Opening Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy
W. Roy Grizzard, Jr., Ed.D.
Emergency Preparedness for
People with Disabilities:
An Interagency Seminar of Exchange for Federal
U.S. Department of Labor
Tuesday, December 2,
Good morning. I am Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary for the
Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in the U.S. Department of Labor.
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all here today to the Emergency
Preparedness for People with Disabilities Interagency Seminar of
This is an important event for us for several reasons, but before
I get into that, I would like to share with you a little background about ODEP,
its mission, and its activities.
- ODEP is the only agency in the Federal Government led by an
Assistant Secretary that deals solely with disability employment policy.
- ODEP recommends policy.
- ODEP does not regulate, investigate, or adjudicate.
ODEP MISSION & APPROACH
- ODEPs mission is to provide leadership to increase
employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities.
- ODEPs approach is market-based: demand and supply
ODEP GOALS AND ACTIVITIES
- ODEPs overarching goal is to eliminate employment
barriers for people with disabilities.
- To achieve its mission, ODEP funds a variety of initiatives,
then measures and analyzes the results to inform the policy development process
& to share promising practices with employers, providers, and others in the
workforce development system.
- Through its Employer Assistance Recruiting Network (EARN) and
its Job Accommodation Network (JAN) initiatives, ODEP provides technical
assistance to private sector employers.
- ODEPs Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) gives
employers access to a pool of talented college and university students with
disabilities to fill summer or permanent positions.
- ODEP serves as a catalyst to bring together federal agencies
that address issues and policies that impact on the employment of people with
disabilities. This seminar is an example of what we do.
WHY AN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS SEMINAR?
ODEPs goals rest on several core fundamentals. Key among
these is that increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities
can be best achieved through a balanced distribution of elements:
- access to appropriate education and training,
- affordable and decent housing,
- reliable transportation,
- personal and professional supports, and
- physical safety.
Imagine if you will a balanced scale, with the elements I just
mentioned distributed equally on both sides of the scale. To remove even one of
the elements will throw the balance off completely, resulting in missed
This seminar is important because it addresses the element of
physical safety for people with disabilities while they are at work. A 2001
Harris Poll, commissioned by the National Organization on Disability (NOD)
showed that among people with disabilities who are employed full- or part-time,
50% say no plans have been made to safely evacuate their workplace! With a
statistic like this, is it any wonder that people with disabilities are more
anxious about their personal safety post-September 11th than the general
population, as the survey also indicated?
Did you know that workers with disabilities make up 7.0% or
123,000 of the 1.8 million employees in the federal workforce? Whether these
figures strike you as larger or smaller than you may have expected, the point
is that the Federal Governments diverse workforce includes people with
disabilities. As such, it is imperative that emergency preparedness processes
and strategies address the unique needs of employees with disabilities.
You are here today because your agency or organization recognizes
that emergency preparedness for employees and customers with disabilities is
important. Throughout this day and into tomorrow, you will hear from some of
the premier experts on issues ranging from egress to individualized emergency
preparedness plans. While you are hear learn all that you can. Ask questions.
Challenge the responses. Share your agencys experiences.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to
emergency preparedness. I am telling you now; you will hear that phrase
repeatedly while you are with us. However, by sharing what we know with each
other and asking the critical questions, we will be able to create thorough and
comprehensive emergency preparedness plans that provide for an appropriate
course of action for all employees in an emergency situation.
On behalf of my colleagues at ODEP and the Department of Labor, I
wish you all a successful and engaging Seminar.