As part of DOL’s focus on expanding opportunities for all Americans, we at the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) work to influence national policy and promote effective workplace practices that ensure today’s workforce is inclusive of all people, including people with disabilities—people like me.
In carrying out our work, we look at things from many angles, because effective disability employment policy is about not only jobs and training, but also the critical everyday supports. We’re thinking about things such as accessible and affordable transportation, housing and technology—things that actually make work possible for many people.
Put simply, advancing disability employment requires a multi-faceted approach; we have to connect the dots. And this summer, we’re calling for the public’s help in doing so through our Disability Employment App Challenge. This challenge—a contest, really—seeks innovative tools to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities through technology.
The charge is to use publicly available information, resources and data to build a technology tool that promotes the employment of people with disabilities in at least one of four ways:
- Promotes recruitment resources for employers
- Provides job training and skill-building for job seekers
- Facilitates employment-related transportation options
- Expands web and information and communication technology accessibility
Successful submissions might take many different forms, such as interactive and informative games, social or professional networks, or data visualization. The deadline is August 23, and there are cash prizes, including a grand prize of $5000.
Above all, we’re looking for ideas that are innovative and creative. Perhaps not coincidentally, these are two words often used to describe highly effective employees. Today more than ever, employers need people who can think differently about how to solve problems and accomplish tasks. Interestingly, this is what people with disabilities do every day. We’re up to the challenge.
Kathy Martinez is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy.