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ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy

Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic


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To support its efforts to develop and influence disability employment-related policies and practices, ODEP sponsors a wide variety of research and evaluation activities. Please see below for more information about these projects and the organizations that assist ODEP in conducting them.

Recent and Ongoing Research Projects

Current Population Survey (CPS) Supplement — ODEP and DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in collaboration with other Federal agencies, have implemented numerous initiatives to establish a standard measurement for the disability employment rate. In 1998, BLS formed the Employment Rate Measurement Methodology Interagency Workgroup to design questions for use in the Current Population Survey (CPS) to produce an accurate and reliable estimate of the employment rate of adults with disabilities. The rationale for the group's formation was the lack of consistent and reliable employment data and a common definition of disability. In June 2008, after several years of research and testing, ODEP sponsored the addition of new disability questions to the CPS to gauge the employment status of people with disabilities, and on February 6, 2009, the first official data on the employment status of persons with disabilities were released. These data are now updated on a monthly basis. Related resources include:

Knowledge Development and Translation Initiative for Expanding the Availability and Use of Customized Employment — This project was intended to increase knowledge regarding expanded utilization of customized employment strategies developed by ODEP through prior work. Through this effort, ODEP, along with its contractor, Economic Systems, Inc. (EconSys), worked to significantly expand translation of knowledge and utilization to: (1) expand availability and use of customized employment strategies among public and private systems personnel and employers; (2) implement various customized employment strategies that enable people with disabilities to move from poverty to self-sufficiency through asset accumulation and customized benefits; and (3) develop multiple policy products related to these activities. Related resources include:

Funding Options for Personal Assistance Services (PAS) — ODEP, in collaboration with Social Dynamics, LLC, examined the possibility of creating a PAS Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Research on employer-based reimbursement accounts was undertaken to determine the feasibility of creating an account to reimburse PAS not covered by employers as a workplace accommodation. An issue paper outlined both the benefits and limitations of such a policy, taking into account the perspectives of various stakeholder groups (e.g., employees, employers, service providers, professional groups, and policy makers). Particular attention was given to addressing the economic and social implications of such a policy for people with disabilities. Related resources include:

Health and Wellness Research Initiative — The purpose of ODEP's Health and Wellness Research Initiative was to examine: (1) corporate health and wellness programs that maintain and integrate health, disability management, cost effectiveness, and productivity within organizational cultures, and (2) access to health care for people with potentially disabling conditions who do not qualify for employer-based group coverage so that they can remain in the workforce. The Health and Wellness Research Initiative resulted in the following publications, which identified corporate health and wellness initiatives and access to health care initiatives that have been important to people with disabilities and the extent to which the programs have advanced quality access to health care:

Financial Education for Youth with Disabilities — ODEP, in collaboration with Social Dynamics, LLC, prepared an issue paper and a literature review based on a comprehensive analysis of existing financial literacy programs for all youth, including those with disabilities; the effectiveness of these programs; and the role of employers and employment as they relate to financial literacy. Related resources include:

ODEP Agency-Wide Look-Back Study — This comprehensive study of the products, programs and partnerships implemented by ODEP since its inception is a performance-based management initiative intended to improve the agency's capability to fulfill the government's performance measurement requirements. It is designed to assess the impact of the agency on disability employment and related systems and will provide a systematic retrospective analysis of ODEP's performance from inception to date using Office of Management and Budget (OMB)-approved guidelines and a new state-of-the-art performance measurement tracking system.

Affirmative Action Strategies for Federal Contractors — ODEP worked with DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to assist Federal contractors in adopting the most effective practices for taking affirmative action with respect to persons with disabilities. Working with EconSys and civil rights and disability policy analysts, ODEP assessed affirmative action policies applicable to people with disabilities and disabled veterans and made recommendations for changes to OFCCP regulations, namely Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act. Related resources include:

Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) — The purpose of the DEI is to improve educational, training and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. The DEI will improve collaboration among employment, training and asset development programs at state and local levels and build effective community partnerships that leverage public and private resources to better serve individuals with disabilities and improve employment outcomes. Working together, ODEP and ETA will coordinate with other Federal agencies, such as the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA), to support blending and braiding activities of DEI grantees and advance access to asset development programs for people with disabilities.

Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) Longitudinal Research and Demonstration Project — This study, which collected post-school outcome data from youth in four states, was designed to measure the extent to which the quality of a student's ILP is positively associated with postsecondary education and work outcomes for youth. Outcomes of the study are intended to increase evidence-based practices to enhance transition outcomes for all youth, including youth with disabilities.

Previous Research Projects

Disability Case Study Research Consortium on Employer Organizational Practices in Employing People with Disabilities — To complete this project, ODEP sponsored a consortium of expert researchers from the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University (BBI) and other educational institutions, including Rutgers University, Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and West Virginia University, to examine "corporate culture" and its impact on employment opportunities, experiences and engagement at work for persons with disabilities. The goal of this research was to identify how organizational structures, values, policies and day-to-day practices affect the employment of people with disabilities (e.g., with respect to recruiting, hiring, retaining and promoting people with and without disabilities). The study's results are helping to shape future employer policy and corporate perceptions of the ways in which organizational policies, practices, procedures and environment affect the "inclusion" experience of individuals with disabilities in the workforce. Related resources include:

Evaluation of Disability Employment Policy Programs — Since its establishment in 2001, ODEP has funded demonstration projects across the U.S. to strengthen the capacity of the workforce development system to better serve adults and youth with disabilities. To measure the effectiveness of these various projects, independent evaluations were conducted through Westat, an external contractor. Summaries of each of these studies are provided here; final copies can be obtained by contacting ODEP at (202) 693-7880.

  • Customized Employment The Customized Employment Demonstration Program targeted a specific population of people with disabilities, including those with minimal employment experience and who likely required ongoing supports to obtain and maintain employment. The project was designed to test the feasibility of incorporating customized employment services into the One-Stop system for people with disabilities.
  • WorkFORCE — The WorkFORCE Action initiative sought to demonstrate the employment potential of people with disabilities falling within the Olmstead decision andExecutive Order 12317 by using customized employment to achieve competitive employment in non-stereotypical settings. In addition to building capacity utilizing customized employment, projects were expected to address inadequate work opportunities resulting from attitudinal barriers, fragmentation of existing services, the complexity of existing work incentives, and lack of access to health insurance.
  • Chronic Homelessness — Jointly funded by ODEP and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ending Chronic Homelessness Through Employment and Housing aimed to: (1) improve employment opportunities for persons who are chronically homeless; (2) bring together the respective expertise of both the local workforce development system (i.e., One-Stops and their partners) and local permanent housing service organizations; and (3) develop and document increased employment outcomes when these organizations combined efforts.
  • Innovative State Alignment Demonstration Projects for Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities Through the Use of Intermediaries — The goal of these demonstration projects was to improve transition outcomes for youth with disabilities through an intermediary approach to developing partnerships, systems change, capacity building, and sustainability. Awardees were expected to (1) assess their youth service delivery in light of evidence-based transition principles; (2) implement a cross-agency state plan to improve transition outcomes through blending and/or braiding of Federal, state and community resources, as well as the use of local intermediary organizations; (3) conduct local pilot demonstrations to determine how, through community partnerships, intermediary organizations can best be used to ensure that youth with disabilities obtain transition services consistent with evidence-based principles; and (4) demonstrate evidence of the likelihood of sustainability of efforts within the state as a result of leveraging Federal, state and local public sector resources.
  • High School/High Tech — The three major goals of the High School/High Tech (HS/HT) State Implementation Demonstration Program were to (1) expand the HS/HT program within the state; (2) integrate or coordinate the HS/HT program with the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)-assisted Youth Services system and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR); and (3) provide a sustainable program model. The demonstration program was also premised on the use of four evidence-based design features: preparatory experiences, connecting activities, work-based experiences, and youth development and leadership activities.
  • Intermediary Grants for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities — This project was a collaborative effort between ODEP and DOL's Center for Faith-Based and Community-Based Initiatives. Intermediaries sub-awarded a portion of grant funds to local faith-based and community organizations to conduct mentoring activities, such as adult and peer mentoring, e-mentoring, tutoring, job-shadowing, service learning, leadership development and youth development. In addition, they were required to establish strong linkages with the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) to be served by the activities of the grant so the WIB could assist the intermediary in connecting to One-Stops and other community-based youth service providers.
  • Technical AssistanceODEP funded three technical assistance and research centers to inform policy development and effective practices, and for training and technical assistance related to customized employment. At the time, the three centers included the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability/Adult (NCWD/A), the National Technical Assistance and Research Center to Promote Leadership for Increasing the Employment and Economic Independence of Adults with Disabilities (NTAR), and the Technical Assistance and Training for Providers (T-TAP).

Telework — ODEP conducted research to better understand how different types of telework could promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the following areas: 1) using telework as a return-to-work strategy, specifically for people with disabilities receiving Federal and state workers' compensation; 2) using telework as an alternative strategy for increasing competitive employment for disabled veterans returning from tours of duty; and 3) surveying public (Federal and state agencies) and private employers to identify supporting conditions and strategies that are necessary to effectively implement and sustain telework for people with disabilities. Related resources include:

Workforce Development Case Study — Over five years, ODEP conducted case studies of 12 sites assisted by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to provide DOL with information to enable practice to inform policy and improve performance results of WIA-assisted programs to serve people with disabilities. Since states' initial implementation of WIA, One-Stops and youth services have been addressing the challenges of serving all customers, including those with disabilities. This study focused on impact evaluation and customer satisfaction. Related resources include:

Survey of Employer Perspectives on the Employment of People with Disabilities — The objective of this nationally representative survey was to inform the development and promotion of policy and practice by comparing employer perspectives across industries and within companies of varying sizes. ODEP will use the data from this survey to formulate targeted strategies and policies for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This survey emphasized current attitudes and practices of employers in 12 industry sectors, including some high growth industries as projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Related resources include:

Policy and Technical Assistance Centers

ODEP also facilitates important research through its five policy and technical assistance centers. For more information about any of these centers' current research projects and areas of focus, please visit its website.