policy and program development. This project is a collaboration between Syracuse, Harvard, and Rutgers universities.

Invite others to receive this quarterly FREE newsletter to stay updated on the latest employment policy research related to advancing economic stability, and security for youth and adults with disabilities.


Let’s Get to Work: Reimagining Disability-Inclusive Employment Policy Podcast Season 2

View the podcast series web page 
web: disabilityinclusiveemployment.org/podcast-series/

This second round of the Let’s Get to Work podcasts brings together a diverse group of subject matter experts on disability-inclusive policies and practices from multiple perspectives: individuals with lived experiences with disabilities, the business community, government systems, economics, and civil rights. Michael Morris is the moderator for the series. He is the Senior Advisor to the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University, the lead university for the Disability Inclusive Employment Policy Rehabilitation, Research and Training Center (DIEP RRTC). BBI researchers are collaborating with leading economic and social policy researchers at Rutgers and Harvard Universities.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 61 million Americans have a disability. That is one in every four Americans. (CDC) Yet, only three percent of the workforce will disclose a disability. (Sherbin, L., et.al.) There are public policies that hinder working-age adults with disabilities regarding full-time employment and greater income production, as well as the opportunity to save to meet emergency short-term financial needs and longer-term financial goals. The podcast series features reflections on how we can move forward with more inclusive workplaces and access to reasonable accommodations. We will also focus on how we recover from a once-in-a-generation pandemic that has led to an uneven recovery and return to work for individuals with disabilities depending on types of jobs and needed levels of skill.

Our speakers offer their views and recommendations for how we can expand employment opportunities for working-age youths and adults with disabilities. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely for people with disabilities, the use of an intentional supplier diversity strategy inclusive of small businesses owned by individuals with disabilities, and the importance of changing systems, structures and supports throughout the life cycle of employment.

Listen to Finn Gardiner, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Autistic People of Color Fund, talk about intersectionality from personal and professional perspectives. He explains why single-identity politics are problematic. It is important to recognize how race, disability, gender, and sexual orientation work together as policies and practices marginalize certain people.

“Having an inclusive workforce allows everyone to feel more connected to the mission of a particular workplace.” – Finn Gardiner

Listen to Carol Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability, discuss how companies are interested in increasing disability inclusion but struggle with how to encourage employees to disclose their disability.

“We have to be able to talk to employers with credibility, we have to talk not in a subjective way, but in an objective way.” – Carol Glazer

Listen to Jim Sinocchi, Head of Disability Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase, as he lays out four principles of disability inclusion in the workplace: attitude, assimilation, accommodations, and accessibility. He notes that these are principles that extend to life itself, where people with disabilities have lives that cost more and are deemed socially inferior.

“I think technology is the great equalizer for people with disabilities around the world. And I think the smart companies will find ways for what I call blended employment, which allows people with disabilities and others either to work from home on the specific challenges needs or lifestyles, but of course, they must be qualified for the work they are performing.” – Jim Sinocchi

Listen to Jay Burks, Director of Supplier Diversity at the Comcast Corporation, share about the importance of ensuring that large companies like Comcast buy goods and services from diverse suppliers, including Disability-owned Business Enterprises (DOBEs).

“The basic foundation definition of supplier diversity…is providing equitable access to supply chain opportunities…which is consistent with disability and persons with disabilities, accessibility, and ensuring the opportunities are equitable to all individuals. ” – Jay Burks

Listen to Chai Feldblum, Vice Chair of the AbilityOne Commission and former EEOC Commissioner, discuss the importance of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and describe the strategic plan to modernize the AbilityOne program. She also talks about the recent rule that prohibits payment 14(c) subminimum wage on contracts within the AbilityOne Program.

“What does disability inclusive employment policy actually look like? Okay, so that looks like from my perspective, three things. It’s changing the attitude of what type of jobs people with disabilities are capable of. So, they get hired to it change the assumptions of their coworkers, about what they are capable of. So, it’s inclusion within their colleagues. That’s why integration is so important. And finally, it’s getting the tools and job support to make sure that they can succeed. It’s not enough to get hired. It’s not enough to be quote, unquote, accepted, if you’re not given the accommodations in the devices to succeed, right.” – Chai Feldblum

Listen to Lisa Mills, Owner, Moving to a Different Drum, Disability Policy and Services Consulting, as she discusses opportunities to increase employment outcomes by braiding and blending resources across funding sources such as vocational rehabilitation, Medicaid, and Ticket to Work.

“When you start and you want to focus on disability inclusive employment policy, you got to start with an assumption that every person with a disability has some type of role in the American workforce. And now, more than ever, we need that policy to guide us, because we have a tremendous workforce shortage. And, it’s critical as we grow the economy in our country that people with disabilities be considered a natural part of the workforce.” – Lisa Mills

Listen to Zach Morris, Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University School of Social Work, as he calls for a re-evaluation of the systems in place to support people with disabilities. We must recognize that people with disabilities not only earn less than people without disabilities. They also face extra expenditures to cover disability-related out-of-pocket costs.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their goals in their dreams and their ambitions.” – Zach Morris

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2022, October 28). Disability impacts all of us infographic. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html 
Sherbin, L., Taylor Kennedy, J., Jain-Link, P., & Ihezie, K. (2017). Disabilities and Inclusion, US Findings. Center for Talent Innovation. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://www.talentinnovation.org/_private/assets/DisabilitiesInclusion_KeyFindings-CTI.pdf

**New Research**

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Disability Employment?
While the COVID-19 public health emergency has had disastrous health impacts for people with disabilities, it remains unclear what impact the associated economic recession and subsequent recovery have had on disability employment. Objective: We evaluated employment trends for people with and without disabilities over the course of the COVID-19 recession and subsequent economic recovery, both overall and by occupational category (essential, non-essential, teleworkable, non-teleworkable, frontline, nonfrontline). We made use of data from the nationally representative Current Population Survey. Linear probability models were used to estimate percent changes in employment-to-population ratios and identify differences between disabled and non-disabled employment in each quarter broadly and within specific occupational categories. As the COVID-19 recession began in Q2 2020, people with disabilities experienced employment losses that were proportionately similar to those experienced by people without disabilities. However, during the subsequent economic recovery, the employment rate of people with disabilities has grown more quickly in Q4 2021 through Q2 2022, driven by increased labor force participation. These employment gains have been concentrated in teleworkable, essential, and non- frontline occupations. Our findings suggest that people with disabilities are disproportionately benefiting from the rapid recovery from the initial economic contraction at the start of the pandemic.

Telework during the Pandemic: Patterns, Challenges, and Opportunities for People with Disabilities [https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1936657422001601].
Background: Telework has benefits for many people with disabilities. The pandemic may create new employment opportunities for people with disabilities by increasing employer acceptance of telework, but this crucially depends on the occupational structure.
Objective: We compare people with and without disabilities in the expansion of telework as the pandemic began, and the evolution of telework during the pandemic.
Methods: We use U.S. data from the American Community Survey from 2008 to 2020 and the Current Population Survey over the May 2020 to April 2022 period. Prevalence and trends are analyzed using linear probability and multinomial logit regressions.
Results: While workers with disabilities were more likely than those without disabilities to telework before the pandemic, they were less likely to telework during the pandemic. The occupational distribution accounts for most of this difference. Tight labor markets, as measured by state unemployment rates, particularly favor people with disabilities obtaining telework jobs. While people with cognitive/mental health and mobility impairments were the most likely to telework during the pandemic, tight labor markets especially favored the expansion of telework for people with vision impairments and difficulty with daily activities inside the home.
Conclusions: Many people with disabilities benefit from working at home, and the pandemic has increased employer acceptance of telework, but the current occupational distribution limits this potential. Tighter labor markets during the recovery offer hope that employers will increasingly hire people with disabilities in both telework and non-telework jobs.

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DISCLAIMER The contents of this newsletter were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RTEM0006). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, or HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.”

About BBI
The Burton Blatt Institute (“BBI”) at Syracuse University reaches around the globe in its efforts to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities. Through program development, research, and public policy guidance, BBI advances the full inclusion of people with disabilities. BBI builds on the legacy of Burton Blatt, a pioneering disability rights scholar. BBI has offices in Syracuse, NY; Washington, DC; Atlanta, GA; New York City, NY; and Lexington, KY. Learn More about BBI



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