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Workforce Development Policies

Resources for those interested in learning more about policies that pertain to the rights of individuals with disabilities within workforce development settings.  It includes information about accessible educational materials and technologies.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act  (WIOA)

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have collectively issued five rules to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (Pub. L. 113-128). WIOA is landmark legislation that is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Section 188

On December 2, 2016, the Department of Labor published a final rule revising the regulations implementing the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Section 188 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief, among other bases in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Programs and activities of the American Job Center delivery system are subject to the equal opportunity provisions of Section 188 regulations, including accessible materials and technologies for job seekers and employees who need them.

The final rule contains substantive changes since 1999, when the regulations were originally issued. Several are specific to accessibility of materials and technologies:

  • Updates to the regulation address advances in information and communication technology, including online service delivery models. The final rule specifies that recipients must “provide individuals with disabilities access to, and use of, information, resources, programs, and activities that are fully accessible, or ensure that the opportunities and benefits provided by the electronic and information technologies are provided to individuals with disabilities in an equally effective and equally integrated manner.” For example, if a consumer of an online job training service is blind, the learning management system and materials used (documents, video, websites, simulations, etc.) must be accessible to the user’s screen reading technology at the time the service is accessed.
  • A new provision requires recipients to ensure programmatic accessibility for individuals with disabilities, including accessibility of services, technology, and materials. Programmatic accessibility is defined as “policies, practices, and procedures providing effective and meaningful opportunity for persons with disabilities to participate in or benefit from aid, benefits, services, and training.” Examples of programmatic accessibility include widely communicated procedures for requesting and receiving accommodations, inclusion of an accessibility clause in purchase order and contract language, and staff guidelines for selecting and creating accessible materials and technologies.
  • The definition of “auxiliary aids or services” was revised to include new technology alternatives. For example, if a job training activity requires use of web conferencing technology (live meeting, webinar, job coaching, etc.), events must be live captioned by a qualified voice-to-text service for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Read the Department of Labor’s announcement of the publication of the Final Rule updating the Section 188 WIOA Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Regulations.

Vocational Rehabilitation

The Secretary amends the regulations governing the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and the State Supported Employment Services program to implement changes to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) signed into law on July 22, 2014. The Secretary also updates, clarifies, and improves the prior regulations.

Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Print- and technology-based educational materials designed to be usable across the widest range of individual variability.

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Technology

Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.

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Employment

Work performed for compensation, at location, and with opportunities for advancement similar to those who are not individuals with disabilities.

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Section 188 of WIOA

Prohibits discrimination against people who apply, participate, work, or come into contract with programs and activities of the workforce development system.

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Accessibility

Access for all people, including people with disabilities, to web environments.

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LMS (Learning Management System)

Software application or system that provides educational programs and their components.

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Video

Recording, reproducing, or broadcasting of moving visual images, made digitally or on videotape.

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Deaf and hard of hearing

People with little or no functional hearing, milder hearing loss, and those with an auditory processing disorder.

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