Changes in state rules and processes are being encouraged by federal officials to improve competitive integrated employment among individuals with disabilities. Disabled people are still more likely to be unemployed than their non-disabled peers. 19.1 percent of disabled people in the United States worked in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means approximately 80.9% percent of disabled people were unemployed.
The US Department of Labor announced the participation of ten states and Washington, D.C., in its National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network, or NEON, initiative. NEON, founded in 2019, has concentrated on assisting five national disability organizations in developing strategic plans to improve employment among persons they support. The organizations are ANCOR, The Arc, Source America, APSE, and ACCSES.
The states selected to participate in the NEON initiative are California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.
Taryn Williams, who is assistant secretary for disability employment policy with the U.S. Department of Labor, hopes that the expansion of the initiative will benefit more disabled people when seeking integrated employment.
Williams is also the head of The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The Office of Disability Employment Policy collaborates with employers and government agencies at all levels to advance evidence-based policy that enhances employment opportunities and outcomes for disabled people.
Data indicates that disabled people can be excellent employees. We are eager to work, creative, and hardworking. Initiatives such as NEON will help employers see that disabled people can be valuable assets in the workplace.
All in: Easterseals Plan for Disability Equity.” Easterseals, Easterseals, https://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/employment-training/all-in/.
“Assistant Secretary – Taryn M. Williams.” United States Department of Labor, United States Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/about/organizational-chart/assistant-secretary.
Heasley, Shaun. “Labor Department Expands Disability Employment Initiative.” Disability Scoop, Disability Scoop, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2023/02/14/labor-department-expands-disability-employment-initiative/30242/.