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Neurodiversity, Accessibility, and Non-Apparent Disabilities in the Legal Workplace

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Neurodiversity, Accessibility, and Non-Apparent Disabilities in the Legal Workplace

This course is designed to enhance awareness and understanding of neurodiversity and non-apparent disabilities in the workplace. Recognizing that diversity and inclusion are essential components of a thriving legal practice, this course provides legal professionals with insights, tools, and strategies to create an inclusive environment for individuals with non-apparent disabilities.

Transcript

Hello, my name is Craig Leen. I'm a partner at K&L Gates in Washington, D.C.. Really pleased to be here today, presenting to you. Uh, my practice includes, uh, diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, programming for, uh, companies and organizations. Also pay equity, self audits. I do a lot of work in the neurodiversity and accessibility areas. Uh, prior to being at K&L Gates, I was the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, that is an agency at the US Department of Labor responsible for civil rights requirements for federal contractors. And that includes both pay equity and hiring equity, and also, uh, enforces in addition to Executive Order 11246 uh, which came about during the civil rights movement, uh, by President Johnson. The agency also enforces section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Vaivre. And those statutes relate to people with disabilities and veterans. And as part of the section 503 compliance, uh, I advise companies on how to comply with section 503, including in the neurodiversity, accessibility and Non-apparent disability areas. I also serve as a as the Vice chair of the DC Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. I serve as the chair of the Civil and Human Rights Committee of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and I serve in a variety of other area um boards and committees in the accessibility area, um, and also in the civil rights area. So it's a real pleasure to be here today talking about an issue I care so deeply about. And I should note that I'm also the parent of a daughter, Alexandra, who, um, is 19 and she has, uh, profound autism and an intellectual disability. I speak about her a lot. Uh, she and I actually recently received a an award from Melwood, the Teamwork award for our advocacy for people with disabilities. So I'm very proud of her and I'm proud of that advocacy. And so it the discussion today is especially close to my heart. So why don't we begin? I've already told you a little bit about myself. Um, so you can see it here too. I also should mention that I'm a professorial lecturer in law at George Washington Law School, and that includes teaching in the area of disability law. I teach a class in that. I teach some other classes as well. So I wanted to give some opening reflections. First, you know, one point about having an organization that's committed to accessibility and disability inclusion is recognizing the major dates and facts that underlie this area. So one, of course, is National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. I highly suggest and recommend that you, as an organization, celebrate that month and commit yourself to disability inclusion, including for people with non-apparent disabilities. That includes also celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd each year, and again having a program, maybe a speaker or something like that. Likewise, in the neurodiversity area, World Autism Month and National Autism Acceptance Month in April is an important month. Now, as you'll see, autism and neurodiversity, even though there's a lot of similarity between those terms, neurodiversity is actually a broader terms and includes more than autism, but autism is a big part of it. And so National Autism Acceptance Month, World Autism Month is something that you should celebrate as part of a commitment to neurodiversity. Autism prevalence in the United States. It impacts an estimated 2% or more of adults in the US, and based on better diagnosing, it looks like even a higher amount of children may have autism in some respect. They may be on the spectrum at some part of the spectrum, they may not be at the more profound part of the spectrum. Like my daughter, they may be at a more mild part of the spectrum, but all of those individuals who are diagnosed on the spectrum have autism, and there are some things that they may share in common, others may be not. You still need to look at each person individually, but it is important to note that there are a lot of people in the United States who have autism, and organizations need to adjust to that. And what you'll find is that the prevalence of Neurodivergence is much higher than the prevalence of autism. And we'll talk about that in a little bit. So let's start with general discussion of neurodiversity. What is neurodiversity? Well, you know, neurodiversity refers to similar to diversity, where you're talking about people from many different backgrounds. Neurodiversity, uh, looks at the wide range of how people think and uses a normal distribution. And there are some people that may think differently. They may not be neurotypical. They may be what would be considered an outlier, someone who's neuro atypical or neurodivergent. Neurodivergent individuals are those whose brain functions differ from those who are neurologically typical or neurotypical. And I've given you a couple of definitions. Neurodiversity is defined as the variation and difference in neurological structure and function that exists among human beings. That's from the US Department of Labor's Employee Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion. And they were citing Dictionary.com. They provided another definition as well, saying that autism autistic self advocacy network ASN neurodiversity refers to the variation in neurocognitive functioning. It's an umbrella that encompasses neurocognitive differences such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, anxiety, OCD, depression, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia, as well as normal in quotes, normal neurocognitive functioning, or neuro typicality. And then finally, Autism Speaks provides a definition of autism. Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. One thing I want to note, and we're going to talk about this more in a little bit, is that the second definition that talks about neurodiversity as an umbrella? Notice there's a lot of different conditions and disabilities that are included under the neurodiversity umbrella. And I would add to that, um, you know. They mentioned dyslexia, dyspraxia as well. Um, they mentioned intellectual disability, anxiety and depression. Other psychiatric or mental health disabilities can fall under the neurodiversity umbrella too. Uh, once you really look at it, there's a lot of different disabilities and non-apparent disabilities in particular that fall under the concept of neurodiversity. Um, you know, a lot of times people think of autism, but it's really much broader than that. I should also mention, PTSD is often considered to be one of, uh, the disabilities that's included under neurodiversity. And I would note when I was, uh, and I mentioned this before, but, you know, when I was a child, I used to I well, they say that you always have these things, but I had OCD and that impacted me. And, you know, I may able to manage it. I don't need any accommodations or anything like that. But because of that, I would consider myself neurodivergent as well. But I will tell you, my daughter Alex, who's on the profound part of the autism spectrum and is significant, impacted by her autism and by impacted, I'm not necessarily giving a value to them. I'm not saying that's positive or negative, but it does impact her. She needs supports and accommodations. Uh, that's why it's so important to note if someone's neurodivergent and to have that individual feel comfortable disclosing that and seeking accommodations, because that's what allows them and helps them to be able to be included within an organization, whether that be a school my daughter Alex still attends school or whether that be the workplace. Uh, and that's why it's so important to talk about neurodiversity and to recognize that it's very broad and that being neurodivergent is not a negative thing and in fact, can add to an organization. So we're going to talk a little bit about neuro typicality and neurodivergence. And notice I'm. I have a number of pictures that show, for example, here, the different ways that neurodiversity and neurodivergent is referred to. And it has a, you know, a word, um, a word chart that shows how common those words can be. But also. You know, photos of different flowers, different, um, types of, um. I, you know, um, I think I would say if you have a bouquet of different flowers, they could be very many different ones. You could have a number of different colors of roses, colors of tulips. You could have a variety of different flowers. The idea here is that every person, every flower, every flavor under the sun should be able to feel included and be accommodated and that they have something to add. They have a perspective to add. They can benefit your organization just because someone's different. Even some. You may think very different. In some ways. Not typical. Doesn't mean that they don't have something to add. And in fact, you may have a legal obligation to try to include them. But even beyond that, you should want to include them as a matter of human rights and civil rights, and ensuring that you're getting the broadest spectrum of ideas. You'll see when we talk about, um, autism, for example, I went to a lot of different autism at work programs when I was at the Department of Labor, and I met a lot of individuals who, for example, were brilliant and were adding a lot to the workplace. They would look at problems in a different way. They would have tremendous attention to detail. Um, they would, and I don't want to overgeneralize either, because each person with autism is different. But I noticed in these autism at work programs, you had individuals who were adding so much value, but they didn't give eye contact. Sometimes they were a little delayed in responding. Sometimes they needed to take a break. And if the first time you see someone like that is in an interview, when you say, hey, you know, I'm taught to think that in an interview you should give eye contact. You should immediately answer the question that was asked. Um, you shouldn't take pauses or breaks. That may lead you to not hire someone or to push them away. Someone away who could add so much to your organization. So that's why it's important to be open to many different perspectives, many different walks of life, many different people who will come in to your organization. Indeed. You should probably. Well, not probably you should. Uh, but I would encourage you to view Neurodivergence as a strength in an organization similar to how you view diversity as a strength. Scholars identified characteristics that, in general, people on the autism spectrum demonstrate that make them desirable employees. So this is from the Autism at Work playbook. And notice, uh, trustworthiness innovation. They will sometimes accept repetitive tasks systemizing low absenteeism, focus on work and results. Productivity. Visualization. Reliability. Attention to detail. Analytical thinking. Now, again, I want to make a point here. I point these out because one, these are parts of studies that show that someone who's neurodivergent may have certain qualities or traits or ways of thinking that could benefit an organization. But I should also note that you don't want to stereotype either, that not every person who's neurodivergent is going to be brilliant, or trustworthy or reliable, or have great attention to detail. I mean, you're going to have a range of people who are neurodivergent as well. Uh, some are going to be better employees than others. The point is that you shouldn't, as a group, exclude them. You should give them a chance to show their stuff because one, they do have some of these characteristics. Uh, sometimes that you will see that there are studies that show that someone who's neurodivergent can add a different perspective and can increase value at your workplace. Um, one other thing I would mention, though, is the reason why I always mention don't stereotype either, though is because a couple of these things like except repetitive tasks or um, loyalty, reliability you also want to be careful about. So let's say someone's really good at doing repetitive tasks and attention to detail, and they can always point out in a group of items that they're looking at the one that doesn't belong. Uh, and they can tell you when something changes and they're able to do the same thing over and over and over again. Okay, maybe they're good at that, but maybe ultimately they don't want to do that. Maybe they don't want to do repetitive tasks. Maybe they want to advance and do other things as well or supervise. You should be open to that. Uh, you should never make someone do something they don't want to do. So that doesn't mean that you won't have people that come to you and want to do those things, and will be excellent at it, so you should be open minded at the same time. You shouldn't be. You shouldn't stereotype or apply stigmas. Another issue, for example. Uh, reliability. It's true. Uh, people with disabilities generally. People with non-apparent disabilities, people who are neurodivergent. There are studies that show they're more reliable and more, uh, thankful for the job in some ways. And you got to ask yourself, though, in more loyal, less likely to move from job to job, that's all good. Those are wonderful things for an organization. At the same time, you need to ask yourself why? Is the reason because the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities, for people who are autistic, people who are neurodivergent is much lower than the general labor force participation rate, and that they face discrimination and stigmas. So when they find a place to work that they really like, they're more likely to stay there and less likely to move from place to place, particularly after they put accommodations together that will support them. That's probably true. There's truth to that statement. So you also want to make sure that you don't take advantage or exploit people who are neurodivergent. You want to be thankful for their reliability, for their loyalty. But at the same time, you want to make sure that they're not suffering pay inequity. That they're given the opportunity to advance, that they're given the opportunity to do the interactive process and get accommodations, even in new positions, and that they're not worried that if they change their position, they're going to be discriminated against. So anyhow, this is an important slide because you should realize there's a positive aspect to neurodivergence, uh, that that could be a strength. At the same time, you still need to be careful not to discriminate. Now let me talk a little bit about neurodivergence in the legal workplace. Any time you bring in independent thinkers, free thinkers, people who think differently, people who are not subject to groupthink, potentially you will get a wider range of perspectives on legal issues, including different ways of assessing solutions to legal problems. Also, when you bring in someone with a disability, often that disability has led that individual to be more resilient. Having to address discrimination, having to, uh, help themselves be able to be successful in a work environment where they may not always get the accommodations they need. So people with disabilities are often resilient. They're problem solvers. They they they had to address their disability in different ways. They've had to make adjustments. Let's say, for example, the person is blind or low vision deaf, hard of hearing, maybe has a mobility disability. They've had to make adjustments to be successful in the workplace, in a world that is still sadly ableist, ableism, where it's expected that people with disabilities will adjust to to the world and not vice versa. That's why the Ada was so revolutionary, so important, because it brought in the concept that an accommodation is something that the organization should grant, should provide to make that workplace accessible to someone with a disability. But we still got a long way to go. Having said that, in the Labor Party, in the legal environment. Adding someone with a disability to a team will give you someone who sees the world differently, often, and will help you on these legal issues, certainly in the disability area. But in any area, legal work environments can also be very stressful. There are a lot of studies I've seen that said that say that, uh, lawyers are more likely to be subject to depression and anxiety. There's one study I saw that said over 60% of lawyers at some point in their career are subject to depression or anxiety or another psychiatric disability. Um, focusing on neurodiversity and mental health can help with retention and ensuring legal professionals are receiving supports accommodations they need to succeed. Another point I'll tell you is if there are surveys that assess diversity in the legal workplace, and a lot of times they show that there's not as much diversity as there should be. One area where that's definitely true is people with disabilities. So the percentage of partners that have disabilities that self-identify as having a disability in United States is very low. It's less than 1%, as I recall. And, um, but there are studies that show that up to 60% of lawyers have anxiety or depression. Well, anxiety and depression are disabilities. They're not apparent disabilities. And also they're part of the neurodiversity umbrella. They indicate neurodivergent. And yet less than 1% are self disclosing. What does that tell me? It tells me that a lot of people are living with anxiety or depression, ADHD or another disability. That's not apparent and either not getting treatment for it, or at least not disclosing it to their employer, where they may be able to get accommodations that will help them in the workplace, be more successful, and have a higher quality of life. So any time you can do more in the area of neurodiversity and mental health, and you can encourage people to self-identify and to seek accommodations, and that there will be no stigma and that you won't hold it against them and you won't take away their work. And in fact, you will be happy to have them in your law firm, and that you'll be proud of that higher high self ID number, because it shows people are comfortable disclosing that's what you want. That's why I have a neurodiversity in the workplace program actually touches on mental health issues too. And can make it a better workplace for everyone. Also, of course, it helps with Ada and section 503 compliance. So having a neurodiversity in the workplace program and being accommodating Neurodivergence helps with Ada and section 503 compliance. It leads to a higher disability self-identification rate for law firms that are federal contractors or that participate in the Nalp survey, which is the survey I was mentioning that looks at representation of women, minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ, plus individuals in law firms, and which I've historically indicated underrepresentation of these sometimes underserved groups. And what's important is that. Representation increase and I'll tell you. Looking at all those groups. People with disabilities are definitely one of the groups that need to have higher representation, and part of that is making people comfortable to self ID. So embrace neurodiversity at work. Train employees on the meanings of concepts and terms such as neurodiversity. Neurodivergent and neurotypical. And again, just neurodiversity. I've given you some definitions, but neurodiversity is the umbrella. Someone being neurodiverse doesn't mean it just means that they're a person. Everyone's neurodiverse. But the specific terms are neurodivergent or neurotypical and neurotypical. Sometimes neuro distinct is another time I use. So if you're saying that you want someone that's neurodiverse, what you're really saying probably is you want someone who's neurodivergent. Because that's someone who's not within the normal distribution is an outlier, but by outlier, that's not a negative thing. It just means they think differently and you want to be open to those individuals. Create voluntary neurodiversity in the workplace programs that encourage and facilitate and facilitate employment of autistic or neurodivergent applicants by providing proactive accommodations at each stage of the employment process, if you have on your website. Neurodiversity in the workplace program or you have on your website accommodations. Uh, please click here. And it's easy to seek an accommodation and it's easy. And you and you indicate there maybe from your CEO or from the your managing partner, if you're a law firm, if you indicate that we welcome people with disabilities, we welcome people who are neurodivergent in our workplace. We want you to request an accommodation. We believe that those are positive because they increase productivity by definition, in addition to being compliant with law. And that's why we're strongly committed to them. You're going to get a much higher self ID rate. I know that I was a CCP director, and I would talk with a lot of companies that were federal contractors about how they got higher self ID rates, and it was almost always because they had a self-identification campaign. They had their CEO publish a message saying that they welcome people with disabilities, including people with non-apparent disabilities, and they want those individuals to self ID, and they want those individuals to feel comfortable seeking any accommodation they need. And it will generally be granted that's what they want. Now, is that what the law says? No, that's probably going beyond the law to some extent. The law says that you have to just make available to and let people know that there's an accommodations process that's an interactive process and that you'll grant reasonable accommodations if there's not undue hardship. But I'll tell you, the best organizations try to commit to granting any accommodation that's requested. You know, in some ways they may put some disclaimer language saying, look, I mean, if it really becomes extraordinarily expensive, it's not reasonable. We reserve the right not to grant it in an appropriate case, but we will always try to find an alternative accommodation. And we want you to know that we want to get to yes, we want to grant that accommodation. You'll see your, uh, your self ID rate go way up and you also see your accommodation request rate increase. And that's a positive thing. And one other thing I would mention, because a lot of times people come to me and they're like, well, what accommodation should we grant? We don't know enough about accommodations. Like, what does an autistic individual need? Well, one, listen to that individual in the interactive process. They're going to tell you what they need, and generally that's what you should provide them. But also take a look at the job accommodation. Now ask Jan, ask Jan, look it up on um on a web browser. Look it up at the Department of Labor, the job accommodation network. Basically, he has every recognized disability. And you know, I there may be some they don't have, but they have a lot of them. A lot of disabilities, including the neurodivergent disabilities. And under each one, they list different. Different. Issues that might come up in the workplace, and then and then a list of accommodations for each one. So, for example, is someone with autism is having difficulty with executive functioning and management like determining what they're going to do first, prioritizing. There's a list of or maybe following instructions if that's the concern that's raised, ask Jan has a list of accommodations that could address that, including putting instructions in, writing, uh, meeting with the individual on a periodic basis to go over the goals and what's expected of them. Having a job coach sometimes could be a variety of things to help them prioritize having checklists that are approved by the manager so the individual knows what order to address things in. Could be a variety of things if the person needs. If the issue is anxiety at work and needing a break, um, it creating a room where someone can go and have a break at work and then go right back to work, that could be helpful. Or perhaps telework a couple days a week might be helpful for that individual. But anyway, the Job accommodation network has a list of these accommodations. It's extraordinarily useful. It's actually the Department of Labor telling you what you can do to accommodate people with disabilities, including a host of non-apparent disabilities. And if you have a question, you can actually call them. And then you can tell the individual that you're talking to who's seeking the accommodation. Look, we're working with the Department of Labor to grant you the accommodation that you need. When I mean, it's very rare that the federal government will provide a resource like this. My understanding is it took some work to get this approved and to have this resource, you should definitely take advantage of it. Other things you should do. Ensure your Ada and section 503 compliance programs specifically incorporate and address neurodiversity. They should be mentioned in addition to non-apparent disabilities. Ensure your section 503 self ID programs include Neurodivergence and Non-apparent disabilities. Now, for those of you who are not federal contractors, you may not know what I'm really talking about regarding section 503. And we're going to we're going to get into what section 503 is in a second, as well as the Ada, because part of this obviously is a CLE where we're telling you, you know, about the law in this area and giving guidance. But I will tell you, just to give you a nugget of information that's helpful. One thing that section 503 does, it applies to federal contractors and subcontractors who do business with the federal government. It requires them to have a seven to to take good faith efforts, to have a 7% utilization rate for people with disabilities. And what that means is. For your whole organization, and in each of the job groups within your organization, you're supposed to try to get to 7% representation of people with disabilities, and that's determined through self-identification. And every federal contractor has to ask at several stages in the employment process, um, application process. And also after someone's been employed, give them the opportunity to self ID as someone with a disability. And there's a whole form that lists a lot of the different disabilities. And I highly encourage you to look at it if you want to look at that form and you're not a federal contractor, just again, type in your web browser Ofccp Self-identification of disability form, and you can look at it and you may want to use a form like that even if you're not a federal contractor. But the idea is that by giving all those examples of what a disability is, someone may self ID. Let me give you an example. Um, for me. You know, I, I was CCP director. I looked at this form and I realized, hey, one of the disabilities that's mentioned on the form is migraines. Well, I have migraines. I've had migraines since I was a child, and I get them from time to time. It creates visual distortion for me. Also, I've even been hospitalized a couple times in my life. I didn't really think of them as a disability. I guess in an intellectual sense, I recognized that they could be, but I didn't. I didn't think of it that way. But then I realized as a CCP director, look, it says it on the form. It is a disability. Also, when I'm in the workplace, I'm a partner at a law firm. If I have a migraine, I can just go home, or I can turn the lights off and take a break until I can see again better, or until the pain goes away. But not everyone can do that. Not everyone has the ability to give themselves an accommodation. So if someone has a migraine and they're going to need to take some time to go home or take a break at work, or go in a room and take a nap and not get in trouble for doing that. They're probably going to have to disclose that they have migraines and seek an accommodation. And that's why it's so important to be as leaders. To represent and to self ID if you have one of these different conditions or disabilities. So I self ID is having a disability and it started with migraines. And that's why because I wanted people who couldn't give themselves an accommodation to be able to take one. And there's a lot of different disabilities. And so you should look at them. And just because you don't have to seek an accommodation at work doesn't mean that you don't have a non-apparent disability. I mentioned anxiety and depression before. Lot of times people can deal with their anxiety and depression without necessarily seeking accommodation in the workplace. You have medicine, you're seeing the doctor, you're taking the steps you need to address your mental health. At the same time. Sometimes someone may need an adjustment to their work program to decrease anxiety. They may need time to take medication or see the doctor. Those may be accommodations that are necessary. So you know what it's helpful to self ID. And I'll tell you the other thing. The self ID forms. They don't make you say what your specific disability is. You could disclose it if you wanted to, but they don't make you do that. You can just disclose you have a disability and then you're included in the self ID program. But that's also helpful for diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility programming because it shows you, hey, we have a lot of people with disabilities in our workplace. We need to have a disability ERG and employee resource group or an affinity group. We need to do more programming for people with disabilities, and that's a good thing. That's going to make people feel more included in that. Could consider creating a neurodiversity erg and encourage participation of allies. Speak positively about neurodiversity. Recognize how this concept can enhance inclusion and productivity. Let's talk a little bit about accessibility. Now, this is quite a fact. I'm it's a stunning fact in some ways, because as you all know, I'm sure Dei diversity, equity, inclusion and sometimes adding the a accessibility um which I recommend and the federal government does, that's something that's been a focus of companies of organizations universities for a number of years now. And yet only about 5% of Dei programs include disability as a focus. Only about 5%. Think about that. Most AI programs include at least race as a focus, and most also include gender. But when you go beyond those two areas, most AI programs don't include any other protected classes don't include disability. They don't include LGBTQ plus status. They don't include religion and religious minorities. They don't include other groups. And that's not inclusive. Disability is definitely an area where there's been a history of discrimination, where there's underrepresentation or there's stereotypes and stigmas and where people with disabilities. Need, in my opinion, programs in the workplace that include them. That care about them, that show that. Everyone gets it that people with disabilities have a right to be in the workplace, and that these accommodations are not special treatment. They're equal treatment. But how are you going to do that if your Dei programs don't include disability at all, you don't do any training in the area. You don't have an employee resource group for people with disabilities, you don't focus on that. That's why it's so important to add the A to die. The A is accessibility. When you add accessibility, you almost have to include disability, because a big part of accessibility is making sure that people with disabilities are able to fully access all aspects of employment of your workplace. I also should note that most companies do not have chief Accessibility officers. It's another area where I highly encourage you to have one. Now, sometimes they're not called chief accessibility officers. They might be called a chief Dia officer or a chief diversity officer or a chief disability officer. I've seen different ones, but I recommend that you consider having a chief accessibility officer that really focuses on accessibility. And I'll tell you an example. From my own experience. I used to be the city attorney of Coral Gables, Florida. In that role, I created a program I helped create with the commission, a program called The Principles of Inclusion. And the idea there was to fully include people with disabilities in all aspects of the city. Not only employment, but also city programs, city infrastructure projects, everything that we're always going to be thinking about disability and inclusion. And as part of that, the city ultimately created a chief accessibility officer position. And what happens now is any time a new policy practice is going to be adopted by Coral Gables, for example, or any city that has a chief accessibility officer or any organization that has a CEO, just like you go through all the different chiefs who have to sign off on new policies or practices your CFO, your CLO, your chief legal officer, your chief operating officer, your CEO will sign off too. And that means you're thinking about accessibility at the beginning, not after the fact when you get sued or when you get a complaint under the Ada that, hey, this policy that you did, this streetscape that you created, these curb cuts that you did, whatever it may be, these sidewalks that you put down or in your organizations, these are business policies, these leave policies that we've created, uh, this new, um, employee benefit program. Uh, you make sure that all of these. Include people with disabilities from the beginning. All your policies and practices. That's the benefit of having a CEO. You're always thinking about accessibility. You're always thinking about disability. And let me tell you, it's probably the best thing you could do to limit your liability for ADR type claims in section 503. Claims is having someone looking at this. It also shows the regulatory agencies that you care about disability. So the idea that you're having disparate treatment where you're intentionally discriminating against people with disabilities largely goes away when you, as an organization, have have adopted Dia programs that include accessibility and where you create a chief accessibility officer. Who's addressing these issues proactively. And and for those of you who may say, well, this is legal, how do we do this? Look. I think it's important to note that President Biden, in Executive Order 14035, committed the federal government to D.A. diversity, equity, Inclusion Accessibility Program. Accessibility ensures all employees and customer clients can fully be part of your organization and what it has to offer. Another thing I would say is that. You know, with Dia programs, what's most important in making sure that they're legal and compliant with all the laws that are out there with the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, all of that is to make sure that they're about inclusion, that you're seeking to include people making your workplace more accessible, that you're not engaging in preferences or quotas. That's always the concern. Preferences and quotas. Uh, that's the concern under title seven relating to race and gender. Uh, that's a concern under 42 U.S.C. 1981. You, uh, related to race. You want to make sure that you don't have preferences or quotas, but assuming you don't and you've checked your program, these Dia programs are extraordinarily helpful in increasing representation of underrepresented groups and making sure that you're not discriminating, that you're eliminating roadblocks, that you have pay equity, that you're not discriminating. These are things that you should have. Whatever you call them, you should have these programs. And I would note that the EEOC chair Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair, Charlotte Burrows, has published a statement saying that the EEOC remains committed to diversity, equity and inclusion accessibility program. So as of CCP. So you should do these. Now one thing you can really focus on. Is inclusion and accessibility as well. Because inclusion and accessibility also support diversity and equity. So having an accessibility program is always positive. It's going to decrease your liability. It's a good thing to do. Now, what is the firm accessibility mean? I'm giving you some sort of anecdotes about it, but what does it mean? And I'm taking this from the federal DEA order. The terms. Accessibility means the design, construction, development and maintenance of facilities, information and communication technology programs and services so that all people, including people with disabilities, can fully and independently use them. Different. Best practices that you can adopt. Some of these may be legally required, but all of them are best practices. Our chief accessibility officers, as I mentioned, a disability employee resource group where people can decide to self-identify and by the way, also open to allies who don't have disabilities and participate in an employee resource group, where they'll meet and talk about accessibility goals, and they'll tell your organization what you could do to increase accessibility, and you should listen to them. Self-identification program as I mentioned, federal contractors have to do that. But even if you're not a federal contractor, you can do that. Accessible websites has been a big legal issue of late, but it's really an issue that shouldn't be an issue anymore. Have an accessible website. Do what you need to do to do what's called an accessibility audit of your website. Update your website. Make sure that it's compliant with wcaG. Um, try to be compliant with the most updated part of wcaG. Uh, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 or 2.2. Even better. Uh, some of those relate to neurodiversity. So make sure to know what wcaG is and seek to comply with that. It not only will help you avoid a demand letter related to your website, but it's also the best way to demonstrate one of the best ways that people with disabilities belong in your organization. The. The web is where all business is probably going to eventually be done. We want people with disabilities to be fully involved. They're both your employees and your customers. So have an accessible website, centralized accommodation systems and budgets. This is another big issue. It's one of the top recommendations issued by Ofccp, the agency I used to lead. Also the Office of Disability Employment Policy. What's one thing you can do to really enhance accommodations in your workplace? Including for people with non-apparent disabilities, have a centralized accommodation system. What does that mean? That means that it's not decentralized, that it means that let's say you have a large organization with a lot of different departments or divisions, and you encourage or you mandate that employees seeking accommodation go to their immediate supervisor. And that immediate supervisor looks at the budget and decides whether they can grant an accommodation or not for that particular division. That can get you in trouble with the law. Also, that's not a best practice. The reason why is that when considering whether something is an undue hardship or not under the Ada, they're going to look at your whole organization, not just that particular department or division. So if somebody's going to be too expensive or cause too much disruption to be something that's reasonable or something that's not an undue hardship, you need to make its best to make that decision at a central place. For example, when I was Coral Gables City attorney, one of the things we did that we created was as part of the principles of inclusion, we empowered directors. This was in the resolution. We empowered directors to grant accommodations, and we also established an accommodation is going to be denied. It should generally be denied at the city attorney or city manager level. Where we could consider our centralized accommodation system, and there was a budget that was created, and now we have a chief accessibility officer who does that. And I say we because I still identify in many ways with Coral Gables. But, you know, I'm no longer the city attorney, but I continue to engage with them on disability inclusion issues, and I'm very proud of what they've done. Um, as a, as a city. And that's the same thing I did in Ofccp. We wanted to make sure I did a, a message to our entire staff as the CEO of of CCP, as the director, I did it with the head of the Civil Rights Center, and we published it so that contractors could see it, too. So this is all public record. And what it said was, we want people with disabilities to work for our organization. If you seek an accommodation, you, as supervisors need to go to our centralized accommodation system. People who are trained and want to grant these accommodations and they will help you say yes, they will find a way. And if they can't, they'll find an alternative accommodation and there's a budget for it that's centralized. It's not that individual supervisors or that specific division's budget, it's the whole budget. Let me tell you, companies that have centralized accommodation systems and budgets, they're much more likely to grant accommodations they always want to get to. Yes. And some of the best federal contractors I dealt with had a policy that they granted every accommodation that was requested. Now there's always some caveats again, but that was what they tried to do. They wanted people to request accommodations and know they were going to grant them, because they knew that that increased that individual's productivity. Remote work and telework is another. Principle. It's another program. It's another workplace accommodation that can be granted that is extremely helpful for people with disabilities. One of the interesting things that came out of the pandemic. There was a lot of negative. Obviously, that came out of the pandemic. It was a very difficult time for so many and we lost so many people. And, you know, we always have to recognize that. But I will tell you, we learned some things from the pandemic too. And one thing we learned was that people with disabilities during the pandemic, their their labor force participation rate, went up to record highs. Record highs. And when asked the Department of Labor and I've been interviewed on this subject, why? How did it go to record highs when in other areas they went low? The labor force participation went lower. And the reason is, is because of telework and remote work that was so helpful to many people with mobility disabilities or non-apparent disabilities where being in the workplace for five days a week, eight hours a day or more was extraordinarily stressful. Were caused. Um. Or ended up impacting them because of their disabilities. The availability of remote work and telework helped those individuals be part of the workplace. And one concern I have, there's a lot of talk about moving away from remote work and telework, but make sure that you're thinking about these also as accommodations for people with disabilities, because it's been shown now that someone with a disability, pardon me, it's been shown that people doing remote work and telework can be successful. We saw that. We learned that from the pandemic. So they can perform the essential functions of the job from home. So if someone with a disability asks for an accommodation of remote work and telework, please consider it as part of your interactive process. It's important to consider it and be open to them. Same with caregiver policies. Having good caregiver policies, parental leave policies, but caregiver policies to more generally like family and medical leave. Some of that's required by law obviously, but companies can go beyond that by providing paid leave in certain circumstances and by encouraging people to take caregiver leave when they need to. That can help people with disabilities. Caregiver leave, uh, by having a loved one who may need to help them be able to get, uh, be be a caregiver and also work. That's important for families like my own, where I have a daughter with profound autism. Both my wife and I are caregivers to having flexible policies is helpful to us. And then, of course, the concept of universal design. Look up universal design. I don't have a lot of time to talk about that today, but it's an incredibly important concept. It's the idea that. Accommodations or supports that are provided for people with disabilities that are developed can actually impact everyone in a positive way, and that workplaces should be designed in a way that is not ableist, or where someone with a disability has to request the accommodation, but instead it's already provided. What are some examples of that? Standing desks is an example of that. Anyone can get a standing desk. They don't have to go through the accommodation process if you have that policy in your workplace. But let me tell you, Danny does help a number of people with disabilities. So that's one. Another one could be captioning with, um, um, with like zoom or teams or, you know, WebEx. Having captioning is enabling captioning if you have to enable it for that particular program. It's extraordinarily helpful not only to people with disabilities who rely on the captioning. Who rely on the captioning because, for example, they may be deaf or hard of hearing. But also they're helpful to everyone. Uh, let's say someone who's speaking, uh, let's say, for example, it's hard to hear. It's just the sounds a little dem having the caption is useful to everyone participating. Also, let's say someone speaking with an accent, it's a little more difficult to hear them. Instead of having to call that out and say, hey, um, can you can you adjust how you're speaking so we can understand you? Which, let me tell you, could could be calling out that individual and making them feel self-conscious. Um, instead, having the captioning may be helpful in being able to understand. So these this universal design is extraordinarily important principle. The idea that you want to embed a lot of these accommodations to help everybody, and then people don't have to request them. Here's the definition of accessibility again. Coming from, I believe, the Dia executive order. I won't read it all to you, but take note of it. So what are some relevant laws related to accessibility? I've cited some of them, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which we're going to talk about in a second, the Rehabilitation Act, which we're going to talk about in a second. And that was section 503. There's other laws, of course, that impact here as well. The Fair Housing Act, which impacts, um, um, the development of buildings to make sure that they're fully accessible for people with disabilities. The idea which relates to making sure that schools are providing, um, individualized education programs for people with um who are in special education with intellectual and developmental disabilities, making sure that they can fully access, um, education. My daughter, for example, has an IEP. We're very grateful for that. That individualized program was extraordinarily helpful for her. Now, at this point, we're going to move a little bit away from the general concepts of neurodiversity, accessibility Non-apparent disabilities. And we're going to talk a little bit more about the law. Just so you understand at least what the minimum requirement is. Although again, I encourage you to go above the requirements of the law and adopt best practices. So let's say you're a federal contractor. Or subcontractor. There's about 25,000 federal contractors in the United States, employing about a quarter of the American workforce. So in addition to Ada requirements, federal contractors are also agree to conduct affirmative action and ensure non-discrimination based on disability. And disability is defined by section 503, in the same manner as the Americans with Disabilities Act. So for purposes of the Ada, also, please pay attention to the definition because it applies to both 503 and the Ada. So what is the disability? It's a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individuals, or a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. But for the most part, the first category is the one that's most common. Second of CCP. The self-identification form includes many examples of disabilities, so it takes a broad view of what disability is. And I gave you the link. Remember before I mentioned the link? That's the link. Take a look at that form. Also. Look at all the different disabilities that are included. And by the way, it's more than this. It's more than this. I'm just giving you some examples of different disabilities that are included, including autism, autoimmune disorder. By the way, many of these disabilities are not immediately apparent. They can be not apparent. And that's one of the things we're talking about today. Autoimmune disorder blind or low vision cancer, cardiovascular or heart disease. Celiac disease. Cerebral palsy. Deaf or hard of hearing. Depression or anxiety, diabetes. Epilepsy. Gastrointestinal disorders. Intellectual disability. Missing limbs or partially missing limbs. Nervous system condition including migraines, Parkinson's or multiple sclerosis. Psychiatric conditions including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, or major depression. Look at, look at this. Many of these conditions you may not be able to tell someone has cancer. Cancer is is a you know, we all hope that we don't get cancer of course, but cancer is fairly prevalent, at least some form of cancer. Um, so anyone who's had cancer. Either would qualify as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual, or at the very least, let's say it's in remission and it's not impacting them. There's still, I'll tell you of CCP's view, is that's still a disability. So you could still self ID, but they have a record of such an impairment. Because they've had cancer and they could be regarded as having such an impairment because they have cancer. So look at how prevalent that is. I mentioned earlier that depression or anxiety impacts something like, according to one study, 60% of attorneys, a lot of people have depression or anxiety at some point in their life. Many people have, um, ADHD, for example. Many people have heart disease. It's one of the leading causes of death, and it's something that's important. Get treated heart disease and you want to. If you need an accommodation for heart disease, you should seek it. But you know what? You wouldn't necessarily be able to tell someone as heart disease or cancer from looking at them. And that's the point. All of these conditions are conditions that are considered to be disabilities, whether or not they substantially impact you at work. That's not the test substantially impact you at work. The test is substantially limit one or more major life activities. And there was another law that was passed, the Ada. The Ada Amendments Act, which broadened the definition of disability to really mean that if it impacts any of your life systems, your immune system, your gastrointestinal system, the way you think. Um, a variety of different systems. That is a disability. And by the way, I also included the thresholds for if you are a federal contractor and want to know if you have to comply with 503, there's a $15,000 jurisdictional threshold, uh, to for it to apply at all to have an AEP, an affirmative action program, a formal written program, if you have a $50,000 contract or more and 50 or more employees, then you have to have an AEP. So if you don't have one, that's something I would I would get working on. Section 503 is enforced by Ofccp. There's a 7% utilization goal. I've already discussed that the forum includes a number of non apparent disabilities, and neurodiversity is well recognized in the form. The form actually specifically as a category for neurodiversity and neurodivergence. So be aware of that. What are the obligations under section 503 and the Ada? So under section 503, you have a duty to do affirmative action as to disability, including neurodiversity. That affirmative action means you need to do outreach and recruitment to employ people with disabilities, to recruit people with disabilities to try to reach that 7% utilization rate. Now, if you're not a federal contractor, you don't have that affirmative action duty, although it is something you are allowed to do. The EEOC has recently published guidance and Ofccp, and the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor also signed on to this guidance. It's a three part, three part guidance. It's on the Eeoc's website, encouraging companies, even ones that are not federal contractors, to do this outreach and recruitment to try to increase the labor force participation and employment rate of people with disabilities. A couple stats you should know why this is an important effort. The labor force participation rate for people with disabilities, even though I mentioned has gone to record highs, is still much lower than the general labor force participation rate, as I recall. It's about it's in the mid 20s for people with disabilities. It's over 60% for the general public, 60 to 65%. Likewise, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is generally double the general unemployment rate, and the pay gap for people with disabilities can be somewhere between 20 and 40%. Compared to people without disabilities. So this is an area where you should be doing affirmative action, in my opinion, even if you're not a federal contractor. Having said that, if you're a federal contractor, you have the duty to do affirmative action. Now, uh, for both federal contractors and non contractors, you have the duty to, uh, the non-discrimination obligation as to disability. You cannot discriminate against someone because they have a disability. If someone tells you they have a disability, you can't say, you know what, I don't think they would be a good fit. Can't say that. Now, if you determine that the person with disability can't do the essential requirements of the job, the central functions of the job, well, that would be a basis not to hire them, just like it would be with anyone who can't do, who don't, don't meet the minimum qualifications or can't do the essential functions of the job. Having said that, remember you have a duty to accommodate. So the task for someone with a disability is whether they can do the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation or without one. If they can do that, then you have to give them the opportunity. You can't say, well, you have a disability, so we're not going to give you an opportunity. You need to put them through the application process like anyone else. In the end, you hire based on merit, but you cannot hold against the person they have a disability if they can do the essential functions of the job with an accommodation. Uh section 503 is broader than the Ada. Remember that as well. Because section 503 is basically the same as the Ada, but it includes the affirmative action obligation. Okay. What about the Ada? This is enforced by the EEOC and the US Department of Justice. The main obligation is non-discrimination as to disability. That includes neurodiversity. So if you hear that someone's autistic, you can't say. And I'm sure none of you would say this if you're if you're listening to this broadcast, but you can't say, well, we're not going to consider them because they're autistic or because they have cancer or because, um, you know, any of the disabilities I mentioned, you can't do that. You have to give them the opportunity to show that they can, uh, you know, in the application process to seek an accommodation if they need one or to show that they can do the essential functions of the job if they can. You got to consider them like anyone else and pick the person who has the most merit. That's what you have to do. So, uh, there's a duty to accommodate, including neurodiversity. That's the other big part of the Ada. There's a non-discrimination obligation, and there's the accommodation obligation. Under both Ada and section 503, you have a duty through the interactive process to accommodate people with disabilities. And by the way, that is not special treatment. That is equal treatment, that is equal treatment. So under both Ada and section 503 you got a grant. Reasonable accommodations. When requested consider alternatives where there's an undue hardship. What do I mean by that? Let's say someone comes to you and asks for a significant change to their schedule, and it's something that you can't accommodate. You don't have other people who can fill in for certain times. Well, maybe you can grant them an alternative accommodation where you grant them some of that time, and also maybe breaks or some other accommodation that addresses the concern that they've raised. Or maybe you allowed them to work from home and grant them telework. So yeah, maybe now they don't have to come in, which will be helpful to them because of their disability. But you still have coverage because the person's working from home could be a variety of different alternatives. You consider where there's an undue hardship. I will tell you, though, where there's not an undue hardship, you should generally grant the accommodation that's requested by the individual who knows themselves best. But the best thing is to always engage in the interactive process. Talk to them, be welcoming, let them, you know, engage with them and make sure your supervisors are trained to do that. If they're not good at that, then have someone that's centralized like a chief accessibility officer, an Ada coordinator who's responsible for that engagement with the individual and make sure that they get the accommodations they're entitled to. And by the way, that's even more so the case sometimes with non-apparent disabilities, because with the parent disabilities, a lot of times. Supervisors who may not be well trained, understand that if someone is a wheelchair user that they have to be accommodated in certain ways. If someone is blind or low vision, they're going to have to be accommodated in a certain ways. If someone's deaf or hard of hearing, there have to be accommodated in certain ways. A lot of times they understand that just because in the popular vernacular, it's understood that the Ada applies to people with those disabilities. A lot of times people don't know that it applies to someone with anxiety or depression, or with autism, or ADHD or who's had cancer. Um, you need to make sure that they understand that and that they have to consider those. They can't. They shouldn't. If someone comes to them and says, look, I have migraines. They shouldn't say, oh, you know, um, oh, I have headaches. And you know what? I deal with them. Migraines are not the same as headaches, for one. And that could be considered condescending or even discriminatory statement. But to. How did you know these impact people differently? That's why you have the interactive process. Have that person talk to the person, say, okay, you have migraines, you get a visual distortion. You're going to need some from time to time. You're going to need chance to go take a break. They need to understand that that's something that's serious and that the person should be granted that accommodation unless there's an undue hardship. But I'll tell you, for most accommodation requests, they're not going to cause an undue hardship. The Office of Disability Employment Policy has published guidance which says that most accommodation requests have no cost, and that the average cost of ones that do is about $500, which I'll tell you when you're talking about someone, particularly for larger businesses, but almost for any business, when you're talking about $500. And that means that a person can work for you for their career, potentially. And that could be amortized over time. That's going to be considered a drop in the bucket, honestly, by most federal agencies or state agencies. They're going to say, well, of course you should have accommodated the person. It was only $500. You do you you put that amount of money into your training programs. And much more than that, you would grant accommodations of all sorts to others. Why didn't you grant it to that person? It was $200. It was $50. It had no cost. That's not what an undue hardship is. Now, of course, in all of these, if you have a real question, you should ask legal counsel. But I'm telling you from the perspective of the regulatory agencies, if you get a complaint when they say undue hardship, they mean it. Undue hardship, something that's going to disrupt your business, something that's going to be very expensive, that you can't afford as an organization. That's that's what they mean, you know. So definitely talk to counsel about it. But be aware it's a high standard. Also discuss ways to effectively ensure confidentiality under the Ada, while promoting self-identification under 503. This is one area which causes some confusion and complexity for organizations, because a lot of organizations are well aware that under the Ada, someone's medical information and HIPAA as well, under someone's medical information, under someone's disability, information needs to be kept confidential. And separate from the personnel file at the same time. 503 requires affirmative action and promoting self-identification. You can't do both. You definitely can't do both. Where 503 comes in is because it's voluntary, it's voluntary self-identification. It's voluntary programs like neurodiversity in the workplace program, if someone voluntarily consents to disclosing their disability or to have or being the head of a employee resource group, that is perfectly legal and permissible and something you should do. But just make sure that you're always engaging with people with disabilities and following their their lead, their guidance and getting their consent if there's anything involving disclosure. Now I'm identifying here some effective ways to conduct affirmative action towards reaching the 7% disability utilization goal. There's still much work to do. Here. First of all, approximately one quarter of the US population has a disability, according to a lot of studies I've seen. I actually think it's much higher, to be honest with you, when you consider all the non-apparent disabilities. And mental health issues that are out there. Mental health disabilities. Um, it's probably much higher than that. And I would also submit that probably all of us at some point in our life will have either a permanent or temporary disability. So this is something that impacts all of us, and we should think of it that way. That will lead to more resources being put in this area. And when you have a disability at some point in your life, if you don't have one now, if you do have one, that there'll be resources present to support you, that accommodations will be present to support you. People with disabilities are significantly underutilized. Part of the labor force I mentioned before. It's in the 20% area compared to 60% generally 6,065%. Here are two. Here. If you need support for that, for when you go back to your workplaces to try to get support for more disability inclusion programs, here's two links that you can look at that show that more work needs to be done in the disability area. You should also be aware that there are significant studies that show that firms that support disability inclusion attract skilled workers and talent, and are more productive and compliant with legal and ethical standards. I serve on the advisory board for disability uh for disability in DC, Metro and Disability in recently published a report, uh, basically published a report done by Accenture, which is really hit it out of the park in this area. It showed how much having disability inclusion and accessibility programs improve workplaces, including the bottom line, and being more productive and compliant with legal standards. This is something that is, there's a strong business case for disability inclusion. In addition to the human case and the legal compliance case, there's a strong business case. Recognize that building an environment where individuals with non-apparent disabilities feel more comfortable self-identifying will increase self-identification. When companies ask me, how do we get from 2 or 3% self ID to seven or 8 or 9, I saw one company with 14%, I remember. It's through getting convincing people with non-apparent disabilities. To self-identify. An important to include the A and Dia. Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. Accessibility. Here's a number of best practices. I mentioned these in our discussion, so I won't belabor them, but they're worth being belabored. They're important. Make sure you're doing that outreach and recruitment for people with disabilities that you have, that you add the A, you have a chief accommodation officer, that you have these groups, disability employee resource groups, you're coordinating with vocational rehabilitation agencies. And again use Jan and earn. Those are resources from us Dol. You can rely on them. You can tell people at your organization, we're working with the Department of Labor itself, and this is what they recommend. These are great programs, great best practices. Adopt the idea of universal design. Adopt principles of inclusion. Do self audits of hiring, compensation and promotions based on disability status. Make sure that you're not discriminating based on disability status similar to what you likely do your HR when you do adverse impact analyses include disability. I've done a number of those. It's not that hard to do to add that on. In addition to race and gender and some of the other protected classes, make sure you're looking at adverse impact based on disability to do self audits. And have mental health and neurodiversity initiatives. And again, I've said it many times, add the A to Dia to die. So it's Dia. I highly recommend them. Have inclusive neurodiversity and autism at work programs. Voluntary opt in programs. Remember, as long as people opt in and they're doing it voluntarily, they can be part of these programs. Uh, the Department of Labor and EEOC have said these programs are allowed. You can do them. I give you the example of the city of Coral Gables. I talked about it at some length. I gave you some links to look at it. I gave you the example of of CCP. Bed accommodations and programs from the outset. This is why you want that CEO. Have experts in neurodiversity and autism, leading the autism, the Neurodiversity at Work program or the Autism at Work program. Have an introduction orientation program for interview process so participating applicant is aware in advance of what will occur. This is one of the things I've seen in these autism at work programs. Uh, one of the big barriers or obstacles to employment of people with autism is the interview process itself creates a lot of anxiety. People with autism and not to overgeneralize. But one thing you do see sometimes is. Anxiety related interview process not showing. Eye contact not being immediately responsive to the question. Needing time to consider the question. So orienting people to that program, to that process is extraordinarily helpful. Adjustments to interview process to decrease potential for anxiety. One thing that I've seen some organizations do is they do an actual run through. They do a dress rehearsal of the interview so the person understands what's going to happen and then can do it. And this is part of the Neurodiversity at Work program. It's a separate application program for people with autism and who are neurodivergent. Now under the Ada, you do have to allow those individuals that they wish to go through the typical employment program if they ask, but if they self if they volunteer and want to, you can create your your own Neurodiversity at work program where people are applying directly through that and given all these accommodations as part of the program. And there's a lot of autism at work programs that are like this. Doing practice interviews, training colleagues and interviewers about neurodiversity and autism, including, for example, an applicant with autism may not provide eye contact or may need a break during the interview. Some final principles that should be part of your program. Recognize that each autistic individual is unique as well. So don't overgeneralize. Recognize other accommodations may be needed in addition to your neurodiversity at work. Standard accommodations. Be inclusive in supporting neurodiversity, including autism, um, Autism spectrum disorder, ASD or autism, ADHD, PTSD. Other psychiatric, intellectual learning, developmental and cognitive disabilities, and neurodiversity programs. The moment you create a neurodiversity program, you're addressing all of those non-apparent disabilities that I just mentioned psychiatric, intellectual learning, developmental and cognitive. That's why they're so helpful to do. It's it's a lot to say to create a psychiatric, intellectual learning, developmental and cognitive disability program. Create a neurodiversity program, then explain that it applies to all of these disabilities within the neurodiversity umbrella and viewing neurodiversity as a string. So what are the final takeaways? And thank you again today for for this opportunity to speak to you. Create a Neurodiversity at Work program. Embrace section 503 disability inclusion and voluntary self ID programs. We give you a moment so you can write these down. Get support and buy in from leadership. Principles of inclusion. Chief accessibility officer. Get support and involvement by employees. An employee resource group. And include the A in Dia. Include accessibility. Don't leave it out. It's as important as the other three, and it supports the other three principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. So, you know, this has been a wonderful opportunity to speak to you today. I want to give special thanks to Quimbee for giving me this opportunity to speak to you. I want to thank all of you for listening. I know we've gone a little bit over an hour. I hope you could tell how important this is to me. I know it's important to you to. There's so much you can do in this area to enhance disability inclusion and accessibility in the workplace. I encourage and invite you to do so. And thank you again. I wish all of you a wonderful day.

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                                                Pending
                                                Oregon
                                                  Pending
                                                  Pennsylvania
                                                    Pending
                                                    Puerto Rico
                                                      Pending
                                                      Rhode Island
                                                        Pending
                                                        South Carolina
                                                          Pending
                                                          South Dakota
                                                            Not Offered
                                                            Tennessee
                                                            • 1.0 general
                                                            January 25, 2025 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                                            Texas
                                                              Pending
                                                              Utah
                                                                Pending
                                                                Vermont
                                                                • 1.0 diversity and inclusion
                                                                January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                                                Virginia
                                                                  Not Eligible
                                                                  Virgin Islands
                                                                  • 1.0 general
                                                                  January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                                                  Washington
                                                                  • 1.0 equity
                                                                  January 21, 2029 at 11:59PM HST Approved
                                                                  West Virginia
                                                                    Not Eligible
                                                                    Wisconsin
                                                                      Not Eligible
                                                                      Wyoming
                                                                        Pending
                                                                        Credits
                                                                          Available until
                                                                          Status
                                                                          Pending
                                                                          Credits
                                                                          • 1.0 voluntary
                                                                          Available until

                                                                          January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                          Status
                                                                          Available
                                                                          Credits
                                                                          • 1.0 general
                                                                          Available until

                                                                          January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                          Status
                                                                          Available
                                                                          Credits
                                                                          • 1.0 general
                                                                          Available until

                                                                          January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                          Status
                                                                          Approved
                                                                          Credits
                                                                          • 1.0 elimination of bias
                                                                          Available until

                                                                          January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                          Status
                                                                          Approved
                                                                          Credits
                                                                            Available until
                                                                            Status
                                                                            Pending
                                                                            Credits
                                                                            • 1.0 general
                                                                            Available until

                                                                            January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                            Status
                                                                            Available
                                                                            Credits
                                                                              Available until
                                                                              Status
                                                                              Pending
                                                                              Credits
                                                                                Available until
                                                                                Status
                                                                                Not Offered
                                                                                Credits
                                                                                • 1.0 general
                                                                                Available until

                                                                                September 30, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                Status
                                                                                Approved
                                                                                Credits
                                                                                • 1.0 general
                                                                                Available until

                                                                                December 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                Status
                                                                                Approved
                                                                                Credits
                                                                                • 1.0 general
                                                                                Available until

                                                                                January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                Status
                                                                                Available
                                                                                Credits
                                                                                  Available until
                                                                                  Status
                                                                                  Pending
                                                                                  Credits
                                                                                    Available until
                                                                                    Status
                                                                                    Pending
                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                      Status
                                                                                      Pending
                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                        Available until
                                                                                        Status
                                                                                        Pending
                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                          Status
                                                                                          Pending
                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                            Available until
                                                                                            Status
                                                                                            Pending
                                                                                            Credits
                                                                                              Available until
                                                                                              Status
                                                                                              Pending
                                                                                              Credits
                                                                                                Available until
                                                                                                Status
                                                                                                Pending
                                                                                                Credits
                                                                                                  Available until
                                                                                                  Status
                                                                                                  Pending
                                                                                                  Credits
                                                                                                    Available until
                                                                                                    Status
                                                                                                    Not Offered
                                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                                      Status
                                                                                                      Not Offered
                                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                                        Available until
                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                        Not Offered
                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                        • 1.0 elimination of bias
                                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                                        February 16, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                        Approved
                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                                          Status
                                                                                                          Pending
                                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                                          • 1.0 general
                                                                                                          Available until

                                                                                                          January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                          Status
                                                                                                          Available
                                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                                            Available until
                                                                                                            Status
                                                                                                            Pending
                                                                                                            Credits
                                                                                                              Available until
                                                                                                              Status
                                                                                                              Pending
                                                                                                              Credits
                                                                                                              • 1.0 general
                                                                                                              Available until

                                                                                                              December 31, 2027 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                              Status
                                                                                                              Approved
                                                                                                              Credits
                                                                                                              • 1.0 general
                                                                                                              Available until

                                                                                                              January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                              Status
                                                                                                              Available
                                                                                                              Credits
                                                                                                                Available until
                                                                                                                Status
                                                                                                                Pending
                                                                                                                Credits
                                                                                                                  Available until
                                                                                                                  Status
                                                                                                                  Pending
                                                                                                                  Credits
                                                                                                                  • 1.0 diversity
                                                                                                                  Available until

                                                                                                                  January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                                  Status
                                                                                                                  Available
                                                                                                                  Credits
                                                                                                                    Available until
                                                                                                                    Status
                                                                                                                    Pending
                                                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                                                    • 1.0 diversity, inclusion, and elimination of bias
                                                                                                                    Available until

                                                                                                                    January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                                    Status
                                                                                                                    Available
                                                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                                                    • 1.0 general
                                                                                                                    Available until

                                                                                                                    December 31, 2024 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                                    Status
                                                                                                                    Approved
                                                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                                                      Status
                                                                                                                      Pending
                                                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                                                        Available until
                                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                                        Pending
                                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                                                          Status
                                                                                                                          Pending
                                                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                                                            Available until
                                                                                                                            Status
                                                                                                                            Pending
                                                                                                                            Credits
                                                                                                                              Available until
                                                                                                                              Status
                                                                                                                              Pending
                                                                                                                              Credits
                                                                                                                                Available until
                                                                                                                                Status
                                                                                                                                Pending
                                                                                                                                Credits
                                                                                                                                  Available until
                                                                                                                                  Status
                                                                                                                                  Not Offered
                                                                                                                                  Credits
                                                                                                                                  • 1.0 general
                                                                                                                                  Available until

                                                                                                                                  January 25, 2025 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                                                  Status
                                                                                                                                  Approved
                                                                                                                                  Credits
                                                                                                                                    Available until
                                                                                                                                    Status
                                                                                                                                    Pending
                                                                                                                                    Credits
                                                                                                                                      Available until
                                                                                                                                      Status
                                                                                                                                      Pending
                                                                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                                                                      • 1.0 diversity and inclusion
                                                                                                                                      Available until

                                                                                                                                      January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                                                      Status
                                                                                                                                      Approved
                                                                                                                                      Credits
                                                                                                                                        Available until
                                                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                                                        Not Eligible
                                                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                                                        • 1.0 general
                                                                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                                                                        January 25, 2026 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                                                        Approved
                                                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                                                        • 1.0 equity
                                                                                                                                        Available until

                                                                                                                                        January 21, 2029 at 11:59PM HST

                                                                                                                                        Status
                                                                                                                                        Approved
                                                                                                                                        Credits
                                                                                                                                          Available until
                                                                                                                                          Status
                                                                                                                                          Not Eligible
                                                                                                                                          Credits
                                                                                                                                            Available until
                                                                                                                                            Status
                                                                                                                                            Not Eligible
                                                                                                                                            Credits
                                                                                                                                              Available until
                                                                                                                                              Status
                                                                                                                                              Pending

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