To support the development of policies and practices/tools used to increase and improve employment opportunities for persons with a disability, ODEP conducts and oversees a wide variety of research and evaluation activities.


Current and Recently Completed Research

Spotlight on Women with Disabilities — The Office of Disability Employment Policy prepared this brief to examine the state of women with disabilities in the current labor market. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, we examine disability prevalence, education levels, employment and related characteristics, poverty, health insurance coverage and the impact of COVID-19 on the employment of women with disabilities.

Employment for Persons with a Disability: Analysis of Trends During COVID-19 Pandemic – Findings in Brief  — Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been unprecedented changes in employment for America’s workforce. Many businesses ceased or scaled back operations and many state governments issued stay-at-home orders. Using key labor force statistics from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) researchers with the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy sought to provide insight into the recent changes. This brief expands data published in September and explores changes in employment for people with and without a disability in various occupations and industries.

Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAW/RTW) Models and Strategies — Through its previous research and policy development efforts, ODEP determined that a compelling case could be made for advancing stay at SAW/RTW through early intervention strategies as a cost-effective, mutually beneficial means of partially addressing the high unemployment of Americans with disabilities. Successful SAW/RTW early intervention strategies, if sufficiently promoted, could result in lower costs for the American taxpayer, lower personnel costs for employers and higher incomes for recovering workers.

Improving the Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work outcomes of individuals who experience an injury or illness that inhibits their ability to work remains a key policy goal. Researchers found SAW/RTW programs available on a large scale may have the most impact on those workers likely to leave the labor force without such assistance. Developing effective SAW/RTW programs requires information about the current policy landscape and evidence about what kinds of SAW/RTW assistance is effective and for whom. The findings from this project also highlight a number of areas for future research and provide guidance on five strategies to expand evidence on effective SAW/RTW interventions.

Community College Interventions for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities — Evaluation — The Community College Interventions for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities Demonstration and Evaluation contributes to the growing evidence base on ways to best serve students with disabilities in higher education. Findings help enhance the policies and services designed to increase the enrollment and completion of community college programs among students with disabilities.

Survey of Employer Policies on the Employment of People with Disabilities — To design and administer a new survey to collect information from employers about organizational policies, practices, successes and challenges as well as attitudes and beliefs in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities. Similar to the 2008 survey that ODEP sponsored, this effort will help ODEP formulate targeted strategies and policies for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Improving Access to Data for Disability-Related Research — Collaborating with the National Academy of Social Insurance, ODEP sponsored this research to improve access to data to facilitate research on Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAW/RTW) topics from four key social insurance disability programs: Workers' Compensation, Temporary Disability Insurance, Paid Family Leave, and Social Security Disability Insurance. Improving access to data from these programs may help researchers identify populations who are best be suited for successful SAW/RTW interventions and evaluate the impact of various program characteristics on the outcomes of injured and ill workers. This report provides aggregate program data and information on the feasibility and process for obtaining individual level data from state agencies to facilitate SAW/RTW research. This report also evaluates three options for developing data sharing agreements and discusses the feasibility of developing a web-based resource that will house the aforementioned data in a format accessible to researchers.

Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) Evaluation Grant Rounds 1-4 — ODEP and the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) have jointly funded the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) to increase access to training and employment opportunities and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed, and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). ODEP has awarded DEI grants to 26 states in four rounds.

The Rounds 1-4 DEI Evaluation examines the implementation, outcomes, and impact of the DEI. The evaluation uses an experimental design that assesses the impact of the DEI. Evaluation activities began in the fall of 2010 and concluded in 2017. The DEI evaluation also includes a detailed analysis of issues related to program start-up, how grantees resolve implementation challenges, and approaches to creating sustainable systems change in local workforce development systems.

A final, comprehensive report published in 2019 is now available, following the conclusion of the evaluation activities and data collection in 2017.

Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) Evaluation Grant Rounds 5-6 — The Rounds 5-6 DEI Evaluation includes an implementation, outcome, and impact study. It also includes the collection of qualitative information designed to identify systems change and measure program fidelity. The impact study includes two distinct quasi-experimental designs (QED). One QED examined the impact of DEI interventions (integrated resource teams, blending and braiding of funds, customized employment, self-employment, guidepost for success, and asset development) on participants' employment and education outcomes. The second QED evaluated the impact of the career pathways component on participant outcomes.

A final, comprehensive report published in 2019 is now available.

State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED) Evaluation — To better understand the efficiency and practicality of the Office of Disability Employment Policy's SEED, a collaborative model dedicated to ensuring that state policymakers have the tools and resources they need to develop and disseminate meaningful polices related to disability-inclusive workforce development.

SSI Youth Recipient and Employment Transition Formative Research Project — The purpose of the SSI Youth Recipient and Employment Transition Formative Research project was to identify (1) promising programs and policies for youth SSI recipients, including research questions for further follow-up and (2) testable strategies or strategy models for assisting young SSI recipients with the transition to sustained, gainful employment.

The reports and resources developed from this project were informed by a panel of experts exploring important topics related to serving youth SSI recipients. The first report from the project is a synthesis of promising strategies to promote sustained, gainful employment for youth SSI recipients. The second report focuses on targets populations of youth SSI recipients (or youth at risk of becoming SSI recipients) and identifies those youth who would benefit the most from highlighted strategies. The third report evaluates the approaches identified in the first report and provides policymakers with compelling information for assessing the efficacy of promising strategies and the likelihood of their implementation at a broader scale. The project’s fourth report gives a description of the Community of Practice and its activities. The fifth and final report is a research brief that highlights collaborations between VR agencies and workforce development boards.

Evaluating the Accessibility of American Job Centers for People with Disabilities — To evaluate the accessibility of the network of American Job Centers (AJCs, formerly known as One-Stop Career Centers) to persons with disabilities.

Community College Interventions for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities — Evaluation — To conduct implementation and impact evaluations on innovative models for providing integrated education and career development services to youth and young adults with disabilities.

Evaluation of Customer Satisfaction with Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Technical Assistance Centers — ODEP in collaboration with DOL's Chief Evaluation Office sponsored this study to determine the extent to which external customers are satisfied with the technical assistance provided. The study also aims to document the processes and methods used by the Technical Assistance (TA) Centers to encourage the adoption and implementation of Office of Disability Employment Policy's (ODEP's) policies and practices by targeted and untargeted customers.

The American Job Center Accessibility and Services for People With Disabilities Including Ticket Holders of the Ticket to Work Program — In 2012, the US Department of Labor's Chief Evaluation Office partnered with the Office of Disability Employment Policy, and contracted with IMPAQ International, LLC and its partners, the Burton Blatt Institute and Universal Designers and Consultants, to measure the accessibility of American Job Centers (AJC) for people with disabilities. The main objective of this study was to rigorously measure the accessibility of the nation's AJC system to people with disabilities and, based on this information, make recommendations for improvements, as appropriate. A second study conducted focused on how American Job Centers served ticket holders of the Ticket to Work program.

Completed Research

ODEP has completed a number of research activities.