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State Legislation to Provide New Opportunities for People with Disabilities in Mississippi

The Mississippi House and Senate adopted House Bill 836 on March 31, which will provide new opportunities for people with disabilities to work in an integrated community setting at competitive wages at or above minimum wage.

Collaborative efforts with The Arc of Mississippi and The Mississippi Chapter of the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) facilitated passage of House Bill 836. The bill will become law once signed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

"This legislation is the first step in a process. We are excited about our collective success with the passage of this bill. We are equally enthusiastic and look forward to the next steps in implementing a system where all people are supported to be all they can be," said Jennifer Fulcher, President of the Mississippi Chapter of APSE, a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and the community.

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Action Alert from National APSE

Dear APSE Members,

This Friday, June 21st, NBC?s ?Rock Center with Brian Williams? will be airing a special interview on the use of the special minimum wage certificate. The show airs at 10 pm EST. It is our hope that the Rock Center presents a balanced story about the use of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which allows employers to apply for federal waivers to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage.

As you are aware, APSE has issued a call to phase out the use of sub-minimum wage by 2014. APSE recognizes the importance of undertaking such action in a way that is carefully thought out, and leads to movement of individuals currently being paid sub-minimum wage into individual, integrated employment opportunities paying minimum wage or higher, and avoiding unintended consequences that would not only damage efforts to expand community employment, but result in actual loss of rights and opportunities for individuals with disabilities to full integration and inclusion in society. We believe this national systems change movement should be based on the principle that employment in the community be the first or preferred service option for service recipients ?i.e., Employment First.

We believe that section 14(c) sets low expectations and encourages a misguided sense of the capacities of individuals with disabilities, who could succeed in integrated work settings with the appropriate assistance and supports. Current research-based best practice indicates that the vast majority of individuals with disabilities who want to work can be found a competitive position at regular wages through the use of customized and supported employment strategies. Sub-minimum wage is at odds with national disability policy (particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act and IDEA), which have made it clear that public policies should view disability as a natural part of human experience that in no way limits a person?s right to fully participate in all aspects of life.

It is very important that we share stories and have as much support and awareness from our community and members as possible! We hope you and your friends, family and colleagues will tune in to watch this special interview this Friday at 10 pm EST!!!

Thank you,
Laura Owens
Ryley Newport

Service Animals

Often businesses such as stores, restaurants, hotels, or theaters have policies that can exclude people with disabilities. For example, a "no pets" policy may result in staff excluding people with disabilities who use dogs as service animals. A clear policy permitting service animals can help ensure that staff are aware of their obligation to allow access to customers using service animals. Under the ADA's revised regulations, the definition of "service animal" is limited to a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. For example, many people who are blind or have low vision use dogs to guide and assist them with orientation. Many individuals who are deaf use dogs to alert them to sounds. People with mobility disabilities often use dogs to pull their wheelchairs or retrieve items. People with epilepsy may use a dog to warn them of an imminent seizure, and individuals with psychiatric disabilities may use a dog to remind them to take medication. Service members returning from war with new disabilities are increasingly using service animals to assist them with activities of daily living as they reenter civilian life. Under the ADA, "comfort," "therapy," or "emotional support animals" do not meet the definition of a service animal.

Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents him from using these devices. Individuals who cannot use such devices must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. Businesses may exclude service animals only if 1) the dog is out of control and the handler cannot or does not regain control; or 2) the dog is not housebroken. If a service animal is excluded, the individual must be allowed to enter the business without the service animal.

In situations where it is not apparent that the dog is a service animal, a business may ask only two questions: 1) is the animal required because of a disability; and 2) what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? No other inquiries about an individual's disability or the dog are permitted. Businesses cannot require proof of certification or medical documentation as a condition for entry.

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Avoiding the Tyranny of Low Expectations: Employment Support for People with a Mental Illness

Check out the Ticket to Work program's most recent blog on its website! Authored by Mr. Dan O'Brien, Deputy Associate Commissioner for Employment Support, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. Mr. O'Brien shares his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities individuals who have a mental illness face in finding employment.

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Eeo Diversity & Inclusion and Disabilities Awareness/Employment Training Symposium

Please visit for the latest information on the forthcoming EEO Diversity & Inclusion and Disabilties Awareness/employment Training Symposium on June 6 at Martin's West in Baltimore. Register now to ensure seating which is limited to 250.

May 2012: Job Development in Tough Times? What Should I Do Now?

Over the past several years we've all been faced with a weak economy, both nationally and locally. For Job Developers these times have been very challenging indeed. Jobs are scarce; Employers are reluctant to hire; Job seekers become pessimistic; Everyone wonders—"What should I do now?"

This month we offer the "wisdom of what works." We believe that those who are successful in hard times ultimately rely on 2 factors. Read on...

First is Persistence. Perhaps Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's restaurants said it best: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." Quite simply; You can't win if you don't get out there and play the game!

Hank Aaron, who many believe was the best hitter in baseball, said: "My motto was always to keep on swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging."

The first factor in winning during tough times to keep at it! Persistence!

What's the second key factor used by those who succeed when the going is tough? Stay with the basics. Do what works! Sure, you may need to add a few new strategies. You may need to stretch outside the ole comfort zone and try some new approaches. But remember, there are tried and true methods that work. Check your game. Are you staying sharp on the basics? Have you mastered the fundamentals? Are you giving your best in using the solid basic proven strategies?

This month we offer 5 articles that discuss "Job Development in Tough Times." We hope these will support you in rechecking yourself to ensure you're good at the fundamentals? And to remember that "Energy and Persistence Conquer all Things!" (That advice is courtesy of Ben Franklin.)

Sheltered Workshops Offer Little Benefit, Studies Find

The "disabilityscoop" online newsletter reports two new studies. In both cases, researchers found that people who spent time in sheltered workshops were no more likely to be employed, but earned less and were more costly to support than their peers who did not start out in segregated environments. The implications of the findings are significant. To quote the article: "Participating in sheltered workshops diminished the future outcomes achieved once individuals became competitively employed."

Currently more than a half million Americans with mental and physical disabilities work in some 7,000 sheltered workshops across the country.

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Get the FACTS! "Disability Benefits 101: Working with a Disability in Michigan" Now Available

Disability Benefits 101 gives you tools and information on employment, health coverage, and benefits. You can plan ahead and learn how work and benefits go together. The DB101 online Benefits Planning Calculators help you get ready for a change in work or benefits, or learn how benefits rules might apply to each unique employment situation. No more guessing! Use the calculator for exact information.

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MIAPSE Connects You to Tools You Can Use

See our LINKS tab for the latest in up-to-date resources to support excellence in practice. In February 2012 we add a link to the new Improving Michigan Practices web site. The site provides information on a variety of evidence-based practices. Visit us often for up-to-date resources selected to support excellence in practice.

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Free Online Learning Opportunity Creating Community Careers

On Tuesday, November 1, 2011 the Michigan Association of Rehabilitation Organizations announced a free online learning opportunity. The course will focus on Customized and Self Employment. You're Invited!

The Creating Community Careers courses are designed for those involved in employment development for people with disabilities, people recovering from mental illness or substance abuse and others who have challenges beyond just being unemployed.

Part 1: Intro to Customized Employment (approx 2.5 hrs)
Part 2: Discovering Personal Genius (approx. 4.5 hrs)
Part 3: Customized Job Development (approx. 4 hrs)

This opportunity is funded under the Michigan Medicaid Infrastructure Grant Award Number: 1QACMS030532/01 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services received by the Michigan Department of Community Health. To Enroll contact Todd Culver at

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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

President Barack Obama has declared October 2011 to be National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In the text of the declaration the President noted; "To win the future, we must harness the power of our Nation's richest resource—our people. Americans with disabilities, like all Americans, are entitled to not only full participation in our society, but also full opportunity in our society. Their talents and contributions are vital to the strength of our Nation's workforce and our future prosperity."

Read the Complete Declaration

Employment – Bill to Phase Out Special Wage Certificates Introduced

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011. The bill seeks to immediately end issuance of new special wage certificates for workers with disabilities under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to phase out existing certificates over a 3 year period. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which has scheduled no action on the bill. There is no companion bill in the Senate.

Read H.R. 3086

"StateData" - A Key Resource for Administrators, Policy Makers and Practitioners of Supported Employment

StateData: The National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes is published by the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) and the University of Massachusetts Boston.

For the past 20 years, the ICI's Access to Integrated Employment Project, the national data-collection project on day and employment outcomes, has described the nature of day and employment services for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). The intent is to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence employment outcomes at an individual, service provider, and state policy level.

The 2011 report (link below) provides information and analysis covering a 20-year period. It is based on information gathered from several existing national datasets that address the status of employment and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with IDD.

The report provides detailed analysis and commentary as well as a set of recommendations for effective employment options and services that support individual choice. "StateData" –is a key resource for administrators, policy makers and practitioners seeking to improve access to employment for persons with IDD.

Download the full PDF version here

Highlights from the 2011 APSE conference
"People and Possibilities–The Employment Summit" (Cadillac, May 19-20)

Thanks to all who attended. You helped make this a great event!

  • Al Condeluci: Wow! What a great speaker...and delightful guy! Here's his PowerPoint presentation on Social Capital and A New Paradigm
  • Enhancing Employment Outcomes: PowerPoint presentation by Bill Colombo and the MRS team. Many thanks to the MRS team. They're certainly an impressive bunch!
  • Deborah Nale, Certified Business Consultant and Micro-Business Specialist offered an exciting presentation on new resources to support Michigan Micro-enterprises. These were created through Michigan's Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. Check out these wonderful resources! (see below)

Deb provides the following note:


Thank you for your interest in Micro Enterprise and the Momentum building in Michigan!

As you may know, we have our new statewide Micro Enterprise Website at, where your micro entrepreneurs can advertise their product or service businesses now and where you will find a myriad of support Resources!

We also have a companion Facebook Business Page, if you are able to, be sure to "LIKE" us at for information and educational articles. Good stuff!

Below are some vital Micro Enterprise links to save:

Feel free to email me with any other questions on micro business resources. Watch for More Micro-enterprise News as the Momentum grows!

Thank you!
Deborah Nale

Michigan Updates: A Social Security Newsletter on Employment Support Updates

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Employers of the Year: Kalamazoo organization recognizes two companies for hiring people with disabilities

KALAMAZOO — Brian Merica believes that employing people who are mentally ill can help them be more active in the community and also prove that they can be good workers. More...

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New Brief Examines the Role of Job Developers During the Job Search

The Influential Role of the Job Developer: Increasing Self-Determination and Family Involvement During the Job Search

A new Research to Practice Brief analyzes how job developers influence decision-making during the job search and placement process. As part of a study exploring the employment decisions of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD), researchers interviewed 16 individuals with IDD, their family members, and professionals involved in their job search.

Major findings showed that the job developer affects not only the actual job outcome, but also the individual' s job choices. The influence of the job developer also impacts the involvement of family and other supports in the job-placement process. This brief illustrates ways in which the job developer influences the placement process, and offers strategies for maximizing self-determination and family involvement.

Download the brief

January 2011 Disability Employment Statistics Released

In January 2011, the percentage of people with disabilities in the labor force was 20.1. By comparison, the percentage of persons with no disability in the labor force was 69.5.

Click here for ODEP News Brief

National Disability Rights Network Calls for Elimination of Sub-Minimum Wage

In the fall of 2009, the Executive Board of APSE issued a statement calling for the phase out of sub-minimum wage by 2014. We would like to applaud the National Disability Rights Network, for its support of this effort with its just released report calling for the end of sub-minimum wage.

This report, "Segregated and Exploited: The Failure of the Disability Service System to Provide Quality Work" calls for:

  • Ending segregated employment and the sub-minimum wage by restricting all federal and state money that is spent on employers who segregate employees with disabilities from the general workforce.
  • Strengthening current and create new tax incentives for employers to hire people with disabilities in integrated workplaces at comparable wages.
  • Increasing labor protections and enforcement of existing law.

APSE Statement on Employment First

The concept of "Employment First" is one that has gained attention over the past few years in terms of services and supports for individuals with disabilities. In an effort to ensure that this concept is utilized and applied in a consistent fashion, APSE's National Executive Board has approved a Statement on Employment First. This statement outlines both the underlying principles and characteristics of successful implementation of Employment First.

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