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Federal Government Enhances Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act Strengthens Commitment to Person-Centered Planning

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- ACCSES, the voice of more than 1,200 disability service providers across the nation, joins its members, people with disabilities, and their allies to celebrate the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday July 22.

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WIOA seeks to address problems related to the high unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities by reauthorizing and reforming core workforce development programs and by transferring independent living program functions from the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Among WIOA's provisions is Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act, which limits the use of commensurate wage by requiring that individuals under 24 meet the following criteria before being offered employment in a skill development center:

  • The individual has received pre-employment transition services
  • The individual has applied for vocational rehabilitation services with the result that and that that the individual has been working in a competitive setting with appropriate supports and services for a reasonable period of time without success.

WIOA and Section 511 are consistent with ACCSES's position that competitive integrated employment is the presumptive, priority outcome for individuals with disabilities, but that other outcomes are also appropriate based on an individual's person-centered plan. Employment in a skill development center is recognized as an option for individuals who both choose that setting and who are currently unable to successfully work in competitive employment even with appropriate supports and service.

"Jobs and choice must be recognized," says ACCSES CEO Terry Farmer, "and we are encouraged by the bipartisan support of WIOA. Decisions about where an individual can and should work should be made by the individual, his or her loved ones, and the professionals who know the individual best, not regulators and lawmakers in Washington. Person-centered planning is the core strategy used by disability service providers."

"Every person deserves opportunities to gain skills training and to fulfill their potential.  WIOA will enable more community program participants and workers across our nation to train for and earn meaningful work" said Jim Gibbons, President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International.

"Members of Congress took a significant step forward in modernizing the workforce development system." said Bob Chamberlin, SourceAmerica President and CEO. "Proactive steps by Congress to enable training, education and employment services to people with disabilities is timely and critical given that more than 80% of people with disabilities are not in today's labor force."

ACCSES represents more than 1,200 disability service providers across the country. ACCSES works to promote and enhance community-based solutions that maximize person-centered employment and living opportunities for people with disabilities. Through collaboration with government and other stakeholders, ACCSES assures that services recognize and support the full potential of each person with a disability. Learn more at www.accses.org.

Media Contact: Andrea Parr, FSA, 502-574-9934, [email protected]

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