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Initiatives and Accomplishments

Administration for Community Living Memorandum of Agreement

Building on a partnership that started in 2012, ODEP and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on September 11, 2015. Under the agreement ODEP and ACL will collaborate to support states' efforts to improve Employment First opportunities for people with disabilities.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary

DOL conducts a range of activities in observance of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, including an event featuring Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, former Senator Tom Harkin and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, as well as a series of blog posts illustrating the law's impact on agencies across DOL. ODEP also develops an online disability employment history timeline and solicits stories from people with disabilities about the impact the ADA has had on their life and career.

Career Development Guide for States

Statewide implementation of quality comprehensive career development programs and activities is a promising strategy that states can use to achieve the dual goals of college and career readiness. To support states in implementing this strategy, ODEP and the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth issue Designing Statewide Career Development Strategies and Programs. The guide provides functional and pragmatic guidance and resources on implementing quality comprehensive systems of career development and includes promising practices states have used such as the use of individualized learning plans.

Community Colleges Demonstration Project

Through the Pathways to Careers: Community Colleges for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities Demonstration Project, Onondaga Community College and Pellissippi State Community College developed and began to implement models designed to enhance their institutional capacity to provide effective inclusive service delivery for students with disabilities. Comprehensive career development and individualized planning based upon the Guideposts to Success are an integral part of the models.

Disability Employment Statistics

ODEP continues to collaborate with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect monthly data on people with disabilities in the workforce. As part of this, a report titled Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics — 2014 is developed and disseminated.

Disability Employment Initiative Grants

DOL awards nearly $15 million in grants to six states — Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, New York and Washington — to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities. These grants represent the sixth round of funding under the Disability Employment Initiative jointly funded and administered by ODEP and DOL's Employment and Training Administration.

Disability and Employment Symposium

ODEP collaborates with the Interagency Committee on Disability Research to host Disability and Employment Symposium: Research Informing Practice. The event examines interactions among employment research, practice and policy.

Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), an ODEP-funded technical assistance center, engages in numerous activities throughout the year, all designed to help private and public sector employers foster a workplace culture inclusive of people with disabilities. Highlights include a new bi-weekly e-newsletter and Do Ask, Do Tell, a report developed in collaboration with The Conference Board on challenges to and strategies for encouraging disability disclosure, and a customizable resource package for state policymakers to assist in implementing states as model employer policies.

Employer Engagement Strategy

ODEP releases the Employer Engagement Strategy Final Report, which provides an overview of a new marketing framework for its employer-centered work. Created in collaboration with the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, the report details strategies and potential tactics employers can implement to improve corporate culture and facilitate the growth and expansion of their disability and inclusion activities.

Employment First

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard and Delaware Governor Jack Markell sign a letter to the Governors of States and U.S. territories promoting Employment First — a national movement encouraging the alignment of policy, practice and funding to advance competitive, integrated employment as the preferred outcome of publicly financed services for people with significant disabilities. In further support of Employment First, ODEP's LEAD Center develops the National Employment First Policy & Data Platform to help policymakers, researchers and others learn about various states' related activities. Additionally, as part of its Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program, ODEP launches the "Employment 1st State Ambassadors Network" to highlight exemplary leadership in this area among local and state officials.

Families and Work Institute Alliance

ODEP signs an alliance agreement with the Families and Work Institute (FWI) as a way to promote flexible employment policies that facilitate the increased employment of workers with disabilities. FWI is a non-profit that conducts research to solve challenges faced by today's families with innovative solutions — such as workforce flexibility around not only time and place, but also job task, a proven strategy for increasing the employment of people with disabilities.

Families National Online Dialogue and Resource

ODEP hosts an ePolicyWorks national online dialogue to gather ideas from families of youth and young adults in postsecondary education on how postsecondary institutions can better engage families in supporting student success in education and employment. As a result of this dialogue, ODEP issues a new brief, Supporting Families of Students with Disabilities in Postsecondary Education, which promotes that meaningful engagement of families be included in the arsenal of strategies used by post-secondary institutions to increase retention and persistence.

Federal Disability Workforce Consortium

ODEP continues to lead the Federal Disability Workforce Consortium, a collaborative workgroup to improve the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities in the federal government. Major activities include the sponsorship of several webinars as well as a Disability Employment Federal Strategic Planning and Engagement Session, which convened 50 leading thinkers on diversity-related employment issues from across the federal sector.

Federal Youth Transition Plan

The Federal Partners in Transition (FPT) — a workgroup of federal agencies, including ODEP — releases 2020 Federal Youth Transition Plan: A Federal Interagency Strategy. The report outlines how FPT will enhance interagency coordination through the identification of compatible outcome goals and policy priorities, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for youth with disabilities by 2020.

Healthcare Transition Guide for Youth

In partnership with the Youth Transitions Collaborative and Got Transition, ODEP releases a new guide that aims to strengthen the connection between healthcare transition and career planning. The Transition QuickGuide: Take Charge of Planning and Managing Your Own Health and Career Goals provides information for youth about health insurance coverage, self-care, health care transition, decision-making and career planning.

HIV/AIDS Service and Housing Providers

ODEP and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development release all three modules of Getting to Work: An Online Training Curriculum for HIV/AIDS Service Providers and Housing Providers. The interactive multi-media curriculum helps HIV/AIDS service providers, including housing providers, understand how increasing access to employment and training services for people living with HIV/AIDS benefits individuals, families and communities.

Inclusive Internships Guide for Employers

ODEP releases a new resource for employers seeking to diversify their workforce with the skills and talents of people with disabilities, especially young adults with disabilities. Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers addresses the benefits of internships to both individuals and employers and the various steps employers should consider when establishing internship programs to ensure they are open to all qualified candidates.

Inclusive Service Joint Letter and Resource

ODEP and the Corporation for National and Community Service jointly issue a "Dear Colleague" letter, titled Inclusive Service as a Pathway to Employment 25 Years after the Americans with Disabilities Act, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the ADA and its legacy of equal opportunity and inclusion. This letter also features a new ODEP resource, Fostering Inclusive Volunteering and Service Learning, which guides youth service professionals through the process of facilitating youth engagement in service.

Job Accommodation Network

The ODEP-funded Job Accommodation Network maintains its role as the leading source of free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. In addition to offering one-on-one guidance to employers and employees with disabilities, JAN consultants deliver speeches, host educational webinars, and produce publications on accommodation issues, as well as the Low Cost, High Impact report, an annual study on the cost of accommodations.

LEAD Center

The LEAD Center, a national training and technical assistance center funded by ODEP, produces a number of resources throughout the year. In addition to developing the interactive National Employment First Policy & Data Platform, it hosts numerous webinars, including among them a four-part series on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act from a disability perspective. Other highlights include a regularly issued policy update on employment, health care and disability and the "LEAD On!" quarterly newsletter.

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth)

NCWD/Youth, a national training and technical assistance center funded by ODEP, specializes in disability, education, employment, and workforce development policy to support the successful transition of all youth, including youth with disabilities. In addition to delivering resources and webinars on various topics, NCWD/Youth amasses particular expertise in a career development vehicle known as Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs), its Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Training Module for youth service professionals, and its Guideposts for Success evidence-based framework.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2015

ODEP leads the 70th National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) observance, with employers and advocacy organizations across the nation participating through a range of activities. The 2015 theme — "My Disability is One Part of Who I Am" — reflects that people with disabilities are the sum of many parts, including their work experiences. A highlight of the month is a USA Today op-ed on the employment of people with disabilities penned jointly by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Navigating College Guide for Students with Disabilities

ODEP publishes a resource, Making My Way through College, aimed at assisting students with disabilities in navigating postsecondary education. The guide provides information on getting oriented to college life, exploring career interests and making an individualized plan aligned to personal goals, and taking advantage of various opportunities and support to ensure college and career success.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Inclusive Apprenticeships

ODEP works with DOL's Employment and Training Administration on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on increasing the representation of people with disabilities and other historically under-represented groups in apprenticeship programs. To assist employers in translating the proposed changes, ODEP's Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion publishes a policy brief synopsizing the key provisions from a disability perspective.

Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology

ODEP's Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) continues to strengthen its website, PEATworks.org, and engage stakeholders through a variety of education, outreach and knowledge-sharing activities. In addition to convening the inaugural meeting of the "PEAT Think Tank," the initiative launches the PEAT Talks virtual speaker series and a bi-monthly e-newsletter. PEAT also publishes a research report on the accessibility of online job applications and other e-recruiting tools.

Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society Alliance

As part of its alliance with ODEP, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society works with Topps to issue a series of baseball cards that celebrate past and present Major League Baseball players with disabilities.

Registered Apprenticeship Programs for People with Disabilities

A new report, Registered Apprenticeship Programs: Improving the Pipeline for People with Disabilities, summarizes research findings and discusses strategies and recommendations for including people with disabilities in apprenticeship programs. A related Training and Employment Notice, Expanding Registered Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeships to Create a Pathway to Good Middle Class Jobs for Youth and Adults with Disabilities, is jointly issued by the Employment and Training Administration and ODEP.

Section 188 Disability Reference Guide

DOL issues Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide, which helps ensure nondiscrimination and equal opportunity to persons with disabilities participating in programs and activities operated by Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant recipients that are part of the public workforce system, including American Job Centers. The resource is developed collaboratively by ODEP along with DOL's Civil Rights Center, Employment and Training Administration and Solicitor's Office.

Small Business & Disability Employment: Steps to Success

Based on information gleaned from the Add Us In initiative, ODEP creates Small Business & Disability Employment: Steps to Success — a free, online toolkit available off of AskEARN.org that provides practical guidance for small businesses on how to recruit and retain qualified people with disabilities. It also describes approaches business associations can use to educate their members on the issue and raise awareness in their communities.

Society for Human Resource Management Alliance

ODEP renews its alliance agreement with the Society for Human Resource Management at the organization's 2015 Employment Law and Legislative Conference. A focus of the agreement is encouraging personnel managers to improve their companies' compliance with wage and hour laws, and open doors and opportunities to workers with disabilities. Reflecting this, the organizations collaborate on a number of activities, including conferences and other events.

State Exchange on Employment & Disability

ODEP launches the State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED), a new initiative designed to help state legislators effectively address policy barriers in areas such as transportation, technology and others that may hinder employers in their state from tapping into the skills and talents of people with disabilities. Central to SEED is partnerships with several state intermediary groups, including the National Conference of State Legislatures and Council of State Governments, to help disseminate disability policy and subject-matter expertise at the state level.

Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Policy Collaborative

ODEP funds the Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAW/RTW) Policy Collaborative, which promotes positive SAW/RTW outcomes for workers who experience a chronic illness, disability or medical condition. In addition to producing a number of reports and publications, the collaborative hosts webinars as well as a national online dialogue, Promoting Retention and Re-employment Following Injury or Illness.

Transition Systems Guide for Youth and Youth Service Professionals

With the publication of Transition Truths: An Overview of Transition Systems, ODEP creates a resource that details the major transition systems serving youth, including youth with disabilities, in their transition to adulthood. Youth can work with youth service professionals to explore the framework and function of each system and identify changes that may be needed within their communities.

White House Summit on Disability Inclusion

ODEP participates in a White House Summit on Disability and Employment held to address strategies for preparing the next generation of workers with disabilities, as well as advance the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act's disability-related provisions. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez delivers the Summit's keynote, and attendees receive a new Resource Guide for Employers on Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining and Promoting People with Disabilities. As an outcome of the Summit, the federal cross-agency "Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative" compiles a set of 25 suggestions for employers on how to increase disability inclusion in their workplaces.

"Who I Am" PSA

The ODEP-funded Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) distributes the "Who I Am" public service announcement (PSA) featuring cast members who, rather than be defined by disability, are the sum of their many life roles — including their occupations. As a complement to the PSA, the CDE also releases coordinating posters and a discussion guide designed to help employers, affinity groups, educators and others stimulate conversation about the value and talent we all bring to the workforce.

WIOA Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities meets six times in 2015 and submits a draft Interim Report summarizing its progress and preliminary recommendations. Formed as a key provision of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the Committee is charged with exploring the use and oversight of Section 14(c) certificates allowed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, along with ways to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities. Throughout the year, it hears public testimony from many organizations and individuals, as well as presentations by experts on various aspects of competitive integrated employment. ODEP Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy serves as the Committee's Designated Federal Official.

Women and Trauma

The Women and Trauma Federal Partners' Committee, a cross-agency federal workgroup co-chaired by ODEP, hosts a national event, Building a Trauma-Informed Nation: Moving the Conversation into Action. The meeting spotlights effective implementation of trauma-informed approaches in four major areas: education, health care, the justice system, and communities and congregations.

Workforce Recruitment Program

ODEP continues to co-manage the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) with the U.S. Department of Defense to connect federal as well as private employers with highly qualified and motivated college students and recent graduates with disabilities. The 2015 WRP database includes more than 1,800 students hailing from more than 300 participating schools and is highlighted by DOL and DoD leadership as an effective strategy for meeting federal agencies' goals under Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities.

Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT)

ODEP sustains funding and support for YouthACT, a national initiative that provides teams of youth with disabilities and their adult partners with training needed to provide the youth with the leadership skills needed to be change agents within their local communities. In addition, YouthACT teams develop and release two youth-driven informational briefs in 2015: Hitting the Open Road after High School: How to Choose Your Own Adventure to Success! and By Youth, For Youth: Employment.