7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain

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Animated photo of the human brain. meditation really does produce measurable changes in our most important organ.

By Alice G. Walton, Forbes

The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, with new studies coming out just about every week to illustrate some new benefit of meditation. Or, rather, some ancient benefit that is just now being confirmed with fMRI or EEG. The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. Below are some of the most exciting studies to come out in the last few years and show that meditation really does produce measurable changes in our most important organ. Skeptics, of course, may ask what good are a few brain changes if the psychological effects aren’t simultaneously being illustrated? Luckily, there’s good evidence for those as well, with studies reporting that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.

Meditation Helps Preserve the Aging Brain

Last week, a study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain — although older meditators still had some volume loss compared to younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as the non-meditators. “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” said study author Florian Kurth. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”

Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center”

One of the most interesting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, through its quieting effect on the DMN, appears to do just this. And even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it.

Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety

A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all an active form of brain training. “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.” Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.

Meditation May Lead to Volume Changes in Key Areas of the Brain

In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. In fact, a follow-up study by Lazar’s team found that after meditation training, changes in brain areas linked to mood and arousal were also linked to improvements in how participants said they felt — i.e., their psychological well-being. So for anyone who says that activated blobs in the brain don’t necessarily mean anything, our subjective experience – improved mood and well-being – does indeed seem to be shifted through meditation as well.

Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention

Having problems concentrating isn’t just a kid thing – it affects millions of grown-ups as well, with an ADD diagnosis or not. Interestingly but not surprisingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration: One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. In fact, the increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points, which is nothing to sneeze at. Since the strong focus of attention (on an object, idea, or activity) is one of the central aims of meditation, it’s not so surprising that meditation should help people’s cognitive skills on the job, too – but it’s nice to have science confirm it. And everyone can use a little extra assistance on standardized tests.

Meditation Reduces Anxiety — and Social Anxiety

A lot of people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there’s lots of good evidence to support this rationale. There’s a whole newer sub-genre of meditation, mentioned earlier, called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness (now available all over the country), that aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally. Studies have shown its benefits in reducing anxiety, even years after the initial 8-week course. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Google Displaying Accessibility Information More Prominently

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Hand pointing to Google on an Ipad

With a subtle change, Google is making it more obvious to users whether businesses and other public places are accessible to people with disabilities.

The technology giant has updated Google Maps to display a wheelchair icon by default on a location’s entry if the place has a wheelchair-accessible entrance. Previously, this information was only visible to users who opted into a feature called Accessible Places.

“Now, we’re making the icon visible for everyone on Maps so you can ‘know before you go’ if there’s a step-free entrance, which is helpful whether you’re using a wheelchair, pushing a stroller or lugging a suitcase,” wrote Jerry Robinson, a user experience researcher at Google, in a posting.

With a subtle change, Google is making it more obvious to users whether businesses and other public places are accessible to people with disabilities.

The technology giant has updated Google Maps to display a wheelchair icon by default on a location’s entry if the place has a wheelchair-accessible entrance. Previously, this information was only visible to users who opted into a feature called Accessible Places.

“Now, we’re making the icon visible for everyone on Maps so you can ‘know before you go’ if there’s a step-free entrance, which is helpful whether you’re using a wheelchair, pushing a stroller or lugging a suitcase,” wrote Jerry Robinson, a user experience researcher at Google, in a posting.

Since 2020, Google Maps has offered has offered information about physical accessibility at various locations and the company said these details are now available for more than 40 million businesses around the world. Information is based on contributions from business owners and other Google users.

The wheelchair icon signifies whether a location has an accessible entrance, but additional particulars about accessibility such as wheelchair-accessible seating, parking or restrooms can be viewed by clicking on the “about” tab.

In addition to the Google Maps update, the company said that it is testing Lookout, a new feature that uses artificial intelligence to provide image descriptions to help those with vision impairment. And, Google indicated that it is expanding the availability of Live Caption, which offers real-time captioning for any type of audio, among other accessibility improvements.

Read the complete article originally posted on DisabilityScoop.com

The World’s First Astronaut with a Disability is Here

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Great Britain's John John McFall running in race with an artificial leg

By Natalie Rodgers

As the world prepares for the next chapter of space exploration, the European Space Agency (ESA) has introduced 17 new astronauts into their program, including the world’s first astronaut with a disability. Former British Paralympian John McFall has been chosen to be the first “parastronaut” in the history of space travel. His journey to the stars will be part of a feasibility project, looking for the most efficient ways for astronauts with disabilities to be included in space travel.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is a such a huge, interesting opportunity,’” McFall stated to the ESA. “I thought I would be a very good candidate to help ESA answer the question they were asking, ‘Can we get a person with a physical disability into space?’”

A native of Frimley, Surrey, in England, John McFall is best known for his extensive athletic career as a Paralympian. At 19 years old, McFall was involved in a serious motorcycle crash in Thailand that resulted in the amputation of his right leg above the knee. After being fitted for a prosthetic in 2003, McFall decided to take up his former passion for running and quickly worked his way into becoming a professional athlete. He was selected to represent Great Britain at the International Paralympic Committee European Championships in 2005, where he mainly competed as a 100m and 200m dasher. McFall’s athleticism earned him five bronze medals, three silver medals and five gold medals over four years, with many penning him as one of the fastest men in the world.

John McFall headshot
John McFall appointed the first astronaut recruit with a physical disability, during a ceremony to unveil the European Space Agency new class of career astronauts.(Photo by Joël SAGET / AFP) (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition to competing in the Paralympics, McFall spent his free time studying sports, exercise and medicine at several universities throughout Wales with the intent of becoming a doctor. After retiring from his running career, McFall became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, one of the most prestigious surgical institutions in the United Kingdom. He is currently a Trauma and Orthopedic Specialist Registrar, otherwise known as an orthopedic doctor.

In 2021, a friend and consultant of McFall texted him that the ESA was looking to hire its first intake of astronauts in 13 years. The ESA was looking for a Paralympian to join the space program and aid in research for how to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities in space travel. In tandem with his medical degree, McFall noticed that he met all of the desired qualifications and decided to apply. Just shy of two years later, McFall was inducted into the astronaut class of 2022 and at the beginning of his journey to becoming the first astronaut with a physical disability to go to space.

McFall will join 16 other newly recruited astronauts in the next year to complete training before he takes his first journey to space. While he has expressed his excitement to join the ESA and to make strides for the disability communities, McFall is also adamant that this endeavor is not about him:

“I am slightly conscious that I am not representative of the entire disabled population,” McFall stated in an interview with ESPN. “I have a very straightforward, static disability; there are people out there with more complex disabilities. It’s important to recognize that this is a small step in addressing a larger question of inclusivity in all realms of employment of people with disabilities. So, this is not ‘The John Show,’ this is a stepping stone to push the envelope [to] get people talking about disability more because the more people talk about it, the less stigma it has, the more opportunities in life they will have.”

Sources: ESPN, KSL TV, ESA, Wikipedia

Bobby Henline: Forging Forward

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Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bobby Henline receives an award

By Brady Rhoades

Bobby Henline survived two wars and 48 surgeries and now he’s standing in front of an audience on the Huckabee TV show, telling jokes.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday because I make lots of money at the haunted house,” he says. “I made $50 laying in my neighbor’s yard. I even got a modeling job at the Halloween Super Store.”

Henline, who suffered burns on 40% of his body while fighting in Iraq, is loose, cheerful, wearing a sky-blue blazer, jeans and boots.

Photo: Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bobby Henline, second from right, receives an award at Forward Operating Base Walton, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Henline and four other wounded warriors visited Afghanistan as a part of Operation Proper Exit. (Public domain photo from defenseimagery.mil).

“It took me four tours and an IED to figure out my lucky number is three… I’m a little slow…”

He’s just getting warmed up. He often warns civilians, “I hope you enjoyed that, because it’s going to get darker.”

“They have a hard time laughing at me,” he said. “They eventually come around.”

This is a story about not being afraid of the dark.

Joking As a Way of Coping

Henline, 51, married to wife Connie and a father of four, was wounded while serving with U.S. Army in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Iraq War. The Humvee he was riding in hit an IED. Four other soldiers were killed. Henline’s face and head were burned to the skull. His left hand and forearm below his elbow were damaged so badly amputation was necessary.

After being put into a medically-induced coma, he awakened after two weeks and underwent six months of treatment. Henline has since had several surgeries including dozens of skin grafts and reconstructions.

Randy Jackson with veterans Bobby Henline and Chris White pose for a picture
VAN NUYS, CA – JULY 11: Randy Jackson with veterans Bobby Henline (R) and Chris White (L) pose for a picture at City Summit: Wealth Mastery And Mindset Edition after-party at Allure Banquet & Catering on July 11, 2018 in Van Nuys, California. (Photo by Rachel Luna/Getty Images)

While hospitalized, Henline, a veteran of the Gulf War who’d re-enlisted after 9/11, goofed around and told jokes as a means of coping. It happens that he had a great aunt who had a “disformed face,” as he describes it.

“It didn’t stop her. I look to her for strength.”

His occupational therapist urged him to attend an open microphone night at a comedy club. Just to satisfy her, he did so. Backstage at his first performance, he was a nervous wreck. Then he remembered he had written a rap in ninth grade—about constipation.

“When the warning light came on at the end of two minutes to indicate that I still had one more minute to go, I did my constipated rap,” he said.

Henline made his debut on a big a stage in 2009, at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, and became a regular at open mic nights at comedy clubs like Hollywood Improv and Laugh Factory. He appeared in the Showtime documentary Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor, as well as Samsara, Surviving Home, MBF: Man’s Best Friend, Shameless and Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy.

‘I Needed That Laugh Today’

He helped found the Bravo748 Military and Law Enforcement Speakers Bureau, and he’s traveled the world as a motivational speaker for the organizations. He formed a charity called Forging Forward with the goal of helping troops, first-responders and their families deal with injuries and traumas. “It’s the best revenge I can get for those four men and their families,” says Henline, referring to his four comrades who were lost in the IED explosion.

obby Henline and Ann Samson attend the UCLA Operation Mend 10 Year Anniversary
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 24: Bobby Henline and Ann Samson attend the UCLA Operation Mend 10 Year Anniversary at the Home of Founder Ron Katz Sponsored by The Thalians Entertainment by The Operation Mend All Star Band with Special Guest Billy Idol on September 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/WireImage)

He knows what survivors and families are going through; after his injuries and loss, he’d been suicidal. He’d prayed for death thousands of times.

“There have been so many times when a Soldier has come up and said, ‘I needed that laugh today,’” Henline said. “We hug and we cry—then we pretend we were chopping onions together, but I’m a big cry baby, I let it all out…. Sometimes I’m there to remind others that they can go on, and sometimes they help remind me.”

Going from fighting in the Middle East to standup comedy seems unlikely, but this is a story about light, too.

“When you talk about the truth—that’s the best comedy,” he said, which is why he issues lines like, “They took my stomach and put it on top of my head. Now, I pick lint out of my ears.”

He looks mischievous after punchlines, like he’s playing a prank and on the verge of cracking himself up.

Forging Forward

There are four people who try to dodge his jokes at every chance, though: his kids. One of his daughters stopped following him on Instagram, where 63,000 followers do think he’s funny.

“I don’t know what you’re going to do next,” she told him.

This year, Henline will host several Forging Forward events at military bases and other sites across the country, including a Big Sky Retreat in Helena, Montana on June 1-4.

Groups of six to eight military personnel and first responders will get the chance to explore outlets via fishing, rafting, horseback riding and photography, outlets that “bring you back to who you are,” Henline said. He keeps the events small so that “Nobody gets lost.”

Forging Forward covers all costs. To donate, visit forgingforward.org.

Henline’s newest outlets are fly fishing and golfing. How do you tie a fly with one hand? Part science, part will. How do you golf? He can’t fully explain it.

Out on the links, shanking, chunking, hitting for a double bogey, just trying to break 100 (which he’s done), Henline does not take out his frustrations on himself. With his trademark sardonic smile, he lets his clubs, or the weather, have it.

“I’ve cursed more in a year and a half of golfing than I ever did in the military,” he laughs.

Increased Accessibility Takes More Than a Welcome Sign

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shrm attendees seated in wheelchairs

By Kimberly Gladden-Eversley

After 32 years since the establishment of the American Disability Act (ADA), barriers still exist, proving that it will take more than a civil rights law to end inequity. Addressing systemic oppression towards the disabled community begins with the root of ableism. In other words, the end of prejudice against disabled people that stems from false debilitating beliefs. From the seen to the unseen, unconscious bias continues to rear its ugly head, becoming more visible to the disabled community.

From 2013 to 2021, there has been a 320% increase in ADA Title III federal lawsuits aimed at businesses that engage in performative activism. Increased accessibility takes more than a welcome sign; it takes an initial investment that the disabled community deserves. During the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Diversity and Inclusion conference, we spoke with disability advocates, Tricia Downing and Erik Kondo. Both are forces to be reckoned with, challenging how the world sees them and discovering innovative ways to raise awareness.

Downing, a paralympic athlete and disability inclusion champion, fearlessly addressed the elephant in the room. “I think it comes down to educating yourself to understanding that disability is not the equivalent of defect,” she said. “Disability is a human condition, it’s part of human life and probably five people who walk by us right now have a disability that we don’t know about.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 26% of adults in the United States have a disability and more than 10% are invisible. Sadly, adults with visible impairments are more likely to face biased judgment, causing fear for businesses and the visibly impaired.

“So, there’s fear for the person with a disability, fear of feeling like you’re not wanted, not invited, like what are they going to do, and then there’s fear on behalf of the business as to what does this mean for us?” said Erik Kondo, founder of Red Pill Innovation, home to adaptive mobility to provide affordable ways for people with physical disabilities to experience the “joy of movement.”

“When you look at us, you all of a sudden think, ‘oh wow, that person looks expensive because I’m going to have to put in a ramp and I’m going to have to put in that elevator…’” added Downing.

Talent acquisition is used to identify talent to enhance business performance and improve the likelihood of success. In most cases, it takes skill to attract the right talent, but it takes more than skill to recognize it. Investing in talent can only happen when the value is seen—a continuous challenge that Kondo breaks down using his strawberry analogy.

“Strawberries, they’re not all symmetrical; they’re kind of a little weird looking, but it doesn’t matter; they’re all yummy because that’s what you expect,” he said. “So, imagine if people were looked at that way, it wouldn’t be so strange when someone’s not exactly typical. And that’s what we’re trying to go in for, that you don’t throw them away.”

Kondo leads by example, leaving no room for disability bias to grow. If you thought mobility was an issue, think again! He can skateboard, longboard, snowboard and scooter board with mobility devices—an earned skill since becoming a wheelchair user at the age of 19. Several witnesses of his high-level performance stepped away with renewed perspective, learning that perseverance conquers all.

“You will pay for talent if you see it, but what if you don’t think there’s talent?” said Kondo as he addressed society’s low expectations often pinned upon disabled people. Unfortunately, this misconception influences hiring efforts while creating career stagnation within a community of exceptional talent.

As Downing and Kondo continue to surpass limiting beliefs, members of the disability community need equal opportunities to show their capabilities. Internships and active recruiting through the disability services department are promising ways to open doors. “I was in a specific program that allowed me to get that access and in the door to where somebody said, ‘I vouch for this person, she’s capable of doing this job.’” said Downing. “If it’s a visual disability, if the visibility that we think is a liability…are we still looking at those students and saying, ‘these are still people, they still have…goals. They’ve still…striven, strive, strove to get an education.’”

Both Downing and Kondo say that in addition to rising above stigmas by providing a helping hand, it also takes individual effort to banish unconscious bias, starting with us. “So, part of trying to solve the unconscious bias in other people is looking at yourself,” said Kondo. “The insight of knowing why you do it…will help you understand why other people do it. The things that cause you to change are likely things that will cause other people to change, too.”

Joining the fight for inclusion to create a world that is more accessible for everyone now. Institutionalized and interpersonal ableism weakens our ability to grow as a society because there is power in unity. To unite, let’s start with building connections. You can connect with Tricia Downing on LinkedIn or her personal account at triciadowning.com, and Eric Kondo can be reached on LinkedIn and at redpillinnovations.com.

Don’t Forget Disability in DEI

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Author John Register

By John Register

Disability plays a significant role in the overall diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) conversation. Despite this, it is often the last group considered in the conversation, with many organizations failing to fully understand the unique challenges and contributions that people with disabilities bring to the workplace.

One reason why disability is often overlooked in the DEI conversation is that it is not always visible. Many disabilities are not immediately apparent, which can lead to misunderstandings and assumptions about a person’s capabilities. Additionally, there is often a lack of awareness and understanding of the various types of disabilities and the ways in which they can impact a person’s life and work.

However, people with disabilities bring many benefits to the equity in the DEI conversation. They offer unique perspectives and experiences that can lead to more inclusive and innovative solutions. They also challenge the traditional notions of productivity and ability, reminding us that everyone has something to contribute. Inclusive hiring policies and accommodations, such as flexible work arrangements, can also lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction for all employees.

As a paralympic athlete and inspirational keynote speaker, I know firsthand how people with disabilities can add credibility to the conversation about disability in the workforce. As an above-the-knee amputee, I faced many challenges, including in the workforce. But I am facing these challenges head-on by using my story and experiences to inspire others and advocate for greater inclusion and accessibility in the workplace.

There are several ways to increase awareness of how people with disabilities are a value-add to the DEI workforce. One way is to actively seek out and include people with disabilities in the hiring process. This can include recruiting from organizations that focus on disability employment, such as the National Disability Institute, the National Organization on Disability, the American Association for People with Disabilities and the Amputee Coalition. Additionally, companies can also provide training for their employees on the subject of disability and its impact on the workforce.

Another way to increase awareness is to provide accommodations and support for employees with disabilities. This can include providing assistive technology, flexible work arrangements and accessibility training. Companies can also promote disability-inclusive initiatives, such as mentorship programs or employee resource groups.

In conclusion, disability plays a crucial role in the overall DEI conversation. Despite this, it is often the last group considered in the conversation, with many organizations failing to fully understand the unique challenges and contributions that people with disabilities bring to the workplace. However, people with disabilities bring many benefits to the equity in the DEI conversation, and it’s essential to increase awareness of how people with disabilities add value to the DEI workforce by actively seeking out and including people with disabilities in the hiring process, providing accommodations, support and promoting disability-inclusive initiatives.

Autistic 11-year-old girl beats IQ scores of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking

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adhara sanchez in classroom wearing baseball cap in front of chalkboard with math equations

An autistic 11-year-old girl has completed her masters and will soon be receiving the degree. The prodigy belongs to Mexico City and has an impressive IQ of 162 — higher than the 160 of the greatest ever physicist of this generation, Stephen Hawking.

The genius child, Adhara Pérez Sánchez, has an IQ that beats Albert Einstein — whose IQ is estimated to be around 160.

Adhara finished her High School education at the very young age of seven. Mirror UK reports that the genius girl will soon be awarded a masters and is currently working with the Mexican Space Agency. She is helping the space agency promote space exploration among the younger generations.

Her disciplines for the masters are also nothing short of impressive. She did a degree in systems and industrial engineering with a specialization in mathematics from the Technological University of Mexico. These technical credentials at a very young make her stand out from everyone else her age.

Despite the impressive IQ and equally impressive credentials, Adhara faced bullying because of a speech disability.

When she was three years old, Adhara was diagnosed with a developmental disability after her speech significantly regressed. Her mother, Nayeli Sánchez, told Marie Claire Mexico that Adhara had to switch schools three times and her old classroom staff and classmates remained apathetic to her achievements.

“The teachers were not very empathetic, they told me that I wish she would finish an assignment – she began to exclude herself, she did not want to play with her classmates, she felt strange, different.”

“She could be at school for a while but then she couldn’t, she fell asleep, she didn’t want to do things anymore,” she said and continued, “She was very depressed, people did not have empathy, they made fun of her.”

The 11-year-old is studying hard to be an astronaut and hopes to colonise Mars.

“I want to go to space and colonise Mars,” she said. “If you don’t like where you are, imagine where you want to be. I see myself at NASA, so it’s worth a try.”

What’s more, last year the University of Arizona even offered the future space explorer a scholarship to study astrophysics. However, due to visa complications, she had to defer.

Read the complete article and more news from WIO News here.

How to Better Recruit Candidates with Disabilities

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group of workers one in wheelchair

By Natalie Rodgers

Hiring workers with disabilities can bring tremendous benefits to your company, including expanding your talent pool. Hiring people with disabilities can also bring diverse experiences to the workplace, decrease turnover rates, improve company morale and even help you qualify for financial incentives. But even for employers who are actively looking to hire individuals with disabilities, reaching this particular audience can be a complex process.

If you’re looking to bring on talent with disabilities, you’ll want to ensure that your recruitment strategy and outreach initiatives are up to the task. Here are some tips for recruiting workers experiencing disabilities:

Work with Your Local Service Providers

People with disabilities want to find employment just as much, if not more than you want to hire them. Therefore, many people with disabilities work with organizations that will help them throughout every step of the job search process. Several government-funded organizations across the United States are designed to help people with disabilities connect with companies that can provide work for them. If you’re looking to hire people with disabilities, one of the best ways to do this is to become familiar with these groups:

  • American Job Centers:

Sponsored by the Department of Labor and with over 2,400 locations, American Job Centers (AJC) provide free help to job seekers. Individuals with disabilities looking for work often use them. By visiting their website, you can find your local AJC branch and work with them directly to connect with qualified candidates that can fulfill your job openings. Many AJCs also offer recruiting events, workshops on resume writing, interviewing skills and job search activities.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies:

Federally funded vocational rehabilitation agencies work with individuals with disabilities focusing on their employment needs. Employers can submit their job postings to their local agency, which will be shared with their vast network.

  • The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities:

Also known as WRP, this free resource connects postsecondary students with disabilities with private businesses and federal agencies nationwide looking to hire qualified candidates in various fields. Through WRP.jobs, private employers interested in gaining access to these individuals can post permanent and temporary positions.

  • Employment Networks:

Employment Networks (ENs) are organizations that work to provide employment and services to individuals with disabilities through the Social Security Administration. Recruiters can contact their local ENs and work with them directly to employ candidates with disabilities.

Submit to Specialized Job Boards

If you’ve done any kind of hiring in the past, then you’ve probably used a job board. Instead of using a generic job board, seek out the online boards people with disabilities utilize. While many of these job boards do require a fee per posting or resume search, there are a few that offer their services at no charge. Some of the most popular job boards for job-seekers with disabilities are:

  • AbilityJOBS
  • The AAPD Career Center
  • org
  • OurAbility Connect
  • The Viscardi Center’s Disability Employment Service

Attend Career Fairs

Through the above organizations and nonprofits working to reduce the unemployment rates of individuals with disabilities, there are several disability-focused career fairs that you can attend to begin your recruiting process. Your presence at these conferences will not only allow you to meet your potential employees face-to-face (or screen-to-screen for virtual conferences) but show communities with disabilities that your company sees value in their skills and experiences. These conferences also offer classes and workshops on making your business space more accessible for those with different experiences.

Don’t Forget about Veterans

Instead of utilizing disability-focused resources during the job hunt, many service-disabled veterans may exclusively use veteran resources to look for work. Make sure to engage with veteran-focused conferences and organizations throughout your hiring process to expand your hiring pool further.

Sources: EARN, Department of Labor, Ed.gov, CareerOneStop

Federal report finds extreme weather substantially and disproportionately impacts people with disabilities

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Extreme heavy rain storm weather. Flooded streets of the neighborhood.

The National Council on Disability recently released a report focused on the effects people with disabilities experience due to natural disasters and extreme weather.

The Impacts of Extreme Weather Events on People with Disabilities examines how extreme weather events and environmental hazards have adversely and disproportionately impacted people with disabilities in the United States and its territories over the past 20 years.

The report considers the experiences of people with disabilities before, during, and after disasters by focusing on State, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments’ compliance with relevant federal statutes and regulations; the effectiveness of applicable federal programs and policies and their implementation across health care, housing, education, employment, and emergency management; and whether federal agencies monitored and enforced these policies when entities were noncompliant.

“‘Weathering the storm’ is more than an idiomatic expression given the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” said NCD Chairman Andrés J. Gallegos. “People with disabilities are too often overlooked in emergency planning and response efforts placing their safety and well-being at risk.”

In 2022, the United States experienced 18 separate billion-dollar weather disasters, including drought, flooding, severe storm events, tropical cyclone events, wildfire and winter storm events, causing at least 474 direct or indirect fatalities.
“Rights and responsibilities under federal disability laws do not disappear due to extreme weather catastrophe,” said Gallegos. “As these events have become far more common, it is critical that we ensure full inclusion of the needs of people with disabilities in emergency management planning and in all response efforts.”

NCD found that during an emergency or major disaster, people with physical, sensory, mental, or cognitive disabilities are disproportionately affected.

“As a person with a disability, I’ve seen first-hand how extreme weather can displace a disabled person across state lines, which causes them to lose critical Medicaid-supported services because Medicaid doesn’t transfer across state lines,” said Council Member Sascha Bittner. “In addition, people with disabilities already face huge obstacles securing accessible, affordable housing. Some people with disabilities are just one extreme weather event away from facing institutionalization and the cascade of negative impacts institutionalization brings because of the absence of such housing supply.”

NCD makes numerous federal recommendations regarding monitoring, enforcement, data collection, and needed guidance to U.S. Departments of Justice; Homeland Security; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Education; and Labor; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Rehabilitation Services Administration; and SLTT government emergency management agencies.

NCD is an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy.

The report is available at NCD.gov.

A New Vanguard Of Disabled Talent Covers British Vogue’s May 2023 Issu

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female little person graces the cover of British Vogue

By Edward Enninful, British Vogue

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 2018 and I had just taken my seat at Christopher Bailey’s final runway show for Burberry when Sinéad Burke, one of this era’s crucial fashion disruptors, as well as an enthralling conversationalist, made her way across to me with a look of purpose in her eye.

I knew from the moment we first spoke that we would go on to work together. Soon, we photographed Sinéad for the magazine to spotlight her activism at the axis of disability and fashion, before she became a contributing editor and later was chosen as one of the Duchess of Sussex’s Forces for Change for the September 2019 cover.

But we always wanted to do more. This month’s issue – featuring 19 brilliant, beautiful and impactful Disabled talents from across fashion, sport, the arts and activism – was a long time in the planning. For the best part of a year, Sinéad, who is CEO of the accessibility consultancy Tilting the Lens, came on board as consultant editor for the project, and has helped steer the team at Vogue House in producing these celebratory portraits and interviews. It was a necessary and overdue education for all – and taught us many lessons we will carry forward into the future..

To me, it also felt personal, as I’m sure it will to many of you. As a person with a chronic blood disorder, as well as complicated issues with my sight and hearing, I can begin to imagine how the everyday world can feel hostile and inaccessible to the needs of the individual.

So I am thrilled to see Sinéad joined on May’s covers by models Ellie Goldstein and Aaron Rose Philip, actor Selma Blair, and Justina Miles, who millions of people watched perform Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show in American Sign Language. Inside, there are stories by journalists such as Frances Ryan, whose no-holds-barred profile of Blair is essential reading, and Lottie Jackson, who brings to life many of those featured, from racing car driver Nicolas Hamilton’s tenacity to comedian Rosie Jones’s charisma.

Ultimately, these covers and portfolio ask a question: we all engage with fashion, but does fashion engage with all of us? “Dynamic, daring and Disabled” reads our cover. Dynamism of spirit, of talent, of imagination, is what the stars of this issue have in spades. It is this quality that the industry – and here I include Vogue – must also lean into if it is to better serve the Disabled community, alongside the Disabled community, with jobs, in the design of retail spaces, of photography studios, of digital interfaces, events, communications and, of course, clothes.

Disability should feel personal to us all. Some 16 million people in the UK are Disabled, with millions more Disabled-adjacent, whether visibly or invisibly. The time has come for us to get real about who we are as a society, and for fashion to build a better, more accessible and inclusive industry.

Read the original article and more from British Vogue here.

Navigating Interviews When You Have a Disability

LinkedIn
women sitting in a wheelchair at work giving a high-five to a coworker

As employers have ramped up hiring following the pandemic, they’ve increasingly added workers with disabilities to their payroll. The latest Current Population Survey, from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that the share of disabled adults who are working has risen much quicker than the rate for people without disabilities over the past two years.

This applies to people with both visible and hidden disabilities—so if you have a disability and are looking to find a new job, it’s a great time to start researching employers in your area, networking and sending out your resume. Then take a look at the following tips for acing your interviews.

How do I explain recent gaps in my work history because of my disability?

While there is not a perfect answer, this is an opportunity to talk about what you have been doing, and how it may relate to the position. Have you volunteered, overcome a hardship, provided care for children or a parent, gone to school? If you disclose your disability to answer this question, focus on how you have dealt with challenges in a positive manner, are ready to move forward and are able to do the job.

Can an employer require a medical examination?

An employer cannot require you to take a medical examination before you are offered a job. Once an offer is made, they can require that you pass a medical examination, if all entering employees for the job category have to take it.

Are there questions an interviewer should not ask?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an interviewer cannot ask about a disability or the nature or severity of a disability. An employer may ask questions about your ability to perform specific job functions and may ask you to describe or demonstrate how you would perform a specific function. They may also ask whether you can meet their attendance requirements.

What if the interviewer asks an illegal question?

You do not have to answer it. However, how you handle it may affect the impression you make. Rather than confronting the interviewer directly, you can explain that you are not comfortable answering the question, or you can ask for the underlying reason for the question and address that. For example, “I understand you may be concerned about my low vision, but I am able to read screens using a device, and I’m able to participate fully in all activities of the job.” Recognize that an interviewer may make mistakes, but this does not necessarily have anything to do with your being hired.

Are you required to tell an employer about your disability?

No. Disclosure of a disability is not required. But job candidates should be aware that once disclosure of a disability or an accommodation request is made, employers may ask the employee about the limitations related to the job and are permitted to make medical inquiries.

When is the best time to disclose a disability?

If you have a visible disability, you may want to anticipate the concerns of the employer. Consider taking charge during the first interview to talk about your disability and how you would handle any impact on the job. You may want to describe any accommodation you use, how it helps your performance, or demonstrate how you would perform difficult functions.

What should I say?

Many experts suggest disclosing before a job offer in order to communicate self-confidence and refocus the employer’s attention on your ability to do the job. Some people with non-visible disabilities may choose not to disclose their disability at all.

Share examples of the strategies you use to do your work. For example, a candidate with low vision might say: “In my previous work, I was responsible for maintaining our inventory. I created a labeling system with a good color contrast that I could see easily. It turns out that this was a benefit for others as well.”

Let the interviewer know that you would be glad to answer any questions they might have about how you would do your work and the accommodations you use. Being open and direct about your disability will help put the interviewer at ease, which is a critical factor in whether you receive a call for a second interview.

Source: CareerOneStop

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fairs Schedule for 2023
    June 6, 2023 - December 12, 2023
  2. Small Business Expo 2023 Business Networking & Educational Events Schedule
    June 23, 2023 - February 22, 2024
  3. Chicago Abilities Expo 2023
    June 23, 2023 - June 25, 2023
  4. B3 2023 Conference + Expo: Register Today!
    June 29, 2023
  5. 2023 Strategic ERG Leadership Summit
    August 3, 2023 - August 4, 2023