Virginia’s Accessibility and One-Stop Taskforce Models Cross Agency Collaboration to Address Equal Opportunity and Access for People with Disabilities
Last year, the LEAD Center was invited to join a Virginia Statewide WIOA cross-agency partner meeting to address accessibility of the one-stop service delivery system. LEAD Center staff presented on WIOA from a Disability Perspective: Implementing Section 188’s Equal Opportunity Provisions, which provided a snapshot of strategies collected nationally within a reference tool available to workforce partners nationwide. The tool, Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access & Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide, mentioned above, was jointly developed by the Civil Rights Center, Office of Disability Employment Policy, and Employment and Training Administration, with support and assistance from the LEAD Center.
One of the major outcomes of this meeting, which focused on Virginia’s WIOA Combined State Plan, was the establishment of an Accessibility and One-Stop Service Delivery System Taskforce, led by the Virginia Community College System as the designated WIOA Administrator. The Taskforce was charged with developing recommendations for ensuring physical, communication and programmatic accessibility of the one-stop service delivery system in Virginia. During deliberations, the state’s Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) staff played a critical role in providing guidance and expertise, in addition to implementing DEI promising practices in American Job Centers (AJCs) across the state.
The LEAD Center was enlisted to provide technical assistance to the Taskforce on WIOA’s Section 188 Equal Opportunity provisions. During the past year, LEAD staff have provided on-site and virtual support in the planning and facilitation of an implementation plan with specific strategies and action steps. LEAD staff have worked with the Taskforce supporting the process of partner development and engagement, collaborative decision-making, defining of partner roles, and collective implementation towards the state’s overall vision and goals.
The foundation of the Virginia Taskforce is its diverse representation, shared leadership, and determined commitment of its members. The group represents key state level workforce partners, including Vocational Rehabilitation, the Governor’s Office for Workforce Development, the Community College’s Workforce Development Services, the Virginia Association of Workforce Directors, Equal Opportunity Officers, the Virginia Departments for Deaf & Hard of Hearing and Blind & Vision Impaired, and Centers for Independent Living. All members have proven integral to developing solutions that expand equal access and opportunities to people across the spectrum of disabilities in the public workforce system.
The varying perspectives and vast subject matter expertise of Virginia’s Accessibility and One-Stop Service System Taskforce has led to increased awareness of cross-agency coordination of services and roles. The differing viewpoints and experiences shared by the Taskforce members about their constituents have led the group to take on challenging areas of access in the state workforce system. This includes a thorough review and update of all language within policies across workforce programs and partners to support compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 188 i at both the state and local levels. They also are focusing on improvement of the processes used by ADA surveying teams in reviewing physical accessibility as part of AJC Certification, and on the development of an assessment process to review and improve programmatic and communication access.
The LEAD Center will continue to support and highlight the exemplary work of Virginia’s Taskforce as they model diverse cross-agency collaboration towards implementation of WIOA’s Section 188 equal opportunity provisions.