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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Employment & Social Security

Join Our Partner, the LEAD Center, for a Webinar on WIOA Implementation Partnerships: The Important Role of Centers for Independent Living

LEAD Center Logo - www.leadcenter.orgThe Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides new opportunities for American Job Centers (AJCs) to partner with Centers for Independent Living (CILs) leading to improved employment outcomes for job seekers with disabilities. To support these partnerships, the LEAD Center recently released the Independence Through Employment Toolkit, a collection of resources for CILs and AJCs to deepen their understanding of each other’s services and structure to improve the lives of job seekers with disabilities through employment.

The toolkit provide Centers for Independent Living with a basic understanding of WIOA and AJC services to encourage referrals to AJCs as a free community-based support for individuals with employment goals. The comprehensive services provided by CILs, to advocate for and support the independence of individuals with disabilities, is a perfect match with the focus of the public workforce system. CILs and AJCs are natural partners committed to improving the employment and economic advancement of all job seekers, including in-school and out-of-school youth and adults with disabilities through collaboration.  [Read more…]

Help Us Reach 1,000 Signatures to Reform AbilityOne!

We are so close to achieving 1,000 signatures for AbilityOne Reform. We have 800, and only need 200 more to reach our goal of 1,000 signatures.

Please consider signing the petition and sharing this link with your members, affiliates, chapters, family, friends, colleagues, and others.

The AbilityOne program is mandated to award federal contracts to employ people with disabilities. Last year those contracts totaled $2.8 billion. However, some of those contractors are not hiring enough people with significant disabilities to comply with their federal mandates, or, when they do, contractors are paying some disabled workers sub-minimum wages and overwhelmingly employing them in segregated environments – all while they rake in tens of millions of federal dollars for their executives. [Read more at change.org…]

Join Our Partner, the LEAD Center, for a Webinar on Creating an Inclusive Workforce System: Implementing WIOA Section 188’s Equal Opportunity Provisions

Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) prohibits discrimination against people who apply to, participate in, work for, or come into contact with programs and activities of the workforce development system. WIOA also requires that American Job Centers be fully accessible physically and programmatically, offering accommodations as needed and incorporating Universal Design wherever possible. LEAD Center has been working with the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, who have committed to improving access to their services statewide. Join this webinar to:

  • LEAD Center Logo - www.leadcenter.orgHear from the leaders in U.S. Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center, Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy, who jointly issued Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide on July 6, 2015.
  • Learn about the commitment to Equal Opportunity in Missouri, and the work being done using the 188 Disability Reference Guide and based on information collected from surveying their American Job Center staff statewide, and surveying jobseekers and employers who use their services.

Please note: This webinar will be captioned and a link to download the presentation will be sent to registrants prior to the webinar. To request any other reasonable accommodations, please contact Brittany Taylor at btaylor@ndi-inc.org at least 48 hours prior to the webinar.

Sign the Petition Calling for Reform of Ability One!

DisBeat, The ADA Legacy Project, TASH, and Rooted in Rights have joined forces to officially launch a petition, galvanizing a united call for reform of the AbilityOne Program.

The AbilityOne program is mandated to award federal contracts to employ people with disabilities.

On September 15, 2015, the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Federation of the Blind (NFB), TASH and United Spinal Association Called for Reform of AbilityOne.

The petition was officially launched Wednesday, December 3rd at the 2015 TASH Conference, in Portland, OR.

The full petition is located at ReformAbilityOne.com. Read more at PRweb.

 

USBLN Part of Historic Supplier Diversity Announcement in Massachusetts

Source: US Business Leadership Network

Today is a historic day for disability-owned businesses and service-disabled owned businesses! Earlier this morning Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced several improvements to the state’s supplier diversity program, including best practice innovations and updates from the public and private sectors, the first expansion of benchmarks for minority and women-owned businesses in four years, and the first-time certification of veteran, disability and LGBT-owned businesses.

The Baker-Polito Administration’s policy changes and inclusiveness of new supplier diversity categories and partnerships, have also been made effective in a Governor’s Executive Order signed today, reaffirming and expanding the Supplier Diversity Program.  [Read more…]

Benefits.gov Launches Native One-Stop Portal

Benefits.gov, the official benefits website of the United States, launched a portal of resources for Native American, Alaskan Native, and tribal populations. The portal, Native One-Stop, provides information about the services that are available through the Federal government. Native One-Stop conveniently houses any service that these populations may need with topics ranging from assistance for populations with severe disabilities to congressional internships for Native Americans. Visit www.benefits.gov/nativeonestop

Join Our Partner, the LEAD Center, for a Webinar on Disability, Employment & Lane v. Brown

LEAD Center Logo - www.leadcenter.orgOn September 8, 2015, the United States entered into a proposed settlement agreement with the State of Oregon to vindicate the civil rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops, or at risk of such unnecessary segregation. The settlement agreement with Oregon resolves a class action lawsuit by private plaintiffs in which the Department of Justice moved to intervene in May 2013. The lawsuit alleged that the State’s employment service system over-relied on segregated sheltered workshops to the exclusion of integrated alternatives, such as supported employment services, and placed individuals, including youth, at risk of entering sheltered workshops.

As a result of the proposed settlement, over the next seven years, 1,115 working-age individuals with I/DD, who are currently being served in segregated sheltered workshops, will have opportunities to work in real jobs at competitive wages. Additionally, at least 4,900 youth ages 14 – 24 will receive supported employment services designed to assist them to choose, prepare for, get, and keep work in a typical work setting. Half of the youth served will receive, at a minimum, an Individual Plan for Employment through the State’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Correspondingly, the State will reduce its reliance on sheltered workshops and implement policies and capacity-building strategies to improve the employment system to increase access to competitive integrated employment and the opportunity for people with I/DD to work the maximum number of hours consistent with their abilities and preferences.

Join this webinar to hear directly from representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice about the elements of the settlement agreement, as well as from stakeholders in the state of Oregon who will be positively impacted by these developments.

Speakers:

  • U.S. Department of Justice: Eve Hill, Max Lapertosa, Regina Kline, Sheila Foran
  • United Cerebral Palsy Association of Oregon: Ann Coffey
  • Other Speakers TBD

Please note: This webinar will be captioned and a link to download the presentation will be sent to registrants prior to the webinar. To request any other reasonable accommodations, please contact Brittany Taylor at btaylor@ndi-inc.org at least 48 hours prior to the webinar.

Action Alert: CILs & SILCs – Share Your Experiences with ACL’s Guidance on DSEs

This summer, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) issued sub-regulatory guidance related to state designations. The issued guidance took power away from SILCs and CILs by giving the Designated State Entity (DSE) power to approve what is included in the SPIL. According to the law, the DSE’s signature on the SPIL should be required to indicate their agreement to fulfill their duties – not their agreement with the content of the plan.

NCIL and APRIL leadership will be meeting with Kathy Greenlee, Administrator of ACL, next week to discuss our concerns regarding implementation of WIOA and its impact on SILCs and the development of state plans. We are asking that you take a few moments to share your experiences with us by completing our survey, so that we can report those back to Administrator Greenlee. The experiences you’ve had in your state will help us to identify the most important areas of concern to discuss at this meeting.

Please complete the survey online if you are able. The survey can also be submitted via email by using the Word or plain text formats.

Introducing the Youth Transitions Collaborative’s “Work Early, Work Often” Video Series

“Work Early, Work Often” is a video-based campaign created by the Youth Transitions Collaborative’s career preparation and management working group. Together, the three-part series highlights the importance of work and work-based experiences in an individual’s transition to adulthood, particularly for young adults with disabilities.

Youth Transitions Collaborative - Because the future needs everyoneEach video is told from the perspective of key audiences that are part of the transition journey: young adults with disabilities, employers, and parents or caregivers.

To watch the videos individually or as a series, visit www.thenytc.org or www.youtube.com/thenytc. All videos include open captioning and audio descriptions. You can also watch the videos on a loop via the “Work Early, Work Often” playlist.

Leading Organizations of Americans with Disabilities Call for Reform of AbilityOne Program: Organizations Set Forth Seven Reform Principles

Seven leading organizations comprised of Americans with disabilities announced today that they are calling for reform of the AbilityOne Program and set forth seven principles for overhaul of the program, which affects hundreds of thousands of American workers with disabilities. The announcement was made by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), TASH, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the United Spinal Association. The seven principles for reform put forward by the organizations are as follows:

  1. Commitment to the expressed integration mandate set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Olmstead v. L.C.: Segregation of people with disabilities in work sites, such as sheltered workshops and enclaves, is inconsistent with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with disabilities must be supported to lead fully integrated lives in their communities, including throughout their workday.
  2. Implementation and development of best practices for employment of people with significant disabilities: People employed by contracts negotiated through the AbilityOne procurement process must have their employment goals supported by providers implementing recognized best practices, such as Supported Employment and Customized Employment, that result in good jobs in the community.
  3. Elimination of conflicts of interest that contribute to exploitation, fraud, and abuse: Conflicts of interest in AbilityOne contract implementation are rampant, and must be identified and prohibited. These include determination of employee eligibility by community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) implementing contracts, as well as the use of contract funds for lobbying and other purposes.
  4. Payment of prevailing wages and the elimination of subminimum-wage payments: Payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities is intolerable in the United States. People with disabilities should be paid the prevailing wage for the task they are performing.
  5. Ensuring financial and operational transparency and accountability: AbilityOne contract use of funds must be transparent and readily available (online) to the public at every level, including the purpose and amount of funds used by the Central Nonprofit Agencies, executive compensation packages of nonprofits involved in the program, worker wage ranges, and purposes of funds used.
  6. Relationship with employer: The ultimate objective of a federally-sanctioned special procurement program should be to connect employees with mainstream employers, as opposed to having people with disabilities working for nonprofit entities under specialized, set-aside contracts.
  7. Prioritizing awarding of contracts available through the procurement process to disability-owned businesses, including self-employed individuals with disabilities: Rather than all contracts going to the non-profit organizations currently involved in the program, individuals with disabilities should be encouraged to compete for service contracts.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe AbilityOne Program must be brought up to contemporary standards of practice for supporting people with disabilities to access competitive integrated employment. When these reforms are adopted, an inspector general should be appointed to provide rigorous oversight to ensure that the days of exploitation and fraud are brought to an end.

Barb Trader, Executive Director of TASH, said: “The continued segregation of people with disabilities in employment is unjust, and the payment of subminimum wages is discriminatory and demeaning. Americans with disabilities must be freed from the overwhelming control of the entities that simultaneously determine their eligibility for services, administer those services, and function as their employers. The concentration of power in community rehabilitation programs and sheltered workshops is a fundamental flaw in the AbilityOne Program. Any federally-sanctioned program must be a positive force for workers with disabilities by providing them freedom, self-determination, and real employment and career development opportunities.”

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The principles we are setting forth today reflect the hopes and aspirations of all Americans with disabilities. Neither AbilityOne nor any other program that purports to serve us can do so without reference to our own determinations on how to live the lives we want. We urge all other organizations of Americans with disabilities and like-minded service providers to join us in calling for an end to discrimination and low expectations, and to work with us for a future in which we, as Americans with disabilities, have full control over our destinies.”