Disability Employment Initiative

On September 29, 2010 the Alaska Workforce Investment Board (AWIB) was awarded a Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Training Administration to improve education, training and employment opportunities and outcomes of youth and adults who are unemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits.

The departments allocating staff to this project include the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s Employment Security Division (ESD); Alaska Workforce Investment Board (AWIB) and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education. Susan Brenner from ESD is the One Stop Liaison and Employment Network Coordinator; Rich Sanders from the Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education is the State Lead Disability Resource Coordinator (DRC) for the One Stop Job Center system; and Louise Dean from the AWIB is the State Level DEI Project Lead.

DEI Project Components

Disability Resource Coordinators -

  • State Lead Disability Resource Coordinator – Rich Sanders, the State Lead Disability Resource Coordinator will oversee the training of all One Stop staff throughout the life of the grant. Through the use of online tools provided by the National Disability Institute, staff will participate in webinars and regular trainings to upgrade their skills in the service components of the grant as well as best practices in serving customers with disabilities. The State Lead is also responsible for ensuring accessibility to job center services, workshops and programs both from a programmatic and physical access standpoint.
  • Local Disability Resource Coordinators – All One Stop staff will receive training to achieve proficiency as a Disability Resource Coordinator with some receiving more extensive training to serve as a local lead in serving customers with disabilities during and beyond the life of the grant. This will be done on a rotating business until all staff are trained and have access to the resources to best meet the needs of customers with disabilities.

 

Accessibility in Alaska’s One Stops – In order to serve customers with disabilities effectively, the grant will be conducting site physical and programmatic accessibility reviews in year one and then on an annual basis through local Disability Resource Coordinators.

  • Physical Accessibility – To best serve customers with disabilities and to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions of the Workforce Investment Act, each Alaska One Stop will be initially reviewed by the State Lead DRC. Ongoing reviews will then be conducted by a local trained DRC’s to ensure that physical access to all public areas (including computers, phones and other equipment designed for use by the public) of the job center is available. Based on the findings of these reviews, recommendations will be made for needed alterations and/or upgrades to ensure accessibility is met.
  • Programmatic Accessibility – The One Stop system provides job seekers with many services including career guidance and counseling, resource rooms with public computers to access job openings, workshops to enhance job seekers interviewing skills, resume’ development, financial literacy and other job search related information. These services must be accessible to all individuals with disabilities and the program accessibility checklist will be utilized to ensure these services are accessible or that alternative methods or accommodations can be made to ensure all job seekers with disabilities have access to the same information and services that all job seekers receive.

 

Assistive Technologies in Alaska’s One Stops – Alaska’s One Stops are equipped with a variety of assistive technologies to assist customers with accessing equipment and services including magnification equipment and computer screen reading software for individuals with low vision, a fully adjustable workstation for individuals using wheelchairs that exceed standard wheelchair heights or individuals with physical conditions requiring adaptive seating, amplification devices and communications equipment for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and software that reads computer information aloud for individuals with learning disabilities or who use English as a second language. These are some of the primary technologies that not only provide accessibility to job center services and informational materials but also expose job seekers and employers to technologies that can help them overcome disability related barriers in the workplace. For more information on use of this equipment, ask the receptionist or DRC at your local one stop for a demonstration.

Ticket To Work / Employment Networks – The “Ticket to Work” is a program enacted by Social Security to assist individual’s receiving either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments resulting from a disability that has been determined to prevent them from working. Every person receiving SSI or SSDI receives a “Ticket” that allows them to choose amongst different “Employment Networks” to provide them with services that will assist them in their return to work if they desire to do so. The Employment Security Division (ESD) of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is approved as an Employment Network that can provide job seekers receiving SSI or SSDI benefits with employment services to assist them in finding employment that meets their individual conditions and interests. Through the DEI initiative, ESD began serving Ticket to Work customers in October of 2011 through the Juneau Job Center and is expanding to job centers in Fairbanks and the Anchorage / MatSu areas in 2012 and 2013. For more information on the ESD Ticket to Work program, visit http://jobs.alaska.gov/t2w/.

Customized Employment & Self Employment – Customized employment and self employment is an emerging practice that assists job or self employment seekers with disabilities with achieving employment goals that meet their individual “conditions of employment” and in the case of wage employment, meets the needs of businesses by determining how a job seeker with a disability and their unique talents can be matched with the employment needs of an employer. The process is one that utilizes a method known as “Discovery” wherein the job seeker is led through a process of determining all of the factors that could both meet their employment goals and their individual conditions that could impact a job or a small business they might be interested in starting. Alaska’s DEI grant is committed to increasing the number of providers in this promising practice as there have been many successful employment outcomes locally and across the nation. To achieve this, the grant will provide one stop staff and local disability service providers and partners with training opportunities in the Discovery process and other aspects of Customized Employment and Self Employment in the coming years. Training opportunities will be listed on this website as they become available.

 

Customized Employment and Self Employment Links

 

Current Training & Certification for Providers

 

Partnerships and Collaboration – A primary component of the Alaska Disability Employment Initiative is to partner and collaborate with other state agencies, local disability service providers, independent living centers and other entities to ensure optimal communication and sharing of resources and strategies to best serve job seekers with disabilities in a coordinated fashion. Below is a list of agencies that partner with the DEI grant. A Job Center Services Integration Committee (JCSIC) meets quarterly and members from the Alaska Divisions of Employment Security, Vocational Rehabilitation, Business Partnerships, Public Assistance, Behavioral Health, the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education and the Alaska Workforce Investment Board update each other on programs and special projects to ensure that each agency collaborates and shares resources when possible to promote efficient and effective use of resources to achieve our goals.

Asset Building – Asset Building involves providing individuals and families with limited income opportunities to build assets such as owning a home, getting an education or starting a small business to escape poverty. The DEI grant is committed to building a collective and coordinated approach to helping Alaskans with disabilities escape poverty through a coordinated system of financial literacy options, matched savings accounts and use of the Earned Income Tax Credit for those who qualify.