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Special Initiatives

Employment and Alumni with Disabilities

In alignment with the Employers of National Service initiative, the Corporation for National and Community Service is issuing this toolkit to assist AmeriCorps alumni with disabilities with their transition to employment.

Employers of National Service builds a talent pipeline which connects AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni with leading employers from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to create recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities. Through this initiative, employers will have access to a dedicated, highly qualified, and mission-oriented pool of potential employees, and national service alumni will have additional opportunities to apply their skills in the workplace.

Employers of National Service is based upon the idea that national service acts as a powerful bridge to economic opportunity, whether for young adults transitioning from education to employment or for those seeking to re-enter the workforce or change career fields. AmeriCorps’ power to build skills and prepare individuals for employment is especially relevant for many individuals with physical, intellectual, and psychiatric disabilities who have unique needs when embarking on their search for employment, regardless of their level of work experience.

Whether you are a first-time job seeker or an experienced professional, this toolkit is a collection of resources that AmeriCorps alumni with disabilities may find helpful in the search for a job after service. For more information about how to maximize the value of your national service experience in the job search process, please see the alumni section of the CNCS website.

This page includes information about:

Understanding Disability in the Workplace

While many national service members with disabilities disclose having a disability and arrange for reasonable accommodations when serving, others with disabilities do not disclose and self-accommodate during service.  On average, employment positions last longer than your service term. Given employment’s longer duration, many people with disabilities approach finding a job by being pro-active about coordinating disability accommodations.  Becoming educated on your rights and responsibilities will assist you in thinking about how you want to portray yourself as a person with a disability in search for employment as well as in the workplace. Understanding your rights and the types of accommodations that others have used for your disability will ensure you can perform to your fullest potential.

  • As a good starting place, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a comprehensive resource addressing the most common disability issues related to employment, including the scope of the ADA and the protections provided by this legislation.

Disclosure – Knowing when, how, and what to disclose about your disability are delicate and important decisions to make when searching for employment. Learn more about your rights and effective strategies with these resources.

Accommodations Ideas & Resources – Even though every disability manifests in a different way, understanding the scope of accommodations that others with the same disability utilize will prepare you for any tasks that come your way on the job. Knowing how to successfully request and negotiate reasonable accommodations with your new employer is a skill worth developing during your employment search so you can start off with equal access and reach your full potential.  

Rights

Finding a Job

There are numerous job-related resources available to assist you in building on your national service experience. Many organizations recognize that individuals with disabilities bring unique perspectives and life experiences to an organization. The following resources may assist you in identifying employment opportunities. 

  • GettingHired.com is the place where people with disabilities seeking employment, employers committed to hiring people with disabilities, service providers, college disability and career services departments, and disability advocacy groups connect.
  • Hire Disability Solutions provides comprehensive career services to facilitate employment for people with disabilities, veterans, their family members, and others who face challenges in their lives.
  • ABILITY Jobs has helped hundreds of thousands of job seekers with disabilities in their employment search since 1995. With the first stand-alone resume bank, employers can actively seek talented people with disabilities looking for work.
  • The US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) mission is to help business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. USBLN works closely on disability inclusion with corporate partners and businesses owned by individuals with disabilities.

One way to continue your public service as AmeriCorps alumnus is to pursue a career in the federal government. The U.S. government has implemented specific policies and programs designed to encourage the hiring of individuals with disabilities.

  • Schedule A hiring authority for individuals with disabilities - Schedule A is a non-competitive hiring status that streamlines the hiring process for people with physical, intellectual, and psychiatric disabilities. In some instances, hiring officials may select solely from a list of qualified Schedule A applicants. In order to be selected, you will need to show that you meet the qualifications of the job (with or without reasonable accommodation).
  • In 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548, which requires the federal government to increase the number of individuals with disabilities they hire. The order builds on President Clinton’s Executive Order 13163 which sets a goal for federal agencies to hire 100,000 individuals with disabilities.
  • Partnership for Public Service (PPS) – One way to learn more about federal agencies is to review the PPS survey satisfaction scores provided by federal employees with disabilities. To find this data and much more, look under the demographic drop-down list where you can view responses from employees with disabilities.
  • Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey – Each year, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) releases results from a survey of federal employees. This survey contains results about federal employee satisfaction on a variety of issues, including the option to group survey results among federal employees with disabilities. Look on the OPM website for annual results. 
  • Organization of Federal Employees with Disabilities ("FEDs") is an assembly of current, former, and retired federal employees with, and without, disabilities; people with disabilities, including students, who have an interest in becoming a federal employee; those who have an interest in improving the federal governments rate of employing, retaining, and advancing people with disabilities.
  • Workforce Recruitment Program – The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP) is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with highly motivated college students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Diversity Management & Equal Opportunity manage the program, which continues to be successful with the participation of many other federal agencies and sub-agencies. Since the program's expansion in 1995, over 7,000 students and recent graduates have received temporary and permanent employment opportunities through the WRP.

Pre-Employment Resources

As evidenced by the large number of organizations participating in Employers of National Service, AmeriCorps service provides key transferrable experience that is extremely attractive to employers. Building upon your national service experience as you move along your path to employment, it is worth exploring the social services that can provide a variety of support for people with disabilities – from training opportunities, funding for education or special equipment, and a host of pre-employment supports and counseling.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services – These state-based agencies help individuals with disabilities gain the training, education, and tools necessary for employment and securing gainful employment. See a state-by-state directory of vocational rehabilitation agencies.
  • Social Security Administration 
    • Some individuals with disabilities already receive disability benefits such as SSI or SSDI; others may receive these benefits at some point after they serve. Since both programs phase out their support following employment, it is important to know what to expect and what you are required to report once employed. Each year, the Social Security Administration releases a new copy of their reference guide for SSDI and SSI recipients called The Red Book.
      • The 2015 Red Book
      • General: www.ssa.gov/ or (800)772-1213 (V), (800)325-0778 (TTY)
      • If you are receiving benefits and want to transition to employment, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the Social Security Administration’s work incentives.
      • Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program – Ticket to Work is a free and voluntary program that can help Social Security beneficiaries go to work, get a good job that may lead to a career, and become financially independent, all while they keep their Medicare or Medicaid. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits because of a disability and are ages 18 through 64 are most likely already qualified for the program.
  • Independent Living Centers are non-residential disability community centers where people with disabilities can obtain information about local resources and opportunities, as well as training that supports living independently. These are operated largely by people with disabilities. They exist in rural and urban areas in every state.

Additional Resources:

  • Job Accommodation Network (“JAN”) provides free consulting services for individuals with physical or intellectual limitations that affect employment. Services include one-on-one consultation about job accommodation ideas, requesting and negotiating accommodations, and rights under the ADA and related laws. Although JAN does not help individuals find employment, JAN does provide information for job seekers.
  • Office for Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) – A division of the Department of Labor, ODEP develops and influences policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. ODEP’s website includes a myriad of resources, toolkits, and materials related to the employment of people with disabilities.
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) – DOJ offers technical assistance on the ADA Standards for Accessible Design and other ADA provisions applying to businesses, non-profit service agencies, and state and local government programs. It also provides information on how to file ADA complaints.
    • ADA Hotline: (800) 514-0301 (V), (800) 514-0383 (TTY)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") offers technical assistance on the ADA provisions applying to employment and also provides information on how to file ADA complaints.
  • Disability.gov is the cross-agency federal website on various disability topics (including employment).
  • Access Board offers technical assistance on the ADA Accessibility Guidelines.
    • (800) 872-2253 (V), (800) 993-2822 (TTY) 

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