Feds Both Seek and Give Advice Re Disability Issues

Uncle Sam seeks advice about improving hiring regulations for people with disabilities, and offers info about making health care facilities accessible

Article Highlights:
  • The U.S. Department of Labor has invited public comment about strengthening regulations covering the hiring people with disabilities by federal contractors. Responses are due by Sept. 21, 2010.
  • A free publication from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Access to Medical Care for Persons with Mobility Disabilities, provides guidance for health care providers looking to make their facilities more accessible.
by Bill Norman on August 6, 2010 - 3:51pm

Two federal agencies are seeking to improve conditions for people with disabilities, in one case by strengthening federal hiring regulations, and in the other by making health care facilities more accessible to people with mobility problems.

Improving employment

The U.S. Department of Labor, through its Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), is inviting public comments on ways to strengthen regulations covering the hiring of people with disabilities by federal contractors.

Deadline for submission of comments is Sept. 21, 2010,

Federal contractors already are required to take “affirmative action” in hiring and promoting qualified individuals with disabilities. OFCCP wants to go further, specifically by revising the regulations that implement Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in June 2010 that 21.7 percent of people with disabilities were in the work force, compared with 70.5 percent of people without disabilities.

The three questions on which OFCCP seeks public input are:

  • What employment practices have been effective in recruiting, hiring, advancing and retaining qualified individuals with disabilities?
  • What data are available that could be used to establish hiring goals and conduct analyses of how frequently individuals with disabilities are employed?
  • What can be done to strengthen and make more efficient the agreements between federal contractors and organizations that focus on employing qualified people with disabilities?

Comments can be submitted in two ways:

  • Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#home. In the keyword box enter 1250-AA02, then follow the instructions for submitting a comment.
  • Mail comments to: Barbara J. Bingham, Acting Director, Division of Policy, Planning and Program Development, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Room N3422, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210.

For further information, contact Bingham at (202) 693-0102 (voice) or (202) 693-1337 (TTY).

Improving accessibility of health care facilities

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, has produced a free publication titled Access to Medical Care for Persons with Mobility Disabilities.

The 19-page document contains technical guidance for making health care facilities more accessible for patients with disabilities. Although geared toward health care providers, individuals with disabilities also are welcome to the publication, either for themselves or to give to their doctors.

Included in the publication are an extensive question-and-answer section; illustrations of accessible medical equipment and examination rooms; and an overview of ADA (Americans with Disability Act) requirements.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics and other health care providers. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits such discrimination by health care providers that receive federal financial assistance.

To download a copy of the publication from the ADA website, go to http://www.ada.gov/medcare_ta.htm. To be sent a copy, call the ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

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