Correction: We're resending the October 2021 edition of our RAISE The Standard Newsletter with a corrected link to view the enewsletter in a browser. We apologize for the error and the inconvenience to our readers who need or prefer to read the newsletter as a webpage.
October 2021, Vol. 7, No. 8: Resend
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers

Competitive Integrated: Employment First

Since October is National Disability Employment Month, it seems fitting that this issue of RAISE The Standard, is focused on real employment. Get ready to learn more about competitive jobs, integrated settings, and real wages. It’s the “gold standard” of transition outcomes for students with disabilities.


“Your misconceptions (about disability) shouldn’t affect my ability to get a job or be treated like a human…”
- Chantel Buck

Watch this TEDx talk by Chantel Buck as she asks us to “Re-Think Disabilities in the Workplace.”

She suggests we all take three simple steps to make workplaces more inclusive and responsive:

  1. Seek to understand what it means to have a disability.
  2. Instead of stopping at what people cannot do, think about what they have to offer in the workplace.
  3. Ask the question:‘how can my workplace be more inclusive to people with disabilities?’


Communicating About Accessibility and Accommodations

Did you know that it is not just employees with disabilities who have a responsibility to communicate? Employers have to communicate about accessibility and accommodations too!

This month, we bring you three communication tools for employers to better communicate with the public, their own employees, and new hires and job seekers.

  1. The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) recently published a new guide. It was written to help companies highlight their efforts to increase information and technology accessibility. Click here to read PEAT’s guide called “Communicating Your Commitment to Accessibility: Tips for Employers.
  2. The Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C) has a very easy to use tool to help employers structure information about accessibility: Click here to access W3C’s accessibility statement tool.
  3. Some offices and workplaces are beginning to re-open their doors – and asking staff to return to the office. Did you know that employees with disabilities who cannot/should not return can request telework as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA? Employers need a structured approach as they consider such requests – especially during a pandemic. Our colleagues at JAN, the Job Accommodations Network, have developed a tool the help employers consider employee requests for telework. During a pandemic, taking a practical, flexible approach may benefit employers and employees. JAN suggests that employers may want to consider providing temporary accommodations and revisiting them in the future when more information is available. Click here to read JAN’s new guide called “A Practical Approach to Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation During the Pandemic.”


Competitive integrated employment is the goal, but how do you get there?

This 65-page tool kit, produced by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition, breaks it down for schools, employers, parents, and students.

It includes links to research-backed models of collaborative transition services, strategies to enhance interagency collaboration, and describes the kinds of collaborative partnerships that produce results.


Employment First is not a program or a plan. It is a national movement.

“Employment First starts with a presumption that a person with a disability can work.”
It means that all people - including those with complex support needs - are presumed to be capable of competitive integrated employment. It means that the general workforce should be the first and preferred option for students and adults with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly-funded systems – and that means schools!

For students in the transition years, that means getting ready for regular jobs like everyone else: in typical work settings, working side-by-side with people without disabilities, earning regular wages and benefits and being part of the economic mainstream.

“Readiness” is not part of the equation in Employment First. For most people, it’s presumed they will become employed. But people with disabilities often have to first prove that they are “ready” for employment. Under Employment First, it is assumed that individuals are capable of working until proven otherwise. If a decision is made that the individual won’t pursue employment, other service options can be explored. “Employment First” does not mean “Employment Only.”
APSE — the Association of People Supporting Employment First - Male supervisor working with young man with disabilities
For more details, we turn to our colleagues at APSE, Association of People Supporting Employment First.

Q: How is Employment First different?
Typically, when it came to publicly-funded services, employment in the community has been among a number of choices presented to people with disabilities. In many cases, individuals with disabilities have been shuttled to facility-based segregated services. Under Employment First, assistance to find a job in the community, and become a tax-paying citizen, is the preferred choice.

Q: Why Employment First?
The workforce participation rate for individuals with disabilities is about 1/3 that of people without disabilities. Yet it has been shown that with assistance, accommodations, and encouragement, many more people with disabilities can work successfully in the community.

Employment First is a road out of poverty. Statistics show that if you have a disability you are much more likely to be poor. In fact, working age adults with disabilities are living below the poverty line at twice the rate of the general population (US Census). Almost two-thirds (65%) of the individuals in poverty long-term are people with disabilities (Mathematica Policy Research).

Q: Does Employment First make a difference?
Yes. For example, in the area of employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Washington State has a long-standing commitment to policies and practices focused on employment in the community as the first priority. The end result is that 89% of individuals served by the Washington State system are in integrated employment services, compared to a national average of 20%. Many states are even well below this average with some at less than 10%

Click here to download the full fact sheet on Employment First from APEE.

Learn more about Employment First here, at The Center On Transition at the University of Virginia


Icon with books on a shelf and book titles that contain dollar signs

A Guide for Governors

The National Governors Association has published a policy guide to help governors ensure that their states' COVID-19 workforce recovery efforts include people with disabilities. It describes how governors can convene state stakeholders to improve support for workers with disabilities and offers a planning template for a sustainable statewide coordination plan.

Click here to read or download the guide, “Promoting Employment for People with Disabilities Through Statewide Coordination.”

Self-Advocates Guide to Employment Policy

ASAN, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, has developed a plain language guide to help self-advocates understand employment policy and learn how things could be different. The guide is intended to help people with disabilities effectively advocate for an end to policies that hurt them and for the adoption of policies that can help.



Home Care is Self-Care

“I cannot stress enough the importance of autonomy… If partners, friends, or family filling a caregiver role are making it about their personal interests and relationship with you, it will rob you of your identity and independence. Homecare must be considered self-care.”
- Anomie Fatale

RAISE blogger Anomie Fatale is back for an encore writing about the role and responsibility of care givers: Click here to read her full blog post.

My Journey to a Job I Love

"I feel like people with disabilities must take 10 steps to an able-bodied persons' 5. I feel my journey to employment has proven that statement to be true..."

- Rachel Shandler

The journey to finding "the right job" is never a linear path.

Click here to read RAISE blogger Rachel Shandler's efforts and perspective as she explored options that led to a job she values.


RAISE Transition Summit - Check out this recorded webinar, produced by RAISE. Click here to view or listen to Transition in a Brave New World.
Accessibility 101 - In this recorded RAISE webinar, speakers from the American Foundation for the Blind describe the concept of "accessibility," what it means for people with disabilities, and how organizations can be inclusive with their digital platforms. Click here to access Accessibility 101 recorded webinar.
Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Accessibility - In this recorded RAISE webinar, speakers from American Foundation for the Blind talk about the tools and methodology used to test accessibility. The goal of this session is to be practical and realistic: what can an organization do to make an improvement right now? Click here to access Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Accessibility recorded webinar.


In our next issue of RAISE The Standard:

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion...
What it Means for Students with Disabilities

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Josie Badger
Visit our Website:
The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
US Department of Education official seal
The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.