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LEAD Partners with U.S. DOL’s Civil Rights Center, Office of Disability Employment Policy and Missouri State Equal Opportunity at 2017 WIOA National Convenings

June 29, 2017

This spring, the U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL), in collaboration with its Education and Health and Human Services partners, hosted three Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) National Convenings. The convenings were held at different regional locations on the West Coast, East Coast, and in the Midwest, and had one agenda with closely aligned content. The purpose of the convenings was to provide support and information to state and local workforce development professionals and partners on effectively implementing WIOA. Six different tracks were offered at each convening, including the following key topic areas: Business Engagement, Financial/Grants Management, Integrated Services, One-Stop Operations, Performance Accountability, and Strategic Governance. In addition, this year marked the first time in which an additional session on civil rights and disability was offered at all three convenings.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center (CRC) and Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) partnered with Missouri’s State Equal Opportunity Officer (EOO) and the LEAD Center to offer a joint presentation on What You Need to Know about Section 188: Individuals with Disabilities. The U.S. DOL CRC took the lead in providing an overview of WIOA’s Section 188 Equal Opportunity Provisions. Section 188 prohibits discrimination against individuals in any WIOA Title I financially assisted program or activity, which includes job training for adults and youth, and other programs or activities provided to recipients at American Job Centers or through its partners.

Specific requirements were shared around Section 188 regulations related to disability including: Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications, Auxiliary Aids and Services, Accessible Electronic and Information Technology, Physical Accessibility, and Programmatic Accessibility.

Following CRC, the LEAD Center introduced a resource developed for the national workforce system, Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access & Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide. The Guide was jointly developed by CRC, ODEP, and Employment and Training Administration (ETA), with support and assistance from the LEAD Center. It includes a wide variety of strategies collected nationwide that expand physical, programmatic, and communication access to people with disabilities in the workforce system. The LEAD Center emphasized recurring themes and strategies from the Guide such as collaboration with diverse disability groups, building disability knowledge of staff, and implementing an interactive process for reasonable accommodations.

Finally, Missouri’s EOO provided a state perspective on how they applied the Section 188 Disability Reference Guide as a blueprint for improving their state’s equal opportunity provision, with an emphasis on individuals with disabilities. Missouri’s EOO highlighted lessons learned , including the critical importance of collaboration between workforce staff, partners and EOOs; surveying staff, customers and employers on areas of disability; and developing hands-on staff training and practice opportunities with added support and go-to resources.