Paralyzed Veterans of America has endorsed and provided feedback on a National Governors Association initiative that calls on all states to take specific actions to advance employment of people with disabilities.
The yearlong initiative, “Better Bottom Line – A Blueprint for Employing People with Disabilities,” launched by Delaware Governor and outgoing NGA chairman Jack Markell, encourages state leaders to do a better job of increasing job opportunities for people with disabilities, including working directly with businesses and making disability employment part of states’ workforce development strategies.
More specifically, the report, which Markell presented at the NGA’s meeting in Milwaukee on Aug. 1, poses a series of “asks,” or actions, for governors, including supporting businesses in disability hiring efforts, preparing youths with disabilities for jobs, and becoming a model employer by increasing the number of people with disabilities working in state government.
“My initiative was designed to raise awareness about how the untapped talents of people with disabilities can contribute to a business’s bottom line,” Gov. Markell said at the meeting.
Paralyzed Veterans last fall participated in a roundtable discussion on the initiative and provided feedback on some of the challenges disabled veterans in particular face when trying to enter the workforce. This is one focus of Paralyzed Veterans' Operation PAVE, or Paving Access for Veterans Employment, a vocational assistance program that helps all veterans find jobs and navigate their employment, education and benefits options.
Susan Prokop, associate advocacy director at Paralyzed Veterans of America, said one recommendation was ensuring that any state disability job portals include questions about whether an applicant’s experience includes military service.
“We want states to be mindful that veterans may seek employment services through their state job centers, but they may not necessarily identify themselves as a veteran,” Prokop said. “If they don’t, they are going to miss out on a lot of supports and services available to them as veterans or veterans with disabilities.”
Prokop also endorsed one of the key recommendations of the report that calls on states to adopt Employment First strategies, which direct state policies and investments to prioritize employment for people with disabilities. The state of Washington has been the catalyst for spurring Employment First policies across the country, according to the report.
Prokop also praised the report’s emphasis on ensuring states measure their progress toward disability employment goals as well as its efforts to make a business case for employing people with disabilities.
“Certainly something that our Operation PAVE has been doing for quite some time is advancing the notion that employing people with disabilities is a good business proposition,” she said. “They’re committed, responsible and adaptable, so they make excellent employees.”
Respectability USA, a nonprofit organization committed to improving employment of people with disabilities, will host a webinar on August 8th to discuss the NGA report and put forth an action plan for implementing the report’s recommendations.
“We’ve asked our chapters and our government relations directors to take a look at the set of ‘asks’ and to communicate with their own governors about the Better Bottom Line initiative and encourage and support their state’s own activities in this regard,” Prokop said.
Learn more about the Better Bottom Line initiative at this link.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's efforts on behalf of all people with disabilities
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.