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Today’s the day! The U.S. Business Leadership Network, a national B2B disability organization, is launching a soft pilot of a new certification program for disability-owned businesses. Yes, you heard it right: The BLN’s new Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) certification program will certify companies that undergo a rigorous application process and meet strict criteria, including being 51 percent or more owned and operated by a disabled person, including service-disabled veterans. According to John Kemp, BLN’s executive director, the DOBE program is the first of its kind, and will be accepted as the “gold standard” by which U.S. companies, federal and government agencies make corporate supply chain and procurement decisions. The program is modeled off the Women-Owned Business Enterprise, a program run by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council that’s is recognized by more than 1,000 U.S. companies. Business Leadership Network has affiliates around the country. DOBE certification is a great resource for corporations ... keep reading »
Kicking off its second year, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities will hold summer sessions around the country to teach recent veterans on how to start a business or new career. The first group of 20 veterans has reported for duty at Florida State University’s College of Business. They’ll immerse themselves in entrepreneurship ideas and concepts during the week-long program, which is run by faculty and successful entrepreneurs. Veterans will also get to hear from professionals in various industries about entrepreneurship. In this the second year of the program, the students will hear a keynote address by a 2008 boot camp graduate, J.R. Martinez, who attended the program to learn how to market his persona and now is a regular cast member on the television show “All My Children.” The EBV program begins with a three-week online course and culminates in the on-campus residency “boot camp.” There is ... keep reading »
Researchers in Northern Ireland are examining how high-tech clothing could improve the lives of older people and people with disabilities, according to the BBC. The three-year project could see electronic devices built in to clothing that could provide information ranging from heart rate to bus timetables — helping these groups living more independently. The University of Ulster’s Computer Science Research Institute has been doing work on assistive technologies for independent living and healthcare monitoring. Its director, Professor Bryan Scotney, said they would be looking at sensor technologies that would automatically adjust to meet the elderly and disabled’s daily living needs. This technology could have benefits as diverse as monitoring temperature in the home and automatically adjusting the thermostat, to even providing a life-saving tool by alerting a doctor or relative if heart rate drops. Only time will tell if the merger of textiles and electronics marks the beginning of a new industrial revolution. keep reading »
The Supreme Court will soon decide on a high-profile case that centers around the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and will have implications for families of children with special needs and school districts across the country. In Forest Grove School District v. T.A., the parents of an Oregon high-school student, who is identified only as T.A., sought reimbursement for his $5,200-a-month private-school education, which they said was necessary after T.A. was found ineligible for special-education services. Under IDEA, disabled children are entitled to a “free appropriate public education” if they qualify. The law allows parents to seek public financing for private school if the public schools cannot adequately serve their children. While most of the nation’s six million special-education students attend public school, almost 90,000 students are in private placements — most of them with their public school’s agreement. The court must decide whether parents who unilaterally place their child in private school, ... keep reading »
President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2010 includes increased funds for employment assistance for people with disabilities as well as autism research and awareness, among other programs. The budget proposal includes $11.5 billion for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is in addition to the nearly $5 billion already set aside for IDEA in 2010. Another $11.6 billion would be applied to decrease the backlog of disability claims at the Social Security Administration. Other disability-related programs would also benefit from the proposal. On the health front, Obama will seek more than $140 million for autism research funded through the National Institutes of Health, and $125 million to provide mental health care to kids and teens with emotional disorders. For employment, Obama will ask for an increase of $10 million for the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor. Separately, the budget includes $145 million ... keep reading »
DiversityInc revealed its annual Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities list, with IBM again topping the charts. IBM Corp., who was also 2008′s winner, “has been at the forefront of hiring, retaining and promoting employees with disabilities and is expanding its efforts globally. It also has been the most outspoken opponent of genetic testing for employees and has been clear and vocal in its values-driven mission,” DiversityInc said. In second place is Ernst & Young; DiversityInc calls E&Y’s AccessAbilities employee-resource group “world-class.” The group’s members — two-thirds have disabilities — meet monthly through a conference call and have Abilities Champions who make sure disabilities-awareness messages and educational material are part of communications, meetings and events. Not to be outdone, Cisco Systems placed third for providing “excellent benefits for people with disabilities and for employees who are caring for people with disabilities, including an onsite health center, an onsite pharmacy, healthcare incentives, job ... keep reading »
A few hours ago I read about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s first policy speech detailing how a McCain-Palin administration would help children with disabilities. In Pittsburgh on Friday, Palin dotted her speech with references to her six-month old son, Trig, who has Down syndrome. Oftentimes, these are the most powerful moments in her speeches, where mothers of special-needs children come to her rallies desperate for a remedy to the educational and health-care failures that have plagued them over and over again. Special-needs children are “especially close to my heart,” she tells the crowds. But Palin isn’t the answer. I repeat, she ain’t the quick fixin’ we’re all needin’ in the disability space. Many months ago, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama published on his website a detailed plan to support disabled Americans. The four-point plan is designed to improve educational opportunities, end discrimination, increase employment rates, and support independent living for Americans ... keep reading »

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