KT Consortium Meets on Promotion of Section 503
The Section 503 final regulations offer new opportunities for federally funded employment-related training and technical assistance (TA) centers to educate, promote, and connect stakeholders to employment resources. On July 15th, the LEAD Center took such an opportunity during the annual meeting of the Knowledge Translation Consortium (KT Consortium), comprised of 20 federally-funded TA Centers and 5 federal offices, by focusing on “The Role of Knowledge Translation in Improving Employment Outcomes – A Look at Section 503 Final Regulations.”
Guest presenters Dylan Orr, JD, Chief of Staff of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor and Naomi Levin, Branch Chief for Regulatory, Legislative and Policy Development for the Division of Policy and Program Development, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs provided an overview of the final rule on Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The final rule on Section 503 went into effect in March 2014 and seeks to strengthen affirmative action provisions and regulations and to aid federal contractors and subcontractors in their efforts to recruit, hire and improve job opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities. Highlights of the Section 503 Final Rule include:
· Federal contractors must set a 7 percent “utilization goal” requiring them to have 7 percent of each job group in the contractor’s workforce represent individuals with disabilities (or 7 percent of the entire workforce if fewer than 100 employees).
· The definition of “disability” is updated to align with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).
· Federal contractors must document and annually update several quantitative comparisons for the number of people with disabilities who apply for jobs and the number hired.
· Federal contractors and subcontractors must invite applicants to self-identify as a person with a disability under the ADAAA at pre and post-offer phases of the application process.
· Specific language must be used when incorporating the equal opportunity clause into a subcontract by reference.
· Contractors must permit Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) on-site or off-site access to documents for compliance and focused reviews
Kathleen M. Murphy, PhD, Project Director for the Disability Research to Practice Program, SEDL, launched a discussion about current and planned activities to share Section 503 information and resources with their stakeholders. Consortium members discussed additional information, tools and resources needed as well as opportunities for cross-center collaboration to meet knowledge translation outcomes on 503 and other similar initiatives and issues.
The KT Consortium is the first-of-its-kind partnership to bring together federally-funded employment-related training and technical assistance centers with separate but complementary missions to identify and execute cross-center training and collaboration.