Providing Benchmarks for Inclusive State-Level Policy

Work Matters Framework

Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities offers state policymakers 13 broad policy options, as well as more than 240 real-life examples of innovative programs and policies that states have successfully implemented to build strong, inclusive workforces.

Work Matters is a culmination of intensive deliberation and research conducted by the National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities, a SEED collaboration convened by CSG and NCSL. The report features bi-partisan and state-driven policy options that are actionable and have broad appeal to a wide number of stakeholders, all with an exceptional degree of customizability.

Disability-Inclusive Policymaking Checklist

To assist policymakers in developing and implementing disability-inclusive policies, the SEED team has developed a simplified checklist [PDF] that includes an overview of the guiding principles, themes and policy options detailed in the Work Matters framework.

Framework Topics

SEED’s Work Matters framework serves as the foundation of its state and local policy assistance, and expands upon the following themes and topic areas:

Laying the Groundwork: Policies that communicate state-level commitment to supporting workforce development, and employment access and opportunity for people with disabilities, including the concept of state as a model employer.

Preparing for Work: Policies related to providing education and vocational training opportunities for youth and young adults with disabilities, including work-based learning opportunities.

Getting to & Accessing Work Opportunities: Policies ensuring that spaces, services, and technologies facilitate equal access to work opportunities, particularly related to transportation, technology, and the built environment.

Staying at Work: Policies providing employers with tools to retain and advance workers when injury, illness, or a change in disability status occurs.

Supporting Self-Employment & Entrepreneurship: Policies supporting access and opportunity for new and existing business owners with disabilities.

In July 2020, NCSL released an update to Work Matters, highlighting key legislative enactments and executive orders, as well as success stories around recent disability-inclusive policy efforts and actions in the states.

Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Toolkit

In Work Matters, stay-at-work/return-to-work (SAW/RTW) was identified as a critical priority area. In response, SEED and CSG launched the Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work State Policy Toolkit in a continued effort to support state-level SAW/RTW policy. This supplemental resource provides states with policy options, best practices, and implementation strategies to increase the retention of employees who become ill or injured while in the workforce.
View the Toolkit

State Engagement Snapshot for 2021: The graphic has three generic icons (a checkmark, US map, and a group of people with no features) with text below each of illustrates that states have enacted 111 Work Matters bills and executive orders across 33 states, with 31,190,556 people with disabilities.

This state engagement snapshot conveys the number of Work Matters-aligned state bills and executive orders enacted during 2021. These bills and executive orders have the potential to impact 31,190,556 people with disabilities living in the 33 states in which the policies were enacted. Work Matters was published by SEED and its partners in 2016 and features 13 broad policy options, as well as real-life examples of innovative programs and policies that states have successfully implemented to build strong, inclusive workforces. The National Conference of State Legislatures disability employment legislation database as well as a thorough review of signed state executive orders and enacted legislation serve as the basis for the information about bills and executive orders. The population of people with disabilities was derived from the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.