Employment is a critical part of community inclusion for both older adults and people with disabilities. When they don’t have opportunities to work, we all miss out. For youth with disabilities, a smooth transition from education to employment is essential. Securing and maintaining employment helps many people to achieve independence in their communities, but there are often barriers to accessing meaningful and integrated employment.
Employment in integrated settings at competitive wages offer a direct pathway to greater independence and self-sufficiency. Employers benefit from a larger and more diverse talent pool when hiring. And as a nation we benefit when people with disabilities and older adults have the chance to contribute as colleagues, business owners, and taxpayers.
At ACL, we are working with our partners across federal government, with states and communities, and with older adults and people with disabilities to create more opportunities for competitive, integrated employment. Learn more about our initiatives below.
ACL Employment Initiatives
- Partnerships in Integrated Employment System Change Grants seek to enhance collaboration across state systems in order to improve employment outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities, with a focus on youth and young adults. Learn more about the work being done by PIE states.
- Community of Practice for Supporting Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities - A community of practice is a group that share the same interest and collaborates consistently to share ideas and discuss solutions to challenges. This project seeks to build capacity, reform delivery systems, and improve strategies related to competitive integrated employment.
- Centers for Independent Living are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonprofit agencies that provide an array of independent living services, including services that can help with employment.
- Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) – P&As advocate for competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities and protect clients’ rights to be free from employment discrimination based on disability.
- State Councils on Developmental Disabilities – Councils promote competitive integrated employment through systems change and capacity building efforts. Several Councils support Project Search, which provides internship opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities.
- Assistive Technology Programs provide information on tools and services that can help a person with a disability perform activities that might otherwise be difficult, whether at home or in the workplace.
- Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) offers resources, training, best practices, and more to support the self-advocacy community.
- University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) – Many conduct research and support programs to promote integrated employment for people with developmental disabilities.
- The National Institute for Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) has been conducting research on employment for people with disabilities and testing interventions for decades. We have learned a great deal from this research and data trends about the status of disability employment, barriers, and best practices.
- ACL's Profiles in Integrated Employment highlights stories and best practices from agencies and states leading the way towards integrated employment for people with disabilities. Read tips for employment service providers transitioning to an integrated employment model.
- Medicaid Buy-In Q&A (PDF) - ACL, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) have developed a "question and answer" document to help grantees, stakeholders, and self-advocates better understand the "Medicaid buy-in" program. Medicaid “buy-in” allows workers with disabilities access to Medicaid community-based services not available through other insurers. Learn more about how Medicaid Buy-In is opening the door to employment for people with disabilities on the ACL Blog.
- ACL, and our federal partners, also work to support the use of volunteers in Older Americans Act programs and to provide expanded opportunities for older adults and others to get involved in their communities.
- Rethinking Employment Services and Supports During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has required many organizations to serve as innovators, inventors, partners, and problem-solvers. In response to the pandemic, many states and intellectual and developmental disabilities service providers successfully pivoted implementing 1915(c) waiver Appendix K strategies and innovative approaches to ensure continuity in home and community-based services (HCBS), and overall health and safety.
In partnership with ACL and HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Mission Analytics hosted a webinar on August 5, 2020 on supported employment services in the COVID-19 era.
- Medical Professionals with Disabilities: October 24, 2018
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), nearly 20 percent of Americans have disabilities, yet professional students in key health fields and health care providers with disabilities still encounter serious barriers throughout their training and careers – barriers that reflect the challenges too many Americans with disabilities still face in accessing health care that others take for granted.
In observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), ACL hosted a webinar on October 24, 2018, at 3pm ET with medical professionals with disabilities who are flipping the script and working to enhance inclusion of people with disabilities by working to improve health care training curricula and increase the access to and quality of health care for people with disabilities. The webinar will include discussion of cultural competency, accessibility & inclusion in medical education, as well as the stigma that surrounds employment of medical professionals with disabilities.
- Lisa I. Iezzoni, MD, MSC, Harvard Medical School Neera
- Jain, PhD Candidate, University of Auckland
- Karen McCulloh, RN, Founder, National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities
- Michael McKee, MD, MPH, University of Michigan