United Cerebral Palsy Statement on Hurricane Harvey

We share the feelings of so many health and human service organizations across the U.S. who are watching the storm and recovery efforts underway in Southeast Texas.

We are thinking of all the families and communities who have been impacted by the storm. We know, from experience, that a storm of this magnitude can produce unimaginable destruction– and may compromise the safety of people living with disabilities.

United Cerebral Palsy affiliates in Oklahoma and Louisiana are actively engaged in the recovery efforts underway and may assist as called upon. We are also monitoring the storm and the possible impact it may have for our affiliates in Louisiana and other neighboring areas. UCP affiliates work diligently on disaster preparedness plans to ensure that the individuals and families in their care, across the U.S. and Canada, are always kept safe in any type of emergency and UCP National supports their efforts.

For information regarding the status of Harvey, please visit HHS’ Public Health Emergency website: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/harvey2017/Pages/default.aspx

Residents in the Houston area may also find resources at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities: http://www.houstontx.gov/disabilities/

To ensure that you. your family and your loved ones are prepared in the event of a natural disaster, we recommend our blog post at My Life Without Limits: http://mylifewithoutlimits.org/disaster-preparedness-month-tips-and-tricks-to-help-you-live-a-life-without-limits/

FEMA‘s resources for people with disabilities, access, and functional needs: www.fema.gov/resources-people-disabilities-access-functional-needs

Additional preparedness tips and resources can be found on UCP’s website at: http://ucp.org/resources/health-and-wellness/safety/disaster-preparedness/

 

Facts About Employment

This post and the accompanying infographic are by UCP’s Summer 2017 and Programs and Development Intern, Sara Shemali

 

The worst global recession in recent history, the great recession, yielded unemployment rates which peaked in 2009 at 10 percent. Lowering this exceptionally high rate of unemployment became a national priority in America. Yet, the current rate of unemployment for people with disabilities still stands at 10.5 percent, over double the rate of current unemployment for people without disabilities and still greater than that peak rate of 10%. The difficulty that people with disabilities experience when finding and applying for jobs has rippling effects, making it harder for them to achieve financial autonomy and gain independence, as well as a myriad of other benefits of employment.

Barriers and Benefits

Individuals with disabilities face significant barriers to employment that persist regardless of education, race, age,or gender. According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, at all levels of education, people with disabilities are less likely to be employed than their able-bodied counterparts. This data reflects the obstacles many people with disabilities face when looking for and obtaining work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a 2013 news release, reported that 70.8 percent of people with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 64 had experienced at least one barrier to employment in the past. These barriers include a person’s own disability, lack of education or training, insufficient transportation, and the need for accommodations on the job.

When individuals with disabilities are given the resources to overcome these barriers, they are valuable assets to the companies that hire them. Supportive employment for people with disabilities, such as the partnership between UCP of the North Bay and WineBev, has long proved to be effective. WineBev implemented a successful training program which provides not only accessible but also competitive employment for people with disabilities. Another company found that the young people with disabilities that they hired had an attrition rate of only one percent, compared to 10 to 15 percent for people without disabilities. Their workers with disabilities were also more productive than their workers without. Furthermore, a recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders demonstrates a link between having a developmental disability and being able to come up with unique and creative solutions to problems.This trait makes people with developmental disabilities excellent candidates for jobs which require divergent and out of the box thinking.

The Business Case

Employment of people with disabilities is not just a worker issue. It is also imperative to analyze the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities from a business point of view. One concern employers may have about hiring a candidate with a disclosed disability is the cost of accommodations. However, the Job Accommodation Network has found that most (59%) of accommodations cost nothing to employers to implement. One accommodation that employers are increasingly making is allowing employees with disabilities to work from home some or all of the time, an accommodation that more and more workplaces offer to employees with or without disabilities anyway. It is currently estimated that 463,000 people with disabilities, making up 7.1 percent of people with disabilities, regularly work from home.

When accommodations do incur some cost, 36 percent of employers reported a one-time cost, typically around five hundred dollars. Only five percent of employers reported that the cost of accommodations was ongoing or a mixture of one-time and ongoing costs. In addition to being low-cost, accommodations can have a number of positive consequences, including retaining valuable employees and increasing the employee’s productivity, reducing employee absenteeism, improving employee interactions, and increasing productivity for the company as a whole. Employers also have a variety of free resources at their disposal to help them meet the needs of their employees with disabilities, including the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) and consulting from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Technology and the Future

Although the levels of unemployment for individuals with disabilities may seem staggering when compared to the unemployment rate of people without disabilities, there is promise for improvement in the future. As technology advances, new devices that further accessibility and that improve health and longevity will likely increase employment of people with disabilities. The BrailleNote Apex, one such new technology, features a word processor, calendar, media player, web browser, and GPS, among other things, all in braille and in one device which assists the visually impaired. Assistive technologies are not only becoming more sophisticated but also more commonplace and integrated into the workplace. For example, Microsoft has just announced its plans to integrate eye-tracking features into Windows 10, which will make the software more accessible, and make it easier for programmers to improve and innovate new eye-tracking applications and accessories. These advancements will make it easier for people with disabilities to access job opportunities and work without limits.

For more information regarding employment for people with disabilities check out UCP’s Facts about Employment infographic

For a detailed image description of the infographic, click here.

 

 

UCP National Talks Assistive Tech with Provail

This post was written by UCP Summer 2017 Programs and Development Intern, James O’Connor

 

“We try to ask ourselves: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?”

This is what motivates Brenda Chappell, Director of Clinical Services at Provail, a UCP affiliate located in Seattle, Washington. Brenda recently spoke to us about Provail’s assistive technology programs.

[Image Description: A white woman with short brown hair wearing a green sweater and a black scarf holds a smartphone to a book while reading in what appears to be a children’s classroom. She is looking off to the side.] Photo: Lawrence Roffee

 

Assistive technology is an umbrella term that covers equipment, software, system, or any item that is used by people to find and or maintain a job and/or perform activities of daily living. Technology can be big, like an automated lift for van or bath, or small, like a Velcro-attached grip for a fork or a pen. It can be new-age interactive voice activated software for speech therapy or a wheelchair component. It can be high-tech–a computer screen operated by eye movement or low-tech, like a specially-designed door handle for people with muscle strength or dexterity problems.

Assistive technology can often be complex and very user-specific, and this is where Provail’s team plays an important role. At their AT (assistive technology) clinic, they take a holistic approach to finding the best technology for each person.

Brenda and her colleagues’ AT  programs bring professionals from Provail into schools and homes to recommend AT, and teach users, parents, teachers, therapists, and caregivers the best ways to put a person’s AT to best use. Provail works with kids as young as 4 years old, as well as adult clients, and individuals all the way through the lifespan.

Brenda notes that students with earlier access to AT have overwhelmingly better outcomes in both learning and lifestyle. She makes it clear that enabling mobility and communication at an early age are core to the program at Provail. “Before this unique program, we would see adults coming into the clinic with no AT and no mobility. Now, parents doing a 10-week program with us are finding successes that they never knew were possible.”

On top of helping people find and use the best possible AT for their needs, Provail also helps connect users with typical and alternative funding sources, making the stressful process of financing AT easier for many of their clients.

As assistive technology becomes more complex, more varied, and more common, it is important to put people first and keep in mind Brenda’s important question: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?
Check out your local affiliate to find out more about what type of AT services may be available, including financial resources that may be available.