Challenge derives power from the people we serve, stakeholders and the community, seeking to engage people in the political process at the local and national level that impact people with disability.
The bipartisan WIOA, signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014, created a new vision for how America prepares an educated and skilled workforce that expands opportunity for workers and employers. The Administration laid out a vision for our job training system that “trains our workers first based on what employers are telling us they’re hiring for and helps business design the training programs so that we’re creating a pipeline into jobs that are actually out there. This collaborative system will deliver integrated, job-driven services to job seekers, including youth and those with barriers to employment, as well as to workers and employers.
Attaining competitive integrated employment is a goal for all individuals with disabilities receiving vocational rehabilitation (VR) services in WIOA. However, it appears the integrated location criterion in the final regulation is based on an overly simplistic and inaccurate understanding of the types of jobs that are provided through the AbilityOne Program. As a result Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) is no longer recognizing employment in the AbilityOne program as a viable employment opportunity for people with disabilities because RSA incorrectly views these jobs as “not typically found in the community”. AbilityOne jobs are real jobs with integrated settings and wages well above the federal minimum wage. Challenge is requesting the following action:
- Rescind the guidance and clarify to state VR agencies that job opportunities are not to be automatically disqualified simply because of their affiliation with the AbilityOne program.
- As required by law, determinations should be made on a case-by-case basis, not through blanket disqualification.