A survey conducted in 2010 by the National Organization on Disability estimates that the percentage of jobless among individuals with disabilities has grown to a staggering 79%. Through provisions of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the One Stop Service Center system was developed as a universally accessible resource for job seekers. However, research shows that many people with disabilities do not have equal access to One Stop services (Hamner & Timmons, 2004; Holcomb & Barrow, 2004; U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2004; National Center on Workforce and Disability [NCWD], 2007i; National Council on Disabilities [NCD], 2010).
Workforce Investment Act
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was signed by President Clinton on August 7, 1998 and became a federal law on July 1, 2000. WIA reformed the federal job training system and provides guidance for statewide and local workforce investment systems. Key principles of WIA include (a) streamlining services of employment and training programs into one integrated system, (b) universal access to core services for every person, (c) increased accountability for performance results, (d) a strong role for local boards in the implementation of WIA, (e) state and local flexibility in how funding is used to customize services to meet the needs of the local community, and (f) improved youth programs with close links to local labor market needs and the establishment of a youth council in each area (WIA, 1998).
WIA requires states to bring together 17 federally funded employment and training services into a single system--the One Stop system. Funded through four federal agencies (Department of Labor, Department of Education, Department of Health & Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development) these programs, also known as the mandatory partners, were established to provide services through a statewide network of One Stop career centers (GAO, 2004). Mandatory partners include Vocational Rehabilitation, Job Corps, and federally funded adult and youth services programs. A full list of mandatory partners can be found at http://www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/onestop/partners.c fm.
WIA is administered at the state level through a Governor appointed Workforce Investment Board (WIB) that consists of representatives from businesses, labor organizations, educational institutions, and community organizations (WIA, 1998). The role of the WIB is to assist the Governor in the development of a statewide plan for service delivery and to establish program policy. Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIAs) are charged with submitting local area plans for services that are to be administered as designated by the Governor. LWIAs also appoint local One Stop operators, select eligible organizations to provide services, and appoint a local Youth Council that is charged with establishing youth policy for local education and job training. Organizations that may administer One Stop centers include programs that are authorized under (a) Title I of WIA, (b) the education and literacy activities of Title II of WIA (c) the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 (d) parts A and B of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, and (e) state unemployment compensation laws. A complete list of authorized programs can be found in Subpart B of the Workforce Investment Act [Section 121 (b)(1)].
In addition to protections offered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 188 of WIA includes specific regulations to ensure equal opportunity and non-discrimination for people with disabilities. Under WIA, facilities and services must be readily accessible, staff must be trained to ensure equal opportunity and non-discrimination, and outreach to specific groups including people with disabilities must occur (WIA, 1998). WIA replaced the Job Training Partnership Act (1992) that limited services to individuals age 22 and older who are economically disadvantaged. …