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.

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Cracks in “Talent Pipeline” Pose Risks for Employers and College Students With Disabilities

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

As the leader of a national organization focused on employment for people with disabilities, I routinely have the privilege of visiting places that are doing some remarkable work to advance the issue. My travels of late took me to two notable college campuses: Edinboro University, just outside of Erie, PA, which has committed to excellence in accommodations for students with disabilities; and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in upstate New York, which has dedicated itself to helping students with disabilities access jobs upon graduation, better ensuring their long-term economic security.

Frankly, America’s colleges and universities would do well to examine what RIT and other leaders in career services are doing right, because many, if not most, are getting it wrong. Nationally, students with disabilities take twice as long to secure a job after graduation. And of the 1.4 million college students with disabilities, about 60-percent of them can expect to not find a job when they graduate. Talk about a harsh dose of reality for young people who simply want to contribute.

When I talk with employers, which is just about every day, they tell me their inability to hire new graduates with disabilities is not due to a lack of qualified candidates, but rather a lack of access. We at the National Organization on Disability decided to take a closer look at this issue recently, which resulted in a white paper titled, Bridging the Employment Gap for Students with Disabilities.

Progress and Challenges in Employment for Persons with Disabilities

Image of Nonprofit Quarterly logo In Senator Tom Harkin’s final speech on the Senate floor, delivered last month to a national audience witnessing the retirement of a public figure of cross-partisan admiration, the most poignant words concerned persons with disabilities. It wasn’t surprising, as Harkin was the author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and he spoke about one of his disappointments:

“How many of us know that the unemployment rate among adult Americans with disabilities who want to work and can work is over 60 percent?! Yes, you heard me right: almost two out of three people with disabilities cannot find a job. That is a blot on our national character.”

It has been said, actually, that despite all of the accomplishments attributable to the landmark ADA legislation, the area of negligible progress over the past quarter-century has been in employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, labor force participation rates and unemployment rates have remained, at best, relatively stable, hardly demonstrating the progress that has occurred in other areas of life for persons with disabilities. The BLS reports that the labor force participation rate for men 16 to 64 with disabilities was 40.6 percent in July of 2008, plunging to 30.0 percent in January of 2014, and rising only to 34.6 percent last month; for women with disabilities, labor force participation was over 30 percent between June of 2008 and December of 2010, but stood at 28.8 percent in December of 2014. That’s well less than half the participation rates of adults in that age bracket without disabilities.

Most Employers Are Overlooking this Source of Talent

Image of Fast Company logoPeople with Disabilities Have Much Needed Skills and Creativity, Yet They Are a Largely Overlooked Talent Source

Smart companies are always looking for new ways to find and retain talented employees.

Often-overlooked prospects are people with disabilities. Just 19% of people with disabilities participate in the labor force (compared with over 68% of the rest of the population) and their unemployment rate is nearly 11%.

“If you want to have a workforce that thinks outside of the box I think it’s really important to be tapping into a diverse population like the population of workers with disabilities, because they live outside of the box. They’re constantly thinking about better and smarter ways to do things and to get around obstacles,” says Barbara Otto, who heads Chicago, Illinois-based Think Beyond the Label, an organization that promotes hiring of people with disabilities.

Otto says that employees with disabilities also tend to have lower rates of absenteeism and higher overall retention rates than workers without disabilities. And while you can find candidates with disabilities in all of the same places you find other prospective hires, there are also some places you can look and things you can do to find and attract them more directly.

Leader of National Disabilities Group to Speak at Edinboro University Dinner

Image of GoErie logo A dinner program featuring Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, will cap a weeklong celebration of 40 years of service to students with disabilities at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Glazer will speak at the dinner Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Van Houten Dining Hall—South on the Edinboro campus.

Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability since 2008, previously served the organization as executive director of its National Employability Partnership. Under her leadership, the organization forged relationships with businesses, disability groups, the military and philanthropic institutions. Glazer was responsible for putting in place the group’s signature programs, Wounded Warrior Careers and Bridges to Business.

Edinboro University Marks 40th Anniversary of Its Commitment to Serve Students With Disabilities

Image of Edinboro University logo Widely recognized as one of the leading universities in the nation in providing services to students with disabilities, Edinboro University will mark 40 years of commitment to excellence in providing access to educational opportunities with a weeklong celebration, Dec. 1-6.

The observance will conclude with a dinner featuring Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, as the keynote speaker.

The theme of the week, Opening Doors, Building Bridges, emphasizes the human connections vital to Edinboro’s dedication to students and employees with disabilities, said Kimberly Kennedy, director of the Office for Students with Disabilities.

“At Edinboro, we’ve made it our mission to surpass legally mandated minimum standards when providing students access to classrooms, residence halls, and co-curricular and extracurricular activities because we have such a strong commitment to our students and others with disabilities,” Kennedy said. “Edinboro’s commitment reflects a can-do approach, looking toward solutions that impact lives and benefit students. This has always been what’s separated our university and local community from others.”

Organization Emphasizes Retaining, Not Just Hiring Veterans

Image of Indiana Public Radio logoNearly half of all military veterans returning to the workforce leave their jobs in the first year, according to the National Organization on Disability. The turnover rate is about 75 percent within two years.

These statistics are particularly important in Indiana, where the unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans in Indiana is more than double the state average overall.

But organizations like NOD are seeking ways to reduce those numbers.

Franklin Hagenbeck, a retired lieutenant general and sits on the board of directors of the National Organization on Disability, says his group has developed a guide for employers on ways to accommodate veterans in the workplace.

On Veterans Day, Let’s Help Keep Vets Employed

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

The nearly three million men and women who have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan are encountering what veterans of previous wars have long known—that the transition from the all-encompassing regimen of military life to the free form competition of the civilian workforce, presents many challenges.

Thanks to the commitment of hundreds of large employers, veterans are finding meaningful employment opportunities. Where once our challenge as a society was simply finding a good job for our veterans, today it is ensuring that they remain employed for years to come. We know that turnover rates are extremely high—nearly 50 percent in year one and almost 75 percent by year two. We must do better.

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.

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Press Releases

NOD Welcomes New Employers to CEO Council

CEO Council – Employers of Choice for People with Disabilities – Set for Further Growth in 2015

February 11, 2015, New York, NY – The National Organization on Disability has formally announced the companies who joined its CEO Council over the past year. The NOD CEO Council is a body of employers who have distinguished themselves as leaders in diversity and employers of choice for people with disabilities.

Employers that joined NOD’s CEO Council over the past year included Colgate-Palmolive and Northrop Grumman Corporation as President’s Circle members and Cigna, General Motors Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, NiSource and PJM at the Corporate Circle level. These companies joined a group of distinguished corporate leaders that includes The Hershey Company, PNC Financial Services Group and Wal-Mart Stores, among others. ​

“NOD prides itself as being a non-profit that understands and values the contributions of corporate America,” said Gov. Tom Ridge, Chairman of NOD. “By their generosity, ongoing support and insights, our CEO Council members play a critical role in our ability to help connect people with disabilities with meaningful job opportunities. We are very much looking forward to working with these companies in 2015 and beyond to bring recognition to their efforts to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce that includes people with disabilities.”

NOD Appoints Andy Traub as Managing Director to Lead Bridges Enterprise

Traub is Architect of AMC’s Nationally Recognized “FOCUS” Program for Hiring People with Disabilities

January 21, 2015, New York, NY – The National Organization on Disability (NOD) announced today that Andy Traub, a nationally recognized leader in disability employment, has joined NOD as its Managing Director to lead the organization’s signature Bridges enterprise, which is helping major employers to build a disability inclusive workforce. Traub has been a consultant for Bridges over the last three years and co-created NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker™, a powerful self-assessment tool for employers who seek to make disability hiring a priority in their company.

“Those who’ve worked with Andy agree that his strong foundation in corporate HR and diversity practices, combined with his knowledge of the disability landscape and passion for our mission, are the perfect blend of qualifications to ensure the success of the Bridges enterprise,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “As we look ahead to 2015, Andy will be a significant asset in helping to grow and expand NOD’s brand and Bridges services to employers. We’re so thrilled to have him be a part of our future.”

Traub previously served AMC Theaters as Director of Recruitment, creating and executing the nationally recognized “FOCUS” program for hiring people with disabilities. A certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, Traub has worked with national brands such as Google, Best Buy, Walgreens and Sodexo, leading various projects and disability employment hiring initiatives. In 2012, Traub presented to White House staff on hiring individuals with autism.

NOD Sr. Career Specialist Maggie Casteel Honored By National Rehabilitation Association

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November 17, 2014, New York, NY – The National Rehabilitation Association (NRA) recently awarded National Organization on Disability (NOD) Wounded Warrior Careers Program Manager and Senior Career Specialist Maggie Casteel with the 2014 Belle Greve Memorial Award during NRA’s Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. The Belle Greve Memorial Award is given to an individual in recognition of unusual initiative or creativity in developing and/or administering a service program for people with disabilities.

“Maggie brings a unique blend of experience, awareness and depth of understanding concerning rehabilitation issues surrounding trauma and acquired disability,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “It has been an honor for us at NOD to work alongside a colleague in advancing our mission through our Wounded Warrior Careers program in Pittsburgh, one whose comprehensive, innovative and effective advocacy for disability issues shines with such optimism and accomplishment.”

NOD Releases Guide for Employers Hiring Veterans with Disabilities

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NOD Director Lieutenant General (RET) Franklin L. Hagenbeck, former deputy chief of staff for Personnel, Department of the Army, embarks on a nationwide media tour to share techniques to support veterans’ workplace success
Image of Play Button Listen to the Interview on NPR’s It’s Your Health November 10, 2014, New York, NY - In honor of Veterans Day, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) has released a valuable resource of leading employment practices and actionable tips for successfully recruiting, onboarding, supporting and retaining veterans within a company’s workforce.

There are nearly three million military personnel that have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan that are willing, able and ready for employment opportunities, and many employers are eager to hire them. However, research suggests that a significant number of returning veterans leave their first civilian job within the first year; and over 40% of all post 9/11 vets have reported service-related disabilities. In order to avoid false starts for both the vet and the employer, employers need to be aware of how best to ensure veterans’ success through accommodations and specialized workplace supports.

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