Accessibility TechTalk: The Future Of Accessible IT

LinkedIn

Why does universal design matter, and how does it drive citizen engagement? How is the private sector approaching accessibility? What are some of the leading best practices that the government can learn from their partners in industry? What does the future hold for accessible IT? On December 13, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT), supported by the General Services Administration (GSA), hosted a facilitated “Accessibility TechTalk” at Microsoft’s Innovation and Policy Center in Washington, DC to explore these issues. During the event, federal and industry executives from across the technology sector joined forces to share experiences, learn from each other, and discuss the future of accessible IT.

Setting Best Practices

The session kicked off with a lively discussion about the importance of universal design in developing accessible technology. With modernization challenges such as mobile security and generational shifts, developers have an imperative to design products that have a broad sense of functions. If solutions are designed with all users in mind, and encompass the needs of people with disabilities, more users benefit overall.

Universal design is the mode to help companies develop accessible solutions.

Improving citizen engagement is a goal for both the government and the tech industry. Involving the user (i.e. citizen) in the design process generally results in better products. Attendees agreed that universal design is the mode to help companies develop accessible solutions. Companies must adopt a user-centric design approach throughout development, rather than reactively respond to user needs once a product has been launched. While agile development methods can create challenges from an accessibility standpoint, teams can use these techniques to highlight accessibility issues and apply user-centered design techniques from the beginning.

Offering some industry perspective, one Fortune 500 company challenged others to gauge how accessible they really are and to set measurable goals for improvement. With the Revised 508 Standards coming into effect on January 18, 2018, and the common appearance of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 in procurement and solicitation documents, compliance remains an important factor for accessible IT. Yet, both federal and industry representatives emphasized that the Section 508 standards should be seen as the starting line, not the finish line.

Section 508 standards should be seen as the starting line, not the finish line.

Another recommendation was for the government to involve senior management, executives, and policymakers in setting accessibility strategy. Without executive buy-in, an agency will struggle to embed an inclusive mindset into its culture. Without communication from senior executives echoing the need for accessible IT, agencies will ultimately fail to make accessibility a priority.

Challenges

The event also highlighted challenges and areas for improvement by both industry and government. While companies are developing innovative accessibility solutions using artificial intelligence and virtual reality, participants recognize that the journey to accessibility has only just begun. Though Section 508 defines compliance standards, there isn’t enough enforcement of 508 across the field. Standards should not be seen in isolation, but as part of the larger conversation around IT modernization.

Participants further pointed out the misguided assumption that technology alone solves accessibility challenges. Overreliance on technology means that individual user needs and access requirements aren’t considered in the design process. If accessibility was emphasized in higher education curricula, future developers and engineers would be better qualified to design solutions with accessibility in mind. The majority of TechTalk attendees agreed that greater training and awareness for technical and non-technical teams would help to push accessibility forward.

Accessibility is about improving access to systems, not limiting it.

Participants also discussed how Federal IT strategy is focused on modernization, upgrading legacy systems, moving to the cloud, and investing in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity, while a necessity, aims to limit access and protect information. However, the idea of building technology that is accessible for all relies on everyone being able to access tools and information. Several TechTalk participants emphasized that if the government invested a fraction of what it does on cybersecurity into improving access to systems, agencies would be better equipped to succeed with accessibility.

Key Takeaways

The event wrapped up with participants reflecting on key takeaways. It was clear that government and industry face similar issues when it comes to tackling accessibility. Moving forward, recommendations from the session include:

  • To shift how people approach accessibility, more public forums need to be created to incite citizen engagement.
  • Whether part of the design or testing phase, companies need to put the user at the center of the discussion.
  • Testing for accessibility provides a baseline standard and helps to better integrate users into the process.

Most importantly, participants highlighted that accessibility is a necessity, not a burden. To keep momentum, we need to broaden the mandate to provide universal access, and spread the word that accessible technology, designed for all, is the future.

For more information on accessible technology in the workplace, visit PEATworks.org.

Rice Krispies Treats Just Took A Real Step Toward Inclusivity

LinkedIn

Kids with visual impairments can get loving messages with their snacks through Braille stickers and audio boxes.

Kellogg’s is increasing accessibility to the full joys of Rice Krispies Treats for children with visual impairments.

Last year, the packaged food giant rolled out writable wrappers on individual Rice Krispies Treats so that parents and others could pen encouraging messages for kids to read at school. But those notes wouldn’t reach some 62,000 American schoolchildren who are blind or low-vision, as the company said on its website.

So Rice Krispies announced Tuesday that it has partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to create “Love Notes” in the form of Braille stickers and recordable audio boxes, allowing kids with visual impairments to get a verbal boost with their snacks too.

The Braille stickers come in sheets of eight with preprinted uplifting phrases such as “You’ve Got This” and “Love You Lots.” They’re shaped like a heart, which matches the spot for writing notes on the Rice Krispies wrapper.

Because some children don’t read Braille or respond better to the spoken word, Kellogg’s is also offering a recordable audio box in which to tuck one Rice Krispies Treat. When the box is opened, it plays a 10-second message recorded by mom or dad.

According to Kellogg’s, the audio message can be re-recorded more than 1,000 times. That amounts to several school years’ worth of support ― assuming kids bring the boxes home each day.

The stickers and the audio boxes can be ordered through the Rice Krispies Treats website at no cost while supplies last.

The Love Notes also honor Will Keith Kellogg, the founder of the Kellogg Company, who lost his sight for the last decade of his life, according to Jessica Waller, vice president of sales and co-chair of the Kapable Business/Employee Resource Group at Kellogg’s.

“Inclusion is in our DNA, and is now shared through Rice Krispies Treats’ ‘Love Notes,’” Waller said in Tuesday’s press release. “Everyone is important, and we want each child to be able to feel loved, supported and acknowledged.”

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Doctors With Disabilities Push For Culture Change In Medicine

LinkedIn

Lisa Iezzoni was in medical school at Harvard in the early 1980s when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She started experiencing some of the symptoms, including fatigue, but she wasn’t letting that get in the way of her goal. Then came the moment she scrubbed in on a surgery and the surgeon told her what he thought of her chances in the field.

“He opined that I had no right to go into medicine because I lacked the most important quality in medicine,” Iezzoni recalls “And that was 24/7 availability.”

Iezzoni didn’t end up becoming a doctor. This was before the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, and she says she just didn’t have the support.

In the decades since, court rulings and amendments have clarified rights and protections. But culture change has been slow to take hold in the profession.

Doctors are often portrayed as pinnacles of health, superhumans responding to emergencies around the clock, performing miracles of all kinds. They’re seen as the fixers, not the ones ever in need of accommodations or care.

“This profession historically has viewed themselves as able-bodied in the extreme,” Iezzoni says.

Now, a growing movement of current and aspiring doctors with disabilities is starting to challenge that narrative, saying it is a disservice both to the medical profession and to patients.

It’s important to acknowledge and accommodate medical professionals with disabilities, says Lisa Meeks, a psychologist and researcher at Michigan Medicine specializing in disabilities in medicine and medical education. “It deserves attention and its own problem-solving,” she says.

Meeks co-founded the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education, a group focused on improving access to medical education for students with disabilities.

She also co-authored a report released this year on disabilities and medicine, which found that many doctors still conceal their disabilities out of fear of stigma or bias.

Earlier this year, Meeks had a thought: If doctors with disabilities saw more people like themselves, would they talk more openly about the challenges and opportunities? She started a social media campaign with the hashtag #DocsWithDisabilities.

The goal was to find 20 doctors willing to share their stories online. She has been flooded with interest from doctors with disabilities.

“There’s no end in sight,” Meeks says.

And now #NursesWithDisabilities have joined in, too.

“I felt this was a really unique opportunity to introduce all of these docs with disabilities to the medical field,” she says. “To let people know there are not unique one or two physicians with disabilities, but that there are a number of physicians with disabilities throughout the United States.”

Continue onto NPR to read the complete article.

9 things you need to know about how to behave around assistance dogs

LinkedIn

By Soraya Ferdman

Recently, I noticed a person about to cross the street — right into the path of an oncoming car. Before I could lunge forward to pull her back, her guide dog yanked its owner to safety. I felt the strong urge to pet the dog, which in addition to being a very good dog was also an Australian Shepherd, the same breed as my own. 

Then I noticed the words “DO NOT PET” across the dog’s harness.

The term “assistance dog” includes guide dogs, who help the blind; hearing dogs, who help the Deaf; and service dogs, who help people with a broader range of disabilities including but not limited to autism, epilepsy, life-threatening allergies, diabetes, mobility issues, neuromuscular diseases, and psychological trauma.

Thousands of people rely on these animals for independence. Assistance dogs perform services such as opening and closing doors, helping people into an upright position, and detecting allergens, low and high blood sugar levels, and more. But for those used to thinking of dogs purely as pets, it can be hard to know the proper etiquette.

Here’s what you need to know about how to behave when you spot a pooch with a harness:

1. Minimize distractions

Most assistance dogs are trained to pay little attention to people other than their handler. That doesn’t mean handlers aren’t bothered by people’s tendencies to pet, make cutesy noises, or otherwise distract their dogs.

“I’ve had people making noises, desperate to get my dog’s attention, while I’m crossing the street,” Laurel Hilbert, who lives in San Francisco and is blind, explained in an interview with Mashable. “My dog is very well-behaved, but he’s still just a dog. Those kinds of noises distract him.”

Petting an assistance dog may seem like a harmless transgression, but it can lead to the handler falling or otherwise injuring themselves.

Such was the case with Hayley Ashmore. Flynn, her seizure-alert dog, was being pet by a stranger when Hayley fell to the ground and injured her forehead and cheek. In an Instagram post reflecting on the events, Ashmore wrote, “My dog is my lifeline. I don’t say that to be cute… If he gets distracted this happens. If he gets distracted I can die.”

2. Talk to the handler

Remember: The handler and assistance dog are a team. If you feel you need to approach the dog for any reason, asking the handler for permission first is the best way to be aware of what the duo feels comfortable with, and to behave accordingly.

3. Keep your own dog at distance

Though dogs are social creatures, assistance dogs aren’t supposed to engage with other dogs while on duty. Pet owners can help handlers keep assistance dogs focused by holding their companion dogs a safe distance away.

4. No treats

According to Canine Companions for Independence, “Food is the ultimate distraction to the working dog and can jeopardize the working assistance dog team.”

Think of it like this: Beyond breaking their focus, some service dogs have special diets, and certain foods may trigger allergies. If an assistance dog is given something that triggers even a subtle allergic reaction, they’re not paying 100 percent attention to their handler. Less than 100 percent attention = bad news.

5. Therapy and emotional support dogs are not assistance dogs

While therapy and emotional support dogs are there to provide comfort, they do not receive the same training and are not granted legal access to the same degree as assistance dogs.

What distinguishes an assistance dog from what expert Chris Diefenthaler calls companion dogs, or regular pets, is the length and rigor of training. Before acquiring official status, assistance dogs undergo up to two years of training. Diefenthaler, an administrator at Assistance Dogs International, repeatedly emphasized this distinction to Mashable, explaining, “Assistance dogs have received extensive training and are uniquely equipped to help their handlers in ways neither therapy nor emotional support animals are trained to do.”

Continue onto Mashable to read the complete article.

The Ability Hacks: The story of two hackathon teams embracing the transformative power of technology

LinkedIn
Microsoft's Hackathon

This week is the Microsoft One Week Hackathon, where employees from around the company work tirelessly to “hack” solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. The opportunity to empower people through technology, particularly those with disabilities, has never been more important.

Back in 2014, we had 10 ability hack projects, last year we had 150 projects and 850 people, and this year – well, it’s going to be exciting to see. This is a wonderful testament to our employees and their passion for innovation and conviction in the importance of empowering every person and organization to achieve more.

An inspiration for many was two Ability Hack projects that won the company hackathon in 2014 and 2015, and this year we will be giving away copies to hackers of a new book covering the journeys of those hackathon teams. “The Ability Hacks” shares the behind-the-scenes stories of the hackers who pioneered two innovative hacks-turned-solutions used today by people with disabilities around the world – the Ability EyeGaze Hack team and Learning Tools Hack team.

We hope this book, and the journeys these teams have been on, can help spark a conversation about the transformative power of technology, and encourage engineers and developers to build the next wave of inclusive technology. I encourage you to read, and as a teaser, here are a few highlights:

EyeGaze: Reinstating independence by revolutionizing mobility

“Until there is a cure for ALS, technology can be that cure.” – Steve Gleason, former NFL player

In 2014, former NFL player Steve Gleason, who has a neuromuscular disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sent an email to Microsoft challenging employees to develop a technology that could allow him to drive a wheelchair with his eyes. A group of software engineers, program managers, marketers and advocates formed the Ability Eye Gaze hack team and accepted this challenge ahead of the 2014 Microsoft hackathon.

Through hard work, determination and despite a few twists and turns, the team collaborated to build a solution complete with duct tape that allowed Steve to control his wheelchair with his eyes. This invention had impact, ultimately inspiring the formation of the Microsoft Research NExT Enable team, who have continued working on technology for people with ALS and other disabilities. This has already resulted in a new feature named Eye Control, which was developed in collaboration with the Windows team, and was included in Windows 10 last year.
Learning Tools: Transforming education and learning in the classroom
“If you design things for the greatest accessibility – Learning Tools is like that – it makes everything accessible to all, and why wouldn’t we want that?” – A fourth-grade teacher

While Learning Tools involved a different set of players in a different part of Microsoft, its story shares the same lessons, opportunities, passion and impact experienced by the Eye Gaze team. Winner of the 2015 Hackathon, Learning Tools helps students with dyslexia learn how to read and is now transforming education for teachers, students, administrators and parents.

What’s amazing about this story was the diversity of the team, which included developers, a reading team and a speech pathologist, working extensively with students and educators to create the product. While originally created for folks with dyslexia, the Learning Tools team is seeing benefits to folks with dysgraphia, ADHD, English language learners and emerging readers. Today, Learning Tools is incorporated into apps, Office, and Edge, reaching 13 million active users in more than 40 languages. Like the Eye Gaze team before it, the Learning Tools team evolved from a passionate hackathon into a strategic business.You can even read “The Ability Hacks” using Learning Tools, just download the PDF and open in Microsoft Edge.

‘It’s not about the technology. It’s about the people.

As Peter Lee, corporate vice president, Microsoft Healthcare, shares in the book’s foreword, “A focus on inclusion helps a team become more empathetic with its users, which in turn affects deeply the design and development process of products.”

Personally, I go to work every day feeling humbled that I represent a company with an incredible mission to empower every person on the planet to achieve more. I’m grateful for the chance to share just a few of their stories in “The Ability Hacks.” Trust me, it’s two stories of many that have taken place over the last four years and there will be a lot more in our future.

While we’ve come a long way in incorporating accessibility and inclusivity in everything we do, the truth is that accessibility is a journey. There is more in front of us than behind us. Please read the book and join the conversation about inclusive technology design on Twitter via #abilityhacks. And if you want to create products for people with disabilities, do check out our AI for Accessibility program, which provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources to individuals and organizations working on empowering people with disability across the world at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai-for-accessibility.

The Ability Hacks

Aligned with the first day of Microsoft’s One Week Hackathon, Microsoft will launch a new book which shares the behind the scenes stories of two Microsoft Hackathon teams who embraced their passion and pioneered two innovative hacks-turned-solutions used today by people with disabilities around the world.

The book includes a foreword by Corporate Vice President Peter Lee and an afterword by Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, and is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com and for download on PDF and EPUB.

We hope this book and the journeys these teams have been on, can help spark a conversation about the transformative power of technology, and encourage engineers and developers to build the next wave of inclusive technology. If you want to create products for people with disabilities, do check out our AI for Accessibility program, which provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources and grants to individuals and organizations working on empowering people with disability across the world at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai-for-accessibility.

Continue on to Microsoft’s newsroom to read the complete blog.

 

Starbucks to Open First U.S. Signing Store

LinkedIn

Starbucks will open its first Signing Store in the U.S. in Washington, D.C. this October, building upon ongoing efforts to connect with the diverse communities it serves. A team of Deaf Starbucks partners (employees) and allies led the effort to launch this unique store model in the U.S., which will be located at 6th & H Street near Gallaudet University, a bustling hub that is Deaf-friendly. The store will create a distinctive retail experience for all customers, while offering a unique store format that promotes accessibility and offers employment and career advancement opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing people.

“The National Association of the Deaf applauds Starbucks for opening a Signing Store that employs Deaf and hard of hearing people,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. “Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporating Deaf Culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for Deaf and hard of hearing people, while at the same time educating and enlightening society.”

Creating Opportunities with the Deaf Community

Starbucks will hire 20-25 Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing partners from across the country to work at the Signing Store with a requirement that all be proficient in American Sign Language (ASL). This team of partners with a shared language of ASL and diverse experiences with the Deaf and hard of hearing community will help to attract and develop talent, as well as raise awareness and understanding of the Deaf experience in the workforce, including career opportunities at Starbucks and beyond.

“This is a historic moment in Starbucks ongoing journey to connect with the Deaf and hard of hearing community, hire and engage Deaf and hard of hearing partners, and continue to find ways to be more inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all,” said Rossann Williams, Starbucks executive vice president of U.S. Retail. “This store is truly from partners, for partners, and we couldn’t have gotten here without the team of Deaf partners and allies from our Accessibility office and the Access Alliance partner network who came together to bring this vision to life. I look forward to the team welcoming the community to this store in October.”

Designing the First U.S. Signing Store

The idea to open a Signing Store in the U.S. was inspired by a similar Starbucks Signing Store which opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016 with nine Deaf partners. Starbucks partners in the U.S. voiced the opportunity to create a similar third-place experience for the Deaf and hard of hearing community in the U.S., and traveled to Malaysia last July for the first-year anniversary to understand design modifications and gain knowledge to create the best possible store experience for Deaf and hard of hearing customers in the U.S. An internal team made up of Starbucks Deaf Leadership, Accessibility office and Access Alliance is playing a critical role to support this historic store opening.

Continue onto Starbucks’ Newsroom to read the complete article.

 

Asos praised for disabled-friendly clothes

LinkedIn

Asos has been praised for selling clothes designed with people who have disabilities in mind.

The online retailer has released a tie-dye waterproof jumpsuit for festival season, which has been adapted to be wheelchair friendly.

It was designed in collaboration with GB Paralympic hopeful Chloe Ball-Hopkins, who also modelled it for the site.

Chloe says she wants to make “fashion that is accessible to everybody”.

The collaboration came about through a single email sent to Asos by Chloe, who’s also a BBC Bristol sports reporter as well as an athlete.

She’s currently training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics after an injury stopped her competing in archery in Rio two years ago.

“To see the final product I can’t believe that we actually worked in conjunction so much. I thought maybe they’d take it and run with it,” Chloe says.

“You get the same version whether it’s you or I buying it – that’s the point. It is exactly the same for me as it is for you.”

People have reacted excitedly to the release and to seeing Chloe model it in her wheelchair.

Gurls Talk, an online community founded by model Adwoa Aboah, praised it for challenging “the stigma around disabilities”.

Chloe had the idea for the jumpsuit after getting soaked at Splendour Festival last year left her looking, as she told her boyfriend, “like you’ve taken your gran out of the care home for a day”.

It features a zip around the waist so that despite being an all-in-one it’s easy to get in and out of, and also means people can choose to wear just the top or the bottoms.

Chloe says the ankles are cuffed, “so not only is that good for people with different heights, it also means it’s easy to put wellies on.”

Continue onto BBC to read the complete article.

‘Black, queer, disabled and brilliant’: Activist hopes to make history in space

LinkedIn

Eddie Ndopu wasn’t expected to live past 5 years old. Now, the 27-year-old South African hopes to be the first person with a disability to travel to space.

Eddie Ndopu describes himself as “black, queer, disabled and brilliant.”

“I embody all of the identities that position me at a disadvantage in society,” he told NBC News. “But I am turning that on its head.”

By the end of the year, the 27-year-old South African hopes to become the first person with a disability to go to space.

When Ndopu was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), an incurable condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. His prognosis was devastating: His family was initially told he would not live beyond the age of 5.

But a tenacious Ndopu said it wasn’t long before he was able to “outstrip and outlive all expectations,” both academically and medically. He attributes this in part due to his mother, whom he said never gave up on him or stopped fighting for him.

Ndopu said when he was 7 years old and living in Namibia (he moved to neighboring South Africa when he was 10), his mom came home to find him sitting in front of the television staring despondently at a blank screen. “She held my head in her hands and begged me to tell her what was wrong,” Ndopu recalled.“Finally, I told her all I wanted was to go to school.”

Despite inclusive education laws, growing up disabled in southern Africa meant a mainstream education was never guaranteed. In fact, a 2017 United Nations report revealed that even today, 90 percent of disabled children in developing countries never see the inside of a classroom.

But Ndopu said his mom is a “fearless warrior” who knocked on “every door” until finally he was accepted to a small elementary school on the outskirts of his hometown.

Ndopu has so far outlived his prognosis by more than two decades, and last year he became the first African with a disability to graduate from Britain’s prestigious University of Oxford. The disability-rights activist, who admits he has a weakness for lipstick and fashion, said he is “a living manifestation of possibility.”

Now Ndopu, whose disease has left him unable to walk, has set himself a new “audacious” goal: to become the first person with a disability to go to space.

Backed by the United Nations, he hopes to deliver “the speech of [his] life,” championing disability rights from a space shuttle to the UN’s New York headquarters this December.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a South African lawmaker and the executive director of UN Women, told NBC News if Ndopu attains his goal, it would be “a powerful symbol to demonstrate that people with disabilities can break barriers.”

“By reaching space,” she added, “it clearly demonstrates that determined disabled people, in an enabling environment, can excel like anyone else.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

What Can You Do?

LinkedIn

Every day, people with disabilities can and do make important contributions to America’s businesses. They have the drive to succeed in employment, and the skills and talent they need to deliver value and results for their employers.

These are messages that bear repeating far and wide. And that’s what the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) is all about.

The CDE’s multi-faceted campaign called “What Can YOU Do?” features a series of public service announcements (PSAs) and coordinating media products, all designed to promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Our products and positive messages are encouraging businesses and others to recognize the value that individuals with disabilities bring to the workplace, and the benefits that come with full inclusion.

For more information please visit: whatcanyoudocampaign.org

Jobless Rate for People with Disabilities Decreases

LinkedIn

The unemployment rate for people with a disability dropped last year, falling from 10.5 percent in 2016 to 9.2 percent in 2017, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

“This is a significant decline,” said BLS economist Janie-Lynn Kang. “The decline reflects the trend in the overall labor force, which has been recovering since the end of the Great Recession.” In fact, the overall U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in May 2018—the lowest since April 2000.

The data on the jobless rate for those who have a disability is from the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the U.S. Unemployed people are those who did not have a job, were available for work, and were actively looking for a job in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Almost one-third (32 percent) of workers with a disability were employed part-time—more so than those without a disability.

Those with a disability were more likely to work in service occupations, production, transportation and material-moving occupations than those who did not have a disability, the BLS found. A slightly higher percentage of workers with a disability also worked in government (14 percent versus 11.6 percent who did not have a disability). They also were more likely to be self-employed.

Men and women with a disability had about the same unemployment rate in 2017 (9 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively). Additionally, black individuals (13.8 percent) with a disability had a higher unemployment rate than Hispanics (10.2 percent), Asians (6.6 percent) and white people (8.5 percent). Among all people who had a disability, nearly half were age 65 or older in 2017.

More People with Disabilities Are Getting Jobs. Here’s Why.

With unemployment at a low, fewer people are looking for jobs. Many employers are having a hard time finding people qualified to fill the positions they have open. That’s left an opening for people with disabilities, a group that’s broadly defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
This demographic has always been underemployed. But Americans with disabilities have posted year-over-year gains in the job market for the past 21 consecutive months, according to an analysis by the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire.
(CNN)

Will Employment Keep Growing? Disabled Workers Offer a Clue

One workplace trend has changed direction in the past few years—people who cited health reasons for not working are returning to the labor force. The data shows that the decline has come almost entirely from the older half of the prime-age population (that is, people between 40 and 54). The drop has also been steeper among the less educated.
(The New York Times)

Hiring People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Office of Disability Employment Policy supports several initiatives that help employers interested in hiring individuals with disabilities, including the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion. The free, nationwide service educates employers about effective strategies for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities. And the Job Accommodation Network provides free advice on workplace accommodations.
(DOL)

Continue onto SHRM to read the complete article.

Should You Mention Your Disability in a Cover Letter or Resume?

LinkedIn

Always keep in mind that you are never required to disclose your disability as an applicant or employee. The general rule of thumb is that it is rarely a good idea to disclose your disability in a cover letter or resume. The exception would be if the employer is specifically hiring under a program to recruit people with disabilities.

Reasons not to discuss your disability at this stage of the application process include:

Fewer interviews. You may find you get fewer interview offers if you disclose your disability, no matter how artfully you do this.

Reason to eliminate you. While your disability should not eliminate you from consideration, the reality is that employers use job applications to weed out applicants. Show your strengths in your resume and cover letter and avoid giving the employer the reason to put your application in the rejection pile.

The law protects you. Another important reason not to disclose your disability at the application stage is that you are not required to provide this information. Even if you know you will need an accommodation, it is best to wait until your interview to discuss this—ideally, after you have talked about why you are right for the job.

Source: chwilliamslaw.com