Education Week - July 18, 2018 - 24
Rule Revisions Eyed on Job Paths for Those With Disabilities
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it doesn't count as a successful job
placement by the agency. That
means the agency doesn't get federal money for a job placement.
Employers of people with disabilities want those regulations
But supporters of the regulations
as they stand say there's no need
for the Education Department to
revamp the rules. Instead, they say,
the department could issue revised
guidance to states, making it clear
that job placements are individualized decisions, and that clients of
can make an informed choice of job
The controversy mirrors the inclusion debate among students with
disabilities in the K-12 system. The
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act strongly pushes for students to be in general education to
the maximum extent appropriate,
but also says such decisions must be
made on a student-by-student basis.
That has led, in some cases, to
complaints that students are in
inclusive settings when such settings are inappropriate for their
needs, or that they are isolated
from their peers when they would
be better served in a general education setting.
"I think that everything you do
to inspire people to reach further
is fantastic," said Kate McSweeny,
the vice president of governmental
relations for ACCSES, an organization pushing for the regulations
to be changed. ACCSES, short for
American Congress of Community
Supports and Employment Services, represents 1,200 organizations that provide job counseling
and employment to people with disabilities around the country.
"But we can't leave people beh i nd," Mc Sweeny c onti nued,
through regulations that frown
on certain job settings. "Everyone is not going to excel working
someplace that people think they
David Hoff, the program director for the Institute for Community
Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, said that segregated settings were once considered to be the best option for people
with disabilities. But times have
changed, he said.
"What we have learned is that
with the right supports, most people with disabilities of working age
can work successfully in the community," Hoff said. For him, it is
a civil rights issue. People worry
that individuals with disabilities
will be discriminated against in
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the workplace, but visibility is the
answer, he said.
"Society will never accept people
with disabilities, unless they are
there," he said.
Allison Wohl, the executive director of the Association for People
Supporting Employment First, said
she's concerned that if the regulations are opened up for a rewrite,
"everything's on the table" while
the law and its regulations are still
There's nothing in the regulations
that say someone can't be placed in
a sheltered workshop," she said,
using a term for a supervised workplace primarily for people with disabilities.
"What they're saying that people
have to be given an opportunity to
try competitive integrated employment if that's what they want, and
they have to have informed choice
around that," Wohl said.
While the workforce act passed
four years ago, it is the regulations
that came out in 2016, plus a "frequently asked questions" document
released the following January, that
appear to be at the center of the
For example, the January 2017
document specifically says that certain jobs are generally considered
"not typically found in the community," and thus, would not count as
competitive integrated employment.
T h at i nclude s job s f u nde d
through AbilityOne, one of the nation's largest sources of employment
for people who are blind or have
significant disabilities. AbilityOne
provides services and goods to the
federal government, and 75 percent
of its direct labor must be provided
by people with disabilities.
An example: In New Britain,
Conn., people with disabilities
package and mail the chains used
for miltary dog tags , said Sandie
Lavoy, the senior vice president of
community rehabilitation services
for CW Resources. The organization provides job counseling as well
as jobs for people with disabilities
through AbilityOne contracts,
Lavoy said. But those jobs aren't
considered competitive integrated
employment, because most of the
workers have disabilities.
Other positions, such as in food
service, landscaping, or janitorial
services, face similar issues, she
"I really believe there needs to
be a formalized change," she said.
"Any language which causes people
to more narrowly define what is acceptable and restrict opportunities
needs to be removed."
Karen Lee, the executive director
of SEEC-Seeking Employment,
Any language which
causes people to ...
needs to be removed."
Equality and Community for People With Developmental Disabilities-said the regulations just spell
out what has long been considered
to be optimal outcomes for people
with significant disabilities. Lee's
organization provides an array of
supports, including job coaching, to
people with disabilities.
The argument that people with
disabilities choose certain jobs
may just ref lect that counselors
don't have the skills or resources
to help them find other options, she
"The argument to continue to
isolate and segregate is just weak,"
Lee said. "Why should a person's
opportunity be squelched by the
[counselor] who is being paid to help
them to have a different life?"
Cross-Curricular Instructional Principles to
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Join SpringBoard's Teacher of
Distinction Amanda Shackelford
to learn how the College
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Content provided by
* AMANDA SHACKELFORD,
6-8th grade ELA teacher,
Judice Middle School, Lafayette
Parish School System, La.
* JESSICA BROCKMAN,
The College Board
FREE WEBINAR: THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2018 / 2 TO 3 PM ET / www.edweek.org/go/webinar/CrossCurricular
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