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Initiatives and Accomplishments


ODEP continues to promote apprenticeship as an important strategy for job seekers and for businesses seeking skilled workers. To complement its #ApprenticeshipWorks Video Series, ODEP releases its #ApprenticeshipWorks Guides for individuals, educators/service providers and businesses, and publishes a blog about apprenticeships and disability, titled “Apprenticeship and the American Dream.”

Campaign for Disability Employment

The ODEP-funded Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) continues its work to shape attitudes about the employment of people with disabilities and foster dialogue around the important issue. The CDE's "Who I Am" public service announcement (PSA) remains in circulation with great success, and the campaign hosts a series of Twitter chats about key issues, including mentoring, inclusive work environments for people with mental health disabilities, and accommodations. The CDE also brings on two new Members, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion and the National Organization on Disability, and begins planning the production of a new PSA.

Data and Resources to Inspire a Vision of Employment (DRIVE)

ODEP and its partners at the LEAD Center enhance and rebrand one of its leading web tools as DRIVE–Data and Resources to Inspire a Vision of Employment. The comprehensive website houses more than 80 disability-employment related statistics, state disability employment policies by various categories, capacity-building information and more. It also features the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plan Matrices tool–which analyzes WIOA state plans based on 12 elements with an employment focus–as well as the Most Integrated Employment Settings State Self-Assessment to help promote cross-system coordination and to track progress within and between systems.

Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion

The ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) continues to educate public- and private-sector organizations on ways to build inclusive workplace cultures. Its ongoing education and outreach efforts include a webinar series, a bi-weekly newsletter and “Inclusion@Work,” an updated employer framework and web tool to help employers advance disability inclusion across the employment lifecycle. EARN also launches a Section 501 InfoCenter, which helps Federal agencies understand the updates to regulations implementing Section 501 announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January 2017.

Employment First

The national movement of Employment First—which encourages systems change to align policy, practice and funding to advance competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities–continues to expand. Highlights include the release of a Pilot Provider Transformation Manual by ODEP's Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP), the purpose of which is to help guide and support provider organizations interested in transforming their service delivery models to have an Employment First emphasis on competitive integrated employment. ODEP also showcases a series of videos highlighting EFSLMP success stories from three states.


Through ePolicyWorks, ODEP partners to mount and manage 10 national online dialogues on a range of timely policy issues, resulting in ideas and feedback from key stakeholders to inform and influence its policy efforts. Among the issues addressed are the talent pipeline, ABLE Act, stay-at-work/return-to-work, workplace rights and responsibilities for disabled veterans, states as model employers, careers in the arts for people with disabilities and autonomous vehicles. As a complement to several dialogues, ePolicyWorks also hosts Twitter chats to engage citizens in real time. The year also marks the launch of the ePolicyWorks blog, “Conversations on Policy,” a platform for federal agencies, policymakers, public and private entities, and citizens to share strategies to engage citizens and stakeholders in the policy development process.

Federal Government Collaboration

ODEP continues to participate in the “Equal Opportunity Workgroup,” an interagency working group (comprised of representatives from ODEP, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Office of Personnel Management) focused on increasing disability inclusion in the federal workforce. As part of this, it convenes the Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED) on a quarterly basis to discuss timely issues and gather feedback on how to best assist Federal agencies in achieving their disability inclusion goals, including those required under the new Section 501 regulations issued in January 2017.


ODEP continues to represent DOL on both the Federal HIV/AIDS Web Council and National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Interagency Workgroup, helping to provide an employment focus to domestic HIV/AIDS efforts. It also works with the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration on a three-year initiative to design, pilot and assess innovative strategies for coordinating employment services, housing support, and HIV care and treatment for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS. In honor of World AIDS Day 2017, ODEP publishes a blog about the importance of employment to people living with HIV/AIDS and these and other initiatives to promote it.

Job Accommodation Network

ODEP's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) continues to serve as the leading source of expert guidance on workplace accommodations, offering one-on-one guidance to employers and employees with disabilities, as well as conducting a robust schedule of webcasts, Twitter chats, blogs and live presentations at conferences across the nation. JAN also issues its annual Low Cost, High Impact report on the cost of accommodations

LEAD Center

The ODEP-funded LEAD Center, a national training and technical assistance center managed by the National Disability Institute, continues to conduct a variety of research and technical assistance activities aimed at promoting systems-level change to increase employment and economic advancement for people with disabilities. In efforts to help educate about disability-related provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, it works with the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology to develop “American Job Centers and Digital Access: A Guide to Accessible Information and Communication Technology.” The LEAD Center also creates a range of employment-related resources on the ABLE Act and on the Guided Group Discovery process, which lays the foundation for competitive integrated employment as a Universal Design that can benefit all job seekers.

Mental Health

From blog posts to webinars, ODEP and its partners engage in a number of activities designed to promote inclusive workplace practices for people with mental health disabilities. ODEP also joins the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee and hosts a Twitter chat on the topic of mental health through its Campaign for Disability Employment and webinar on the topic in the context of the higher education work environment as part of its alliance with the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium.

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

ODEP's youth technical assistance center, National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth), continues to assist state and local workforce development systems to better serve all youth, including youth with disabilities and other disconnected youth. Highlights include the dissemination of resources on the Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT), which aims to increase positive youth-adult partnerships where young people and adults work together, share power, and support and learn from each other to build stronger communities. NCWD/Youth also issues an info brief describing strategies and considerations for designing and delivering professional development for youth service professionals at the state and local levels.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

ODEP leads the 2017 observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Centered around the theme “Inclusion Drives Innovation,” the campaign features a wide range of individual NDEAM-related activities and events hosted by employers and disability-related organizations across the country, and is recognized with a Presidential Proclamation.

Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology

ODEP's Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) continues its efforts to foster dialogue and action around accessible technology in the workplace. These include the PEAT Talks virtual speaker series and e-newsletter, a podcast series entitled “The Future of Work,” and several PEAT-hosted roundtables and online dialogues that generate ideas for advancing the adoption of accessible workplace technology. PEAT also launches several web tools in 2017, including Buy IT–Your Guide for Purchasing Accessible Technology and Policy Matters, a resource exploring federal regulatory developments around accessible technology.

Policies in Practice Profiles

ODEP continues profiling people with a range of disabilities at work in a variety of occupations. In 2017, it adds seven new profiles to its collection: Lindsay Adams-Spinner, Diego Mariscal, Amir Rahimi, Erin Thompson, Nirath Seri, John Winfrey and Roxanna Arce-Tyndale.

State Exchange on Employment & Disability

ODEP's State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED) collaborates with state intermediary partners, including the Council of State Governments, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association and Women in Government, to explore and consider policy options highlighted in Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities. As part of this, the SEED team engages more than 40 states, providing direct technical assistance to 16, and participates in more than 50 state policy-focused events. Among notable outcomes is the formation of the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force, convened through an Executive Order issued by the governor to address barriers to workforce inclusion of people with disabilities in the state.


ODEP continues research and evaluation to understand strategies for keeping people in the labor force following onset of disability due to injury or illness. As part of this, ODEP collaborates with SSA and other Federal agencies to lay plans for grants to test innovative models at the state level, as directed in the President's proposed FY17 budget, issuing a Request for Information to gather insight on how the demonstration program should be designed to most effectively promote labor force attachment, coordinate employment and health services, and support injured and ill workers in returning to or remaining at work.


ODEP engages in a number of activities designed to promote accessible, reliable transportation as a key employment support for Americans with disabilities. These include an ePolicyWorks National Online Dialogue, Twitter chat and blog post on autonomous vehicles, among other efforts to gather insights on transportation technologies that can best serve to increase workplace participation for the disability community.

Workforce Recruitment Program

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, ODEP continues to manage the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), which connects federal agencies both in and outside of Washington, D.C., as well as private employers, with highly qualified college students and recent graduates with disabilities seeking summer internships or long-term employment. The WRP's 2017 database includes nearly 2,000 students from 300 colleges and universities across the nation. In addition, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion publishes two new profiles of WRP participants working in the private sector.