Workforce Integration Taskforce Issues Report

The report states that the term ‘accessibility’ means more than making sign language interpreting or captioning available.

The Workforce Integration Taskforce, focused on finding ways to better integrate Ohioans with vision and hearing impairments into community-based jobs, has issued a report recommending improved workplace accommodations and increased training efforts.

The report indicates that employers still have much to learn about workers with disabilities and how to effectively integrate them into Ohio’s workforce, and that individuals with vision and hearing impairments need more access to career training and development.

Recommendations include strengthening efforts to assure that pre-vocational and vocational training are available and accessible to the statewide blind and deaf community, and that Ohio Means Jobs centers work to connect qualified people with available job openings. In addition, the report suggests that the state explore ways to better leverage existing facilities, services, and programs that serve this population to create more effective hands-on training.

Aligning with the report’s findings, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) has requested training funding in its 2016-17 budget proposal. Executive Director Kevin Miller, has stated that an estimated $127.2 million is available to Ohio in federal vocational rehabilitation funds, which the state can access by providing an obligation of $1 for each $3.69 in federal match funds.

The report also notes the impact of state and federal benefit programs on decisions to pursue work. OOD program participants who receive Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance tend to work fewer hours and earn less income than those who do not receive the federal benefits. The Taskforce recommends that state and federal government entities explore ways to remove disincentives to work due to income and asset limits.

Created in the mid-biennial review (budget), the Workforce Integration Taskforce began work in October and had a December 31 statutory deadline for submitting its recommendations. It is now dissolved.