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Office of Disability Employment Policy
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ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy

Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic

State Policy

Through a number of initiatives, ODEP works to guide and impact not only federal efforts, but also state-level policy related to the employment of people with disabilities. Such efforts allow ODEP to effectively engage and assist in the development and adoption of customized policy solutions based on the employment and economic realities in particular states and communities.

Employment First

One example is its work around Employment First, which helps states to align their policies and publicly funded service delivery systems to advance community-based, integrated employment as the first-choice option for people with disabilities. To advance Employment First, ODEP initiated the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program, which provides intensive technical assistance to core states, and an Employment First Community of Practice, which currently has approximately 1500 people representing government, disability service providers, and disability stakeholders across 45 states. Furthermore, to support these and other efforts, the ODEP-funded LEAD Center developed the National Employment 1st Online Policy & Data Web Platform, a comprehensive resource for policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders to obtain state-specific data, including comparisons, and learn about national trends and state Employment First activities.

State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED)

ODEP also works to advance state policy through the State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED)–a collaborative of leading state intermediary organizations working together to help state legislators ensure their state policies facilitate increased employment of people with disabilities. Specifically, SEED aims to ensure state–level legislation critical to employment–such as transportation and technology–is disability inclusive. To this end, SEED equips state legislators with timely data, sample policy language and technical assistance.

Current partners in SEED include:

  • National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL);
  • Council of State Governments (CSG);
  • National Governors Association; and
  • Women in Government (WIG).

One of the most significant outcomes of SEED thus far is the convening of a joint National Task Force on Workforce Development and People with Disabilities. This year-long effort, spearheaded by CSG and NCSL and co-chaired by Senator Beau McCoy (NE) and Governor Jack Markell (DE), brought together state policymakers to address barriers to employment and identify state-level policy solutions for building stronger, more inclusive workforces. Specifically, these individuals explored four policy areas impacting the employment of people with disabilities:

  • Career Readiness and Employability;
  • Hiring, Retention and Reentry;
  • Entrepreneurship, Tax Incentives and Procurement; and
  • Technology, Transportation and Other Employment Supports.

Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities The National Task Force issued a report, titled Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities, which offers state policymakers 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. Work Matters represents a commitment from the National Task Force to develop bi-partisan and state-driven policy options that are actionable and have broad appeal to a wide number of stakeholders. Each policy option contains a number of sub-options, suggested strategies and state examples that offer state policymakers an exceptional degree of customizability in considering disabilities employment policies.

In addition to identifying policy options to help state leaders advance disability employment policy, many National Task Force members have initiated policy movement in their states. Furthermore, on an ongoing basis, SEED provides direct technical assistance in response to requests from state policymakers seeking support to develop and implement effective disability employment policy options.

Through SEED, state intermediary partners are building capacity to support states in developing and implementing inclusive workforce policies. NCSL developed and maintains a Disability Employment Legislative Database, which provides current information on legislative efforts in the states and territories targeting disability employment and related issues. This database is accessible to state legislators and other policymakers without a fee, and tracks legislation from the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions, including 2015 carryover legislation, and covers: Major Disability Employment Policy Areas; Public and Private Sector Employment Strategies; Workforce Readiness and Education Efforts; Accessibility and Employee Supports; State Implementation of Federal Disability Policies; and Other Disability Policy Areas.

States as Model Employers (SAME)

ODEP’s Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is also involved in efforts to promote policy related to state governments’ own employment practices, specifically “State as Model Employer” (SAME) policies. As part of this project, NCSL also produces legislation scans state legislators can use to understand other states’ experiences, such as the Disability Employment State Statute and Legislation Scan. EARN continues to advance efforts with States as Model Employers of People with Disabilities: A Comprehensive Review of Policies, Practices, and Strategies.

Other EARN resources include:

  • A toolkit for state governments to use the celebration of The Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary (on July 26) as a way to create a state Executive Order or state proclamation. The purpose of an executive order or proclamation is to promote activities fostering states as model employers policy development and implementation.
  • A state statute legislative scan reviewing state and municipal government contracting procurement and tax incentive programs for disability owned businesses.
  • An infographic demonstrating the impact that states can have on employment for people with disabilities.