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RDPFS Resources for Partners October 16, 2023

Disability Mentoring Day: October 18, 2023

Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), which launches the third Wednesday of each October, is a national mentoring program for young professionals across the U.S. and abroad. Coordinated by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), DMD promotes career development for students and job seekers with disabilities through “hands-on career exploration,” connecting mentees with full-time employment and internships. What was founded in 1999 in conjunction with NDEAM (National Disability Employment Awareness Month) has grown to become an extensive, year-round program. DMD Coordinators volunteer their time to manage the “logistical requirements for local and regional programs.” Students with disabilities (mentees) are connected with workplace mentors based on their expressed career interests. The mentees get experience about entering the workforce, while employers gain greater awareness that “people with disabilities represent an overlooked talent pool.” Employers from all types of private, nonprofit, and government organizations participate, along with students and educators. To advance the program, AAPD provides a number of resources. A Disability Mentoring Day Toolkit offers tips on events, job shadowing, media outreach and more. For additional details about these and other resources, visit the webpages on Disability Mentoring Day from the AAPD and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

DMD Virtual Events

NLRB Virtual Program: Disability Mentoring Day, October 18, 2023 fron 11 am to 3 pm ET: In commemoration of NDEAM, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) invites people seeking jobs, students, and career advisors to join in their inaugural DMD event. Their program aims to promote professional development by exploring career possibilities within the agency. It will also provide workshops on resume building, federal job application processes, interviewing techniques, and more. For additional information, or to register, visit the webpage for NLRB Disability Mentoring Day.

Advancing Access and Equity: FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) NDEAM Hybrid Disability Mentoring Day, October 18, 2023 from 12 pm to 6 pm ET: This panel discussion will promote career development for people with disabilities who are FEMA staff members as well as individuals from outside the agency. Participants will learn “what it’s like to work at the agency.” Those interested in becoming a mentee can email James Dean at [email protected], including “2023 FEMA Disability Mentoring Day” in the subject line. Also indicate if participation will be virtual or in person in Washington, DC. For details, visit the webpage on the FEMA National Disability Employment Awareness Month Hybrid Disability Mentoring Day.

Designation of People with Disabilities as a Population with Health Disparities for Inclusion in Research: Funding Notice and Request for Information

“'People with disabilities often experience a wide and varying range of health conditions that lead to poorer health and shorter lifespan.'” Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, MD, director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), made this statement in designating people with disabilities as a population with health disparities, to be included in research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This designation has been made in consultation with Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). A “health disparity designation helps to encourage research” related to “the health status and unmet health needs” of the specified population. The decision is one of a number of steps NIH is taking to address health disparities faced by people with disabilities. Dr. Pérez-Stable explained that “'NIMHD and other NIH institutes (have) launched a new research program to better understand the health disparities faced by people with disabilities who are also part of other populations designated as having health disparities.'” This designation follows careful consideration of reports from the NIMHD advisory council and the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) as well as input from the disability community, and a review of science and evidence. “’Research to understand the barriers and unmet needs faced by people with disabilities, and to develop effective interventions to address them, is needed,'” explained HHS (Health and Human Services) Secretary Xavier Becerra. He added that “’This designation will help to improve access to healthcare and health outcomes for all people.’”

Notice of Funding Opportunity to Address Health Disparities

NIH has also issued a notice of funding opportunity for research addressing the “intersecting impact of disability, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status on healthcare access and health outcomes.” The earliest date for submitting applications for funding is January 5, 2024. Learn more here about the funding opportunity entitled "Health and Health Disparities Among Persons Living with Disabilities."

Request for Information: Inviting Feedback on Updating the NIH Mission Statement

Recently NIH released a Request for Information (RFI)  requesting feedback on a proposed update to the current NIH mission statement. The decision to make this update emerged from recommendations by the ACD “informed by the work of the Subgroup on Individuals with Disabilities.” NIH leadership and subject matter experts evaluated the current mission statement and proposed a revised mission statement. Acting NIH Director Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, PhD, affirmed that this update “’marks an important step in an agency-wide effort to advance health equity for people with disabilities.’” That step “’includes updating the NIH mission statement to accurately reflect our goal of turning scientific discoveries into better health for all, including people with disabilities.’” The RFI is open through Nov. 24, 2023. More information is available through the RFI link above.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) lauded these recent NIH actions as well. Alison Barkoff, who leads ACL and serves as the advisor to the HHS Secretary on disability policy, noted that this “'decision complements other important actions HHS has taken to advance equity for disabled people, including the proposed update to the regulations, prohibiting disability discrimination by recipients of HHS funding.'” The proposed update is covered in the RDPFS Bulletin article that follows.

For more information, read the announcement stating that NIH designates people with disabilities as a population with health disparities | National Institutes of Health.

Proposed Regulation Seeks to Strengthen Nondiscrimination in Health and Human Service Programs: Public Comment Requested

A new proposed rule announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Promotes Nondiscrimination in Health and Human Services for Persons with Disabilities.” The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) expands Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, enacted originally in 1973 to prevent discrimination based on disability by organizations receiving federal funding. “The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the discrimination that too many people with disabilities continue to face, from denial of medical treatment due to ableism, to inaccessible medical equipment and websites, to having no choice but to receive services in institutional settings,” explained Alison Barkoff, who leads the Administration for Community Living (ACL). She added that “’ACL is pleased to have collaborated with the Office of Civil Rights to ensure the rule addresses the most pressing issues and priorities of the disabilities community.’” The ruling would add new provisions to the law that clarify existing requirements prohibiting discrimination based on disability in health care, child welfare, and other human services programs. It would also prohibit discrimination in medical treatment; ensure accessibility of websites, mobile devices, and kiosks; and implement requirements for accessible medical equipment. These provisions seek to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunities to those available to others to participate in or benefit from health care programs and activities. Public comments can be submitted on or before November 13, 2023. For more details, read the press release announcing that HHS Issues New Proposed Rule to Strengthen Prohibitions Against Discrimination on the Basis of a Disability in Health Care and Human Services Programs. The Federal Register featured the full announcement, including instructions on submitting comments, on the proposed rule regarding Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities. Additional information is also available in the AAPD announcement entitled American Association of People with Disabilities Applauds Announcement of Historic HHS Nondiscrimination Regulation.

Reintroduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Educational Opportunities for Children with Communications Disabilities

by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern:

Legislation framed to strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, has been reintroduced in Congress. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) and John Rutherford (R-FL-05), announced the reintroduction of the bill. The Cogswell-Macy Act would ensure that blind, deaf, deafdisabled, hard of hearing, and deafblind children receive the specialized, professional educational services and support they need to learn and flourish. Named for Alice Cogswell, the first deaf student to be educated formally in the U.S., and Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller’s renowned teacher, the legislation would enhance “services and educational opportunities,” requiring specialized instruction and personnel to meet students’ individual needs. The bill also calls for improving accountability for services provided. Among its provisions, states must identify and evaluate children who have hearing or vision loss so that they receive the appropriate resources. In addition, written policy guidance from the U.S. Department of Education should be distributed regularly to help parents and educators stay informed and up to date. The Act also calls for the establishment of a national organization to disseminate research-based practices supporting continued professional education of teachers of students with visual impairments and related services personnel. In addition to support from members of Congress, the legislation is championed by more than 100 organizations and schools. For more details, read the news releases from Senator Markey entitled "Markey, Capito Announce Bipartisan Bicameral Legislation Calling for Expanding Educadtional Opportunities for Children with Communications Disabilities" and from Senator Capito: "Capito Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Help Children with Hearing and Vision Disabilities."  Additional information can be found also on the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act website. Read the full text of the Act here for the Senate Bill S. 2945 and here for the House Bill HR 5748.

Upcoming Webinars: on Adult Learning Theory, Research, and Touch Tag Accessibility

On October 20, 2023 at 2 pm CST (3 pm ET), “Putting Adult Learning Theory into Practice” will explore new ways to incorporate principles of adult learning into “assessment, goal setting, and instruction.” Intended for service providers at all levels of experience, the program aims to add new professional tools for working with adults. It is sponsored by OIB-TAC (the Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center) at the Mississippi State University National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision. Learn more and register here for Putting Adult Learning Theory into Practice.

On October 31, 2023 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm ET, “Research Doesn’t Have to Be Scary will introduce the Research Articles Collection (RAC), a free curated and searchable tool containing links to “peer-reviewed publications” focused on aging and vision loss. RAC, a collaboration among OIB-TAC, the Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition, and VisionServe Alliance (VSA), created this database to facilitate access to research that can help in program design, advocacy efforts, and funding strategies. This webinar will showcase RAC and explain how to use it. Learn more on the VSA website and register here for "Research Doesn't Have to be Scary!".

On November 9, 2023 at 2 pm ET, “Meet Touch Tags by CyR.U.S.” will highlight a technique for consumers to “take accessibility into (their) own hands.” Touch Tags by CyR.U.S. provide the first “Raised Universal Symbol System,” employing the power of touch to make it easier and safer to identify and use skincare, self-care, and home care products. Find additional details and register here for the VisionServe Alliance "CyR.U.S. Meet Touch Tags Accessibility" Webinar.

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