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New Proposed Regulations to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act

Dear Friends:

It has been over twenty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but we all know that there is still much work to be done to improve the employment picture for people with disabilities. Over the next week, you have an opportunity to take action towards making that difference. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has proposed new regulations strengthening Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal contractors to engage in affirmative action to hire people with disabilities. The proposed regulations would set a target utilization goal of people with disabilities working for the company which contractors would need to work towards meeting. The regulations also consider creating a more specific sub-goal, requiring contractors to focus affirmative action on those with the greatest history of exclusion from the workforce. Section 503 has been law for decades, but was never meaningfully enforced – but now the proposed regulation promises to change that, applying the same common sense rules of the road as already exist for affirmative action on the basis of race and gender. Unfortunately, many in the contractor community are writing in to oppose the regulations. We need you to speak up!

Here’s what you can do:

(1.) Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=OFCCP_FRDOC_0001-0013. If for whatever reason that link doesn’t work for you, go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for RIN 1250-AA02 to find the regulation.

(2.) Once you’re at the regulation and have taken the time to review it if you are so inclined, click on the Submit a Comment button on the right side of the screen.

(3.) Fill out your contact information and provide your comments. We’ve prepared three major points we hope that you’ll emphasize:

– I support the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s proposed regulation strengthening Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and adding a utilization goal to hold contractors accountable for hiring people with disabilities.

– I urge OFCCP to move forward with their proposal, mentioned as under consideration in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, to establish a sub-goal for individuals with targeted disabilities with the greatest history of exclusion from the workforce. I urge OFCCP to implement such a sub-goal and to include the autism spectrum and other developmental disabilities as within the sub-goal’s “targeted disability” category.

– I urge OFCCP to clarify in the Final Rule that contractors should only be able to count individuals in integrated employment settings towards meeting their affirmative action obligations, not individuals employed through subcontracts to sheltered workshops.

Together, we can make a difference for the employment picture of people with disabilities. Remember, we have only until February 21st, 2012 to submit comments – just one more week! Make sure that our voices are heard.

Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Regards,
Melody Latimer
Director of Community Engagement
Autistic Self Advocacy Network

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