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

Employment & Social Security

Update on the CareerACCESS Initiative: Our Careers Now!

CareerACCESS is a policy initiative with NCIL’s Subcommittee on Employment and Social Security, the World Institute on Disability, and PolicyWorks to eliminate barriers to employment for young adults with disabilities 18 to 30 years of age (PDF).

The effort seeks reforms in SSI and Medicaid to make it easier to receive necessary guidance and supports in finding employment while managing benefits. Since it involves a radical overhaul of a punishing means-tested system that is more complex than most know how to navigate, we propose that CareerACCESS start as pilot projects to be tested in 5 states. The core group pushing this initiative forward has been hard at work over the last several months, and it looks like things are slowly coming together.

CareerACCESS logo - Career ACCESSEverything great begins with solid conversations, and there has been quite a lot of conversation about CareerACCESS lately. Webinars are being organized in Tennessee, Maine, and Nebraska, where we will meet with leaders to understand the political climates of the states and to figure out if and how we might get pilot programs going. We have also begun talking to the vocational rehabilitation director in Massachusetts. The state of Vermont will be bringing representatives from our core group to come out in March to lead discussions on CareerACCESS towards a strategy for implementation. We are also presenting to the California Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities on March 10.

The immediate goal of all these conversations is to mobilize interest, dialog and political will for our initiative. A key part of the strategy involves leaders and stakeholders in the states where we are trying to set up pilot projects. We need states, along with the advocates in the state of Michigan, to ask Congress for an appropriation of money for FY2017 to set up pilot projects that include waiving asset limits and changing the current income rules in SSI and Medicaid.

Of course, the more people with disabilities who become involved in the conversation, the better, which is how you can help. If you know any legislative representatives from any of the states named above, please educate them about CareerACCESS. If you are a young adult, from anywhere in the United States, and this initiative speaks to you in some way, we want to get to know you. Contact us through the NCIL Subcommittee on Employment and Social Security, or at CareerACCESS; let’s grow the conversation.

For more information, contact Justin Harford at or Bryon MacDonald at

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…]

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 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 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…] Launches Native One-Stop Portal, 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

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.


  • 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 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 or All videos include open captioning and audio descriptions. You can also watch the videos on a loop via the “Work Early, Work Often” playlist.