The National Organization on Disability

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Every day, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) works toward achieving its mission to expand the participation and contribution of America’s 56 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. Learn more about our recent progress toward this goal.


The New York Times Opinion Pages | Rights of the Disabled

Image of New York Times logo ​A Letter from NOD President Carol Glazer

Re “Finding Independence, and a Bond” (This Land, front page, Oct. 5): Your article about Peter Maxmean and Lori Sousa, who met while working at a workshop for people with intellectual disabilities, shines a powerful light on a pervasive problem in this country. The article suggests that America is ready to confront a civil rights issue that’s long been left out of the public debate.

For generations, Americans with disabilities have been hidden from view, housed in institutions where they could be “cared for” by “specially trained professionals” who would keep them safe from harm to themselves and others. Geraldo Rivera, in a Peabody Award-winning exposé about the atrocities of the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, secretly taped conditions for residents of this peaceful-sounding place.

As a society, we’ve traveled a long way from the dehumanizing “madhouses,” asylums and institutions that kept people with disabilities out of view and the public mind. But the subjects of this article have only a 20 percent likelihood that they’ll find competitive work in today’s labor force, and the chances of living in poverty are nearly three times as great as that of other Americans.

Improving Job Opportunities for College Students with Disabilities

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Image of Play Button Listen to the Radio Interview with Carol Glazer, NOD and Alan Muir, COSD

RIT is being credited by the National Organization on Disability as being a good example of a university that has successfully bridged the employment gap for students with disabilities.

The private, non-profit group promotes the full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Advocates for people with disabilities say that nationally there is a 46 percent unemployment rate for college grads that have a disability.

The president of the National Organization on Disability, Carol Glazer, says one thing that American businesses could do a better job on in general, is making sure that things like their websites, and their job descriptions are more inclusive.

“It’s everything from how you portray yourself as a company and does that encourage people to come forward and disclose their disabilities when they have them, all the way to how you might be inadvertently screening people out just by the way you phrase your job descriptions.”

RIT Job Fair Embraces All

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Amid the enormity of Wednesday’s job fair at the Rochester Institute of Technology — thousands of students in long lines to impress companies like Google and Apple — a flurry of hands were sometimes visible.

Some of those belonged to deaf and hard of hearing students. And some belonged to interpreters provided by the university to translate the signing of deaf students to employers, and vice versa. By and large, the employers — about 250 signed up — did not provide their own interpreters. Many knew the school would.

RIT, by virtue of its long affiliation with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, has many deaf students among its population.

Each of those came to the job fair with ambitions and dreams no different from those of hearing students. Their talents, skills and personalities seemed as good as or better than others waiting their turn to even an untrained eye.

Let’s Make Compliance the Floor, Not the Ceiling

Op-ed by Randy Lewis, Former SVP at Walgreens’, accidental disability-advocate and featured speaker at NOD’s CEO Council forum “Moving Beyond Compliance”

Image of Randy LewisWay up on the 57th floor of Chase Tower, a group of people came together in Chicago last week who are literally changing the lives of so many Americans living with disabilities. This is an historic moment when our nation can at long last begin to harvest the talents of Americans with disabilities and, in the process, help them enjoy full opportunity for employment and earnings. For those in the workforce, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities in the U.S. is nearly twice the national unemployment rate. It’s a pervasive problem that still exists nearly a quarter century after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. But you can feel the tide starting to turn.

The National Organization on Disability (NOD), which has been doing great work to help companies close that employment gap, hosted a forum in partnership with Exelon, one of Chicago’s leading employers engaged with this issue. There is now building in corporate America today a new energy and commitment toward workplaces that include people with disabilities with all other diversity segments. Workplaces where people with disabilities are considered for what they can do, not what they can’t. Where employees with disabilities are performing equal tasks and earning equal pay. I had the privilege of leading such a process at Walgreens and shared my experiences with the group assembled this week atop Chase Tower. More on my Walgreens experience in a moment.

One reason this is such a remarkable time is the recent shift in public policy out of Washington. This year, the U.S. Labor Department adopted a rule change that, for the first time, sets a seven-percent hiring goal for people with disabilities if you are a contractor that does business with the federal government. Many companies are working to comply right now, and I know some here in the Midwest have raised concerns. That’s why I’m delighted Patricia Shiu, the point person at DOL who spearheaded the rule change, was able to travel from D.C. to Chicago for this forum. Her office has worked hard to listen to employers to make the transition smoother. My message to corporate America is a simple one: Don’t do it because you have to, do it because it will make your company better.

US Department of Labor News Brief: Workforce Inclusion Forum

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More than 120 business leaders and community advocates attended a symposium on disability employment hosted by the National Organization on Disability and Exelon in Chicago on Sept. 10.

Retired Walgreens Executive Randy Lewis (left) and Carol Glazer, president for the National Organization on Disability (right) listen to OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu at a NOD sponsored symposium in Chicago on hiring and including employees with disabilities.
Retired Walgreens Executive Randy Lewis (left) and Carol Glazer, president for the National Organization on Disability (right) listen to OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu at a NOD sponsored symposium in Chicago on hiring and including employees with disabilities.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu discussed the agency’s rule establishing a 7 percent employment goal for people with disabilities by federal contractors and subcontractors. “The experience of companies has overwhelmingly been that these hires are a source of loyal, hard-working talent that boosts corporate productivity,” Shiu said. ​

Retired Walgreens executive Randy Lewis described efforts that led to 10 percent of the company’s workforce consisting of individuals with disabilities. “Don’t hire people with disabilities because you have to, do it because it will make your company better,” he said.

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National Rehabilitation Association Annual Training Conference
Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Press Releases

America’s Colleges And Universities Must Bridge Employment Gap for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities take twice as long to secure a job after graduation; New federal regulations mean employers will need more graduates with disabilities

October 1, 2014, Rochester, NY – National Organization on Disability (NOD) President Carol Glazer says if colleges and universities cannot provide a pipeline of graduates with disabilities companies seeking to satisfy new federal disability employment targets are not likely to succeed. In order to satisfy this need and find a solution to the stubborn disability employment gap, Glazer called on America’s institutions of higher education to find a new model to connect students and recent graduates with disabilities to careers. Glazer’s comments came at a news conference at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which is being recognized in a new NOD white paper released today as an example of a university that has successfully bridged that employment gap for its students….

“The message we hear repeatedly from corporate America is that while colleges and universities are doing many things well, most fall short in building a pipeline of talent with disabilities,” said Glazer. “Their inability to hire new graduates is not due to a lack of qualified candidates, but rather a lack of access. If our higher education community can bridge this gap by effectively addressing the disconnect between campus disability services and career services offices, they will help to dramatically improve employment opportunities for students with disabilities, while also assisting federal contractors in complying with new U.S. Labor Department regulations. If they cannot, I fear we will have wasted an historic opportunity to put hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities into jobs.”

Employers Meet with DOL Leader to Discuss New Hiring Targets for People with Disabilities

“Moving Beyond Compliance” Symposium Hosted by Exelon and National Organization on Disability at Chase Tower

Sept. 10, 2014, Chicago, IL – U.S. businesses that contract with the federal government are preparing for a new seven-percent employment goal for people with disabilities. President Obama’s point person at the U.S. Labor Department tasked with spearheading that effort traveled to Chicago today to speak with area human resources and Diversity & Inclusion executives at a symposium hosted by energy company Exelon and the National Organization on Disability (NOD). Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, was joined on today’s panel by Randy Lewis, the former Senior Vice President at Walgreens, a large employer with headquarters in Chicago that successfully created thousands of jobs for people with disabilities.

New Opportunity for Employers to Assess Readiness to Hire People with Disabilities Now Available

Disability Employment Tracker™ 2014 Offers Exciting New Benchmarking Opportunities and will be a Significant Factor in Determining the DiversityInc ‘Top 10 Companies for Employees with Disabilities’ Annual Survey

Sept. 10, 2014, Chicago, IL - National Organization on Disability (NOD) today unveiled the next iteration of the popular Disability Employment Tracker™, a corporate self-assessment tool developed in partnership with the National Business and Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center and Sirota. The Tracker allows companies to confidentially assess their own disability and/or veteran employment practices, benchmark their efforts against their peers, and use the results to educate internal stakeholders on successes and opportunities.

New this year is a partnership with DiversityInc, the nation’s leading “diversity” publication. Starting with the April 2015 awards, DiversityInc will consider whether a company has completed the Disability Employment Tracker™ as a significant factor when determining their Top 10 Companies for Employees with Disabilities.

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