The 2018 National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All”. One way the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) supports this theme throughout the year is by helping empower the employer, the American Job Center, and an individual with a disability.  To join the celebration, here are three examples sharing how DEI projects from across the country continue to help strengthen America’s workforce. 


DEI strategies facilitate employer engagement through improving coordination between the public workforce system and industry to help businesses overcome barriers to recruiting, hiring, and training individuals with disabilities.

  • Connecticut – Diverse Ability Career Fairs: The Connecticut DEI grantee hosts accessible and inclusive career fairs called Diverse Ability Fairs, a comprehensive approach in partnership with vocational rehabilitation (VR) to engage businesses that has resulted in successful outcomes for job seekers with disabilities. The career fair is designed in part to address employer concerns to hire individuals with disabilities.  Beyond partnering with VR, additional partners include the local mental health and addiction agency, community service providers, local community college representation, and Connecticut’s Business Leadership Network. These collaborations also serve to “build out” their network connection to employers and job seekers.


DEI strategies support strengthening the capacity of American Job Centers to serve people with disabilities. 

  • California – Partnership Plus: Action Oriented Solutions: California’s DEI grantee ensured that American Job Centers provide full access to services for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients who are Ticket Holders by entering into a Partnership Plus agreement to better serve Ticket Holders under the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program.  California recognized that reaching Ticket Holders as early as possible was a crucial strategy to facilitating access to American Job Center services and, when appropriate, to co-enrolling Ticket Holders in WIOA Title I services while they were still receiving VR services.


DEI strategies facilitate application of innovative methods for individuals with disabilities to find jobs. 

  • Iowa – Reverse Career Fairs: Reaching Employers Directly: Job Seekers with disabilities are often over-looked and not successful in getting the attention of employers when participating in a typical employer-oriented job fair. The Iowa DEI grantee adopted an innovative career fair practice called “Reverse Career Fairs”.  In this model, the job seeker is the one behind the table supporting their employment goals and positioning themselves to showcase their skills, personality, and ambition to prospective employers. The Reverse Career Fair approach brings diverse partners together in a way that increases the likelihood of job seekers with disabilities obtaining and retaining employment.