Of Note


Disability.gov Redesign Improves User Experience


The U.S. Department of Labor re-launched its disability website, www.disability.gov late last summer in conjunction with the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As of July 27, Disability.gov, formerly DisabiltyInfo.gov, began featuring a wealth of information for veterans relating to the GI Bill, counseling services, assistance for homelessness, employment and training programs, starting a small business, accessible sports programs, and health care.

The site also offers comprehensive material relating to programs, services, and benefits to better serve the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities, their family members, veterans, employers, educators, caregivers, and anyone else interested in disability-related issues. It provides new social media tools and easy-to-navigate routes to information.

Disability.gov is managed by Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in collaboration with 22 federal partner agencies. Key topic areas include benefits, civil rights, community life, education, emergency preparedness, employment, health, housing, technology, and transportation.

Visitors can sign up for personalized news and updates, participate in online discussions, and suggest resources for the site. Disability.gov also has a Twitter feed, a blog, and a LinkedIn page.

Popularity Rises for VA Sports Events


More disabled veterans than ever before are participating in VA national rehabilitation and recreation events.

Two of the newest events, the National Veterans TEE Tournament in Iowa City, Iowa, and the Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego, California, recently attracted more than 250 veterans seeking physical challenge, rehabilitation, fellowship, and camaraderie.

The TEE Tournament, previously a local event, became VA’s sixth national rehabilitation program last year. It has expanded to include not only participants who are visually impaired but also amputees and those who use wheelchairs. It was held this year for the first time at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort near Iowa City.

BVA members Paul Kaminsky and Charles Zimmer, Florida and Michigan Regional Groups, respectively, were in a threesome that took first place in the Competitive team division. Their team score was a two-under-par 70, which included six team birdies. The golfers were grouped in fours except for two teams with three golfers. Paul also scored the longest drive and closest to the pin. Having to choose between one of the two for prize purposes, he picked his longest drive in order to win a new putter.

VA to Conduct Voc Rehab and Employment Survey


Approximately 23,000 veterans will be surveyed in an evaluation of the effectiveness of VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program (VR&E).
Economic Systems, Inc. and ICF International are the companies conducting the evaluation on VA’s behalf.

The survey, to be administered between December 2009 and February 2010, will include veterans who have participated or are currently participating in the VR&E program and those who were eligible to participate but, for various reasons, did not do so.

The questions relate to VA outreach, reasons for not applying to or not completing VR&E, use of other programs, employment and income, health status, and plans to use the post-911 education program. VA endorses the survey as an important effort to improve the program.

Veterans will be able to complete the survey in writing or online. It is voluntary and VA guarantees complete anonymity.

Carroll Center Appoints President


Michael E. Festa of Melrose, Massachusetts, is the new President of the Father Thomas J. Carroll Center for the Blind, a national provider of rehabilitation and educational services named for BVA’s first National Chaplain. Festa assumed his duties in late September.

Festa succeeds the retiring Rachel Rosenbaum, the Carroll Center Chief Executive Officer since 1976. He was a practicing attorney and served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1999 until 2007. He has most recently been the Secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where he promoted innovative opportunities for seniors to live more independently in the community.

The Carroll Center for the Blind serves more than 2,000 blind adults and children annually, preparing them for achievement in the classroom, independent living, and successful employment. It has been a leading provider of access technology training for blind and visually impaired persons since 1984.

The organization was founded by Father Carroll in 1954 as St. Paul’s Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and renamed in his honor in 1972.