November 2014 - Welcome to the GCEPD
October 2014 was a busy month! The GCEPD announced the first employer award recipients for the "Spirit of the ADA" Awards to commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.
The "Spirit of the ADA" award is given to employers who reflect the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in their employment practices. Successfully meeting any of the following criteria qualifies employers for eligibility to be nominated:
1) Recruitment outreach and equal accessibility in the application, interviewing, and hiring procedures for people with disabilities;
2) Use of on-the-job accommodations, modifications, progressive employment methods, and/or creative solutions for successful training and employment of people with disabilities;
3) Accessible physical structures, buildings, work stations and equipment, and services; and
4) Support for the employment of a person(s) with disability as an overall employment strategy.
Awards were presented in October by GCEPD Chair Chris Loso to the following recipient:
- Lonnie Lisai of Lisai's Chester Market - Chester, VT
- Brian Walbridge of the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services - Springfield, VT
- Scott Found of The Home Depot - Bennington, VT
- Mark Hastings of Bond Auto Parts - South Burlington, VT
- Bill Matteson of AW Perkins - Rutland, VT
Also in October Chris Loso and Nat Piper of Creative Workforce Solutions (CWS), an initiative within the Agency of Human Services, co-presented about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities on 5 radio shows - including WJOY with Ginny McGehee. We also had taped an additional 15 minute segment that was aired on WIZN, WBTZ, WJOY, WKOL, and WOKO. It is great that we were able to get the word out about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and how employers can take advantage of hiring opportunities working with such organizations as CWS.
When you as an employer hire a person with a disability, you may not appreciate or foresee the incredible positive impact such a partnership may have - on the employee hired, on your workplace, or on the community you serve. When a corporation, business, or organization hesitates to take a chance on employing a person with a disability because of fears or misunderstandings, the status quo continues. Yet by providing an opportunity for a talented person with a disability to use their skills and live up to their potential, businesses become instruments for significant change - serving up opportunities for everyone to shine. We invite you to read about the ripple effect of employing a person with a disability in our latest issue of Abilities, our e-newsletter, which you can find here
The Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (the "GCEPD") is a permanent, standing committee of the Governor of Vermont, established by the state legislature in the 1960s. Our mission is to promote equal employment for all citizens of Vermont by advising the Governor on current issues affecting employment of people with disabilities, and through partnerships between business, government and people with disabilities. The GCEPD's vision is "Barrier Free Employment for All Vermonters".
Membership of the GCEPD is comprised of 21 people. Four members are mandated by the legislature to represent Vocational Rehabilitation, the Vermont Department of Labor, the Veterans Administration, and Veterans Employment. The remaining members are divided rather equally among the following groups: 1) individuals with a disability or representing a disability community; 2) representatives of business, industry or nonprofits; and 3) individuals who provide services to people with disabilities.
Check out our video showcasing Vermonters at work! This very short video celebrates the contributions – and promotes the employment – of Vermonters of all abilities. http://youtu.be/yBxOy9daOuQ
For another perspective on the employment of Vermonters with disabilities, we encourage you to read this article.
Check out this great and inspiring article from Seven Days
about Ben Chater, a man of conviction!
What can YOU do to support the employment of Vermonters with Disabilities?? The following is a list of options to consider. We also invite you to go to our section of "Educational Materials" here on our website for additional helpful resources.
- Take advantage of the menu of progressive employment options offered by the Creative Workforce Solutions group in your area; (Your local CWS representative can be found here: http://www.cwsvt.com/about-us/contact-us.html)
- Utilize the services of one of the many noteworthy organizations in your area that work directly with individuals with disabilities and consider their candidates for employment;
- Learn best practices from other employers that employ a diverse workforce – such as our 2012 award winners;
- Showcase your disability and diversity hiring practices in your annual report;
- Take advantage of the resources of the national Job Accommodation Network (www.askjan.org);
- Explore some of these other resources offered by the Campaign for Disability Employment: www.whatcanyoudocampaign.org/blog/index.php/employer-resources
- Host a GCEPD-led panel of experts discussing workplace accommodations;
- Patronize one of the many Vermont employers that have won a Governor’s Award for their disability employment practices (See http://www.hireus.org/Governorsawards)
If you are interested in learning more about what YOU can do, what WE can do for you, or in becoming a member of the GCEPD, please contact GCEPD Executive Coordinator Neal Meier at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-279-1373.
Chris Loso, Chair of the GCEPD