“The Council of State Governments…in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures…convened the National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities….The National Task Force [NTF] oversaw the work of four subcommittees, each focusing on a unique policy area impacting the employment of people with disabilities [PWDs]:
- Career Readiness & Employability;
- Hiring, Retention & Reentry;
- Entrepreneurship, Tax Incentives & Procurement; and
- Transportation, Technology & Other Employment Supports.
“[T]he [NTF] studied the best practices and innovative strategies states have implemented to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for [PWDs]” (p.5).
“[The authors] explore…a diverse range of components that can influence the development of the workforce of [PWDs]. This report serves as a guide on each of the policy areas the task force explored, designed to assist states in improving the ways the public sector serves [PWDs] and provides state examples of innovative programs and policies” (p.4).
“The term ‘disability’ is defined…in various ways, depending on the context and purposes of the legislation or survey. For purposes of federal disability nondiscrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual:
- a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
- has a record of such an impairment, or
- is regarded as having such an impairment” (p.10).
“As the [NTF] members convened…a number of guiding principles and overarching considerations emerged that would serve as a foundation for the crafting of this policy framework” (p.13):
- “Disability is a natural part of the human experience that in no way diminishes one’s right to fully participate in all aspects of community life” (p.14).
- “Disability can develop at any point during an individual’s lifetime and have varying impacts” (p.14).
- “Successful disability policy embraces the ‘nothing about us without us’ principle” (p.14).
- “[PWDs] are underutilized in our workforce and frequently experience social and economic disadvantage” (p.14).
- “[PWDs] have valuable and unique contributions to make” (p.14).
Major Findings & Recommendations
“The work of the [NTF] culminated in the development of a policy framework states can use to address workforce development barriers for [PWDs]….[T]he policy options developed by the subcommittees [are] organized into five categories:” (p.17) 1. “Laying the Groundwork • States are encouraged to be model employers of people with disabilities” (p.17) • “States can build capacity of private- and nonprofit-sector employers to engage in disability inclusion efforts” (p.17). • “States are encouraged to have an external and internal focus on disability awareness, including disability etiquette” (p.17). • “States can implement policies that optimize resources and services through interagency coordination, collaboration, and blending/braiding of funding and implementation of robust performance measures” (p.17). 2. “Preparing for Work • States can promote education and career-readiness policies and strategies that expect and prepare all youth, including those with disabilities, to enter the workforce. • States can facilitate skill development and job exploration opportunities…that align with education and career development planning and meet businesses’ predicated workforce needs. • States can promote meaningful family engagement throughout the education and career-development process for youth and young adults, including those with disabilities” (p.17). 3. “Getting to and Accessing Work Opportunities • States are encouraged to ensure that transportation is widely available, reliable, affordable and accessible to [PWDs]” (p.18). • “States can adopt policies that support accessibility in the workplace, particularly related to accessible information and communication technologies, or ICT, and assistive technologies. • States can enact policies that support worker access to the built environment, including housing, public transportation, infrastructure and physical design” (p.18). 4. “Staying at Work • States can develop policies to support employee retention in the event of injury, illness or a change in status of an individual’s disability” (p.18). 5. “Supporting Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship • States are encouraged to ensure that state workforce development systems support entrepreneurship and self-employment as viable employment options for people with disabilities. • States can include disability-owned businesses in targeted state procurement, certification and financial incentive policies” (p.18). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)