The Arc Begins Affiliation with the US Business Leadership Network to Improve Employment for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Today, The Arc, the largest organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), is announcing it has become  an affiliate of The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®).  The USBLN® seeks to help build workplaces where people with I/DD are valued for their talents and contributions.

“It’s partnerships like this one that will help advance employment for people with I/DD.  The Arc aims to be a resource to businesses large and small that see the value in employing people with all kinds of skill sets so that they can contribute to society in a meaningful way and live a fulfilling life,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, FASD, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses.  The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc’s network will help the USBLN®, which is the national disability organization that serves as the collective voice of over 60 Business Leadership Network affiliates across North America and represents over 5,000 employers, advance employment opportunities for people with I/DD.  In this tough economy, with the national unemployment rate at 9%, people with I/DD face huge obstacles to gaining employment in the private sector.  While there are federal programs to help those with I/DD find employment within the federal government, in recent years the percentage of federal employees with disabilities has decreased.

The USBLN®  promotes the business imperative of the preparation and inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, marketplace, and supply chain while supporting the development and expansion of its BLN affiliates. The USBLN® recognizes and supports best practices in hiring and advancing employees with disabilities, marketing to consumers with disabilities, and encourages contracting with vendors with disabilities through the development and certification of disability-owned business enterprises. To learn more, visit www.usbln.org.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for The Arc to take a step forward in our goal of increasing employment for people with I/DD.  We look forward to what this affiliation will bring across the country to the people we serve,” said Berns.

Discrimination in the Workplace – Has It Happened to You?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking up a troubling employer discrimination lawsuit. Jason O’Dell of Maryland applied for work as a lab technician through a major national employment agency. The opportunity seemed promising, but shortly after disclosing his Asperger’s diagnosis, the lawsuit states that Jason was told that the position was “on hold.” But the agency allegedly kept on recruiting to fill the job.

So the federal government stepped in and slapped a lawsuit against the firm, called Randstad. Since this is a huge, national employment agency, The Arc wants to know – has anyone out there had a similar experience with the company? We can’t allow discrimination like this to be tolerated.

Share your story with us in the comments, or email Kristen Bossi at bossi@thearc.org.

The Arc Makes a Statement on Employment

Late last week, The Arc submitted a formal statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to be recorded as testimony in the record of the hearings held to draw attention to the critical issues of employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

We took this opportunity to go on record with The Arc’s position that people with I/DD have a fundamental moral, civil and Constitutional right to be fully included and actively participate in all aspects of society, including having the opportunity to be competitively employed. We pointed out the dismal statistics concerning the state of employment of working age adults with I/DD and urged specific reform in several key areas of public policy. We highlighted the work The Arc is doing to identify and promote best practices in helping people with I/DD become successfully employed through programs such as School-to-Community Transition funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation. And we advocated for forceful, coordinated efforts to build up opportunities for integrated community employment.

We were grateful for this opportunity to be heard by our Congressional leaders and we urge them to take our advice. But our voice becomes louder and stronger when joined by our supporters on the grassroots level, so we encourage you to read the full statement, find out more about the issues at hand and take every opportunity to let your elected officials and community leaders know you support full inclusion for people with I/DD, including but not limited to opportunities for competitive employment. Visit www.thearc.org for more information.