The National Organization on Disability

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Employment in US Improves, But Disabled Jobless Rate Stays Stubbornly High

​WASHINGTON—While the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent in 2012 to 7.1 percent in 2013, the jobless rate for people with disabilities remained stubbornly above 13 percent - which comes as little surprise to advocates.

They point to a combination of factors for the problem - employers’ hesitation to hire, disabled people’s fears that a job could cost them benefits and a federal benefits system that creates a “disincentive to work.” Because of that, joblessness for the disabled was 13.2 percent in 2013, down only slightly from 13.4 percent a year earlier,according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

“We’re talking about a very long-term, chronic problem,” said Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability.

Arizona reflects the broader national problems, say experts, even though no state numbers on employment for the disabled in 2013 were available. But the Census Bureau averaged unemployment for working-age people with disabilities from 2008 to 2012 and put the rate at 17.8 percent nationally for that period, while it was 18.4 percent in Arizona.

What’s So Special About Special Needs?

Image of HuffingtonPost LogoHUFFINGTON POST BLOG By CAROL GLAZER, President, National Organization on Disability

My 22-year-old son, Jacob, tests as “mildly mentally retarded” on standardized IQ tests, but he’s one of the smartest people I know.

Like many people with intellectual disabilities, Jacob speaks with few filters, often saying the one thing in the room that everyone is thinking, but no one else dares to say. Last week when friends were over for dinner, he was asked why he contributed little to the evening’s conversation. His answer came quickly: “You’re talking about boring stuff.”

So when Jacob asks, “What’s so special about special needs?” it’s a great question.

Disability Does Not Justify Pistorius Shooting, Groups Say

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NOD President Comments on Olympian’s Defense to ABCNEWS

A defense witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial said people with disabilities are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and “exaggerated fight or flight” responses, but disability rights groups aren’t buying it as an excuse for the shooting death of his girlfriend.

“Frankly, I think there’s a little bit of exploitation of his physical disability to say that it’s linked to some mental health issue that would cause him to commit murder,” said the president of the National Organization on Disabilities, Carol Glazer. “It’s just too much of a stretch.”

Pistorius, a 27-year-old South African Olympian known as the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs, is on trial for shooting his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door on Valentine’s Day 2013. He claims he mistook her for a burglar.​

Shinseki Resignation Must Trigger VA Retooling

HUFFINGTON POST BLOG By CAROL GLAZER, President, National Organization on Disability

Image of HuffingtonPost Logo News that Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned in the wake of misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s vast network of medical facilities is upsetting. As most observers, including veterans up close to the VA would agree, Shinseki was a visionary who began what could have been an effective reform agenda.

But make no mistake: The problems that have come to light with the VA did not happen overnight, nor even in the course of one administration. And some of the problems result from the actions—and in some cases, inaction—of Congress, some of whose members would rather politicize problems than solve them.

With 300,000 employees, the VA is the third largest federal agency, responsible for all services to veterans from acute medical care, to housing, education and employment benefits. Few organizations—public or private—can do all these things well. The VA’s sheer size and span of responsibility render it ineffective at adapting to the ever-changing nature of war, the toll it takes on our troops and their families, and the ways communities are organizing themselves to respond.

Statement from NOD Chairman Tom Ridge on Resignation Of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki

May 30, 2014, New York, NY – Governor Tom Ridge, chairman of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) today issued the following statement on today’s resignation of Eric Shinseki as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

“I was disappointed to learn that Secretary Shinseki has resigned from the VA. Eric Shinseki is an American patriot with a distinguished military career and a commitment to public service. I know that he worked tirelessly to attempt to fix a system that has been broken for much too long.

“The recent reports of misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s vast network of medical facilities are indicative of a bureaucratic system that has calcified over recent years. These problems did not develop overnight. I had great hope that Sec. Shinseki would be part of the solution; unfortunately he ran out of time.

“At the National Organization on Disability, our Wounded Warrior Careers program has helped transition hundreds of severely wounded veterans from the battlefield to the workplace. It requires our caseworkers to interact directly with the VA, and they have personally seen the agency’s inability to consistently provide an appropriate level of service our veterans deserve.

The Unfinished Business of the Civil Rights Movement

HUFFINGTON POST BLOG By CAROL GLAZER, President, National Organization on Disability

Image of HuffingtonPost Logo Last summer, I sat with disability advocates across a table from America’s first black president. It was a moment I never thought I’d experience in my own lifetime. In July, our country celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since the Emancipation Proclamation 100 years earlier. The legislation culminated decades of struggle by civil rights activists in a movement that’s now deeply embedded in the fabric of our national story. JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were my generation’s role models. They fought (and died) for democracy, equal opportunity and social justice. Their message was hopeful, their successes visible.

NOD Add Us In Director Featured Guest on Empowerment Hour Radio

Image of Empowerment Hour Radio logoJoanne Kaiser, Project Director for Add Us In New Jersey/New York, stepped into the studio for a conversation with host John E. Harmon to discuss how working directly with employers and chambers of commerce, like the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, can open doors for people with disabilities to join the workforce.

While providing a platform for New Jersey’s African American businesses to speak with a collective voice, the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) advocates and promotes economic diversity and fosters a climate of business growth through major initiatives centering on education and public policy.

Closing the Employment Gap for America’s Largest Minority Group

HUFFINGTON POST BLOG By CAROL GLAZER, President, National Organization on Disability

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While it never received the attention that came with the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act nearly a quarter century ago, the changes to the rules implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act announced by the U.S. Labor Department last summer, which take effect this Monday, have the potential for far greater impact and scale than even the ADA in terms of employment. Even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it took Affirmative Action in the decade of the 1970’s to effect measurable change in employment for racial minorities and women.

Similarly, while the ADA accomplished a great deal, it has not gotten the job done on unemployment. The 503 rule change, which includes a seven-percent disability employment goal for those companies who do business with the federal government, has the potential to significantly narrow the persistent employment gap for people with disabilities.

If the nation’s nearly 200,000 federal contractors embrace the historic opportunity before us, not only will more than 600,000 more people with disabilities soon have a job, employers also will reap the benefits of a more diverse, resilient, and creative workforce.

White House Looks at Disability Issues

NOD Contributes to Discussion on Long-Term Discussion Unemployment

NOD was among a small group of disability organizations invited to the White House to confer with senior officials on both the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the Obama Administration’s new focus on improving job outcomes for the long-term unemployed. In the latter initiative, over 300 CEOs have signed onto a pledge to take proactive efforts to hire this group, which includes many people with disabilities.

NOD President Carol Glazer discussed NOD’s ongoing partnerships in the business community with Gene B. Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council, and other disability advocates. She was able to point to many companies engaged in NOD’s CEO Council and Bridges program that are working hard to become employers of choice for people with disabilities, and leaders among their corporate peers.

Vietnam Veterans of America rely on NOD’s Research into Agent Orange and Disability

Local veterans share stories about how chemical has impacted their lives, lives of children​

Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange have battled cancer, liver damage and other serious health problems. But their exposure to Agent Orange also has caused birth defects and health problems in their children and grandchildren, according to the Vietnam Veterans of America. The national organization is working to educate Kansans about Agent Orange, a defoliant deployed during the Vietnam War.

The United States sprayed about 20 million gallons of dioxin-contaminated herbicides over nearly 6 million acres of Vietnamese terrain, according to a paper written by the National Organization on Disability, “U.S. Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange: Understanding the Impact 40 Years Later.”

The paper states that among the dioxin-contaminated herbicides was a compound called Agent Orange, named for the orange stripe on its label. The chemicals were used to wipe “out forests and crops that were used by opposition forces for cover and food.”

By the end of Vietnam in May 1975, more than 2.5 million American military personnel had served in Vietnam’s combat zones, the paper stated.