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Release: March 14, 2000

Disability employment forum offers bottom line information to area businesses

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Students from the University of Iowa College of Law legal clinic will join other disability service providers and speakers at a Monday, March 20 Open Door Forum. The goal of the Forum is to more fully inform the local business community about the advantages of employing persons with disabilities.

The Open Door Forum runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union South Room and is open to the public. Among various topics to be covered are information about the Americans with Disabilities Act employment provision and related accommodation information and free tax advice. The forum begins with registration and a continental breakfast followed by two early morning speakers who have experience advising businesses on how to successfully employ persons with disabilities.

At the forum, third- and second-year law students Erica Clinton and Gretchen Holt will serve on a four-person employment panel. They will be joined by Marilyn Turner, director, Iowa Commission on Disabilities, and Kent Johnson, coordinator, Missouri Americans with Disabilities Act Project. Law clinical professor Len Sandler supervises the students' collaborative work with the Johnson County Coalition for Persons with Disabilities, the forum's host. Sandler will also take participants' questions.

Guest speaker, Michele Ohmes, a Kansas City-based consultant, will give a 9:30 a.m. keynote address followed at 10:30 by Jeff Triplett of RMS McGladrey, who will address tax incentives and credits along with disability issues for businesses to consider. At 2:30 p.m., Ohmes will lead a one-hour access audit tour of the New Pioneer Co-Op, 22 South Van Buren Street, Iowa City.

Marilyn Belman, coalition chair, says the forum is designed to show that "with the help of assistive devices, disabled persons can be put to work. The forum is being held to make that bridge that will help put them to work."

Exhibitors, including staff from the Iowa Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT), the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Clinic, the Iowa Department for the Blind, and UI Information Technology Services will be among agencies and vendors offering advice. Others are emPower Computing Services, a provider of text-to-speech software, and other Web technologies for the disabled.

Persons interested in attending or learning more should call Marilyn Belman, (319) 338-3946 or via e-mail at