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LEAD Conference Update

September 26, 2018

The LEAD Center sponsored an exhibit booth at the 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living, themed Mobilize: Resistance through Action. The theme was befitting of a conference that included a group of hundreds of people with disabilities marching through the rainy streets of Washington, D.C., to the Capitol building in the name of disability rights. LEAD Center offered information and resources that facilitate the type of action that is at the heart of the LEAD Center’s mission – to advance sustainable individual and systems-level change that results in improved, competitive, integrated employment and economic self-sufficiency outcomes for individuals across the spectrum of disability.

The conference, hosted by the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), attracted more than 1,000 attendees from across the United States and from as far away as Japan. The LEAD Center was on hand to provide information on LEAD Center projects and initiatives to a diverse group of stakeholders ranging from grassroots advocates, to staff and directors from Centers for Independent Living (CILs). One resource LEAD Center shared at the conference was Promoting Employment and Economic Advancement: A Toolkit for CILs and AJCs. The actionable checklists, guides, and fact sheets in the toolkit leverage CIL’s knowledge and skills on disability issues and community resources and AJCs training and employment services. The toolkit reflects the talents and skills of both partners to create a win-win-win for CILs, AJCs, and job seekers with disabilities. The following tools are currently available in the toolkit:

  1. Centers for Independent Living Guide to American Job Centers: Improving Services for Job Seekers with Disabilities
  2. Effective Communication: Disability Awareness and Etiquette Guide
  3. Accessing American Job Center Services Checklist
  4. Frequently Asked Questions: Using Customized Employment’s Discovery and Group Discovery Models to Promote Job Seeker Success in American Job Centers
  5. Common Acronyms and Glossary of Terms and Definitions

The LEAD Center also had a strong presence at this year’s 29th Annual National APSE conference in Orlando, FL. This year’s conference theme, Imagination Drives Transformation, brought together close to 900 people from across the country, as well as from Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Puerto Rico.  

The LEAD Center sponsored an exhibit booth at the conference, where various materials and resources were distributed. These included Guided Group Discovery and Self-Guided Discovery materials, information about the ABLE Act and Employment, and information on WIOA from a disability perspective, including a focus on Section 188’s Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity provisions. LEAD Center staff presented several sessions, including two preconference sessions. The first pre-conference session, Customized Employment and Discovery: New Approaches and Partnerships for Success, provided information on Guided Group Discovery (GGD) and Self-Guided Discovery strategies to support customized employment outcomes. The second pre-conference session, Let’s Talk Money:  Financial Independence for People with Disabilities Is Possible, gave participants an overview of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), including the impact of work on SSDI and SSI Benefits, the interplay of public benefits and financial capability strategies, and resources for assistance.

Other concurrent sessions included:

  1. Partnerships for Success: Demystifying Customized Employment for Employers, in which participants gained an understanding of the customized employment process and discussed the benefits of customized employment to employers;
  2. Promising Practices that Promote Effective Collaboration between Workforce & Disability Partners, in which participants learned how workforce and disability partners are improving access in the workforce system using WIOA's equal opportunity regulations as the framework, where to find promising practices in achieving universal access and equal opportunity, and how cross-systems committees are redefining roles to implement WIOA policies and practices that boost employment outcomes for people with disabilities. This session included examples of how state agencies that serve people with disabilities are working with workforce centers to increase employment outcomes for mutual customers;
  3. The ABLE Act: A Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes, which gave participants information on ABLE Act basics, the 2018 changes to ABLE, and how working and using an ABLE account can help one’s financial stability; and
  4. Financial Education to Financial Inclusion: Bridging the Gap for People with Disabilities, which provided participants with resources and strategies to promote financial education for people with disabilities, especially for people seeking employment and for people already employed.