By Carol Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability
So as troubling and reprehensible as Elon Musk’s recent public questioning of an employee’s disability and use of a wheelchair was, there’s the more important and larger issue at Twitter: the total dismantling of their accessibility team.
Accessibility for users with disabilities has been compromised due to changes to the platform since Musk’s arrival. I agree with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts who this week said the changes under Musk’s leadership signal a disregard for the needs of disabled people. This could happen elsewhere and NOD joins him in his call to have accessibility features restored.
By Carol Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability
Our world is mourning the loss of Judy Heumann.
She was responsible for many legislative advances, along with propelling forward the fundamental rights that people with disabilities enjoy today. She was a fierce advocate, spending her early life challenging the system and calling for needed change in education, public and private sector accessibility and an end to discrimination of people with disabilities.
Then, later in her life, she worked within the system to make improvements by joining the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
I worked closely with Judy during the last five years as she became a guide to me and our organization in creating a disability roundtable made up of 17 national disability organizations. It was not an easy process, and Judy, knowing how impactful the roundtable could be, gave her time generously to see it come to fruition.
Her stature within the disability community here, and across the globe, was enormous. She could be forceful, but always caring. You felt special and as though you were the only person in the room when she spoke to you.
I witnessed this many times, but one occasion will stick with me forever. My son, Jacob, who was born with hydrocephalus, walked by my computer during a virtual meeting with Judy and I introduced him to her. Judy immediately began asking him questions. As I often do, I provided the answers until Judy, nicely but firmly, explained that she wanted to talk to Jacob, not me.
We at NOD worked with Judy in 2020 when our nation marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in partnership with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation. Judy was a strong presence, always behind the scenes, making sure the event celebrated the courage of people who reimagined what life could be like for those of us with disabilities. To recognize her role in our fight for equality, in that year, NOD honored Judy with a lifetime achievement award.
And last September Judy spoke about “Honoring the Disability Rights Movement Over the Last 40 Years” at NOD’s 40th anniversary event in Washington D.C.
Speaking to our audience of largely corporate executives, she implored them to take up the work yet to be done to support meaningful employment for people with disabilities.
Judy will be remembered for her tenacity, courage and brilliance. I will also remember what she did to remind us all of the human connections we all should make. Everyone matters. That is an incredible legacy, indeed.
New studies offer clues about who may be more susceptible to long Covid, a term for lingering Covid-19 symptoms. WSJ breaks down the science of long Covid and the state of treatment. Illustration: Jacob Reynolds for the Wall Street Journal.
Many people with long Covid are legally entitled to accommodations at work to help them do their jobs. Still, some are finding it hard to ask for help.
Disability can encompass any number of physical or mental impairments. Often, managers can more easily comprehend the limitations imposed by static conditions, such as the loss of a limb or hearing. Symptoms can ebb and flow over time with chronic illness, such as long Covid, Crohn’s disease or lupus, making the experience more difficult to grasp, say disabled people and employers.
Because of that ambiguity, the onus is usually on workers to make the case for support. But coming clean on the limitations posed by long Covid is difficult for many.
“It was harder than I thought it would be, even though I knew my rights,” says Mindy Jackson, who works for the State of Washington as a vocational counselor for disabled people. She has had long Covid since her original infection in 2020. “I almost felt ashamed, which really surprised me.”
Ms. Jackson now works from home almost exclusively, has reduced her hours using Family and Medical Leave Act time off, and modified travel to avoid driving. She has also adapted her home office to help her maintain focus, adjusting the lighting and putting her screens in dark mode.
She joined the Covid-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project support group early in her illness.
“I don’t know what I would have done without being able to read the stories of those that came before me and be able to connect with people,” Ms. Jackson says.
In 2021, the federal government clarified that long Covid could be considered a disabilityunder the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Long-Covid symptoms and severity can vary greatly. People with long Covid frequently experience extraordinary levels of fatigue, which can be worsened by exertion, cognitive impairment, nervous-system dysfunction, as well as vascular, respiratory and immune-system issues.
Between 7.7 million and 23 million Americans have long Covid, according to a November report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In cases where the conditions limit at least one major life activity, the necessary accommodations might be temporary or permanent, depending on each worker’s case.
“The law is set up so that it becomes a conversation,” says Jasmine E. Harris, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Carey Law School.
A 2022 survey of nearly 3,800 managers found that 40% of them had employees with lasting physical or mental effects of a Covid-19 infection, and that 58% of those managers said the employees had received workplace accommodations, according to the Kessler Foundation, a nonprofit supporting people with disabilities, and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability.
“The one thing that I think people do when they’re unsure is they wait too long [to ask], and then they really start to have performance issues,” says Felicia Nurmsen, a managing director at the National Organization on Disability, a nonprofit that seeks to increase employment opportunities for disabled people.
Ms. Nurmsen, who has long Covid herself, says she found online support groups helpful when figuring out her own accommodation needs. Such communities share ideas of what types of modifications might be useful, as well as referrals to medical professionals familiar with their condition.
Employment attorneys and other disability experts say workers should consider their individual situation when deciding whether to disclose a disability and ask for accommodations. They can make a request orally or in writing, and who they contact first is also up to them. Some people might feel more comfortable talking to their manager directly, while others might believe their HR department will better understand ADA law.
In some cases, such as when a condition isn’t readily apparent, an employer may request documentation about the disability and need for accommodation. This can come from any appropriate medical professional—not just a physician, says Linda Carter Batiste, director of services and publications at the Job Accommodation Network, or JAN, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
“Employers cannot ask for medical information unrelated to the disability at issue,” Ms. Carter Batiste adds.
Most workplace accommodations for chronically ill people involve a policy change, such as such as allowing for rest breaks or remote work, or developing a plan of action for when symptoms suddenly flare.
JAN research shows that more than half of accommodations cost employers nothing, while those requiring some expense typically cost about $500. Equipment-related accommodations can include creating an ergonomic workspace or adding antiglare screen protectors.
For those worried they were denied accommodations because of discrimination, disability lawyers say that workers can file complaints with appropriate state or local authorities, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It would be a misconception to think that accommodations are a form of preferential treatment, they add.
“That’s why I think a lot of employees are afraid,” says Nicole Buonocore Porter, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “It’s not a leg up. It’s saying, because of the manifestations of whatever my disability is, I need that accommodation just to be able to perform my job.”
Explore how the updated 2023 NOD Employment Tracker™ provides essential data to companies seeking to become more disability inclusive and how L’Oréal USA used this tool to advance their workplace inclusion initiatives.
Plus discover trends and correlations, derived from 200+ companies that participated in the Tracker last year, including the most important disability employment practices that lead to the strongest outcomes, insights on how corporate America is progressing along the disability employment maturity curve, and what critical gaps remain and how your company can successfully address them.
Nick Iadevaio, VP, Diversity & Inclusion, L’Oréal USA
Felicia M. Nurmsen, Managing Director, Employer Services, NOD
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 15, 2023) – Recently the National Organization on Disability (NOD) in partnership with corporate members of its Leadership Council, convened their Policy Roundtable for a special meeting with U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to discuss employment issues critical to people with disabilities.
Comprised of the leading disability organizations from across the country, NOD’s Policy Roundtable members and corporate partners talked to Secretary Walsh and other Labor Department officials about phasing out 14(c) certificates, which allow employers to pay workers with disabilities a sub-minimum wage. The group also discussed enforcing the Section 503-rule change for federal contractors, which sets a 7% target for disability workforce representation.
On behalf of all participants, NOD’s leadership thanks Secretary Walsh for sharing his time with our Policy Roundtable members to discuss these critical issues regarding the fair and inclusive employment of Americans with disabilities.
We are grateful for the U.S. Department of Labor’s attention to and engagement with these policy and legislative concerns of the disability community.
The following national disability rights organizations attended the Policy Roundtable meeting:
National Organization on Disability: Luke Visconti, NOD Board Chair and Founder, DiversityInc; Carol Glazer, President; Charles Catherine, Director, Corporate and Government Relations; Josef Pevsner, Senior Manager, Research & Innovation Programs; and Charlotte Ohl, Executive Assistant to the President.
American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR): Barbara Merrill, Chief Executive Officer ·
Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE): Julie J. Christensen, LMSW, PhD, Executive Director
Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD): Cindy Smith, Director of Public Policy
Autism Society of America: Kim Musheno, Vice President, Public Policy
National Association of the Deaf (NAD): Howard Rosenblum, Chief Executive Officer
National Council on Independent Living (NCIL): Jessica Podesva, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy
National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS): Bart Devon, Senior Director, Public Policy
Ridge Policy Group: Mark Holman, Partner; Becky Wolfkiel, Director of Federal Affairs; Zaida Ricker, Senior Associate; and Charlie Moffat, Legislative Assistant
The Hershey Company: Alicia Petross; Chief Diversity Officer
L’Oréal USA: Nicholas Iadevaio, Vice President Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Toyota North America: Javier Moreno, Chief of Staff, Office of the President & CEO
Federal officials in attendance included:
Secretary Martin Walsh, U.S. Dept. of Labor
Allison Zelman, Chief of Staff, U.S. Dept. of Labor
John Towle, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Dept. of Labor
Peach Soltris, Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Labor
Taryn Williams, Assistant Secretary for Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Dept. of Labor
Jenny Yang, Director of Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), U.S. Dept. of Labor
Kristen Garcia, Chief of Staff for Wage and Hour Division (WHD), U.S. Dept. of Labor
In 2018, NOD spearheaded the Policy Roundtable, convening the leading the nation’s leading disability rights organizations to speak with a unified voice on issues critical to ensuring meaningful and equitable employment for the 57 million Americans with disabilities.
New Report from National Organization on Disability Details Troubling Trends Within Corporate America; Findings Available for Download
NEW YORK (February 3, 2023) – Despite the recent surge of employment for people with disabilities, due to remote working, a new report released by the National Organization on Disability (NOD), finds those higher employment rates do not tell the entire story when 59% of companies tracking retention of people with disabilities reported a 40% turnover rate.
The 2022 NOD Employment Tracker report, part of a multi-year survey of hundreds of major employers that collectively employ more than 10 million people, reveals that while much progress has been made to improve disability workforce inclusion practices, key metrics like Self-ID tracking rates continue to decline year after year. This trend will likely continue unless employers can create a work environment that allows employees to feel comfortable disclosing their disabilities.
“The report card for disability management in large corporations is measured by Self-ID rates,” said NOD Chairperson Luke Visconti. “Not only are federal contractors — which employ 25% of America’s workforce — required to track and report Self-ID rates, the rates also provide an insight into how inclusive a company’s culture is and whether employees possess the trust and psychological safety to ‘come out ’ with a disability. Self-ID rates have decreased by 15 percent and 11 percent over a two-year period (2021 and 2022, respectively) and only 72 percent of companies track Self-ID rates for employees with disabilities. This declining trend is one that we are working hard to reverse in the future for all people with visible and non-visible disabilities.”
In its 10th year, the NOD Employment Tracker, the only free assessment tool that helps companies better understand how their key business practices correlate to improved talent outcomes related to hiring, retention and tenure, helps employers to make disability inclusion part of their overall business strategy and to find the right talent while removing employment barriers for good. According to this latest report, companies that not only track Self-ID rates, but other talent outcome metrics such as promotions of employees with disabilities; improved accessibility from the start of the hiring process; rates of job applications with disabilities; and having a C-level leader disclose their own disability, revealed self-identification rates three times higher than those that only examined Self-ID.
“It’s important to note that while the simple act of measuring does not in itself produce higher Self-ID rates, it does reveal the value a company places on improving at disability inclusion in their workforce,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “Employees notice these visible signs and can trust that their employer is indeed ‘walking the talk.’ I would encourage all employers to take advantage of our Employment Tracker to access how they benchmark against participating companies and receive the information they need to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”
NOD has also kept a pulse on the area of mental health. While companies know this is an area of great concern, they are still in the formative stages of providing the support necessary to be successful in providing employees with the appropriate tools and resources. Report findings show an increase in companies considering adding mental health ambassadors to their workforce and hiring consultants to educate their employees about this significant topic.
Visconti added, “We know that most corporations are not intentionally trying to exclude people with disabilities from the workforce. However, we do know from the data we collect in our Employment Tracker survey that all companies are not at the same level of competency. The Tracker survey is open right now, it’s free and you get a free score card — yet we will only have on average 300 companies who take the survey annually. If your company is not taking the Employment Tracker, you have no excuse for professing ignorance.”
The Employment Tracker, powered by Talmetrix, ranks any size organization in six disability and veterans’ inclusion focus areas including strategy, talent outcome metrics, climate and culture, talent sourcing, people practices and workplace tools and accessibility. The deadline to take the 2023 Employment Tracker and qualify for the NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal Award and the 2023 DiversityInc Top 50 is March 10, 2023. All participating companies receive a Tracker Scorecard to develop plans and priorities for improving employment practices and policies.
To download a free copy of the complete NOD Employment Tracker report, click here.
NEW YORK (January 24, 2023) – The National Organization on Disability (NOD) today announced Roger Putnam, Head of U.S. Customer Service at Prudential, as the newest member to join its Board of Directors. Mr. Putnam, a champion, and advocate for disability rights, will join 15 other civic and corporate leaders from across the country working to increase employment opportunities for Americans living with disabilities.
“The National Organization on Disability is proud to have Roger join our Board of Directors,” said NOD Chairman Luke Visconti. “The disability rights landscape has changed dramatically since our founding in 1982 and we are proud of the great strides we have made in advancing our mission of putting individuals with disabilities to work. Building on that success takes talented individuals such as Roger joining our team. His experience and commitment to championing people with disabilities will help us continue to advance our mission of disability inclusion in the workplace.”
Roger Putnam has been a long-time champion to create opportunities for people with disabilities and led a first-of-its-kind neurodiverse talent program within Prudential’s U.S. Contact Center. He’s a passionate advocate for fully inclusive workplaces that support the development and advancement of diverse talent.
“I’m honored to join the Board of Directors for the National Organization on Disability,” said Roger Putnam. “I believe strongly that Prudential employees should mirror the diversity of the customers we serve and I look forward to bringing that passion for inclusivity to the National Organization on Disability.”
Roger joins the NOD Board with 30 years of transformative leadership and a unique background of experiences at the intersection of technology, financial services and insurance. He joined Prudential in 2019 where he is responsible for delivering a world-class customer service experience across all of Prudential’s lines of business as the head of the U.S. Customer Service. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. He resides in Simsbury, Connecticut with his wife Lisa and their two children.
About National Organization on Disability (NOD)
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 60-percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION ON DISABILITY IS RECIPIENT OF $5M GIFT FROM PHILANTHROPIST MACKENZIE SCOTT
NEW YORK, NY (November 15, 2022) | The National Organization on Disability (NOD) announced today it received a $5 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. NOD is a nonprofit organization that envisions a world where all people with disabilities enjoy full opportunity for employment, enterprise, and earnings. The donation is the single largest contribution the organization has received from an individual donor in its 40-year history.
This transformational investment will advance NOD’s mission to increase its impact on employment prospects for more than 60 million people with disabilities in America today. The organization will expand its work with employers through programs such as the Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ and grow the organization’s research capabilities, all with the goal of identifying practices that lead to greater talent outcomes and influencing changes in public policy and perception.
NOD’s President, Carol Glazer, noted that, “While America still has a long way to go, the disability rights landscape has changed dramatically and much has been accomplished since our founding in 1982. NOD is proud to have been dedicated to this progress throughout our forty-year history. This funding will help us make even greater advancements in the decades ahead. We are honored to be selected for this generous support and want to thank all our funders and supporters who made, and continue to make, our journey possible.”
About National Organization on Disability (NOD)
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to anticipate, and meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its portfolio of professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.
Living in Florida, I can’t say I have been closely tracking Fetterman’s brave campaign against celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. But I sure took notice last week of their first televised debate and the shameful way the Oz campaign – and many of those who support him – have belittled and bullied Fetterman.
I learned that Oz’s senior communications adviser has said, “If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly.”
As I watched Fetterman’s debate performance, I did so with great pride and admiration.
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Fetterman is clearly stronger than most people. Average people are often crushed by the circumstances he’s fighting to rise above. I don’t think it was “painful” to watch him in his debate, as some have suggested. It was a courageous example of a person rising above an obstacle in his path, willing to suffer indignities from people trying to take advantage of his disability as well as simply cruel and ignorant people.
Equating an auditory processing disorder, or what others might describe as aphasia, with a lack of intelligence or cognition is commonplace and bigotry. This type of bullying cannot be accepted. The fact that anyone would leverage a widely held misconception for political gain, especially a medical doctor, is disgusting.
The sad truth is that ignorant criticism of Fetterman’s disabilities are bound to intimidate others with disabilities. The loss of their productivity already has a demonstrable impact on our gross domestic product. People with disabilities have the lowest labor participation rate of any group.
At the National Organization on Disability, we collect data from hundreds of companies to help improve human capital management of people with disabilities. Our mission is to help people with disabilities who want work to find it – and to help their employers maximize the potential, productivity and innovation of their entire workforce.
Helping people with disabilities move forward
Inhospitable work environments, transit and building facilities as well as belittling or bullying people with disabilities cause low labor participation rates of people with disabilities. It also destabilizes families. Gaining an advantage by expressing an “opinion” borne of ignorance (purposeful or not) is not harmless – it’s cruel and inexcusable.
It takes hard work to overcome a stroke, especially if there are visible signs and/or pain. It’s not hard to imagine why many people give up, and indeed, half of stroke survivors don’t return to work.
With almost 200,000 Americans under 65 having a stroke every year, this is not only a tragedy for those people and their families; it’s a major economic problem.
John Fetterman has demonstrated himself to be a fighter – a man with courage, drive and a remarkable lack of self-pity. He also must have a great support system around him, especially a supportive and loving family. I couldn’t have come back without my family, especially my wife, and my then chief operating officer, who is now my CEO.
No matter how one feels about his political opinions, I think having leaders who have overcome substantial challenges with enough humility to expose themselves to public scrutiny encourage and embolden others who face challenges. Even if the Senate candidate doesn’t win on Nov. 8, Pennsylvanians should be proud of Lt. Gov. Fetterman – a leader with grit.
People have told me that I’m a nicer person since my stroke. I certainly know I’m more perceptive and empathetic. Don’t we all need more empathy?
Luke Visconti, the founder of DiversityInc., is chairman of the National Organization on Disability.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
NEW YORK, NY (October 26, 2022) – Today Carol Glazer was named one of Women’s eNews ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century’ honorees for 2022 for her innovative leadership while serving as president of the National Organization on Disability (NOD), which champions disability-inclusive diversity in the workplace, marketplace, and communities. Ms. Glazer, along with 20 other honorees, received the award on behalf of NOD at a Gala held at The United Nations in New York City.
In addition to celebrating this year’s honorees, the Gala included, for the first time in Women’s eNews’ 22-year history, a series of panel discussions addressing some of the most important issues impacting women and girls today including disability, health, business, diversity, leadership, and philanthropy. Glazer, along with other industry leaders and disability activists, participated on a disability awareness panel entitled Redefining Disability.
“Women’s eNews selected these 21 individuals and organizations for their unwavering and pioneering support for gender equality from the health, technology and business sectors to the voting booth,” says Lori Sokol, PhD., Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief.
“I am truly honored to be recognized by Women’s eNews, especially during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “I am a firm believer in emphasizing what individuals with disabilities can do instead of what we can’t do, especially as it relates to employment. It is society’s obligation to make sure everyone can be an active and contributing participant in the world we live in.”
Under her leadership as NOD President, Ms. Glazer has transformed NOD into the country’s premier resource and ambassador on disability inclusion with an employment-focused agenda. As a result, NOD partners with corporate America to create new career opportunities for the sixty percent of Americans with disabilities, including our wounded veterans, that are not in the workforce. She continues to be an advocate and change leader for Americans with disabilities and all underrepresented groups, working diligently to foster greater opportunities to be part of our culture and community.
Ms. Glazer shared the vision for the future of disability inclusion: “Our mission is to change the paradigm of people with disabilities from deficit requiring charity, to talent requiring opportunity.”
Finally, Ms. Glazer urged others to spark change, saying, “My call to action is two words: ’Come out!’ Let people know you have a disability. It demystifies and destigmatizes disability.”
For more information about Women’s eNews, the award-winning, non-profit global news organization, click here.
AboutNational Organization on Disability (NOD)
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 60-percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to anticipate, and meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its portfolio of professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.
Welcome to the NOD Leadership Council site where members enjoy exclusive access to leading disability inclusion resources, tools and events.
Don’t have a username and password? Check to see if your company is a NOD Leadership Council member and learn more about joining.