Oregon Seeks to Enhance Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities Through Private-Sector Engagement

By Rachel Wright, Policy Analyst

Over the past 10 years, the employment rate of Oregonians with disabilities has steadily risen and remains among the highest in the nation. Research by the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows that between 2012 and 2020, the employment rate of people with disabilities in Oregon rose 2.3 percentage points. This means that more than 18,000 additional Oregonians who have a disability found and maintained employment during that period. 

Oregon’s sustained engagement with private sector businesses has contributed to the improved employment outcomes among people with disabilities. In recent years, Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) – an office within the Oregon Department of Human Services – has spearheaded numerous initiatives to build the capacity of private sector employers to engage in disability inclusion efforts. These initiatives include: 

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Engaging the Private Sector: States Employ Tax Incentives to Support Hiring of People with Disabilities 

By Anna Lucchese, Policy Fellow and Dalton Goble, Policy Fellow

In this rapidly changing world of workforce development, businesses are seeking to diversify their staff through a variety of ways. Hiring people with disabilities is a beneficial option for organizations to achieve this goal while addressing labor needs and obtaining competitive advantages. Studies have indicated that hiring individuals with disabilities improves profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction and inclusive work culture. To encourage these positive outcomes, state governments have worked closely to construct policies that engage the private sector and provide meaningful job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

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Order of Selection: How Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies Prioritize Service to Individuals with Disabilities 

By Anna Lucchese, Policy Fellow

State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies assist individuals with disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain employment that is consistent with the individual’s unique strengths, abilities, interests, and informed choice. Due to limited funding, State VR agencies do not always have the capacity to serve everyone eligible for VR services. Order of Selection (OOS) was therefore included in Title I of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to prioritize individuals already receiving assistance from these agencies. OOS requires that during times when resources are scarce, VR agencies must create “the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services.” As of April 2022, there are 41 VR agencies that use the OOS system and 37 VR agencies that do not.

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SEED Initiative Recognized During National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Jorden Jones, Policy Fellow

Approximately 56.7 million Americans live with a disability and a significant percentage of these individuals continue to have difficulty finding, securing and retaining employment, despite the unemployment rate hovering at a 50-year low. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) highlights the expertise and skill sets people with disabilities possess and the vital role they play in America’s economy.

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State Medicaid Buy-In Programs for Workers with Disabilities

By Sydney Geiger

Fear of losing Medicaid coverage can deter people with disabilities from entering the labor market. Medicaid buy-in programs allow workers with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage that enables them to participate in the workforce without losing health care benefits. A large majority of states such as Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, amongst others, are participating in or pursuing these kinds of programs.

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Washington Pilot Program Helps Individuals with Disabilities Return to the Workforce

By Trent Patrick

The focus on helping individuals with mid-career disabilities stay in or return to the workforce is emerging in the economic and health sectors of the public policy arena. This focus comes from the drive to retain good employees in the workforce, which benefits state governments, employees and employers.

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Uber Expands Paratransit Options for Eight Cities

By Sydney Geiger

Boston, Chicago, D.C., Las Vegas, Toronto, San Francisco and New York City are improving their paratransit options through an Uber initiative. Since Uber’s launch, the company has invested in ensuring that its features and technologies are accessible to all users. In November 2018, Uber, a CSG Associate member, announced plans to widely expand paratransit for individuals using wheelchairs and other motorized mobilization devices.

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CSG Webinar Explores Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Strategies

By Shawntaye Hopkins

The Council of State Governments’ recent Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work webinar explored policies that help people in the workforce following disability or injury incurred on or off the job. The webinar also reviewed ways in which policymakers can use the CSG Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Toolkit as a resource.

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States Launch Pilot Projects to Retain Workers with Disabilities

By Sydney Geiger

Eight states have launched projects aiming to provide opportunities for people who experience mid-career disabilities to remain in and return to the workforce. After a competitive selection process, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in partnership with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration awarded eight states with funding for RETAIN Demonstration Projects.

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