People with disabilities can work and want to work. Given the growing body of evidence that demonstrates that workers with disabilities meet or exceed the job performance of co-workers without disabilities, the continuing high unemployment rate and low labor force participation rate of people with disabilities deprive the nation of a valuable pool of talent. Increasing the employment of people with disabilities produces significant benefits to the economy, the nation, and people with disabilities themselves.
Webinar: Explores serving individuals with disabilities in a demand-driven system and ways to be responsive to employers by promoting the employment of people with disabilities as an untapped labor source of qualified workers. It shares practices for making the business case for hiring people with disabilities and working with employers. Resources such as web-sites, business cases, fact sheets, employer toolkits, and other materials to use with employers when promoting the recruitment and retention of people disabilities are presented.
“Diversity” may often be associated solely with individuals who represent multi-cultural minority groups. However, it is representative of individuals who exhibit a myriad of unique and differing attributes, characteristics and life experiences. Diversity is evident in aspects of race, culture, religion, age, language, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, class and any traits which make us different from one another. Along with the nation’s growing diversity is a rise in globalization, in which communities, cultures and economies around the world have become more interconnected through the expansion of technology, communication and trade. As a result, all types of associations and the public sector must aim for the highest quality and most effective workforce to compete in a global marketplace.
On October 26, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy conducted an in-depth roundtable discussion on how the workforce system can better serve youth with disabilities. The purpose of the Roundtable was to assist DOL in identifying critical issues and successful strategies that impact the provision of employment and training services provided to this population under the Workforce Investment Act. Specifically focused on youth with disabilities, ages 14-24, the Roundtable looked at the broad issues affecting these youth, as well as issues specifically surrounding mental health and learning disabilities. DOL intends to utilize the information collected from this dialogue to formulate guidance, policies, recommendations, and successful strategies that will expand the capacity of our workforce system to:
Disability Program Navigators (DPNs) throughout the country have developed and implemented successful strategies in the public workforce system to promote the employment and economic self-sufficiency of persons with disabilities. This Information Brief highlights how DPNs are improving access to financial education; home ownership ad entrepreneurial programs, and increased use of the Earned Income Tax Credit to expand economic opportunities of job seekers with disabilities. One asset building strategies being used. One very successful strategy has been facilitating the One-Stop Career Centers to become Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites.
Think Beyond the Label Campaign Kicks Off A national marketing campaign, Think Beyond the Label (TBTL)was launched at the end of January 2010. The campaign is the result of a collaborative effort by more than 30 Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG) projects and is managed by Health & Disability Advocates, parent organization of the National Consortium for Health Systems Development. Think Beyond the Label targets small and mid-sized businesses and is designed to make the business case for employers to hire people with disabilities by providing them with: 1. information needed to hire people with disabilities; 2. tools necessary to integrate people with disabilities into the workforce; and 3. local resources to help them access this segment of the labor pool. The campaign includes television and print advertising as well as Internet marketing. It has generated interest from the business community and garnered local and national attention from a broad range of disability employment stakeholders as well as media. National TV ads are running on news outlets including CNN, Headline News, ESPN and other channels. Wirestone, the media agency that created Think Beyond the Label, has developed a comprehensive social media strategy that includes the use of a web site or digital hub, http://www.thinkbeyondthelabel.com, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and other Internet markets. Visit http://www.thinkbeyondthelabel.com
Benefits & Employment Services for Veterans with Disabilities Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project (HVRP) Fact Sheet #9 http://www.hvrp.org/resources/content.cfm/879 There are a variety of benefit programs and employment services available to veterans who experience a disability that play a critical role in making meaningful employment happen. In the process of pursuing employment it is important to identify the current benefits (cash benefits and health insurance) a veteran is utilizing, to plan out any changes that might occur once working, if any, and identify special work rules those benefit programs may have that support work. Additionally, there are several employment programs that assist veterans in securing and maintaining employment. These programs can provide crucial support in developing a plan for employment and accessing needed services and support. This paper provides an overview of the main employment services and benefits available to veterans with disabilities.
The theme for the 2010 National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Talent has no boundaries: Workforce diversity includes people with disabilities, emphasizes the rich diversity and talent that workers with disabilities bring to the workplace. During the month of October, Workforce3 One’s Disability and Employment Community of Practice will be showcasing resources to help increase the awareness of workforce professionals and the business community of the benefits and resources available to employers hiring and accommodating qualified job applicants and employees with disabilities. These resources include an Employer 30-Second Training Series and Resource Guide, and a Promising Practice on valuable support strategies that have been implemented both within and outside of public workforce investment systems. These resources will also be highlighted during the month of November through a Workforce3 One Webinar and Podcast. One-Stop Career Center staff can feel overloaded with training and information while serving a diverse and demanding population of job seekers and employers With high unemployment in many regions across the country, there is a sense of urgency in the public workforce investment system to meet the immediate needs of its customers. In addition to helping job seekers secure employment and satisfying the demands of employers, One-Stop Career Center staff participate in frequent training and are introduced to lots of resources. While there is an appreciation for training and resources that are both required and useful, staff can feel overloaded with information, especially in areas in which they are inexperienced or uncertain. Therefore, “30-Second Trainings” and supplemental Resource Guides to increase the public workforce investment system’s knowledge on disability and employment issues were developed.
On Septmebr 30, 2010, DOL awarded $21.5 million to 9 states to implement the new Disability Employment Initiative (DEI). The major purposes of the DEI is to promote positive employment outcomes of persons with disabilities to achieve career pathway jobs and to expand the capacity of the One-Stop Career Center system to serve persons with disabilties.
The Center for American Progress just issued a Report, entitled "Degree Completion Beyond Institutional Borders: Responding to the New Reality of Mobile and Nontraditional Learners." This Report describes the avenues that colleges, states, and other organizations take to recognize prior learning and transfer credit. It also identifies the flaws in policies that block students from efficiently gaining credit as they move through and among institutions. The Report uses case studies to explore emerging and established examples of colleges and systems that make the most of the learning that students acquire without scarificing integrity or quality. It recommends best practices and new ways to think about the construction of a college degree by focusing on competencies and other learning outcomes, instead of merely credit hours.
In July, 2010, Ernst & Young developed a Handbook, " Getting Support, Supporting Others: A handbook for working with non-visible disabilities." This hanbook is targeted to persons with disabilities, HR staff, and supervisors/co-workers. The handbook's purpose is to provide a basic level of understanding among employees in the hopes of fostering an environment "where everybody is limited only by talents, skills, and energy." The handbook defines "non-visible disability" and explores the pros and cons of disclosure, and addresses questions that employees with disabilities and their managers might have about how much information to share, how to handle questions about accommodations from co-workers, and how to deal with resentment or backlash from collegaues who perceive an accommodation as special teatment. "One of the most difficult decisions an individual with a non-obvious disability has to make is whether to inform people or not." Increasingly, the One-Stop Career Center system is seeing customers who have non-visible/non-diagnosed/non-identified disabilities.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of a new online toolkit to guide employers through the process of hiring veterans. The free toolkit is designed to assist and educate employers who have made the decision to include veterans and wounded warriors in their recruitment and hiring initiatives. Developed as part of the department's "America's Heroes at Work" initiative, the Veterans Hiring Toolkit features a straightforward six-step process pinpointing helpful tools for a business to design a veterans hiring initiative. These steps include creating an educated and welcoming environment for veteran employees; actively recruiting veterans, wounded warriors and military spouses; learning how to accommodate qualified veterans and wounded warriors in the workplace; and promoting an inclusive workplace to help retain veteran employees. The toolkit also helps employers navigate the plethora of resources for hiring veterans available to them. The final section of the toolkit features a quick reference list of online resources to help users find and welcome talented and skilled veterans into their companies. Examples include links to veterans employment service organizations, places to receive consultations on workplace accommodations and answers to common employer questions about hiring veterans and wounded warriors. Whether users are looking to create a veterans hiring program from scratch or retool existing efforts, the toolkit can help them design and implement a customized initiative. To access the toolkit, visit http://www.AmericasHeroesAtWork.gov/forEmployers/HiringTo
DOL/ETA's Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) has recently compiled a Guide, "Resources for Senior Community Services Employment (SCSEP) Grantees Working with Persons with Disabilities." This Guide is organized as follows: Disability 101/Etiquette/Definitions, Disclosure, Reasonable Accommodations, Mental Health Resources, Working with Employers, Workforce3One Web sites/Tools, National Technical Assistance Resources, Disability Laws and Regulations, and Information/ Contacts on the DEI Grants. It is directed to front-line staff.
Excerpts from transcript for video on web application Accessibility How can we reach a broader audience? This is a question asked at every web team meeting. Whether the context is marketing, outreach, or education every group that post content to the web wants to have it seen by a wider audience. So we launch strategic plans to get more traffic to our site, but is it possible that we are unknowingly limited those who encounter our site through its design. So we ask at the outset: Is our site perceivable by all Is our site operable by all Is our site understandable by all Is our site robust Answering yes to all of these questions means that we have a truly accessible site. Accessibility isn’t just about doing good works or being socially conscious. At the heart of it is about building standards compliant well-designed web apps. Accessible web apps work everywhere. They are truly accessible. Poorly designed products are by their nature inaccessible regardless of the users physical capabilities. Long gone are the days where the Internet is only available through a workstation locked down to a desk. Mobile devices of every kind access content on the Internet. Accessible to all also mean accessible everywhere. Sites that resize with ease and are structured logically make your web app infinitely more usable and at the same time accessible. Restrictions on web apps come in many forms. The device that a person uses to interact with the web is the key to accessibility. Screen readers are one technology that has received much attention when it comes to accessibility, but there are many more to be considered.
On December 3, 2010, the Center for American Progress and Hamilton Project issued a Report, "Supporting Work: A Proposal for Modernizing the U.S. Disability Insurance System." Excerpts from the Report: The Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has served to protect U.S. workers and their families from poverty and loss of medical care in the event of work-limiting disability since its inception in 1956. The program has become a crucial piece of the U.S. social safety net, and it creates substantial net benefits for citizens. In the ensuing fifty years since the program’s introduction, medical care and assistive technologies for treating and accommodating work-limiting disabilities have advanced, the physical demands of the workplace have lessened, and the societal consensus on the proper objective for treatment of disabled workers has greatly evolved. The SSDI program was designed to provide income support (and, after 1965, medical care) to workers transitioning from employment to early retirement and, in many cases, death. This goal was progressive for its time but is no longer aligned with current societal objectives. A modern disability insurance system should properly focus on assisting individuals with disabilities to maintain economic self-sufficiency and to enjoy the many benefits of gainful employment. Thsi Report provides a proposal for universal private disability insurance as a blueprint for modernizing the structure of the SSDI program. Once in place, the reformed program will better support workers with disabilities to remain employed and encourage their self-sufficiency. It also will reduce the dual wastes stemming from spending too few societal resources on helping individuals with disabilities remain employed and too many societal resources on supporting unnecessary long-term dependency of individuals who could be self-sufficient with the appropriate accommodation and support.
Client Success through Partnership: 2010 TANF and Workforce Meeting, July 2010 The final report is now available! The Administration for Children and Families Regions VI and VIII and the Employment and Training Administration Region IV came together to host the Client Success through Partnership: 2010 TANF and Workforce Meeting in Dallas, Texas from July 25-27, 2010. The meeting contained a series of targeted discussion forums, interactive plenary sessions, and peer-to-peer breakouts coordinated to improve partnership and collaboration among TANF and workforce programs. Over the two and one-half days, attendees were exposed to a variety of sessions presented by more than 20 distinguished experts and peers from the TANF, workforce, social service, and research communities.
The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has issued a Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) on supporting entrepreneurial and self-employment training through the workforce investment system. The purpose of the TEGL is to encourage states to establish parameters for funding such training under Title I of the Workforce Investment Act which authorizes the provision of entrepreneurial training to adult and dislocated workers, and authorizes entrepreneurial work experiences for youth. The TEGL replaces an earlier guidance letter and provides more detailed information about designing and implementing entrepreneurial and self-employment training strategies for adults, dislocated workers, and youth, and provides guidance about allowable costs and outcome tracking. The TEGL notes that entrepreneurship and small business development have been identified as an important employment option for populations that have challenges to employment. For example, self-employment may offer individuals with disabilities greater workplace flexibility and income opportunities. The TEGL identifies self-employment as a potential strategy for Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) grantee states. The guidance letter describes a variety of ways in which the workforce investment system can support entrepreneurship and self-employment. The TEGL also addresses performance accountability issues and suggests strategies such as using supplemental data sources and administrative records to assist in reporting on employment, retention and earnings measures. The TEGL is available at http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL/TEGL12-10acc.pdf.
The "Promising Practice Brief: Connecting with the business sector on the advantages of a diverse and inclusive workforce" has been released, January 2011. This Brief highlights how the Texas Disability Program Navigators (DPNs)are leading the charge to promote the inclusion of disability as part of diversity within the public workforce development system and in their local communities. As staff members of local Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stop Career Centers, Navigators are working to ensure that disability is embedded into diversity management training that is offered to local businesses, as well as included in diversity awareness provided to workforce development system staff and partners. This Promising Practice Brief highlights replicable and successful strategies for ways to: incorporate topics on diversity, including tapping into the potential market of the disability community, onto the agenda of employer roundtables, business luncheons, employer focus groups, and Business Service meetings within the One-Stop Career Centers; collaborate with the local chapters of the Chambers of Commerce, Human Resource associations, job fair organizers, and others in the business sector to integrate disability into a wide spectrum of statewide and local diversity initiatives. A Workforce3One webinar will be held on this Brief in April...stay tuned for details.
The US Business Leadership Network (BLN) has just issued a "Guide to Business-Branded Internships." The US BLN is the national disability organization that serves as the collective voice of over 60 BLN affiliates across North America, representing 5,000 employers. The USBLN: recognizes and supports best practices in the employment and advancement of people with disabilities; the preparedenss for work of youth and students with disabilities; and contracting with vendors with disabilities through the development and certification of disability-owned businesses The USBLN affiliates are business organizations headed by a lead employer who exemplifies best practices and shares experiences with other members-employers-within the state or region. These activities include career fairs, disability mentoring and internship, programs, and training programs, including disability business etiquette, accommodation, and other disability issues significant to employers. The USBLN belives the inclusion of students with disabilities is essential to assist business in preparing a talented and diversified American workforce to take on tomorrow's challenges. The USBLN created the TOWER Initiative to be proactive in providing students with disabilities,as well as businesses, the tools on work and employment readiness necessary to meet the demands of employers. Through the TOWER Initiative, the USBLN created this Toolkit to help employers include students with disabilities in new or existing internship programs. For more information about the USBLN visit: www.usbln.org.
Judith Cook and Carol Petersen, Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, developed a power point presentation entitled, "High Quality Customer Service for One-Stop Career Center Clients in Stressful Circumstances." Useful tips are provided on how to create calm through communication during an escalation with a customer and techniques for resolving workplace conflict.
The National Academy of Public Administration issued the United We Ride (UWR) National Dialogue Final Report." (February 2010) Transportation plays a critical role in providing access to employment, education, health care, community service, and other activities of community life. For people who do not drive or cannot afford an automobile, access to transportation services is one of the major barriers to essential services and everyday activities. Transportation challenges can be even greater for people with disabilities, older adults, and people with limited incomes. The UWR Dialogue brought together key stakeholders using collaborative web-based technologies to discuss the following broad question: "What ideas can improve access to affordable and reliable transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, and people with limited incomes?" The Dialogue had 783 registered participants. The four overarching themes were: 1) The process for creating coordinated transportation plans continues to need improvement; 2)Significant Federal policy barriers still exist to facilitate access to transportation services; 3) Mobility management strategies are underutilized in communities across the country; and 4) There are missed opportunities to bridge gaps between transportation and other community services.
Utilizing the Online Work Readiness Assessment (OWRA) to Improve the Employment Outcomes and Service Options for Low-Income Workers and TANF Participants. The Online Work Readiness Assessment (OWRA) is a free, interactive, online resource created to ensure that TANF participants are prepared to seek and/or maintain employment or work activities to improve self-sufficiency. Developed by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, OWRA is fully customizable and allows for the determination of specific work supports that a TANF participant may need to effectively engage in work activities. The tool helps TANF workers, intake staff and eligibility workers strategically think about how to assist participants to gain employment, maintain a job, and move toward self-sufficiency. Presented at the National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics Annual Conference, Al Fleming from the Office of Family Assistance and Dr. Jeanette Hercik and Christina Techico from ICF International provided a demo of the tool and offered lessons learned from the initial pilot tests.
Report Looks at Taxpayers with Disabilities In a report prepared for the IRS Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) effort, Wage and Investment Research and Analysis profiled taxpayers with disabilities using results from the 2009 Benchmark Survey. This report provides an update of the 2007 Disability Report and aims to assist SPEC and its partners to better understand the characteristics and services used by taxpayers with disabilities and to identify possible outreach strategies. The analysis was limited to working-age taxpayers, and includes the following findings: ? Taxpayers with disabilities were more likely to be unemployed and/or on disability. Approximately 46 percent of taxpayers with disabilities reported being unemployed and/or on disability compared to 13 percent of taxpayers without disabilities. ? Respondents with disabilities are low income taxpayers. Over half of respondents with disabilities had an adjusted gross income of less than $20,000. ? On average, taxpayers with disabilities received $800 less Earned Income Tax Credit when compared to taxpayers without disabilities. ? Awareness and use of free tax preparation services/resources among respondents with disabilities was low. Approximately 36 percent of respondents with disabilities were aware of volunteer tax preparation clinics; however, only six percent reported using these services. ? Taxpayers with disabilities identified tax preparation companies as the potentially most important resource/service used in completing their tax return. For the full report, including recommendations, see http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4640.pdf.
Serving People with Psychiatric Disabilities in Centers for Independent Living: A Fact Sheet The national network of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) increasingly serves individuals with mental health challenges or a combination of mental health and physical/sensory disabilities. This new 20-page publication from the Temple University Collaborative provides CIL staff with clear and current information to help them better respond to the needs of people in recovery from mental illnesses. Developed in conjunction with CIL staff and mental health consumers from around the country, the Fact Sheet provides brief responses to twelve frequently asked questions (e.g., what is mental illness? where can people with psychiatric disabilities turn for clinical care and rehabilitation services? what impact is the mental health consumer movement having on MH system services? how can CIL staff respond to the needs of mental health consumers?) as well as online linkages to websites with more detailed information and instruction for each topic. The publication is designed both for individual CIL staff and for use in CIL staff training programs focusing on this growing portion of the CIL consumer base. Serving People with Psychiatric Disabilities in Centers for Independent Living: A Fact Sheet can be downloaded at no cost from the Temple University Collaborative's new website - tucollaborative.org - and is available in a variety of accessible formats.
With the passage of the Workforce investment Act (WIA) in 1998 came a powerful message that the training and employment needs of a diverse population of job seekers and employers would be met within a single, universal One-Stop Career Center system. As a key principle of WIA, universal access offers the promise of a welcoming, integrated and user-friendly system where job seekers of all ages from various racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and with a range of education and work experiences, can reach their training and career goals. For job seekers, including those with disabilities, who encounter any number of challenges to employment, the One-Stop Career Center system provides equal access, participation and opportunity.
To contribute to the groundwork established by WIA legislation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA) directed funds through the Work Incentive Grant (WIG) projects and the Disability Program Navigator (DPN) initiative. Both initiatives supported policy development and systems change activities within the One-Stop Career Center system to improve access and meaningful participation of job seekers, including those with disabilities and multiple challenges to employment.
Through a variety of innovative strategies and approaches, Disability Program Navigators (DPNs/Navigators) helped to expand the capacity of the public workforce system to effectively serve and accommodate a more diversified population of job seekers. As a result of these varied approaches, DPNs impacted the career advancement and self-sufficiency of a diverse population of job seekers, including those with disabilities, veterans, transitional youth, individuals who are homeless, ex-offenders and many other job seekers who are considered underserved and/or at-risk.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has just produced three Fact Sheets targeted to the public workforce system. The Fact Sheets focus on: providing an overview of the Ticket to Work program, including the benefits of becoming an Employment Network (EN) and an EN payment chart; delineating Ticket to Work resources; and describing SSA's new electronic process to expedite payments to the One-Stops and/or S/LWIBs that become ENs.
The Department of Education's, Office of Vocational Adult Education (OVAE) has recently posted a publication entitled, "Learning to Achieve: A Professional’s Guide to Educating Adults with Learning Disabilities." This publication is a free evidence-based resource Guude for educators who work with adults with learning disabilities (LD). This Guide can be used as a stand-alone resource or to reinforce and extend professional development delivered with the "Learning to Achieve" program. Chapters provide information on characteristics of adults with learning disabilities and match them with examples of practical intervention strategies.
Recent Lessons from the Stimulus: Transportation Funding and Job Creation, Smart Growth America, February 2011. This Report analyzes states' investments in infrastructure to determine whether they made the best use of their spending based on job creation numbers. It evaluates how successful states have been in creating jobs with their flexible $26.6 billion of transportation funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
JAN has recently released two new Fact Sheetsb on The Interactive Process for the Reasonable Acccommodations Process. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the interactive process is not necessarily required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but from a legal standpoint, going through the process is a way for employers to show that they are making a good faith effort to comply with the ADA. And from a practical standpoint, it is a way to streamline the accommodation process and help insure that effective accommodations are provided. JAN Releases Fact Sheets on The Interactive Process: The Federal Sector. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires the Federal sector to provide effective, reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. To help determine effective accommodations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), recommends that agencies use an "interactive process," which simply means that employers and employees with disabilities who request accommodations work together. An effective interactive process is essential to Federal agencies in complying with Executive Order 13548.
Office of Vocational Adult Education's (OVAE Office of Correctional Education, within the Division of Adult Education and Literacy, recently released the report Community-based Correctional Education, which presents information from 15 community-based education programs in 10 states—from charter schools to technical colleges and adult education programs. They provide services for individuals serving all or part of a criminal sentence under parole or probation. Community-based correctional education has attracted attention as a potentially cost-effective way to address two challenges: rising correctional costs and the needs of those in the inmate population who generally have lower literacy and workforce skills than those in the general population. The report describes characteristics of community-based correctional education programs, their presence as viable and more cost-efficient alternatives to incarceration for improving public safety and decreasing recidivism rates, and the challenges and implications for state and federal policies in addressing these issues.
For more information you may access the full report at:http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/AdultEd/cbce-report-2011.pdf