New Minnesota Fund Reimburses Employers for Costs of Reasonable Accommodations
Minnesota job seekers with disabilities have the skills, experience, drive, and determination that employers are desperate for. But many small and mid-size businesses worry about the cost of providing reasonable accommodations.
Minnesota’s NEW Employer Reasonable Accommodation Fund is Here to Help!
Now, through the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED’s) Employer Reasonable Accommodation Fund (ERAF) small to mid-sized Minnesota employers can request reimbursement for expenses related to providing reasonable accommodations for job applicants and employees with disabilities. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it connects great workers with great businesses.
What’s a Reasonable Accommodation?
Some examples of reasonable accommodations include ergonomic workstations, specialized software, captioning services, special equipment, and much more. Our website and the ERAF staff can walk you through the kinds of accommodations covered by the fund.
We're Here to Help
Do you have questions about reasonable accommodations? Do you need to know more about the ADA? The ERAF staff can answer questions, provide technical assistance, and provide more information about the fund and how it can help Minnesota businesses.
The joy of receiving assistive equipment spreads to family members and caregivers! The daughter of a recent grant recipients expresses the critical need for hardware/software packages that have extended or expanded her mother’s remaining vision.
Dear Eye-Link Board,
I am writing to thank you for the use of the LyriQ text to speech reader for my mother. She loves it, and has given her so much freedom. She can now read mail, daily devotions, and other literature without help. Our vision counselor Gena helped us set up the machine, and it is now a permanent fixture on Mom’s side table.
We sincerely appreciate your generosity and compassion.
Putting assistive equipment into the hands of visually impaired people is Eye-Link’s daily mission, sharing the joy our recipients feel is our reward.
Be My Eyes is an app that pairs a blind or low-vision user with a sighted volunteer based on language and timezone. The first volunteer to answer the request is connected to that specific user and receives live video feed from the rear-facing camera of the user's smartphone.
I recently signed up as a volunteer on the Be My Eyes app - https://www.bemyeyes.com/ and here is what I want you to know:
• Downloading the app and signing up is extremely easy.
• Currently, there are 492,555 blind/visually impaired users on the app.
• There are 6.5 million volunteers.
I encourage you to reach out to anyone you know struggling with vision loss to sign up for the Be My Eyes app. Within a few days of signing up, I received my first call and spoke with a gentleman named “David”. David was completely blind and needed help pairing his iPad to his Bluetooth speakers. While Siri was helpful, David was dealing with some frustrations of not knowing whether his iPad was on, loading, or if
With some simple instructions, we were able to get his speakers paired and working. It was great to hear how excited he was to have the problem solved. David said he had been a long time user of the Be My Eyes app, and that it had become invaluable in helping him navigate certain technologies.
Whether you are blind and need help or you want to volunteer, I would encourage everyone to take a deeper look into the Be My Eyes app. My call with David was a brief 10 minutes out of my day, but the joy of having assisted will last much longer.
Excerpts from a recent letter about how Eye-Link is helping individuals meet the challenges of eroding sight.
"Recently, I worked with Eye-Link Minnesota to get a Ruby 7 for my client Linda R. Linda continues to be very independent despite her remaining vision decreasing. Linda and I met in early 2023 and discussed her needs for her changing vision. We determined that a Ruby 7 would be perfect for her to integrate into her everyday life and continue to increase her independence. I contacted Eye-Link through the online application and within days, I heard back from Jeff Thompson that Linda was approved for a Ruby 7.
I sent it to Linda and heard from her almost immediately. She had tears in her eyes because of how amazing the product was AND how lucky she felt that she was approved. She said that this will not only help her, but also impact the lives around her because she won’t have to rely on them as much. She was and is so appreciative, she couldn’t express her thanks enough. As a counselor, that makes me incredibly happy and the state of Minnesota is so fortunate to have Eye-Link Minnesota “in our back pocket” in the instances that SSB cannot provide these life-changing devices.
Thank you again on behalf of not only myself, but also Linda R."
Lauren Eliason | Blind Rehabilitation Specialist
State Services for the Blind
The National Herald has reported that Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12), have reintroduced the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Act. This legislation would help vision-impaired Medicare beneficiaries live safe and independent lives by creating a five-year national demonstration project to evaluate the economic impact of allowing reimbursement for low vision devices, which are currently excluded from Medicare coverage.
The legislation was first introduced in the 116th Congress in 2019 and had 25 original co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
Medicare coverage for assistive equipment would offer more choice to visually impaired Americans who are Medicare eligible.
Representative Bilirakis, a visually impaired American himself, believes the legislation is a preventative measure that will help seniors stay healthy, active, and self-sufficient for a longer period of time as they access low vision assistive devices that have previously been out of reach for seniors on a fixed income.
Eye-Link presented its first grant in 2001, and continues to provide a wide range of specialized assistive equipment and adaptive technologies to visually impaired and blind residents in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, many who are Seniors challenged by substantial and uncorrectable sight loss.