Disability Inclusion Partner Award officially launched! – December Newsletter

Disability Inclusion Partner Award

Employment Disability Resources and the City of Sioux Falls Disability Awareness and Accessibility Review Board held a press conference December 12 at Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe to announce the new name for our Disability Friendly Recognition Program award. 

In 2013, the Disability Friendly Recognition Program was developed in partnership with the City of Sioux Falls to recognize businesses in our community that hired people with disabilities. Any business that employed at least one person with a disability could get an award. Since its inception, 250 businesses have received an award.

Ten years later, we have decided to rename the award, the “Disability Inclusion Partner” award. Inclusion is crucial to the successful employment of people with disabilities. If a person feels welcome, respected, and fully included in their workplace, they are more likely to stay with that company, receive promotions, and truly thrive! When there is a positive workplace culture, people with disabilities are more comfortable disclosing their disability and asking for accommodations if they are needed. That is a crucial aspect in retaining qualified, talented employees.

We have also included the word “Partner” in the title of this award. We don’t want to visit a business one time and be done. We want to be an ongoing partner with businesses to provide any needs as they surface. That includes reviewing job descriptions, coordinating accessibility assessments, providing free educational training, sharing open positions with employment specialists who work directly with job seekers with disabilities, and offering information about tax incentives that are available! Our goal is to build ongoing relationships with businesses in our community to help them meet their needs.

Finally, we believe that it is important to place these awards at the front entrance or drive-thru windows at local businesses to showcase the fact they employ people with disabilities. People with disabilities represent the third largest market segment in the U.S. By proactively employing people with disabilities, businesses have the potential to increase their bottom line and better understand how to meet the needs of this growing customer base. According to a National Survey of Consumer Attitudes towards companies that hire people with disabilities, 92% of the American public view companies that hire people with disabilities more favorably. 87% of the public also prefers giving their business to companies that hire people with disabilities.

The first Disability Friendly Recognition Program award was given to Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe in 2013. It seems fitting that they were given our first Disability Inclusion Partner award as well! Congratulations to Kayla Wieczorek, owner, and her team for being a champion in employing people with disabilities!

If you are a business that previously received an award and want to receive the new version, please contact Vicki Stewart, Employment Disability Resources, at 605-215-1760 or [email protected]

To nominate a new business for the award, go to our website: https://edrsd.org/ and click the Awareness tab at the top of the page.

The new Disability Inclusion Partner award.
The new Disability Inclusion Partner award.
Stewart unveiling the new window clings that will be given to businesses who receive the Disability Inclusion Partner award.
Stewart unveiling the new window clings that will be given to businesses who receive the Disability Inclusion Partner award.
Kayla Wieczorek, owner of Camille's Sidewalk Cafe, speaking to the group.
Kayla Wieczorek, owner of Camille's Sidewalk Cafe, speaking to the group.
Camille's employee, Morgan, with her mother, Diane, speaking to the group.
Camille's employee, Morgan, with her mother, Diane, speaking to the group.
A group photo of the attendees at the press conference event held at Camille's Sidewalk Cafe.
A group photo of the attendees at the press conference event held at Camille's Sidewalk Cafe.

Winter Weather Worries

by Maggie Sims

Summary: Inclement weather is an inconvenience for many, but life-altering for others.

A pile of snow that has been plowed into an accessible parking space.
A pile of snow that has been plowed into an accessible parking space.

The first snow of the season is always the most anticipated! Children (and adults too) can’t wait to catch the first snowflake and build the first snowman of the season. Snow ice cream is on the menu and snow sleds come out from the garage. And if lucky, school will be cancelled for the day so everyone can enjoy the fun.  

What do you think of when you think of winter weather?  As adults, we may enjoy that first snow, but we are also faced with the reality of how the harsh weather can interrupt our daily lives. Dangerous roadways, slower traffic, icy sidewalks, delayed travel schedules, childcare issues, getting to work on time (and in one piece).     

People with disabilities have even more to consider when the weather is severe. While an icy sidewalk is risky for all, a mobility disability makes getting to one’s car, a bus stop, or the pharmacy much more than an inconvenience. For someone who is blind or has limited vision, it may be difficult to tell an icy patch from a safer patch of ground. A lack of snow removal can mean being held captive in one place without needed supports until the snow is removed. And not just the snow, but the ice that remains afterward. If there is an emergency, someone could be unable to receive assistance if needed because there is an icy bridge blocking the way in and out.   

The ADA requires that public accommodations maintain accessible features, including during inclement weather. Accessible parking spaces, access aisles, curb ramps and accessible routes must be clear of obstacles, including snow. A business should ensure that shoveled snow is not dumped into any of the accessible features mentioned above. An accessible parking space or aisle is NEVER the appropriate place to store that inconvenient snow!  

A state or local government agency must maintain access to its programs. Clearing ice and snow may be essential to provide access to programs, services, or activities. If a person can’t access the courthouse because snow and ice have not been removed in a timely manner, access to its programs have been denied. 

Other issues that may be encountered during severe weather that you may not have thought about: 

*During a snowstorm when visibility is limited, or when high levels of snow have been dropped, accessible features may be hidden from view, such as the accessible parking signs. 

*Snowplows may inadvertently knock down accessibility signs.

*Independent snow removal contractors may not be aware of the responsibility of the public accommodation to ensure that snow is not placed in accessible parking spaces.  

The time to prepare for accessibility is before the storm hits! Hannah Soyer, a freelance writer for World Institute on Disability offers these suggestions in her “Winter Accessibility Woes” blog on how to increase accessibility during difficult weather situations: 

  • Implement more proactive snow removal policies which do not place the responsibility on good Samaritan neighbors. 
  • Have plans in place to ensure curb cuts are cleared of snow and ice after streets are plowed.
  • Design winter storm response plans with people with disabilities, including the elderly, in mind. Better yet, hire people with multiple different impairments as consultants or project leads on these policies to make sure policies are designed for their needs. In line with the concept of Universal Design, cities will be safe and more accessible for everyone when the needs of those most impacted are brought to the forefront. 
  • Like winter storm response plans, any disaster/emergency response plans must be designed with disabled people prioritized. 

Take advantage of these resources to ensure access for everyone:  

ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business | ADA.gov

ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments | ADA.gov

Reaching Out to Customers with Disabilities, Maintaining Accessibility 

Expanding Your Market: Maintaining Accessible Features in Retail Establishments (ada.gov)

JAN Webcast Series Returns in January 2024—Register Today!

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Accommodation and Compliance Webcast Series returns in January 2024 with a series of eight webcasts featuring a range of disability employment topics. Elevate your understanding of workplace accommodation issues and gain practical insights on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws by attending this free virtual training series led by JAN experts and esteemed guest speakers. Together, we will explore innovative and inclusive approaches for navigating the job accommodation process and complying with title I of the ADA and related laws, including the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). 
The 2024 Webcast Series includes four quarterly webcasts and four interactive “Ask JAN! Q&A” webcasts where consultants from the JAN Sensory, Cognitive / Neurological, Motor, and Leadership Teams will field questions about trending job accommodation and ADA topics. Register to attend all webcasts in the series, or only the topics of interest. One 1 HR Certification Institute (HRCI) continuing education unit can be earned after attending each live webcast; 8 for the complete series. Topics include:
  • ADA and Beyond Compliance Considerations: Medical Documentation
  • Ask JAN! Q&A: Sensory Team Edition
  • Accommodating Employees with Diverse Cognitive and Neurological Needs
  • Ask JAN! Q&A: Cognitive / Neurological Team Edition
  • Navigating Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Accommodation Requests and Exploring the Interplay of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Ask JAN! Q&A: Motor Team Edition
  • Portable, Wearable, Totable: Accommodating with Technologies that Go With You
  • Ask JAN! Q&A: Year End Review–Accommodations at Work
“Ask JAN! Q&A” events will allow time for attendee questions. Other webcasts in the series may not. If you have accommodation and/or ADA questions, Ask JAN! We can help. Please contact the JAN service for direct assistance. 
ASL interpreting and real-time captioning are provided for all live webcasts. For additional details about JAN webcast events, please access our Frequently Asked Questions: JAN Webcasts.
The 2024 Webcast Series begins on Thursday, January 11, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern with “ADA and Beyond Compliance Considerations: Medical Documentation.” Registration is limited. Secure your spot today for this free JAN training! 

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