U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210
April 28, 1997
|DIRECTIVE||:||TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION NOTICE NO. 27-96|
|TO||:||ALL STATE JTPA LIAISONS
ALL STATE WORKER ADJUSTMENT LIAISONS
ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES
ALL ONE-STOP CAREER CENTER SYSTEM LEADS
|FROM||:||ROBERT S. KENYON
for Regional Management
|SUBJECT||:||One-Stop Disability Initiative|
Purpose. To provide information about the projects of the One-Stop Disability Initiative to improve services to persons with disabilities.
Background. As we move into the 21st Century, it is critical that the Employment and Training System explore new ways of meeting the needs of the increasing numbers of customers with disabilities who will require employment and training services. By the year 2000, one in five Americans will have some type of disability, due partly to the aging of the population. More significantly, especially for those of working age, greater numbers of people are surviving illness and injury and are expecting to resume work. While societal attitudes have improved, and there is greater acceptance of workers with disabilities, people with disabilities continue to experience widespread unemployment or underemployment. Current data indicate that seventy percent (70%) of those persons with severe disabilities of working age are unemployed; this translates into thirteen (13) million people.
In October 1996, Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich referenced the One-Stop Disability Initiative when he announced "plans to turn the nation's One-Stop Career Centers into model facilities for providing access to millions of disabled Americans who are seeking work." The Secretary affirmed that the "goal of the One-Stop Centers is and should be to do everything possible to ensure that all Americans have equal access to re-employment services." He stressed that this goal can be achieved by ensuring that accessibility and services to persons with disabilities are "addressed at the very beginning -- while the One-Stop Centers are starting their operations." The Secretary's speech, along with the press release, is attached for your information.
The One-Stop/LMI Office has long recognized that it is cost-effective to address issues related to serving persons with disabilities up front, when One-Stop Centers are being designed. To facilitate this process, ETA has established several work groups to address the various issues related to providing improved services to persons with disabilities. These work groups, which are inter-agency (including non-profit organizations), have initiated specific projects to facilitate improved services to persons with disabilities.
ETA's One-Stop Disability Initiative. ETA established the One-Stop Disability Initiative in recognition of the fact that the One-Stop System presents unique challenges, as well as opportunities to provide improved services to persons with disabilities. As directed by the National Performance Review, all agencies are being challenged to develop innovative approaches to provide high quality services. While ETA is integrating this emphasis on improved services to persons with disabilities into all aspects of the One-Stop system-building initiative, it has initiated the following projects to address specific issues:
Establishment of DOL/ED Work Group. DOL and the Department of Education (ED) have established a standing work group of National Office staff from ED and DOL to foster a productive partnership between One-Stop and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) at the State and local levels. The work group has identified several activities that it may ultimately sponsor to promote collaboration between Vocational Rehabilitation and the One-Stop Career Center System. On February 28, 1997, Assistant Secretary Timothy Barnicle and Judith Heuman, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, signed a joint issuance to advise the employment and training system and the vocational rehabilitation system of this cooperative relationship.
DOL and ED worked together to organize a one-day facilitated discussion session for six Directors of State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and six Leads for State One-Stop Career Center Systems. These discussions were held on April 24, 1997. The findings from these discussions will assist ED and DOL in identifying: (1) strategies for collaboration that are working well and those that are less than satisfactory, with some insight as to why; and (2) areas where policy clarification or technical assistance may facilitate collaboration.
Cooperative Agreement on WOTC. One of the several eligible target groups for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) are people with disabilities that have completed, or are in the process of completing, an Individual Written Rehabilitation Plan through the State VR agency. ETA is developing a cooperative agreement with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), within ED, to provide conditional certification of recipients of vocational rehabilitation services. Under conditional certification, a State VR agency verifies that a client is eligible for the WOTC to a potential employer using a simplified form and without prior referral to the Employment Service for certification.
Agreement with SSA. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has provided ETA funds to (1) review, in consultation with SSA, the return-to-work program and its relationship to the One-Stop Career Center System; and (2) explore the integration of appropriate information and employment-related activities of the return-to-work program into the One-Stop System. ETA awarded a grant to North Carolina to complete this study; North Carolina subsequently contracted with the Technical Assistance and Training Corporation (TATC). TATC has developed a study design and is in the process of conducting preliminary surveys. ETA will share the results of this study with the employment and training system upon completion.
Cooperative Agreement with Maine. ETA has provided funds to Maine through a State Cooperative Agreement to (1) enable Maine to design One-Stop models of inclusion and access, which can be replicated in other States and local One-Stop Centers; and (2) provide technical assistance to interested States and local One-Stop Centers.
Access Work Group. ETA has formed an access work group to address access issues in the One-Stop System, particularly with regard to the technology intensive self-service areas. The initial focus of this work group has been making the computerized self-service areas accessible to persons with visual impairments. The work group will subsequently concentrate on ensuring that self-service functions are accessible to persons with mobility and hearing impairments as well as persons with other disabilities.
The National Federation for the Blind (NFB) has developed a voice response access system to America's Job Bank (AJB). This system, when implemented, will provide a means for job search using the touch-tone system to command the AJB to provide information on appropriate job openings by voice. The NFB is continuing to refine this prototype system so that it can be used to develop access to other One-Stop/LMI technologies and self-service functions for the visually impaired.
The universal design feature of this prototype may potentially provide access to other customer segments, such as persons with cognitive disabilities and persons in sparsely populated rural areas.
Self-Evaluation Access Guide. ETA, with the assistance of the Director of the Department's Initiative For Persons With Disabilities, is developing a self-evaluation guide. The Guide is being developed, in part, by adapting AmeriCorp's Checklist (Self-Evaluation Guide) and various State self-evaluation guides submitted to the National Office for this purpose.
It is anticipated that this Self-Evaluation Access Guide will enable One-Stop Career Centers to conduct thorough self-evaluations and, where appropriate, transition plans. The Guide will assist local Centers to assess what has been done to facilitate equal opportunity for people with disabilities and to plan what needs to be done in the future. The Guide will encourage One-Stop Centers to request representatives of the disability community to assist in the self-evaluation.
Action Required. States are asked to distribute this TEIN, with attachments, to all staff involved with the One-Stop Career Center System. This includes partnering agencies, especially those with a particular interest in disability inclusion such as Vocational Rehabilitation.
With regard to the cooperative agreement with Maine (3. D. above), ETA welcomes suggestions from States and One-Stop Centers as to what types of models or technical assistance, including training, would be helpful.
Inquiries. Direct inquiries to Richard Ensor on (202) 219-8395 X182 (E-Mail: Ensorr@doleta.gov) or Alexandra Kielty on (202) 219-550 X125 (E-Mail: Kieltya@doleta.gov).
Attachments. Press Release 96-425 and Secretary's Speech of October 9, 1996
NOTE: Attachments not available to DMS