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Hello. Welcome to the JUNE 2008 edition of our Disability Network Newsletter - current employment issues and resources for people with disabilities and the organizations that support them.

(We do our best to provide accurate and current information; but please check with the sources for validation of the information we have provided.)




In This Issue of Disability Network:
Guest Article


New Products:

* Top 7 Reasons to Hire a Virtual Assistant

* LEGISLATION: ADA Amendments Act of 2008
* CAMPAIGN: Access Awareness Day
* ONLINE VIDEO: Diversity, Disability and the USBLN
* HANDBOOK: Accessible Meetings
* ONLINE VIDEO: Church of 80% Sincerity
* VIDEOS: Succeeding at College and at Work
* REPORT: Transitioning Youth with Mental Health Needs
* FACT SHEET: Disabled Veterans and Self-Employment
* COMPETITION: Visual Arts/Design
* PUBLICATION: Business $ense  

* Music Within Facilitators Guide
* Understanding Employees... Psychiatric Disabilities

Photo: Rob McInnes

Job Search Advice and Virtual Assistants

In last month’s newsletter I mentioned some communication that I had exchanged with a young woman with a hearing loss who was seeking employment in a particular career field. I invited readers to contribute their own counsel and advice. Many of you did, and your emails were forwarded on to her. I thought that one of these replies was so well-put and instructive that it might prove helpful to other readers – particularly anyone with a hearing loss. Doug Jacobson is the TREC Executive Director for the Badlands Head Start/Early Head Start program. Based on his personal experience, Doug offered the following insights...

"I have a significant hearing loss from having grownup on a farm in the days before hearing loss by machinery noise was considered.  In addition, I am a Vietnam combat vet.  At age 30, I went on to college and obtained a MSW degree with emphasis on family and child services.  I also got my first set of hearing aids at that time.  One of my specialties was working with adolescents and their families.  I worked as a clinical therapist for over 10 years before returning to college for my MBA and entering international manufacturing.  I am now back in the human services field, so I've come full circle.

Here is my advice to the writer.  Firstly, as the applicant, I open the interview by acknowledging my hearing challenge and assert that I may ask the interviewer to repeat them self if I am not confident that I heard what was said.  I also request that they assert them self if it appears that I did not accurately hear what was being asked.  This gives everyone responsibility for and permission to address this barrier.  Secondly, hearing loss affects self-esteem.  I do not avoid public interactions as they are opportunities for me to build confidence in my abilities to overcome this communication challenge.  Finally, I don't assume that rejection is based on my hearing impairment as that only disempowers me - while focusing on the suggestions you offered (in last month's newsletter) would empower me."

Also in last month’s newsletter, I drew attention to the relatively new career realm of “virtual assistants”. This has proven to be a viable means of employment for many folks with disabilities.  As an entrepreneur and professional speaker, Laura Gillson, of Eloquent Insights, has contributed to this newsletter before. Following last month’s issue, Laura contacted me to tell me how her own entrepreneurial efforts were being bolstered by the use of Virtual Assistants...

“I was very interested to learn from your newsletter how many people with disabilities hire themselves out as "virtual assistants."  As a professional speaker who is blind, I have made good use of VA's in my own business, and I am so sold on the idea that I did write an article on that subject! I believe it might be beneficial to your readers with disabilities... to use as a sales tool when job-seeking (as a virtual assistant).”

Laura's article, Top 7 Reasons to Hire a Virtual Assistant, is a really nice overview on the concept and we are pleased to include it in our June issue.

~ Rob McInnes

bullet Read the May 2008 issue of Disability Network

Guest Article: Top 7 Reasons to Hire a Virtual Assistant

By L. R. Gillson

Evidently I’ve been living under a rock. Recently, I stumbled across the small business solution that turned my overwhelming to-do list into something manageable.  It’s called Virtual Assistance, and it has freed me from the burden of what would otherwise be time-consuming busywork.  Simply put, a Virtual Assistant is an off-site employee who provides web or administrative support services, conducting nearly all transactions electronically.

Not only was I surprised to discover this neat lifesaver, I was even more amazed to find that it has it’s own association:  The International Virtual Assistants Association (www.ivaa.org). The IVAA website is a great place to find what will most certainly be an indispensable resource for you:  Your own Virtual Assistant.  Below are the top seven reasons to hire a VA:

1.  They are all business.  Your Virtual Assistant will support your needs, not the other way around.  Since they bill their hours for the work they accomplish – some in increments as small as five minutes – you are not paying for personal phone calls, late arrivals, childcare crises, or sick time.  If you detest the forced socialization of a corporate workplace, or listening to the humdrum minutiae of your co-worker’s life story, a virtual staff solves that problem.

2.  You’re in control.  Your working relationship is based upon a contractual agreement whereby you state in no uncertain terms what you expect.  They either do it or they don’t.  If you want a web designer who uses Dreamweaver instead of hand-coding HTML, then you specify that.  Or, you can entirely defer to your Virtual Assistant’s expertise and focus your energy elsewhere. 

3.  Professional rapport.  Your Virtual Assistant is in the entrepreneurial boat, too.  They work at home, market their services, prospect for clients, and provide a service just like you do.  It’s a great way to add to your network base, as they may have found ways to solve problems you never even thought of.  Often they have their own network of resources that they utilize for printing, document processing and promotion.  Tapping into their resources doubles your own.

4. Cost savings.  You can hire a VA from anywhere on Earth.  It’s as competitive an industry as any other, and you can expect a wide range of fees for various services offered. If you like the fees for web design, but think a particular service is too expensive for document editing or proofreading, you can hire multiple VA’s to do different tasks to keep your own costs low.  You are not under any obligation whatsoever, except, of course, to pay your bill.

5. Pride in their work.  If you are hiring a VA for tasks such as web design, you can easily preview their work.  Often the VA service will place testimonials on their site or examples of web pages they have designed.  Examine their portfolio pages to determine the depth of their skills and experience.

6.  Virtual freedom.  No on-site employees means  no liability, no worker’s comp insurance, and no payroll taxes to calculate.  Everyone is an independent contractor.  You can utilize a virtual assistant for either ongoing work or on a per-project basis.

7.  No strangers in the house.  If you have a home office, hiring employees to work on-site could be intrusive.  If you have children at home, or a spouse who works odd hours, or you just don’t care to open up your private space to others, a virtual assistant is ideal.  Most likely, your VA will never darken your doorstep.

When you hire your Virtual Assistant, be sure to ask them to furnish a detailed list of the types of services for which you will be billed.  Some VA’s will charge to accept your phone calls, read your email instructions, or the time it takes to download a file.  There should be no surprises if you have good communication with your VA.  Remember, you cannot see your potential VA to evaluate their credibility, nor they you.  Consider several exploratory conversations prior to signing on the dotted line.  This will ensure that you and your Virtual Assistant will have a productive partnership.

Copyright 2005 by Laura Gillson.  All rights reserved.


AAPD logoLEGISLATION: ADA Amendments Act of 2008

The ADA Restoration Act, now referred to as the “ADA Amendments Act of 2008” is gaining bipartisan support in both the U.S. Congress and the Senate. The Act has been drawn up to restore civil rights that were intended by and integral to the original Americans with Disabilities Act, but which have seemingly been “chipped away at” by subsequent court rulings. On June 26, Congress approved the Act with a vote of 402 to 17. Current and future developments, including the content of the Act itself, can be found on the website of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

bullet  See:  http://www.aapd.com/News/adainthe/indexada_restore.php 

logo: SPARC BCCAMPAIGN: Access Awareness Day

The Social Planning and Research Council (SPARC) in British Columbia is in its 11th year of partnership with the Union of BC Municipalities to call attention to the need for greater Access for citizens with disabilities. This year’s campaign, Access is Everyone’s Business, was particularly focused on how businesses could be more responsive to the needs of customers with disabilities.

bullet  See: http://www.sparc.bc.ca/access_awareness_day

bullet  See Booklet “Access Awareness” http://www.sparc.bc.ca/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=258&

US Business Leadership NetworkONLINE VIDEO: Diversity, Disability and the USBLN

In this smart little video, the USBLN weaves comments from progressive employers and “business case” assertions to produce a convincing and upbeat statement of the important contribution that people with disabilities can make to America’s workforce.

bullet  See: http://www.usbln.org/video/usbln_video.wmv 

bullet  Or on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1Ikeglx2j4

Picture of folks at a meeting - wheelchair & walkerHANDBOOK: Accessible Meetings

The North Carolina Office on Disability and Health in collaboration with the Center for Universal Design have published “Removing Barriers: Planning Meetings That Are Accessible To All Participants”. From parking spaces to alternate formats, it is a very comprehensive little manual. Available in PDF format, 68 pages.

bullet  See: http://www.fpg.unc.edu/~ncodh/pdfs/rbmeetingguide.pdf 

David RocheONLINE VIDEO: Church of 80% Sincerity

David Roche is a remarkable humorist and performer. His presentations are uniquely effective at communicating the social consequences of being perceived as “different” in our society. In early June, 2008, David performed one of his most popular performances “The Church of  80% Sincerity” for the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Happily, that performance was captured on video and is available online.

bullet  See: http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium/artist_detail.cfm?artist_id=ROCHEDAVID 

Picture of several books.DiversityShop

Resources on Disability and Employment

Are you interested in learning more about disability and employment issues? Are you an employer? An educator? A service provider? A job seeker with a disability? In our store, DiversityShop, we carry over 20 of the best books and videos that we have found on issues of disability and employment. Check them out now! Visit DiversityShop for more Disability and Employment Resources

Music WithinNEW: Music Within Facilitator Guide for Diversity and Disability Training

This training package was developed to use with Music Within, the major motion picture about the life of Richard Pimentel, as a platform and springboard to attitudinal change. Erroneous information and negative attitudes towards people with disabilities abound in our society. The Music Within training package can be an effective and enjoyable way to help audiences see people with disabilities in a new and more favorable light. (Click on Title for more detailed information.) This kit contains:

  • Music Within Theatrical Release - DVD (86 Min.)

  • A Conversation with Richard Pimentel - DVD (Approx. 70 Min.)

  • Manual – 3-Ring binder format

Understanding Employees and Job Applicants with Psychiatric DisabilitiesNEW: Understanding Employees and Job Applicants with Psychiatric Disabilities

DVD (Running Time: 28 Minutes) and Workbook

This video features real-life work scenarios and experts focusing on the medical and vocational aspects associated with psychiatric disabilities in the workplace. This video and the accompanying booklet will help Human Resource professionals, Vocational Rehabilitation practitioners and managers support awareness and dialogue in work relationships at all levels. (Click on Title for more detailed information.)
Now on Sale

pictures of four studentsVIDEOS: Succeeding at College and at Work

The New England ADA Center and No Limits Media have released videos featuring students with disabilities sharing their strategies for successfully staying in school, graduating and getting jobs. Students reveal their struggles with self-reporting their disability, and negotiating accommodations in school and at work. These seven to nine minute videos are available online and DVDs are available upon request.

bullet  See: http://adaptiveenvironments.org/neada/site/student_videos

From NCWD logo - people on a road to office buildingsREPORT: Transitioning Youth with Mental Health Needs

NCWD-Youth Institute for Educational Leadership has eleased a report called Transitioning Youth with Mental Health Needs to Meaningful Employment and Independent Living. The researchers undertook a nationwide search for promising programs and highlight five with a dual focus on youth and young adults with mental health needs and on career preparation, work-based experiences, employment, and related services. They found three systems level factors that affect success at both the service delivery and individual outcome levels. First, successful programs actively seek out partnerships with service agencies and organizations in their community to provide the comprehensive array of services needed by youth and young adults with mental health needs. Second is the ability of programs to identify, access, and leverage funding streams to enhance and expand program services. Third, state-level capacity to promote systems change.

bullet  See: http://www.ncwd-youth.info/assets/reports/mental_health_case_study_report.pdf

Start-Up USAFACT SHEET: Disabled Veterans and Self-Employment

The needs and challenges experienced by veterans with disabilities often require a different and innovative mode of self-employment structure, management, marketing, and operations than those experienced by other individuals with disabilities. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Start-up USA has developed a fact sheet, in Question & Answer format on self employment options for disabled veterans and the resources available to them.

bullet  See: http://www.start-up-usa.biz/resources/content.cfm?id=649

Green LightCOMPETITION: Visual Arts/Design

Green Light is a national juried exhibition open to artists ages 16-25 in the United States who have a physical, cognitive or mental disability. Fifteen (15) finalists will be awarded a total of $60,000 in cash awards that is distributed as follows: $20,000 grand prize, $10,000 first award, $6,000 second award, and 12 awards of excellence in the amount of $2,000. Finalists will be honored at an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill during the Fall of 2008, and their artwork will be displayed in a nation-wide touring exhibition that debuts at the Smithsonian during September 2008. Deadline July 11, 2008.

bullet  See: http://www.vsarts.org/PreBuilt/showcase/gallery/exhibits/vw/2007/index.html 

Business $ensePUBLICATION: Business $ense

The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has introduced Business $ense, a monthly e-message designed to reach small businesses employing 100 – 500 people.

bullet  See: http://www.dol.gov/odep/workingpartners/bsense.htm 

READER REQUESTS: Do you have a question?

Would you like information or advice on a particular issue related to disability & employment? Tie into our network of over 5000 readers! Send us an email and we will post your question in our next newsletter.

Send us your question: DNET@diversityworld.com  


Is your organization holding an event that might be of interest to our 5000+ readers? Would you like to add your event to our listings?

To have your event listed, please see here...


APSE LogoEVENT: The 19th Annual National APSE Conference

"The Winners Cup ...Everybody Works! Everybody Wins!"

Louisville, KY ~ July 9-11, 2008

The APSE conference is exclusively focused on employment of people with significant disabilities in the community, and is the forum for sharing knowledge and expertise on the latest developments and innovations in the field with APSE members from across the country. 

bullet  More Information Here

Workforce Innovations 2008EVENT: Workforce Innovations 2008

“Success Decoded”

New Orleans, LA ~ July 15 – 17, 2008

Workforce Innovations 2008: Success Decoded will bring together local, state and national-level strategic workforce investment partners to learn from successes and cultivate the talent development solutions needed in today's global economy. Workforce Innovations is the premier annual conference promoting collaboration among leaders from workforce development, business, economic development, education, community-based organizations, and philanthropy.

bullet  More Information Here 

USBLN LOGOEVENT: USBLN Annual Conference and Career Fair

“Expanding Inclusion: The Business Strategy”

Portland, OR ~ October 5 - 8, 2008

The preeminent national event for business, community leaders and Business Leadership Network chapters that have an interest in hiring, retention and marketing to people with disabilities. This year’s event promises to provide informational and educational opportunities of the highest quality.

bullet  See: http://www.newworkforceconference.org/

CCRWEVENT: Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) Annual Conference

“Employment Now! Diversity Planning for Inclusive Employment “

St. John’s, Newfoundland ~ October 5 to 7, 2008

For more than 30 years, the CCRW has been a national leader in employment equity and in promoting and supporting the hiring of persons with disabilities in Canada. Employment Now! will bring experts together to develop a framework for a National Employment Delivery Strategy. CCRW is expecting 200 participants to discuss and move the Employment Equity agenda forward in Canada. Your presence will contribute to the successful planning for diverse and inclusive employment solutions in the Canadian workforce.

bullet See: http://www.ccrw.org/conf/index.html

Blind Boys of AlabamaEVENT: Ever-Widening Circle

Oakland, CA ~ November 7, 2008 

Ever Widening Circle battles negative stereotypes of people with disabilities and celebrates disability culture. Now in its 10th year, World Institute on Disability’s Ever Widening Circle will be bigger and better than ever with an evening of entertainment provided by world-class performers.  This year, Ever Widening Circle will feature the Grammy Award-winning talents of The Blind Boys of Alabama, revered worldwide for their unique blend of the sacred and the secular.

bullet See: http://www.wid.org/ever-widening-circle 

Canadian Association for Supported EmploymentEVENT: 2008 Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE) Conference

“Working Matters”

Vancouver, British Columbia ~ November 13 – 14, 2008

The CASE Conference attracts leaders in the field of supported and customized employment, and is highly valued by leaders in the field as a high quality networking and professional development event.

bullet See: http://supportedemployment.ca/en/conference/

Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow.EVENT: 2008 Conference of the National Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)

“Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow”

Ottawa, ON ~ November 14 - 16, 2008

This year’s event will be an exciting opportunity for students, consumer advocates, service providers, employers and all others interested in exploring key issues of equal access to post-secondary education and employment for students and graduates with disabilities. We welcome delegates from across Canada and around the world.

bullet See: http://www.neads.ca/conference2008/en/

2009 Careers ConferenceEVENT: Careers Conference 2009

“From Inspiration to Application”

Madison, WI ~ January 26 – 28, 2008

The Careers Conference is hosted by the Center on Education and Work, part of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive events of its kind, featuring top quality professional development including; More than 150 practitioner sessions, Interactive sessions on the latest career development trends, Outstanding featured and keynote speakers, Panels by experts focusing on key topics, Networking opportunities and more!

bullet See: http://www.cew.wisc.edu/careersConf/default.aspx

This Newsletter is published by Diversity World, 849 Almar Avenue, Suite C, #206, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Archives of past issues are available on our website - www.diversityworld.com  We also publish the "True Livelihood Newsletter" by Denise Bissonnette.

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