From Transition Letter Attachment Sent by AAPD and a Coalition of Consumer Controlled Organizations (12/22/08):
· Numerous studies show that Americans with disabilities want to work. However, the current system fails to provide the education, training, supports, and opportunities to enable people with disabilities to obtain meaningful jobs and careers. Consequently, 70% of people with significant disabilities are unemployed.
· Currently, multiple federal programs have overlapping responsibilities and services for addressing employment of individuals with disabilities and they exist in silos, absent meaningful integration.
· In 2006, the average annual household income for Americans without disabilities was $65,400, compared with $36,300 for Americans with disabilities. Work disincentives, Supreme Court rulings, and under-funded job training and career development programs, all interfere with the acquisition of skills necessary to obtain, maintain, and advance in employment opportunities.
· Youth with disabilities are twice as likely to drop out of high school, three times as likely to live in poverty, and four times as likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system.
Long Term Goals:
· Establish a National Commission on People with Disabilities, Employment, and Social Security. This Commission would create and strengthen the connection between SSI and SSDI programs within the Workforce Development and Vocational Rehabilitation System. It would examine and propose solutions to work disincentives, revisit the Ticket to Work Act, and study and fund programs to help young people with disabilities transition to employment.
· Increase the focus on youth with disabilities. The administration must increase the emphasis on employment issues young people with disabilities face across systems and agencies, and include them in employment-based funding projects and proposals such as federally funded internships, job readiness, and career-based mentoring programs to address the needs of “disconnected youth.”
· Improve Vocational Rehabilitation Systems’ ability to assist underserved populations by increasing the ability of state vocational rehabilitation programs to serve traditionally underserved disability populations through technical assistance, pilot program funding, and other mechanisms designed to identify marginalized populations in service-delivery infrastructures and increase their successful employment outcomes.
Short Term Goals:
· Effectively implement Sections 501 & 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, requiring the federal government, and employers who are federal contractors and subcontractors, to “take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment, qualified individuals with disabilities.”
· Direct the Secretary of Labor to make changes to the Section 503 regulations to include goals and timetables that resemble those of Executive Order No. 11246.
· Issue an Executive Order to require the active recruitment and inclusion of “youth with disabilities” in all federally funded projects targeting at-risk or “disconnected youth.”
· Reinstate Executive Order No. 13173, mandating the hiring of an additional 100,000 qualified federal employees with disabilities and establish a dedicated unit within the Office of Personnel Management, led by a senior Administration official designated to implement it.
· Create a White House Office of Disability Policy, appoint a person with a disability to lead it, and provide the authority needed to promote its effectiveness, and the resources to support it.