What Are the JAN Consultants Reading?

Posted by Kim Cordingly on May 29, 2014 under Blogging with JAN, Consultants' Corner, Employers, Entrepreneurship / Self Employment, General Information, Organizations | Comments are off for this article

Beth Loy – Principal Consultant

I recently read Laura L. Hayes’ article How to Stop Violence: Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are.

In this Slate.com article, Hayes discusses examples of individuals who were characterized as “mentally ill” by society, but who acted out of anger to commit crimes. These individuals, she argues, were controlled by that behavior and committed violent acts on someone else because of anger, not a mental health condition. Citing examples and statistics that show most violent crimes are committed by individuals who do not have a mental health condition, Hayes goes on to discuss research studies, media speculation, biological responses, gun regulation, and references in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Hayes argues that violent crimes committed by people with a mental health diagnosis get a lot of attention from the media, but are extremely rare. And, Hayes writes, anger fuels violence, not a mental health diagnosis.

Linda Batiste – Principal Consultant

After receiving several questions in a row about whether the ADA applies to foreign employment, I decided to read up on the subject. I found several publications on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Website, including:

Employee Rights When Working for Multinational Employers-Fact Sheet

The Equal Employment Opportunity Responsibilities of Multinational Employers – Fact Sheet

Enforcement Guidance on Application of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act to Conduct Overseas and to Foreign Employers Discriminating in the United States

After reading these publications, I decided to write up a summary for the JAN Website to serve as a quick reference on this subject:

Consultants’ Corner: Does the ADA Apply to Foreign Employment?

I hope you find the summary useful!

Anne Hirsh – JAN Co-Director

I am reading any and all articles that I can find on the new regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act that went into effect on March 24, 2014. Employers are hungry for information on how to effectively implement self-identification of disability within their company as well as how to find qualified talent. They are also either creating or reviewing existing company reasonable accommodation policies including reasonable accommodation for onboarding. OFFCP continues to update its Website and FAQs.

This article on Job Application/Interview Stage Dos and Don’ts may be of interest.

Here is a JAN article on incorporating reasonable accommodation into a company onboarding procedure.

JAN’s archived Federal Contractor Webcast series may also be of interest

Sheryl Grossman – Consultant, Motor Team

Since recently returning from the Jewish Women Entrepreneurs Annual Conference, I’m really excited to pick up an often referenced book by Deborah Gallant entitled Shine Online.  According to Ms. Gallant, “Shine Online is a 100-page book that answers every question you have about what to do…and in what order…,” regarding the Internet marketing of your business.  For more tips on building a successful business, see her Website.

Daniel Tucker – Consultant, Cognitive/Neurological Team

I recently read an article in Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin entitled Shame-Focused Attitudes toward Mental Health Problems: The Role of Gender and Culture (2014) by Nan Zhang Hampton and Seneca E. Sharp. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there were differences based on gender and three ethnicities (Asian, Latino, and Caucasian American) concerning internal attitudes toward one’s own mental health impairment.  Previous research suggested that women feel more shame than men, however, this study concluded there was no significant difference between genders across the three ethnicities. The results of the study did suggest there was a significant difference in attitudes across ethnicities, with Asians reporting the least amount of Internal Shame (IS), and Latinos reporting they would feel the most shame as compared to Asians and Caucasian Americans. The authors attributed these findings to cultural values, particularly Latino cultures tending to place high value on family honor and the stigmatization of mental illness being seen as a dishonor to the family.

In conclusion, the authors pointed out the implications for rehabilitation counselors. Due to the shame associated with mental health impairments among Latinos, they may be less likely to seek rehabilitation services. As a result, the authors suggest rehabilitation counselors should put more focus on encouraging Latinos to “get facts” by developing educational workshops and providing materials to service providers who would have contact with individuals from this population.

It is probable that these findings and suggestions would be applicable in the workplace as well. Given the diversity of today’s workforce, employers may benefit from looking at ways to effectively communicate disability awareness with the goal of reducing stigma and helping all employees to feel they can approach their employers about reasonable accommodations. Most accommodations, especially those for mental health impairments, cost nothing, while the process of replacing an otherwise qualified employee can be costly.

Hampton, N.Z., & Sharp, S.E. (2013).  Shame-Focused Attitudes toward Mental Health Problems:  The Role of Gender and Culture.  Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 57 (3), 170-181.

Melanie Whetzel – Senior Consultant, Cognitive/Neurological Team

I am reading The Essential Brain Injury Guide, a publication of the Brain Injury Association of America. With the number of questions and often complex requests for assistance we receive on the cognitive/neurological team in the area of brain injuries, it makes sense to expand my knowledge as much as possible. The guide contains eight chapters ranging from understanding the brain and brain injury, to understanding and treating functional impacts, to family, legal, and ethical issues. I will be reading and learning from this guide for quite some time to come.

Tracie DeFreitas – Lead Consultant, ADA Specialist

JAN Consultants must be familiar with many different workplace laws that impact the employment of people with all types of medical impairments. In particular, we offer in-depth technical assistance on the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and use a number of enforcement guidance documents issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to explain employers’ obligations and employees’ rights under the statute. I read and share many of these documents daily and so can you by going to JAN’s AskJAN.org ADA Library under EEOC Guidances.

Another law JAN Consultants frequently receive questions about is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA often poses unique challenges for employers and so in-order to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and issues, I’ve been following a Blog entitled FMLA Insights. This informative Blog is authored by Jeff Nowak, who is co-chair of the labor and employment practice at Franczek Radelet where he represents employers in all aspects of employment law. The Blog addresses practical FMLA topics of interest to employers, highlights important court decisions, and provides updates on U.S. Department of Labor enforcement practices and initiatives – among many other FMLA and state family leave law issues. To learn more, you can go to the Website and sign-up to receive e-mail notices about new entries.

Kim Cordingly – Lead Consultant, Self-Employment Team

I’m currently reading the 2nd edition of Making Self-Employment Work for People with Disabilities (2014) by Cary Griffin, David Hammis, Beth Keeton and Molly Sullivan. The 1st edition has been a vital resource for JAN customers pursuing self-employment, so we’re thrilled to be referring individuals to this new edition.

I’ve also recently read the Office of Disability Employment Policy report on Self-Employment for People with Disabilities (2013). It discusses the experiences and outcomes of ODEP’s Start-Up USA grant projects, which sought to “…develop research-based policy and provide technical assistance to organizations geared toward achieving sustainable self-employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.”

These are both indispensable reading for anyone interested in advancing self-employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Also, I recently attended a conference on Women and Economic Security at the University of Michigan, which prompted me to read the following article related to women with disabilities and poverty:

Income Poverty and Material Hardship among U.S. Women with Disabilities (2009) by Susan Parish, Roderick Rose, and Megan Andrews – Social Service Review.

It includes data that suggest, “…women with disabilities experience such hardships as food insecurity, housing instability, inadequate health care, and loss of phone service at rates that are higher than those among nondisabled women. Rates of hardship remain higher even after adjusting for a host of individual characteristics, including marital status, age, race, and education.”

Much discussed at the conference was The Shriver Report – A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink (2014), which is next on my reading list.

Teresa Goddard – Senior Consultant, Sensory Team

I am planning a vacation, so am reading Walt Disney World with Disabilities by Stephen Ashley.  It was published in 2008, but still has detailed information on many rides and attractions. Next on my list is PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges by Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma.

Earlier this month while making vacation plans, I picked up a copy of Walt Disney World with Disabilities by Stephen Ashley. Although the information was a bit dated due to changes both in the attractions at Walt Disney World and in the park’s system for providing accommodations since 2008, I found the book’s detailed descriptions of rides, restaurants, and events such as fireworks to be helpful as my party and I decided which parks to visit and how to make the most of our FastPass ride reservations; this is a system that allows one to reserve a place in a faster moving line for a small number of attractions each day. What impressed me most about this book was the attention to details of interest to those with hidden impairments such as fragrance sensitivity. In fact, the information on lighting and on rides with fragrances helped two members of our party avoid potentially problematic situations and allowed them to plan ahead about how to self-accommodate in some areas of the park. I would like to see this resource updated to reflect current park conditions and practices. Ideally, I would also prefer to have an accessible digital copy. The book is very large — too large in fact to fit in the bag that I wanted to carry to the park, so I memorized all pertinent details in advance. Also, while the book was large the print was small.

If you are looking for information on navigating Walt Disney World as a person with a disability, this book is only one of many resources that you may wish to explore.

The Walt Disney World Website also contains a wealth of information.

Elisabeth Simpson – Senior Consultant, Mobility/Sensory Team

I recently read an article in Counseling Today magazine on the role of school counselors in transition planning titled Focusing on ability, not disability by Amy Cook, Laura Hayden and Felicia Wilczenski. The article discusses how school counselors can be advocates for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) as they transition into post-secondary education. They highlight programs where school students with ID work with educational coaches and can audit or enroll in college courses for credit. The article states, “… educational institutions have increased postsecondary educational options for individuals with ID, including offering greater access to higher education through concurrent enrollment between high schools and universities. Such programs provide students with ID the opportunity to attend college and enroll in college classes, participate in college-based activities (for example, clubs, intramural sports and extracurricular activities) and, in some cases, reside on campus.”

Employment Matters: A Conversation with Steve Nissen at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) – National Capital Chapter

Posted by Kim Cordingly on May 12, 2014 under Accommodations, ADAAA, Employers, Organizations | Comments are off for this article

By: Kim Cordingly, Lead Consultant

JAN is fortunate to have many thriving collaborations with organizations throughout the U.S. seeking to advance employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. One of our strongest alliances is with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) – a national organization that seeks to improve the lives of individuals living with multiple sclerosis (MS) while searching for a cure.

What is MS?
According to the NMSS Web site, “…in multiple sclerosis (MS), damage to the myelin coating around the nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS) and to the nerve fibers themselves interferes with the transmission of nerve signals between the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body. Disrupted nerve signals cause the symptoms of MS, which vary from one person to another and over time for any given individual, depending on where the damage occurs.” Functional limitations may include neuro-cognitive changes, fatigue, mobility impairments, vision loss, and chronic pain.

Employment and MS
Because of the complexity of the progression of MS and its unpredictable nature, each person may be affected very differently in their work life. For some, their career course may be unaffected for many years, while for others, an initial exacerbation of symptoms may lead to leaving employment — often prematurely. Access to, or continuation in, meaningful employment plays a critical role in the health and well-being of adults with MS, consequently the NMSS has made this a priority in the work they do.

Steve Nissen – Senior Director, Employment and Community Programs, NMSS – National Capital Chapter

Since 1998, Steve’s work with the NMSS at both chapter and national levels has focused on the importance of cultivating employment opportunities and supports for individuals with MS. Steve is a co-author of the book Employment Issues and Multiple Sclerosis 2nd Edition (2008) and directs numerous employment-related training and policy initiatives.

In my conversation with Steve, we wanted to highlight some new and updated resources available through NMSS (nationally) that focus on employment. In addition, Steve pointed out that the NMSS Web site has undergone a major facelift — adding resources and enhancing navigation. For those already familiar with the site, and for newbies as well, it will be worthwhile for you to visit the new online face of NMSS.

The employment portal of the Web site offers a wide range of resources for individuals with MS, employers, service providers, family members, and chapter trainers. Collaboration with JAN, particularly in the area of workplace accommodations, is evident throughout the site – including a photograph showing an individual viewing JAN’s Website as a resource. Steve highlighted a new resource on their site called Employment Matters: Managing MS in the Workplace. This training tool offers a video series as well as a written toolkit on how to “…navigate the complexities of managing work and MS.” Topics covered in the video include thinking proactively about employment, recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disclosure in the workplace; managing fatigue in the workplace; managing cognitive challenges in the workplace; and assistive technology and the workplace.  The toolkit covers developing your skill set; job search strategies; writing a good resume; Social Security disability benefits and work incentives; disclosure issues; accommodation information; and components of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a bonus, Employment Matters was designed to be implemented by local NMSS chapter staff and volunteers to address these important employment topics.

Other excellent employment resources available on the NMSS Web site include:

Career Crossroads – A six part video series on employment and MS.

Health Insurance Resources – One of the best sites for providing an overview of all the options, particularly the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Win-Win Approach to Reasonable Accommodation: Employment Issues – Discusses the employment provisions of the ADA; implementing reasonable accommodations; and taking a “win-win” approach to this process. NMSS has additional employment related brochures available on their Web site.

Find Services in Your Area – Find a NMSS chapter near you for one-on-one assistance.

An Information for Employers brochure is available.

The video MS Learn Online- Employment and MS features Steve responding to employment related questions.

Steve pointed out that making relevant employment information available to individuals with MS is a priority of the organization. JAN has been a participant in this effort through information sharing and reciprocal consulting, as well as partnering in various training and presentations.

I asked Steve what he thought were some of the biggest challenges for individuals with MS in the workplace. Without hesitation, he shared with me the following:

1. Leaving the workforce prematurely – Research on MS and employment shows that many individuals leave their jobs prematurely when the first exacerbation of symptoms occurs. Well-meaning family members, physicians, and others may be concerned that work is too stressful and support leaving. While each individual situation is unique, research shows with appropriate accommodations and support, many employees with MS can continue to work successfully in their positions. Accommodation consultation and suggestions from NMSS and JAN can provide individualized assistance with these questions.

2. Disclosure – Because symptoms of MS may not be visible, or come and go – the issue of disclosure is a challenge for many. NMSS and JAN can discuss these issues and respond to your specific questions and concerns.

3. Managing symptoms in the workplace – Steve pointed out that often individuals who contact them are not sure how to manage particular impairments in the workplace. An example might be someone who has lost some vision and can no longer view the text on a computer. NMSS and JAN can address these types of accommodation questions, which can empower employees with MS to stay on the job.

4. Being proactive and not waiting until there’s a crisis – Steve shared that too often NMSS and JAN get contacted about a workplace issue when it’s already turned into a “crisis.” He emphasizes to individuals who contact NMSS that “knowledge is power,” so learn as much as possible so you can advocate for yourself and know what resources and services are out there to support you in this process. Be proactive!

Steve is an invaluable employment advocate for individuals with MS around the country and friend to JAN. We thank him and the NMSS for all of their important work on behalf of individuals with MS.

Additional Resources:

National Multiple Sclerosis Society – Main Web Site
Toll Free: 1-800-344-4867

National Capital Chapter: National Multiple Sclerosis Society
1800 M Street, NW, Suite 750 South
Washington, DC 20036
Toll Free: 1-800-344-4867
Phone: 202-296-5363
Fax: 202-296-3425

“The National MS Society helps each person affected by MS in our area address the challenges of living with MS. We help by raising funds for cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education and providing programs and services that empower people with MS and their families to move their lives forward.”

JAN – Accommodation Ideas for Multiple Sclerosis
Includes various accommodation examples for individuals with MS in the workplace.

Employment Issues and Multiple Sclerosis (2nd Edition) by Phillip Rumrill, Mary Hennessey, and Steve Nissen
“Employment Issues and Multiple Sclerosis, 2nd Edition is a must read for any person with MS that has a question regarding employment and disability. Chapters cover everything from vocational rehabilitation to job placement, and the laws covering employment.”