Are You Up to the Challenge?

by Kathy Martinez on June 22, 2012 · 9 comments

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.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen L. Oliver - Brown June 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm

YES!!! I am up to the challenge! I am a person w/ a permanent disability status of nearly thirty (30) years. My disability anniversary date of 11/4/1983 is approaching rapidly! I am in hopes that I can be re-integrated within the workforce again before that date arrives!

I was so estatic @ my discovery of US DOL website & blog sites with all of the information you all provide such as this e-mail to my yahoo inbox. I have been completely overwhelmed with excitement nowadays! I have made contact w/ my US Dept of Labor OWCP San Francisco District Office, claims examiner on 6/21/12. In an effort to get myself moving towrd the workforce once again! I am trying my best to compete for a US DOL position for Supervisor (Business Management position), application is due Monday 6/25/12!

I know that I am the disabled woMAN for this job!!! I have been working on my invention for twelve (12) years now!!! I know that I have the MASTER plan to get the economy moving w/ “new green jobs & housing”!!!!

I am also going to try my best to compete w/ this new app challenge w/ my same “green” vision!!! I would be honored to implement this “new green vision w/ persons w/ disabilities!!! Besides my own personal experience as a disabled person. I have a life long experience record of dealing w/ persons w/ disabilities being born into a family that provided home living & transportaion assistance. To & from vocational services to individuals (both children & adults). For over thirty years w/ the Regional Center of the East Bay within the city of Oakland California!!

I have most of my immediate family praying for my blessings to be successful @ obtaining these goals!!!
Thanks Again!!! For this very informative e-mail & website resource! feel free to post this message as a “like” on facebook & all other social website means!!!
Karen L. Oliver – Brown

2 share tips June 23, 2012 at 1:42 am

Very good step by the VETS. It is programs like these that will help our veterans successfully transition back to a completely different life style then what they are used too.

3 Majed El Zein June 23, 2012 at 8:33 am

Nice

4 Majed El Zein June 23, 2012 at 8:35 am

good

5 Laptop Name Plate June 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

Good post, very important initiative by dol. I think dol could emphasis more on financial education using technology, so that people can make justified investment decisions. With the use of latest communication and networking tools, they can also share their findings, team up and more…

6 PHYLLIS JACKSON June 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Ms. Martinez,

I was fortunate enough to hear you speak in San Antonio to the SWARM Regional Conference. You are an amazing woman.

I am in a power wheelchair and still amazed at the amount of companies that do not provide an accessible workplace. If there is something I can do to help you in this task, please let me know.

7 Patty Tate July 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I have read your bio and heard you speak in public. I am very encouraged by your strength to stand strong in the face of opposition.

I too am a person with a disability that is lifelong and it is often a disability that is frowned down on which causes most that suffer with mental illness to try and hide their disability. As a person with a disability as well as a person that has been discriminated and retaliated against based on trying to require my employer to treat me with the same dignity and respect as they do my peers without a disability, I support every effort made by your office to assist those that are underrepresented and in a lot of cases afraid to speak up in their own defense.

Please continue doing what you do and speak up for those of us that cannot. You have a remarkable story this is so encouraging and powerful. I wished that I had the courage that you have to do what you do.

As an employee of a federal contractor, I beg you to please do all you can to insist that those that go after government contracts prove they are worthy of federal funds when they refuse to honor their obligation to not discriminate and retaliate against their employees with defined disabilities.

8 Bruce Cowan July 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Fear is one of the biggest barriers to the federal government hiring more people with disabilities. That fear comes from managers not knowing how a person with disabilities can do their job — even if they are qualified, said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

When is employment to an American with Epilepsy?
I am a highly dedicated and motivated person with multi-tasks capabilities determined to get off of SSI and receive employment.

Presently I am waiting for Federal EPA recruitment and hire appointment on noncompetitive Schedule A. I also have 1.7 years of volunteer work experience with the California Air Resources Board, El Monte (Cal EPA) found on 1993 by VR Counselor of Los Angeles.
Since 1990 college graduation (CSUN), I have been sending federal and state employment applications through Schedule A/Leap Prgm and never received a hire or interview (ex. Cal EPA-Air Resources Board, EPA, SSA, and OSHA).

When is the recruitment & appointment for hire on use of noncompetitive Schedule A?

On March 2011 and April 2011, I passed two applications on three positions reviewed by EPA Human Resources Dept.(Las Vegas) for EPA Region 9, Air Division, Permits Office. The first application represents a competitive and noncompetitive Schedule A position. The second application is a noncompetitive Schedule A position.

1. Interdisciplinary (Environmental Engineer/Environmental Scientist), GS-07 2012
Final Review
Open Period: Friday, March 11, 2011 to Thursday, March 17, 2011

2. Interdisciplinary (Environmental Engineer/Environmental Scientist), GS-11 2012
Final Review
Open Period: Friday, April 01, 2011 to Thursday, April 07, 2011

9 david ramirez February 12, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I wish these initiatives were imitated in my country (Perú) where indifference is the norm. I`ve seen the winners and those are impressive applications!

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