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Missouri Workforce Development Leads Equal Opportunity for Customers with Disabilities through Section 188 Training

June 30, 2016

On May 11, the LEAD Center had the opportunity to present at the Missouri Association for Workforce Development (MAWD) Conference in Lake Ozark, Missouri. MAWD is a state association that supports career and technical training, as well as workforce development. MAWD is made up of individuals within the training and employment community who seek to enhance partnerships focused on developing a competitive workforce. As a pre-conference session, the LEAD Center’s Training and Technical Assistance staff joined more than 30 Equal Opportunity Officers (EOO) from across the state to learn best practices in implementing Section 188, the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of WIOA. In addition to learning about important disability-specific amendments included for the first time in WIOA, the EOOs also learned about best practices in universal access in American Job Centers highlighted in the Section 188 Disability Reference Guide.

In a second session open to all MAWD professionals, the LEAD Center presented again on Section 188, but with emphasis on key touchpoints of universal access for workforce customers with disabilities. Touchpoints serve as critical places along the workforce customer flow in which individuals with disabilities may or may not gain access to key services or resources. Some examples of touchpoints include the inclusion of people with disabilities on a local/state Workforce Investment Board (WIB), effective marketing and outreach to the disability community, an interactive process for job centers to provide reasonable accommodations, and coordinated services and funding with other partners to meet shared employment needs of job seekers with disabilities.

The MAWD conference sessions on Section 188 served as a precursor to a three-part webinar series for all statewide workforce development leadership, as well as another three-part webinar series geared to all workforce staff. The series kicked off in May and will continue through the summer. LEAD will continue to collaborate with the Missouri State EO Officer to provide technical assistance on the Section 188 trainings, while also helping to solicit feedback from workforce professionals on the overall impact of the training and strategies offered to ensure equal opportunity to customers with disabilities.