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State of Illinois
Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor

Department of Human Rights
Department of Human Services

State Seal


State Interagency Committee On Employees With Disabilities

Volume 10, Number 1 July 2007

THIRD ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE RECEPTION

ICED members, back: Marva Campbell-Pruit, Susan Allen, Margaret Harkness, Katherine Gardner, Elaine Lazell, Jack Kanady, Kathy Day, Andrew Barris, Teresita Gonzalez, Carlos Charneco, Brenda Montgomery front: Dan Dickerson, Deborah Johnson-Small, Gerard Broeker, Michael Knepler

On Wednesday, May 9, 2007, ICED and the Statewide Independent Living Council hosted a Legislative Reception in the State Library Atrium in Springfield. About 150 people attended the evening event, including state legislators, agency directors, community groups, and people with disabilities.

This annual event brings together agency heads, legislators, state employees and disability community leaders from throughout the state to discuss issues in a relaxed social setting. Our collective goal is to share a common theme and to promote fair legislation on our behalf.

During the evening, several agency directors, legislators and community leaders made remarks relative to the importance of issues facing people with disabilities around the state. Some of the key issues included the importance of recruiting more employees with disabilities in state government and providing a workplace free of discrimination.

people enjoying the legislative reception ICED materials, including the annual report, a Frequently Asked Question card, and information about the Internship Program, were distributed at the event.

ICED wishes to thank its reception planners, Kathy Day, of the Department of Agriculture, and Jack Kanady, of the U. of I. Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC), for ensuring a successful evening. ICED also appreciates the printing of invitations and fact cards by DSCC and a special thanks to Director Chuck Hartke from the Department of Agriculture for providing the wide variety of Illinois wines.

DECREASE IN NUMBER OF STATE WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES

graph depicting thbe 28.8% decrease in the percentage of state employees with disabilities Over the past 10 years, there has been a disconcerting trend in the Illinois State Government with regards to employing persons with disabilities. As the graph below shows, since 1997, there has been a 28.8% decrease in the percentage of state workers with disabilities.

Even as national trends show an overall increase in the hiring of persons with disabilities, according to the Department of Central Management Services’ Summary of Workforce by EEOC Category Report, as of March 31, 2007, only 4.96% of the state workforce was comprised of person with a disability. This is less than half of the 10.8% benchmark required by state regulations.

The purpose of the benckmark is to promote the shaping of an environment conducive to diversity and positive personal growth and to oversee the coordination and implementation of efforts to reduce intolerance and harassment.

Illinois citizens with disabilities should be given the same opportunities as citizens without disabilities: to live independently, to pursue meaningful careers, to own homes, to make choices, and to enjoy complete integration into American society. Having a disability is a natural part of life and should not be treated as a life sentence of exclusion, poverty, and dependency on others. Individuals with disabilities, like most Americans, harbor the need to be productive, self- reliant, and actively involved in the mainstream of the American society.

WALGREENS WAREHOUSE

Recently, Walgreens opened a new state of the art warehouse and distribution center in South Carolina. What makes this warehouse special is that it was designed with universal workstations that can be easily modified to fit an individual’s special needs. Because of this committment by Walgreens, 42% of their workforce are persons with disabilities who work side-by-side with their able-bodied co-workers.

They must be doing something right because this warehouse operates at a 20% higher efficiency rate than their other warehouses. For more details, please visit the MSNBC report at www.msnbc.msn.com/19417759/

ADA: MYTHS AND FACTS

Myth: The ADA forces employers to hire unqualified individuals with disabilities.

Fact: Applicants who are unqualified for a job cannot claim discrimination under the ADA.

Myth: The ADA gives job applicants with disabilities advantages over job applicants without disabilities.

Fact: The ADA does not give hiring preference to persons with disabilities.

Myth: Under the ADA, employers must give people with disabilities special privileges, known as accommodations.

Fact: Reasonable accommodations are intended to ensure that qualified individuals with disabilities have rights in employment equal—not superior—to those of individuals without disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a modification to a job, work environment or the way work is performed that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of the job, and enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace.

These are just of few of the myths that circulate around employees with disabilities.

For more information contact: www.dol.gov/odep

DON’T ABUSE PARKING PROGRAM FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Secretary of State Jesse White has made reducing fraud and abuse of placards and disability license plates a priority of his administration and has introduced several key legislative initiatives aimed at significantly increasing the fines and penalties for those who abuse the provisions of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities.

On June 1, 2007, SB1318 was approved by the Illinois General Assembly and now awaits the Governor’s signature into law. SB1318 increases the fines and penalties of second and third offenders of the program. Violators who use a placard or disability license plates illegally can face fines of $750 and $1,000 for second or third offenses. Their driver’s license can also be suspended or revoked. “ I am strongly committed to reducing the abuses of this program and sending a clear message to violators that this abuse will not be tolerated,” said Secretary White. “People who continue to violate this vital program will pay the price financially as well as personally.”

The Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities has been totally overhauled since Jesse White became our 37th Secretary of State. Illinois has become one of the first states to begin issuing placards with hologram images in an effort to reduce the fraudulent duplication of a placard. Fines have been increased statewide for illegally parking in spaces reserved for persons with disabilities without the vehicle displaying a placard or plate from $100 to a maximum of $350. In 2006, the fine was increased from $100 to $500 and also includes a 30-day driver’s license suspension for a first-offense for using a placard or disability license plates illegally.

“As a person with a disability who uses the program daily, I knows first-hand how intolerable it is to see and hear about able-bodied people abusing our parking privileges. Secretary White is a strong advocate for persons with disabilities and has made great strides in improving this program and will continue to do so. I look forward to discussing ways we can work together to help reduce the fraud and abuse of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities!” say Bill Bogdan If you have any questions about the program or would like to arrange a speaker for your organization, please do not hesitate to contact Bill at 708/210-2843, or by e-mail at wbogdan@ilsos.net. Or visit the Sercetay of State’s website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com

DISABILITY LAW WORKSHOPS OFFERED

A free series of presentations offering information for adults and seniors with disabilities and parents of disabled students is being offered this summer by the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living located at 2415 W. Jefferson St., Joilet, Illinois.

Experts in disability rights will present "Summer 2007 Disability Law Series" every Wednesday beginning July 11 at the center.

Topics include existing disability-related laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, Fair Housing Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Experts such as the Illinois Attorney General's Disability Rights Bureau Chief and the Great Lakes ADA and Accessible IT Center are some of the professionals who will offer information at the sessions.

"The Disability Law Series workshops empower persons with disabilities by informing them of laws that directly affect them and protect their civil rights," said DLS coordinator Laura Zieger, who works as an independent living advocate with the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living. Registration, as well as requests for an interpreter or other accommodations, is requested the week prior to each workshop. For information, contact Laura Zieger at (815) 729-0162 (voice) or (815) 729-2085 (TTY).

The free disabilities law series includes:

  • The Fair Housing Act, 10 a.m. to noon July 18, presented by Susan Reed.
  • ADA Title I, II and II, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 25, presented by Robin Jones.
  • The Workforce Investment Act, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 1, presented by Robin Jones.
  • Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 8, presented by Joe Russo.
  • The Human Rights Act, 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 15, presented by Judge Sabrina Patch.
  • The Rehabilitation Act, 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 22, presented by Consuelo Puente.
  • The New Individuals with Disabilities Act, 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 29, presented by Phil Milsk.

EARNWORKS.COM

The Employer Assistance and Recruiting Network (EARN) is a free service that helps employers recruit and hire qualified workers to meet their workforce needs through an extensive network of over 6,500 disability employment service providers.

At www.Earnworks.com you can sign up as a federal employer (there are only two choices for employers: federal or private). Once you sign up and post a job vacancy, the notice is distributed locally to colleges and universities, community colleges, state vocational and rehabilitation agencies, non-profit organizations, “career one stops,” and professional associations.

EARN helps you find educated, motivated and dedicated employees. Providers who are part of EARN select candidates for job postings. EARN then further screens these candidates and only sends you resumes of those candidates ideally qualified.

Of course, candidates still must qualify through established personnel systems, but this program is a good way to increase the pool of candidates with disabilities.

DISABILITY ACCESS REQUIREMENTS EXTENDED TO VOIP SERVICES
VoIP Providers Also Required to Contribute to the Interstate TRS Fund and Offer 711 Access

The Federal Communication Commission has extended the disability access requirements of Sections 225 and 255 of the Communications Act, which currently apply to traditional phone services, to providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and to manufacturers of specially designed equipment used to provide those services.

This ruling requires manufacturers of telecommunications equipment or Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) such as Vontage to ensure that their equipment is designed, developed and fabricated to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

In addition, the Commission said that interconnected VoIP providers were subject to the requirements of Section 225, including contributing to the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund and offering 711 abbreviated dialing for access to relay services.

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