Message from Acting Commissioner Colvin to SSA Contractors
Employing People with Disabilities
In 2015, our nation celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As with other important civil rights laws, the ADA upholds America’s message of inclusiveness, equality, and opportunity. More recently, the White House announced the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class initiative to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence among people with disabilities. Curb cuts (small ramps built into sidewalks to ease passage to the street, especially for people with physical disabilities) and other changes in buildings, transportation, and telecommunications have made America a more accessible and fairer nation. This initiative will bring the same type of commonsense solutions to enabling workers with disabilities to access good jobs and careers (i.e., middle class status).
The White House expects government agencies to work together to assist people with disabilities, preparing the way for an array of jobs offered by federal contractors and other employers. I am committed to ensuring this endeavor succeeds. The White House is seeking nominations of Champions of Change employers that are improving career opportunities for people with disabilities. To learn more, click here. The deadline is midnight Sunday, September 14, 2014.
Despite the critical strides we have made in eliminating the barriers to equal opportunity in employment that people with disabilities face, we can do more. We must continue and increase efforts to afford individuals with disabilities equal opportunities, training, and accommodations necessary for them to obtain jobs and advance in the workplace. This past March, the U.S. Department of Labor took a major step in this direction by issuing new rules under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. These rules require federal contractors to take affirmative action to recruit, employ, and promote those with disabilities. Implementing the new Section 503 rules greatly enhances our Nation’s ability to realize the ADA’s true promise.
Please think about how you can participate in and benefit from efforts to promote the employment of people with disabilities. Specifically, I ask that you:
- § Learn about our return-to-work programs, including Ticket to Work, which has nearly 700 employment networks and state vocational rehabilitation agencies actively trying to place 300,000 Social Security disability beneficiaries in good jobs and careers that can lead to self-supporting futures.
- § Find out more about Work Incentive and Planning Assistance, an SSA-funded initiative to enable beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed choices about work and to support working beneficiaries to make a successful transition to financial independence.
I want to thank you for your efforts to successfully apply these new rules and for your continuing support of persons with disabilities. For more information on our efforts to eliminate barriers to equal opportunity in employment that people with disabilities face, feel free to contact David Weaver, our Associate Commissioner for the Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support, at (202) 358-6252 or by email at David.A.Weaver@ssa.gov.
Carolyn W. Colvin