LANSING, MI – Michigan must lead by example and provide a welcoming environment for people with disabilities, encouraging them to work in state government in a competitive, integrated setting, Gov. Rick Snyder said.
Snyder on Monday issued an executive directive requiring the government adopt a variety of policies and procedures eliminating hurdles faced by people with disabilities as they seek a career in public service.
Snyder also called for increased training for all state employees to raise awareness of disability etiquette and best practices, ensuring every employee is treated with dignity and respect at all times.
“My administration is committed to eliminating barriers for those with disabilities who wish to enter the workforce,” Snyder said. “People with disabilities have much to offer our great state and should be provided the same opportunities for employment as everyone else. I expect all state departments and agencies to show leadership and work together to ensure that the disability employment program is successful.”
Snyder in February 2013 established the bipartisan Mental Health and Wellness Commission, which has spent the past year working to identify gaps in our current mental health system and provide recommendations to address those gaps.
With Lt. Gov. Brian Calley serving as the chair, the commission is working to set in place recommendations including the need to focus on employment options for those with disabilities.
The commission urges a statewide employment policy be created to honor the choices and goals of people with disabilities, recommends that the state government be a leader in adopting such employment practices.
“The commission’s work has already led to important changes with the goal of helping more people live out self-determined, independent lives” Calley said. “We must continue to improve and our state government will lead by example. I appreciate the partnership of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and others and I look forward to working with all of our state agencies and departments to further these efforts.”
In coordination with the Civil Rights Department, the Civil Rights Commission, the Civil Service Commission, and the State Equal Opportunity and Diversity Council, Snyder directed a series of directives spanning state agencies and departments including:
- Working with the Civil Service Commission and executive branch departments and agencies to provide clear objectives and opportunities for people with disabilities who seek a position in state government in an integrated setting.
- Reviewing current training programs for all state employees to ensure they cover disability etiquette and best practice. All state employees should be trained by July 1, 2016.
- Recommending to the Executive Office and all state departments and agencies a goal of hiring self-identified people disabilities within state government. The ultimate goal is to increase the overall integrated employment of those with disabilities while maintaining the confidentiality of the employees’ personal information.
- Working with the government and private sector to learn about best practices related to hiring people with disabilities.
- Working with the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget to plan for all state documents, websites, and other printed materials to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act and Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
The State Equal Opportunity and Diversity Council acts in an advisory capacity to the governor, the Civil Rights Commission and the Civil Service Commission on equal employment opportunity matters.
Matt Wesaw, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said, Snyder’s directive fits with the department’s mission of promoting fairness and opportunities for all people.
“If we, as leaders in Michigan, expect to have credibility when we promote diversity, it is vital that we practice what we preach,” Wesaw said.
“That means the state’s hiring practices must be open to all people, including those with disabilities. State services – including online resources and mobile apps – must be usable by everyone. And state employees must be culturally competent and sufficiently trained to serve all of our customers with dignity and respect.”
Each state department and agency ADA coordinator and human resources director will be responsible for overseeing a strategy to attract, engage, and advance people with disabilities. The departments and agencies also provide an annual report to the director of their respective department/agency and the director of the MDCR that addressing progress, gaps, and next steps of the employment program.
The report shall include the number of current self-identified individuals working within their respective department and measures to increase this number on an annual basis. The report shall be submitted at the end of each fiscal year and published on the pertinent department’s website.