March 2021, Vol. 7, No. 1
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers
watercolor image of word 'inclusion' with muddle letters 'US' larger than all the rest.

“When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.”
- Brené Brown
Author, Researcher,
and Social Anthropologist

The research is clear. Attitudes and sentiments about inclusive learning and inclusive communities strongly predict success. In this issue of RAISE, we explore beliefs and behavior around inclusion, and how they affect opportunities for employment and advancement.


We love this quick read, “Beyond Diversity: The Scene of Inclusion and Belonging.” Author Dr. Britt Andreatta lays out the reasons why diversity and inclusion in the workforce are vital, and what companies can do to promote it. She writes:

“Belonging is the feeling of being part of something and mattering to others. We create it through inclusion, which consists of intentional acts. Employees don’t need to be popular or liked by everyone, but they do need to have a sense of belonging somewhere and with someone.”


This Oscar® winning 2020 short film packs a lot into just 22 minutes. It looks at expectations, inclusion, supports, and accommodations through the eyes of 6 year-old Libby, who is deaf. Inclusion without support is isolation.
You will need captions turned on, as they are essential for understanding the sign language.

Meet Steven, a self-advocate from California who shares his views about meaningful work and self-direction. A former resident of an institution, he now lives in the community and works several jobs.

Robert Hammer, as job seeker with cerebral palsy, talks candidly about employer mindset in his job search.

Illustration of a young man considering various mentors in thought bubbles

Having a good mentor in an inclusive work setting can be career changing. But how can a student make the most of a good mentor? First, they must be a good “mentee.” We love these communication tips from NPR’s Life Kit Series: Tools to Help You Get It Together.

Be open to feedback: positive or constructive. Sometimes it can be hard to take a compliment or look back and appreciate your own work. In the same vein, be open to hearing tough feedback.

Take notes as you're meeting so that you can follow up via email. That will help a busy mentor stay on track and know what to focus on with you over the course of your relationship.

Decide on an end date. Based on how long those short-term goals will take to achieve, decide how long you want the mentorship relationship to last. A good rule of thumb is usually four to six months, with the option to keep meeting informally.

This relationship is not a therapy session. Remember to make and keep boundaries. We are human, and often personal issues will come into play during your sessions, especially if you have a pre-existing relationship or are talking about work-life balance. It's OK to vent. But make sure not to monopolize the session with personal issues or make it only about venting.

Finally, consider establishing a board of mentors. No one mentor can help you achieve all of your goals. Maybe one mentor can help you consider a path to leadership because they are a supervisor. Maybe another can help with technical skills specific to making a job change. Another mentor may be aware of your skill set and could turn into a sponsor down the line. There is no right or wrong number of mentors as you progress through your professional career. Even if a formal mentorship period ends, keep these mentors in your life and updated of your achievements and pitfalls. They can be a guide when you're unsure and will feel appreciated that they helped you get to where you are in your career. Win-win!

Chalk drawing of a lightbulb with several words surrounding: Advice, Coaching Training, Motivation, Direction, and Success

Often, the key to success in an inclusive workplace is a willingness to learn from others, and connection to natural supports. That might take the form of a mentor.

EARN (Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion) has issued a paper on the benefits of mentoring as an inclusion strategy. They describe a mentoring program as a “talent development and retention strategy,” one that uses the organization’s human resources to improve employee satisfaction, develop leaders, and teach new skills. Mentoring is also an effective tool for increasing and shaping inclusive culture.

Mentoring means a one-on-one relationship through which a senior person (the mentor) motivates and supports the personal or professional development of a junior person (the mentee). Today, mentoring has evolved to also include a variety of models, including virtual, peer, reverse-and-flash programs. And, in many organizations, “mentoring cultures” are being established to encourage “natural mentoring” to occur without specific program parameters.
Mentoring helps build community connections, but how do you make that happen during a pandemic? This webinar features Dr. Michelle Kaufman of Johns Hopkins University sharing findings from her important new study, Mentoring During COVID-19. This qualitative study features the real-life experiences of mentors from across the country who share how social distancing and technology integration have impacted their mentoring relationships, sometimes in unexpectedly positive ways.

Is your state looking to build stronger partnerships around Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)?

We turn to our RAISE partners at TranCen for their guidebook, produced in collaboration with WINTAC, the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center. We especially like Section 3, focusing on collaborations to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

Circle icon with books on a shelf graphic
Background from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

A publication from EARN.

A publication from EARN.

This organization aims to fuel the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships for America’s young people and to close the mentoring gap for the one in three young people growing up without this critical support.

Everett Deibler, RAISE Center Youth Coordinator and Learning Specialist at Lehigh Carbon Community College presents this 50-minute webinar exploring accessibility and inclusion.
Learn what accessible and inclusive language is, how to use it, and tips for creating content that promotes engagement and understanding from all people.

In this 60-minute webinar, Everett Deibler is joined by Cheryl Thompson, Mentor Coordinator at Missouri Parents Act (MPACT), to share some tricks of the trade that can improve the accessibility of content created using Microsoft Office Suite, GSuite, or Adobe PDF. Viewers will learn basics skills for creating accessible content, such as adding alt text to images, using good color contrast, creating a good heading system, and using descriptive hyperlinks.
It been a long, cold, lonely winter, so in this issue, we bring you TWO blog posts:
RAISE Director Josie Badger
In January, RAISE Director Josie Badger wrote “The Disability Agenda Could Bring Unity to a Fragmented Society.”

“…issues of opportunities and choice are foundational to a large majority of the political battles that I see. By opening up the conversations about disability rights, we are discussing civil rights. Disability rights are human rights and if we are able to pave the way for some of our most vulnerable populations to be successful, then we are setting the stage for the success of everyone. By declaring the inherent worth of all humans through embracing and protecting their rights to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ we can begin the dialogues that our nation needs right now.”
Jessica Keogh. M.Ed., teacher and advocate
And in February, Jessica Keogh. M.Ed., a teacher and advocate from West Chester, PA, wrote “Creating Room for Disability in the Discussions of Equity: Microaggressions.”

“Microaggressions can be defined as intentional or unintentional statements, body language or actions which discriminate against a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. It’s important to know that some common language may include actual microaggressions, and when used, they often make the person who is in the minority feel negatively…

  • “You’re dangerous in that thing (wheelchair).”
  • “I don’t have time for this.”
  • “Can you get a speeding ticket in that?”
  • “There’s another one of you (people in wheelchairs) in the train car.”

3/8–13/2021: Council for Exceptional Children L.I.V.E. (Learning Interactive Virtual Event)

3/17–19/2021: 18th International Virtual Conference on Positive Behavior Support

4/19/2021: A Framework for Individual Youth Empowerment (Virtual Event) featuring Ali Hrasok, MA.
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:
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.