To get to a job, you typically need transportation. If you are a person with disabilities, especially one who requires a wheelchair, you need an accessible or wheelchair van. Without the job, you probably can’t afford to buy a vehicle with a lift or ramp. This challenge adds up to a current unemployment rate for people with disabilities of 13 percent, 1.5 times the rate of those without disabilities.

Now the government has stepped up to the plate.

“For nearly 40 years, the rules have said that federal contractors simply need to make a ‘good faith’ effort to recruit and hire people with disabilities,” said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). “Clearly, that’s not working.”

The U.S. Dept. of Labor has proposed a new rule that would require companies that do business with the federal government to set a hiring goal of having 7% of their workforces be people with disabilities.

The rule would apply to companies with a contract worth $50,000 or more and at least 50 employees.

“This proposed rule represents one of the most significant advances in protecting the civil rights of workers with disabilities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

For full information or to comment:

  • For general info, call OFCCP’s tollfree helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit www.dol.gov/ofccp.
  • To read the notice of proposed rulemaking or submit a comment, visit www.regulations.gov.
  • Comments also can be submitted by mail to Debra Carr, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, U.S. Dept. of Labor, Room C-3325, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.  20210. All comments must be received by Feb. 7, 2012, and should include identification number (RIN) 1250-AA02.

A job might be opening for you—and a wheelchair accessible vehicle might be in your future sooner than you thought.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible vehicle, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.

 

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