Disability Inclusion Is Coming Soon to the Metaverse

LinkedIn
Disabled avatars from the metaverse in a wheelchair

By Christopher Reardon, PC Mag

When you think of futurism, you probably don’t think of the payroll company ADP—but that’s where Giselle Mota works as the company’s principal consultant on the “future of work.” Mota, who has given a Ted Talk(Opens in a new window) and has written(Opens in a new window) for Forbes, is committed to bringing more inclusion and access to the Web3 and metaverse spaces. She’s also been working on a side project called Unhidden, which will provide disabled people with accurate avatars, so they’ll have the option to remain themselves in the metaverse and across Web3.

To See and Be Seen
The goal of Unhidden is to encourage tech companies to be more inclusive, particularly of people with disabilities. The project has launched and already has a partnership with the Wanderland(Opens in a new window) app, which will feature Unhidden avatars through its mixed-reality(Opens in a new window) platform at the VivaTech Conference in Paris and the DisabilityIN Conference in Dallas. The first 12 avatars will come out this summer with Mota, Dr. Tiffany Jana, Brandon Farstein, Tiffany Yu, and other global figures representing disability inclusion.

The above array of individuals is known as the NFTY Collective(Opens in a new window). Its members hail from countries including America, the UK, and Australia, and the collective represents a spectrum of disabilities, ranging from the invisible type, such as bipolar and other forms of neurodiversity, to the more visible, including hypoplasia and dwarfism.

Hypoplasia causes the underdevelopment of an organ or tissue. For Isaac Harvey, the disease manifested by leaving him with no arms and short legs. Harvey uses a wheelchair and is the president of Wheels for Wheelchairs, along with being a video editor. He got involved with Unhidden after being approached by its co-creator along with Mota, Victoria Jenkins, who is an inclusive fashion designer.

Click here to read the full article on PC Mag.

Disneyland Reopens Completely Redesigned, More Inclusive Toontown

LinkedIn
Mickey and Minnie's house in adaptive vivid colors

After a year-long closure, the California theme park is finally ready to welcome guests back to Mickey’s Toontown.

Disneyland is finally ready to welcome guests to a completely reimagined version of its beloved Toontown–one that makes the magic accessible to every guest.

The theme park initially closed Mickey’s Toontown in early 2022, explaining that the company had big plans to transform the area home to iconic attractions, like Mickey and Minnie’s houses, into a more inclusive experience that prioritizes accessibility.

Now, the company is ready for visitors to enjoy the newly transformed land, unveiling its redesign and officially reopening Mickey’s Toontown on Sunday, Mar. 19.

“We want every child to know that when they came to this land that this land was designed for them,” Jeffrey Shaver-Moskowitz, executive portfolio producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, told CNBC. “That they were seen, and that this place was welcoming to them.”

“We know a day at Disneyland can be hectic and chaotic, running from one attraction to another, one reservation to the next,” he said. “We wanted Toontown to not only be exciting, but also decompressing and relaxing and welcoming.”

Mickey’s Toontown, which first opened at the Anaheim, California park in 1993, is now home to quiet areas, shaded spots, and more inclusive play areas for visitors–including a completely wheelchair-accessible land, softer paint colors and a remixed soundtrack of soothing tunes that are played throughout the land to make Toontown more approachable and appealing to those that may have more sensitive auditory and visual processing.

“We really wanted to take a look at Toontown, knowing how important it was for so many of our guests for many generations growing up and the so many memories here that are connected to the land, and make sure we don’t lose any of that,” Shaver-Moskowitz explained. “But, bring a lot of new magic.”

Read more of the article at https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/disneyland-reopens-completely-redesigned-more-182121673.html

Including the World: One City at a Time

LinkedIn
Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda in wheelchair smiling

By Lily Coltoff

For more than 20 years, Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda has spearheaded initiatives to advance the principles of access and inclusion in the U.S. and abroad. Pineda moved to the United States from Venezuela when he was seven years old because he was denied a right to an education.

As a wheelchair-user, he grew up in Orange County and was 12 years old when the ADA was signed into law. By the time he graduated high school, he realized that he had benefited from rights in the United States that were missing in many parts of the world. He was driven to understand why some parts of the world advanced while others were left behind. He completed a dual degree in Political Economy and Business Administration. He continued on to a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley’s prestigious College of Environmental Design. His mentor, Judith Heumann, encouraged him to continue his studies and training, and he completed a PhD in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Now he directs his own foundation Pineda Foundation / World Enabled and serves on the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. He founded and Co-Chairs the Cities for All Initiative and the Global Network for Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development. However, what he enjoys most is teaching what he has learned through 20 years as a practitioner working at the intersection of policy, planning and design. He is also a highly sought-after teacher, and since 2011 he has taught a popular course called “Building the Inclusive City” at his alma mater, UC Berkley.

His scholarship advances the theory and practice of inclusive development through urban policy, planning and design.

Pineda serves on RespectAbility’s Board of Advisors and speaks on his experience as an immigrant, and he has mentored Latinx youth with disabilities. He is committed to bringing light to his experiences as a stepfather of a child with a disability and his work to support undocumented Latinx youth who are facing deportation. His commitment to intersectionality and success for a range of communities is broad and deep. He’s worked with English-as-Second Language (ESL) Learners, Latinx youth with disabilities who face deportation proceedings, educating leaders on inclusive philanthropy and other topics.

“One of the most important things for us to think about is that really accessibility is about making people experience whatever event, whatever gathering, whatever knowledge, whatever you’re trying to create [so that] people experience that without any barriers,” he said during a 2019 RespectAbility webinar on “How to Ensure Accessible Events.”

“That doesn’t mean that you have to do any major, dramatic changes. It just means that you have to be thinking along the process of planning, engaging and ensuring that people with disabilities, whether they have difficulty seeing, hearing, remembering, will be able to participate equally in the event.”

Pineda also shared some of his own experiences trying to attend inaccessible events and how this has impacted the mission of his work.

Pineda’s work and impact has been prolific. During his time at graduate school, Pineda became the youngest government delegate to participate in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Of the experience, he shared, “My engagement with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) fundamentally altered the way I thought about human rights, justice and inclusion. I saw that the struggle for recognition, more specifically for inclusion, taking place in similar ways, simultaneously all over the world.”

He has received numerous grants and awards, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation research grant, Jefferson Award and the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award. In 2015, he was appointed by former President Obama to the United States Access Board. This federal agency provides guidance and leadership for ADA compliant designs.

He also directed important research projects as the UC Berkley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Fulbright-Hays Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the World Institute on Disability, which led to the publication of his book, Building the Inclusive City published by Palgrave. He stated of his research, “I believe that whether you’re a student, a researcher, a community advocate or a policymaker, you will need to cultivate collaborative relationships and critical analysis skills that are built on a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of equity and inclusion.”

Source: RespectAbility

DARK DISABLED STORIES Extends Through April 2

LinkedIn
DARK DISABLED STORIESactors on stage bright pink background on stage

After opening on Thursday, March 9 to rave reviews, DARK DISABLED STORIES has extended performances at The Public Theater through Sunday, April 2 in New York.

Writer and performer Ryan J. Haddad’s newest autobiographical play is a series of unforgiving vignettes about the strangers he encounters while navigating a city (and a world) not built for his walker and cerebral palsy. 

A New York Times Critics’ Pick, “Ryan J. Haddad’s gracefully layered play about the lives of disabled people blasts away condescension and replaces it with comprehension” (Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times). Directed by Jordan Fein, the 75-minute play features Haddad, who uses a walker; Dickie Hearts, a Deaf performer; and Alejandra Ospina, a wheelchair user. Open Captions, Audio Descriptions, and American Sign Language are integrated throughout the play.

Accessible seats are available for $30 using the promo code AccessDDS on the show’s website. “This play proves that disability need not be seen as something sad, tragic, or “dark.” It can be funny, messy, sexy, and complicated” (Christian Lewis, TheaterMania).

Link: https://publictheater.org/productions/season/2223/dark-disabled-stories/

The World Mourns the Passing of Judy Heumann, Disability Rights Activist

LinkedIn
judy huemann seated and smiling

Judith “Judy” Heumann—widely regarded as “the mother” of the disability rights movement—passed away in Washington, D.C. on the afternoon of March 4, 2023. Judy was at the forefront of major disability rights demonstrations, helped spearhead the passage of disability rights legislation, founded national and international disability advocacy organizations, held senior federal government positions, co-authored her memoir, Being Heumann, and its Young Adult version, Rolling Warrior, and was featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary film, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution.

Born in 1947 in Philadelphia and raised in Brooklyn, New York to parents Ilse and Werner Heumann, Judy contracted polio at age two. Her doctor advised her parents to institutionalize her when it was clear that she would never be able to walk. “Institutionalization was the status quo in 1949,” she wrote. “Kids with disabilities were considered a hardship, economically and socially.” When Judy attempted to enter kindergarten, the principal blocked her family from entering the school, labeling her a “fire hazard.” However, her parents, particularly her mother, fought back and demanded that Judy have access to a classroom. Judy eventually was able to attend a special school, high school, Long Island University (from which she earned a B.A. in 1969), and the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a Master’s in Public Health six years later.

In the 1970s, Heumann attended Camp Jened, a summer camp for people with disabilities in the Catskills, and she later returned there as a counselor. Several of the leaders of the disability rights movement also were at Camp Jened, which was the focus of the documentary Crip Camp.

During the same decade, the New York Board of Education refused to give Judy a teaching license because they feared she could not help evacuate students or herself in case of fire. She sued and went on to become the first teacher in the state to use a wheelchair. Continuing her fight for civil rights, Judy helped lead a protest that shut down traffic in Manhattan against Richard Nixon’s veto of the 1972 Rehabilitation Act, and she launched a 26-day sit-in at a federal building in San Francisco to get Section 504 of the revived Rehabilitation Act enforced.

Judy was instrumental in developing and implementing national disability rights legislation, including Section 504, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In addition, Judy helped found the Berkley Center for Independent Living, the Independent Living Movement, and the World Institute on Disability. She also served on the boards of the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Humanity and Inclusion, Human Rights Watch, the United States International Council on Disability, Save the Children, and several others.

In 1993, Judy moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services in the Clinton Administration, a role she filled until 2001. From 2002-2006, she served as the first Advisor on Disability and Development at the World Bank. From 2010-2017, during the Obama Administration, she worked as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. State Department. She also was appointed as Washington, D.C.’s first Director for the Department on Disability Services.

“Some people say that what I did changed the world,” she wrote, “But really, I simply refused to accept what I was told about who I could be. And I was willing to make a fuss about it.”

In addition to her advocacy work and busy professional life, Judy loved to attend musicals and movies, travel the world, make new friends, and hang out with old ones, many of whom were introduced to each other at dinners that she convened. Judy learned Hebrew as a child, became Bat Mitzvahed as an adult, and was a long-time member of the Adas Israel congregation.

Judy is survived by her loving husband, Jorge Pineda, her brother, Ricky, wife Julie and her brother Joseph and wife Mary, her niece Kristin, grand nephew Orion and many other members of both the Heumann and Pineda families. She had many close friends that will miss her dearly.

Source: AAPD.com

Selma Blair to Lead Inclusive Makeup Brand

LinkedIn
Selma Blair and woman with her hand on her shoulder

GUIDE Beauty, a collection of makeup tools and products that has reimagined the way we apply makeup, is thrilled to announce Selma Blair as their Chief Creative Officer.

Internationally acclaimed actress, author, advocate, style and beauty icon, Blair will join GUIDE as a partner and take a leadership role in product and brand development for the multi-award-winning company. Combining forces with GUIDE’s Founder Terri Bryant, Blair will help the brand to accelerate its mission to expand inclusivity in the world of beauty through thoughtful, universally-designed products for everyone.

“We are proud to welcome Selma to the family,” says Bryant, founder of GUIDE Beauty. “Her devotion to creative expression and advocacy for all people fits perfectly with GUIDE Beauty’s mission and practice of Universal Design – when we design with all people in mind, we create the best products for everyone. From the novice to somebody who has challenges with movement or strength and even the professional makeup artist on set, GUIDE’s products enhance the lives of makeup users everywhere.”

In the prime of her career as a makeup artist and beauty educator, Bryant started to notice stiffness in her shoulder and a loss of dexterity in her hands. Makeup artistry that had been second nature was becoming a real struggle due to the inaccessibility of products that suited her needs. She was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Empowered by knowledge and a life-long love of makeup, she partnered with human factors designers and clean chemists to create a better, easier way and a new, more inclusive approach for the beauty industry with products designed for the broadest universe of makeup users.

“As a professional makeup artist, I felt a natural ability that most of my friends, family, and clients did not share,” continues Bryant. “When that ability shifted due to the onset of Parkinson’s Disease, it became so clear that my needs, like so many, had not been considered in the design and development of the products I had always used, so I decided it was time to create them.”

“When I first held the GUIDE Wand, I immediately felt more confident than I ever had with a traditional pencil liner and found myself looking forward to doing my own makeup for the first time in a long time,” says Blair, who revealed her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2018. “Upon meeting Terri, we bonded instantly over our mutual love of makeup and its ability to transform a face and a day. I’m thrilled to join her and GUIDE to create and advocate for a more inclusive world of beauty.”

GUIDE Beauty today also introduces its new makeup brush collection utilizing its patented GUIDE Ring to steady the hand and make application smooth and easy as well as its first eyeshadow palette that has been designed with Blair to showcase beautiful, easy-to-wear neutrals for everyday or a special red-carpet moment.

In addition to the new launches, GUIDE’s debut collection, which launched in early 2020 and revolutionized ability-inclusivity in beauty, includes Lash Wrap Mascara and Brow Moment Brow Gel, both featuring the GUIDE Ring, and the award-winning GUIDE Eyeliner Duo. The Eyeliner Duo has become the hero SKU among customers, influencers, and media, receiving Allure’s Best of Beauty Breakthrough, ELLE’s Future of Beauty, O, The Oprah Magazine’s O-Ward, and Essence’s Best in Black Beauty, among other prestigious awards.

The GUIDE Wand eyeliner applicator is celebrated for its unique, forward-thinking, ergonomically and universally-designed shape, paired with the GUIDE Line pressed-cream eyeliner to make looks like tightlining, waterline application, and even winged liner a cinch. All GUIDE Beauty formulas are cruelty-free, 100 percent vegan, and formulated without known toxins or harsh ingredients.

Blair, Bryant, and the GUIDE Beauty team are currently developing additional universally-designed makeup products to improve the lives of makeup users and are committed to advocating for inclusive and empowering beauty for all.

Source: GUIDE Beauty

A Dream Come True: Deaf Actor Keivonn Woodward Meets Hero Hockey Player Alex Ovechkin

LinkedIn
young boy skating on hockey rink

Not too many kids get to meet their heroes but Keivonn Woodward Keivonn Woodwar isn’t your ordinary kid.

The 10-year-old actor is deaf with dreams of becoming the first Black deaf hockey player in the NHL.

His aspirations recently caught the attention of the Washington Capitals star, Alex Ovechkin, who Woodward is a huge fan of, and invited him to spend the day at the teams facility, according to USA Today.

The viral moment of the meeting for the first time is enough to bring tears to your eyes.

The star of “The Last of Us” received a tour of the facility and even got some time on the rink. He scored twice while running practice drills with the team goalie, Charlie Lindgren, and forward, Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

The Russian hockey star presented Woodward with an autographed hockey stick. Thanks to an ASL interpreter, the Maryland native was able to express his excitement. “Oh, this is so cool,” Woodard said according to the Daily Mail. “I can’t believe it. This is a dream of mine.”

The surprises didn’t end there. Woodward got the chance to meet Devante Smith-Pelly, a former Capitals forward, and one of 11 Black players who have played for the organization. Both Woodward and Smith-Pelly participated in the puck drop for the “Celebrating Black History” pregame festivities. Woodward stayed for the game where the Capitals beat the New York Rangers at home. He was among other “Rising Stars” and was honored during the game.

The moment came full circle as earlier this year, the Capitals provided a $10,000 grant to the Bowie Hockey Club in Maryland, where Woodard is a member. Thanks to the club’s “missions and impact toward diversity in hockey,” a portion of the grant was used to support Woodward with an ASL interpreter and special hockey equipment.

Read the original article from Black Enterprise here.

Your first career move, powered by Netflix

LinkedIn
Man in wheelchair on computer doing Apprenticeship

Netflix is partnering with Formation to build a world where people from every walk of life have a seat at the table in tech.

Our program will be completely free of charge for students accepted. It is designed to unlock your engineering potential with personalized training and world-class mentorship from the best engineers across the tech industry.

The below information will be required, and adding why you want to land a New Grad Engineering role at Netflix.

The application requires:

Info about your experience, education, and background

Info regarding your eligibility for the program

A one minute video telling us about yourself

Apply today at https://formation.dev/partners/netflix

Application deadline is March 5, 2023.

What it Takes to Get DOBE Certified

LinkedIn
smiling woman in pink suit jacket sitting in wheelchair business setting

By Kat Castagnoli

Disability-owned businesses, or DOBEs, are a growing segment of the small business population. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there are nearly 30 million small businesses in the U.S. alone, accounting for a whopping 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses – and eight million of those are classified as diverse businesses.

Approximately one in five Americans have a disability, and people with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to be self-employed as people without disabilities.

Corporations realize the importance of disability inclusion in their supply chains – so much that the Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) is expanding their criteria of diverse businesses that are counted toward a corporation’s supply chain spend.

Diverse-owned businesses now accepted by the BDR include: Certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBEs), Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (V-DOBEs), and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises (SDV-DOBEs).

Read on for the requirements for each of these diverse-owned businesses.

Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) Requirements

At least 51 percent of the business is owned by disabled individuals, or in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals, i.e., the management and daily operations are controlled by those minority group members.

Disability is defined as a physical and/or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Veteran-Disability Owned Business Enterprise (V-DOBE) Requirements

Special classification is available for disabled veteran business owners, a growing sector in our economy. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), veteran-owned firms had receipts of $1.14 trillion, employed 5.03 million people, and had annual payroll of $195 billion in 2012. Approximately 7.3 percent of those veterans reported having a service-connected disability.

V-DOBEs require all of the DOBE requirements plus:

  • Business is 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a veteran, but disability was not incurred during their time of service.

Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDV-DOBE) Requirements

The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program. Joining the disabled veterans’ business program makes your business eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts, and you can still compete for contract awards under other socioeconomic programs you qualify for.

To qualify for an SDV-DOBE, your business must:

  • Be a small business.
  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans.
  • Have one or more service-disabled veterans manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.
  • Eligible veterans must have sustained their disability during their time of service.

Just a point of note – the SBA does not have a separate DOBE designation, but they do have an SDV-DOBE category.

8(a) Economically Disadvantaged Small Business Requirements

The federal government tries to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses each year through the 8(a) program.

To qualify for the 8(a) program, you will need to:

  • Be a small business.
  • Have not previously participated in the 8(a) program.
  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged.
  • Be owned by someone whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less.
  • Be owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets.
  • Have the owner manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.
  • Have all its principals demonstrate good character.
  • Show potential for success and be able to perform successfully on contracts.

More information about small business requirements can be found on SBA’s website at sba.gov.

Becoming Certified as a Disability-Owned Business

If you meet the requirements to be a DOBE, V-DOBE, or SDV-DOBE, your next step is to become certified. There are two types of certification, although they are not equal: self-certification and third-party certification.

While self-certification is easier than going through a third-party, many of today’s corporations prefer the latter. Third-party certification assures corporate supplier diversity programs that an independent, nationally-recognized agency vetted your company and verified your disability-owned status.

Self-Certification

To self-certify, follow the SBA self-certification process online. You can use the link below to begin certifying your disability-owned business.

https://certify.sba.gov/

SDV-DOBEs can self-represent to the federal government as being owned by a service-disabled veteran by simply updating the socioeconomic status section of their business profile at SAM.gov.

Third-Party Certification

The Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP) is the leading third-party certifier of DOBEs, including SDV-DOBEs. The program is administered through the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN), an organization that unites business around disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace.

DSDP certifies DOBEs through a rigorous and highly credible two-year national certification process trusted by corporate America. Learn more at

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/alliances/usblnagreement

Education & Contracting Resources

Whether you’re just beginning your business or you’ve been around a while, these educational resources are sure to help:

Disabled Businesspersons Association (DBA)

The DBA works to advance vocational rehabilitation and increase the competitive performance of the disabled in the workplace. The organization offers education, mentorship for both veterans and civilians, and a special youth-focused program to identify the next generation of leaders with disabilities.

U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN)

USBLN offers several opportunities for professional growth and networking. USBLN has a network of nearly 50 Business Leadership Affiliates, representing over 5,000 businesses. These affiliates engage businesses of all sizes in networking discussions to increase their knowledge of community outreach, recruiting and interviewing, the accommodation process, and barriers to employment.

The annual conference brings together business owners, entrepreneurs, corporations, thought leaders, and high-profile speakers to learn more about succeeding as a disability-owned business.

The Rising Leaders Mentoring Program brings together employers and college students/recent graduates with disabilities, including veterans, in a six-month career mentoring opportunity.

SCORE

The nonprofit SCORE has been helping small businesses (including disability-owned) for more than 50 years get off the ground through education and mentorship.

Because disability-owned businesses are supported by the SBA, they can take advantage of their services at no charge or at very low cost. Visit SCORE’s website at SCORE.org to find more information on mentors, workshops, and other available resources.

8(a) Business Development Program

The 8(a) Program is a business assistance program designed specifically for small disadvantaged businesses. The program is government sponsored, highly involved, and has some inspiring success stories. Participants of the program go through a four-year developmental stage followed by a five-year transition stage.

In addition to the nine-year program, participants have access to specialized business training, marketing assistance, and mentorship programs. Find out how your 8(a) minority-owned business can participate here:

https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/8a-business-development-program

Contracting Opportunities

Both the federal government and many of America’s top corporations require their procurement departments to spend a certain percentage on diverse suppliers every year. Once you are certified as a DOBE, it’s time to leverage that certification to gain access to contracting opportunities.

Supplier Registration Platforms

To streamline supplier diversity, blue chip firms invest in third-party supplier registration portals to streamline the buyer-supplier contracting process. Free registration, seamless communication with potential buyers, and robust opportunity filtering are just a few features that a quality platform should provide to suppliers. Register your company today to start on the path toward working with Fortune 1000 companies.

Veterans First Contracting Program

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which awards a large number of contracts to veterans, sets aside contracts for veterans through their Veterans First Contracting Program. Note that this program is not the same as the SBA’s program for SDV-DOBEs. To get access to set-aside Veterans Affairs contracts, your business must be verified through the Vets First Verification Program at https://www.va.gov/osdbu/verification/

8(a) Business Development Program

Small disadvantaged business participants may be eligible for sole-source contracts, up to $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing, through the 8(a) Program.

What may be an even greater aspect of the 8(a) Program is a participant’s ability to form a joint venture or team to bid on contracts. This gives 8(a) firms the ability to fulfill larger contracts that they may not be able to handle alone, while also developing industry relationships. Interested in learning more about the 8(a) Program and its requirements? Visit https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/8a-business-development-program

Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program

The SBA created this program to assist businesses in economically depressed areas who often face greater business disadvantages. While not restricted to minority-owned businesses, the HUBZone program can be a boon to your organization if you qualify. Learn more at https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/hubzone-program

Give your company or business the advantage and get certified today!

Legoland Becoming Autism Certified

LinkedIn
Sensory guide sign on building

By Shann Heasley

More theme parks across the nation are implementing staff training and taking additional steps to make visits easier for people with autism and other disabilities.

Legoland recently said that all of its locations in North America will become Certified Autism Centers by the end of March.

The designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards means that front-line staff at Lego-themed parks in California, Florida and New York will be better prepared to assist those with autism and other sensory issues.

What’s more, ratings will be posted at every ride to let visitors know if there are bright lights, loud sounds or other stimuli. Park maps will highlight low-traffic areas for individuals in need of a break, ear plugs will be available upon request and sensory guides are being offered on the parks’ websites to help families plan their visit.

At Legoland locations in Florida and New York there will be quiet rooms equipped with weighted blankets, dim lighting and tactile toys for kids with sensory needs. And, Legoland California will turn off all sound effects at is newest attraction, Lego Ferrari Build & Race, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day to accommodate those looking for a calmer experience.

“Legoland Resorts are designed to inspire creativity amongst children of all abilities — our rides, experiences and entertainment all foster a child’s imagination through a lens of belonging,” said Scott O’Neil, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, which operates Legoland. “With 1 in 44 children diagnosed with autism in the U.S.A., we want to build understanding and empathy while also ensuring our teams have the tools and support strategies when engaging with a neurodiverse population. Through this certification, we’re providing our guests with more opportunities to create and play their way, while supporting parents through every step of the vacation planning journey.”

Read the complete article originally posted on Disability Scoop.

4 Reasons to Consider a Career in Energy

LinkedIn
Businesswoman shaking hands with disabled business owner

Implementing clean energy is far from just a phase, it’s a necessity. Given the growing concern with the climate crisis; scientists and innovators from across the country are working together to power our daily lives through environmentally friendly means. By joining a career in clean energy, you could not only aid in these efforts, but do so while securing a stable, growing career.

Here are five reasons why you should consider the clean energy workforce:

It’s a Growing Field in Every Way

We all know that clean energy is popular on a societal standpoint, but even economically the field is thriving. In late 2021, President Biden passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which among other things invested $65 billion in support for clean energy infrastructure, research, jobs and much more. More recently, the CHIPS and Science Act, as well as the new Inflation Reduction Act, have added billions in investments for clean energy jobs and technologies. This makes the salaries of those in Renewable energy higher than average.

Along with being incredibly well funded and well equipped for hiring, the industry also has a lot of opportunities for advancement. Since the industry is relatively new, many clean energy sectors look to promote within their current employees.

The Job Types are Endless

When we think of jobs in renewable energy, we tend to think of scientists, engineers and even construction workers. While all of these areas of expertise are looking for jobs, you don’t have to wear a lab coat or a hardhat to join the field. In fact, you can come from just about any background and find a career in energy that will work for you. For example, the Department of Energy hires for positions in an extensive list of positions including:

  • Business Administration
  • Communications
  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • IT/Cybersecurity
  • Legal Affairs
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • Operations Research
  • Physical Science
  • Public Policy
  • Safety
  • Sales

It is never too late or too difficult to join the clean energy workforce, and there are so many different ways in which you can apply your skills.

The Work Environment

As an often well-funded and new career industry, the clean energy sector tends to do a better job at keeping up with current business trends and creating a thriving work culture. This allows for many of the employees in the field to be positive and passionate about their work. Benefits of the work environment of the clean energy sector can include:

  • Fantastic diversity and inclusion initiatives in every sector
  • Health care benefits
  • Retirement plans
  • Working with passionate, like-minded coworkers
  • Opportunities to work in-office or from home
  • Opportunities for creativity, innovation and collaboration

You’re Making a Difference

There are many reasons to work toward a clean energy future. Whether it’s to protect the environment, promote energy justice, secure national energy independence, make scientific advancements or lower energy costs, there are many moral reasons you may have for wanting to join the field. In some industries, it can be difficult to see how any of the work you’re doing is making a difference in the world, but the clean energy industry does the exact opposite. In clean energy, no matter what your part is, your field is working to literally change the world every day by fighting climate change and promoting a healthier world for generations to come.

Sources: Department of Energy, Whitehouse.gov, Michael Page

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

United States Postal Services-Diversity

United States Postal Services-Diversity

Alight

Alight Solutions Logo

Leidos

Robert Half