April 2020, Vol. 6, No. 4
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers
Meaningful Work:
From an Entry Level Job to a Career
Often, one of the first questions asked when you meet someone new is, “What do you do for a living?” Employment status not only impacts our economic status but our social and emotional lives as well.

Many people will recall a first job folding tee-shirts, mowing lawns or washing dishes. First jobs are a great way to learn job-readiness skills and gain confidence. But for people with disabilities, moving up the ladder and finding a fulfilling career – not just a job – can be a challenge. Too many people with disabilities remain underemployed or in work that is not fulfilling.

Employment First is a growing movement to ensure meaningful employment, fair wages and career advancement for all people with disabilities, regardless of type or severity. APSE, Association of People Supporting Employment First, is working on a national level to promote this movement.

“Employers have recognized for some time that it’s smart business to have a diverse workforce – one in which many views are represented, and everyone’s talents are valued. Well, disability is part of diversity.”
– Thomas Perez

With a sense of humor and personal examples, Lesa Bradshaw, Diversity and Disability Inclusion Specialist Managing Member at Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting, makes the point about people with disabilities being part of workplace diversity like gender, racial and ethnic diversity as well as not limiting people with disabilities to certain types of employment. In this video Lesa discusses why we are struggling in this area, and what we need to do to open doors to the avenue of professionalism for people with disabilities.

Hannah Barham-Brown is a doctor, disability advocate and member of the British Medical Association Council. In 2018, she was named one of the UK’s 100 most influential disabled people on the Shaw Trust’s Disability Power 100 List for her work in medicine, politics and the media. We love her TEDx Talk as she argues that people with disabilities are an asset more employers need to harness.

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Asking for an accommodation you may need to succeed in the workplace takes practice and planning. That’s why becoming comfortable with self-advocacy is a skill best learned early and used often. Identifying and communicating your career interests, skills, likes, and dislikes while still in school, sets you on the road for the right job — one that you will find challenging, enjoyable and rewarding. It also teaches you the communication skills to request any accommodations you may need to do your best in that job.

The Pacer’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment provides helpful information about disclosure and self-advocacy in the workplace.

Employment First Florida provides a step-by-step lesson in workplace self-advocacy, including how to be a self-advocate, how to disclose a disability, and how to ask for an accommodation.
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As part of Employment First, apprenticeships and wraparound services are two employment practices that help open doors for career advancement.

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with a paycheck which makes them an ideal solution for individuals with disabilities. They offer a win-win opportunity where employers can develop and train their future workforce, and apprentices can learn jobs with the support needed to succeed. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers a list of registered apprenticeships across a wide range of high-value occupations from traditional fields like construction, to newer, high-growth fields like information technology and energy.

The DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy is working to ensure these opportunities are inclusive of people with disabilities. A video series that explains how apprenticeships work and a toolkit for youth with disabilities are offered on their website.

Wraparound Services: A person-centered approach to employment for a person with a disability views the skills, desires, and interests of the job seeker as central to finding the right job fit rather than starting with the narrow idea that a particular job is one that a person with a disability could fill. Part of this approach is the promising practice of wraparound services. These services focus on identifying and addressing additional barriers, other than job modification, that could prevent an individual from being successful. Examples of the types of barriers that wraparound services may address include transportation challenges, lack of appropriate social skills for the workplace, lack of financial literacy, lack of needed certifications or additional education, need for childcare, or housing concerns. Using this approach is proving to promote success in helping individuals with disabilities gain and maintain satisfying employment.
Self-Employment: Having your own business is part of the great American Dream, but when you have a disability, how do you organize the resources you need to launch that entrepreneurial idea? In this video, ALIS describes the benefits of being self-employed; from personal shopper to dog walker, these three young people launched a business that aligns with their interests, talents and skills.
X-Reality (XR) is an umbrella term to describe virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies. It is changing the way we interact with the world around us and will, undoubtedly, shape the future of work. In fact, companies are already using these immersive technologies to train staff, enhance collaboration, and market products and services.

In the workplace, XR can be a powerful tool for employers, employees, and job seekers. It has the potential to support mission-critical functions, increase productivity, and remove barriers to employment.

And check out this article from NPR showing how virtual reality can be used to train employees.
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In 1978 as part of Section 7, Supported Employment was amended to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Supported Employment (SE) is a system that assists people with the most significant disabilities to become employed.

Supported Employment is:

  • Competitive integrated employment, including customized employment; or employment in an integrated work setting in which an individual with a most significant disability is working on a short-term basis toward competitive integrated employment; and,
  • Employment that is individualized and customized, consistent with the individual’s unique strengths, abilities, interests, and informed choice, including ongoing support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities.

The program serves individuals, including youth, with the most significant disabilities who have had the most difficulty finding and/or keeping competitive integrated employment. Due to the nature and severity of their disabilities, the most intensive and extended supported employment services are required in order to perform the job.

Generally provided by community-based organizations under contract with state Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, SE can begin once an individual leaves the public school system. It can involve job development, job coaching, and long-term follow-along support services. The goal is placing and maintaining an individual in competitive employment in an integrated workplace setting.

Services to achieve this goal are provided by employment specialists and job coaches. An employment specialist is responsible for placing the individual in a job that fits their talents, experiences, and interests. Once hired, the job coach trains the employee using structured techniques to perform job tasks to the employer's specifications. They also help the individual with the interpersonal skills necessary to be accepted as an employee in the workplace. For a young person with severe disabilities, these services may be provided for up to four years or until age 25 when they would no longer be considered a youth. To learn more about services and eligibility, contact your state Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.

“Congress acknowledged that society’s accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.”
- William J. Brennan, Jr.
Make your voice heard! As a young person with a disability, or the parent of a child with a disability, your voice is vital to state and federal lawmakers when they are considering a piece of legislation that will have an impact on the disability community. Your experience explained in simple, short, focused remarks provides them with information, whether positive or negative, about the impact the potential law will have on you and your community.

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It's More than Voting Once a Year

“We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.”

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

With the upcoming election in November, there are many issues to consider when choosing the candidates you will vote for. One issue to consider is their stance on employment for people with disabilities. Who is talking about the topic? When questioned about employment for people with disabilities, is the candidate knowledgeable about the challenges and barriers experienced? Which candidates have a track record of introducing legislation about the issues? If you visit their websites, do they have a proposed disability rights plan that addresses the issue of employment?

But a functioning democracy requires more than just voting for your chosen representatives on election day. Democracy requires participating in the decisions that affect how your community is run. It involves helping those potential representatives understand what is important to you and your family well before you go to the ballot box. By helping to raise awareness about issues that are important to the disability community with your local, state and federal representatives, and holding them accountable for what they agree to do, you can make a difference!
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AbilityJobs is a website that connects employers looking for talent to job seekers with a disability. This is the first and largest resume bank for people with disabilities.

Integrate Autism Employment Advisors help organizations identify, recruit and train professionals on the autism spectrum for high value jobs in finance, data management, engineering, computer science and information technology.
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Project Launch via PACER Center works in partnership with parent centers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio to help youth, adults, families, professionals, and employers understand how key laws — The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act, the Workforce Investment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act — can help individuals with disabilities create a positive future.

Based in Bloomington MN, PACER Center is one of 7 RSA PTIs nationwide that provides various training and programming to youth/young adults with disabilities and their families, professionals, and other PTIs on the issues surrounding Youth Transition, the period of time between adolescence and adulthood. They are funded by the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which is part of the US Department of Education.

There is so much great content on our blog, we are sending you TWO links in this issue:
COVID-19 virus illustration
On living with a disability
in the time of COVID-19…

“Those of us that are used to being stuck in the house all the time are mentally prepared for lockdown. The weak have become the strong, and we should use this strength to help others who are struggling with the anxiety of containment and losing the fragile structure of normal society we’ve been separated from for so long we’re solid without it.”

Blogger Anomie Fatale shares her experiences as a person with disabilities at increased risk for complications due to COVID-19.

Jessica Gardner and her service dog Ford
On Service Dogs…

“I can honestly say in my life he (my service dog, Ford) has opened doors, both physically and figuratively, in ways I never expected nor could ever imagine. With his assistance, I no longer have to ask for help with several tasks, which has given me the independence that I’ve always longed for.”

Jessica Gardner writes about her experiences and newfound independence with her service dog, Ford.
Mark Your Calendar

April 15, 2020, 2:00 p.m (EST)
College Transition for Students with Disabilities: Information for Service Providers
A RAISE Center Webinar, presented by Anne Tulkin.

June 16-18, 2020
National APSE Conference, Denver, CO.

July 20-24, 2020
Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Conference
Palm Desert, CA.

October 15-16, 2020
The Spirit of Resilience
National Caregivers Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
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:
Peg Kinsell
Visit our Website:
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
RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) and the seven Regional PTIs.