With the help of our many friends in the employment and disability communities, APSE has put together a thorough compilation of resources to help you learn more about Employment First and reach the goals you may have as an individual, student, business, or provider. We’ve also illustrated through success stories the difference meaningful employment can make.

Resources for APSE Constituents

Individuals with Disabilities:

APSE Employment First Statement
Adapted by Green Mountain Self Advocates and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered
[Download the PDF]

APSE Statement on Employment First page 2
    • LinkedIn – is the largest professional networking site available today. It connects and helps user stay in contact. APSE teamed up with LinkedIn to develop tips on networking, creating a profile, and more. LinkedIn provides more inclusive platform for people to use. Give it a try and get LinkedIn!
    • Federal & State Employment Resources
      Knowing where to turn and which agency performs what duties can be overwhelming. To help you navigate the available resources, APSE put together a list of agencies and programs, along with brief descriptions of their work and contact information

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) |
To identify the VR office in your vicinity, consult your local telephone directory or visit: http://askjan.org/cgi-win/TypeQuery.exe?902
Vocational Rehabilitation is a nationwide federal-state program for assisting eligible people with disabilities to define a suitable employment goal and become employed. Each state capital has a central VR agency, and there are local offices in most states. VR provides medical, therapeutic, counseling, education, training, and other services needed to prepare people with disabilities for work. VR is an excellent place for a youth or adult with a disability to begin exploring available training and support service options.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
1.800.526.7234 (Voice) | 1.877.781.9403 (TTY)
Spanish spoken; Spanish materials available
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

ADA National Network
For information on legislation, rights, and resources, visit:
Or call: 1.800.949.4232 (Voice/TTY)
The ADA National Network provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of business, government and individuals at local, regional and national levels. The ADA National Network consists of ten regional ADA National Network Centers located throughout the United States that provides personalized, local assistance to ensure that the ADA is implemented wherever possible. This is not an enforcement or regulatory agency, but a helpful resource supporting the ADA’s mission to “make it possible for everyone with a disability to live a life of freedom and equality.” (Formerly known as the DBTACs, the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers.)

ABLE National Resource Center
The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) is a collaborative whose supporters share the goal of accelerating the design and availability of ABLE accounts for the benefit of individuals with disabilities and their families. ANRC brings together the investment, support and resources of the country’s largest and most influential national disability organizations.

Accessible Community Transportation in Our Nation (Project ACTION)
For information on transportation legislation, customer rights, and information about accessible transportation, visit:
1.800.659.6428; (202) 347-7385 (TDD)
Project ACTION promotes universal access to transportation for people with disabilities under federal law and beyond by partnering with transportation providers, the disability community, and others through the provision of training, technical assistance, applied research, outreach and communication.

Career One-Stop (Web site)
This website is a publicly funded resource for job-seekers (including those with disabilities) and businesses. Job-seekers can search for jobs—from entry level to technical to professional to CEO—locate public workforce services in their area, explore alternative career paths, compare salary data for different occupations, learn which careers are hot, get resume writing tips and job interview strategies, and much more. Employers can identify job-ready workers with the right skills.  Disability resources in particular can be found at:

JobAccess and ABILITYJobs
The goal of ABILITYJobs and JobAccess is to enable people with disabilities to enhance their professional lives by providing a dedicated system for finding employment. By posting job opportunities, or searching resumes, employers can find qualified persons with disabilities as well as demonstrate their affirmative action and open door policies.

National Center on Workforce and Disability/Adult (NCWD)
The National Center on Workforce and Disability/Adult (NCWD) provides training, technical assistance, policy analysis, and information to improve access for all in the workforce development system. Areas of expertise include: accommodations and assistive technology, relationships with employers, helping clients with disabilities find jobs, and advising employers as to how to provide job-related supports.

Office of Disability Employment Policy
U.S. Department of Labor
1.866.633.7365 (Voice) | 1.877.889.5627  (TTY)
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) provides national leadership on disability employment policy by developing and influencing the use of evidence-based disability employment policies and practices, building collaborative partnerships, and delivering authoritative and credible data on employment of people with disabilities. Find a wealth of employment-related information on ODEP’s website.

EARN | The Employer Assistance and Resource Network
The Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN)  provides federal and private employers with free consulting services and resources to support the recruitment, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities. EARN connects employers with national networks of available job seekers and also provides high quality up-to-date online information and technical assistance to promote the inclusion of employees with disabilities in the workplace. Job-seekers can use EARN’s online tools and resources to find employment opportunities, and be connected with local employment service providers. EARN Employment Specialists are also available to answer job-seekers’ questions (at the telephone number listed above).

Social Security Administration (SSA)
The Social Security Administration’s Work Site provides clarity on matters affecting the employment of Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities. Its Ticket to Work Program provides most beneficiaries with more choices for receiving employment services. Under this program SSA issues ticket to eligible beneficiaries who, in turn, may choose to assign those tickets to an Employment Network (EN) of their choice to obtain employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services necessary to achieve a vocational (work) goal. The EN, if they accept the ticket, will coordinate and provide appropriate services to help the beneficiary find and maintain employment.

Ticket to Work Employment Resource Database:
**Through the Social Security Administration (SSA) anyone who receives disability benefits already qualifies for Ticket to Work services, but some of the services found in the database may be accessible to those not receiving Social Security Disability benefits.**

Able to search through a database filtered by state or zip code for Employment Networks ( ENs can help with free career counseling, job placement, and then ongoing support once working) , Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (State VR can help if you want to return to work but need more significant services before you can start) , Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA projects are community-based organizations that work to enable beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed choices about work, and to support working beneficiaries to make a successful transition to financial independence), Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (The Protection & Advocacy (P&A) network is the nation’s largest provider of legally based advocacy service for people with disabilities). The database shows state, multi-state and national providers including both non-profit organizations and federal agencies. http://choosework.net/resource/jsp/searchByState.jsp

If you are employed and are experiencing difficulty on the job due to your disability, you might consider contacting the following organizations.

Access Board
1.800.872.2253 (Voice) | 1.800.993.2822 (TTY)
The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.  Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design. If you are concerned about access to a facility that may have been federally funded, you can file a complaint about it with the Access Board under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).  Find out more at the website above (look under the “Enforcement” tab) or by contacting the Board via its toll-free voice and TTY lines.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
1.800.669.4000 (Voice) | 1.800.669.6820 (TTY)
The EEOC is a government agency that handles discrimination complaints about employment based on age, sex, race, ethnicity, and disability. The 800 number will connect callers with their local EEOC office, which can discuss complaints.

  • A Purpose in Life: Why Employment First Matters to Self-Advocates, a brief developed by Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) and Green Mountain Self-Advocates, explores three different employment-related themes from the self-advocate perspective:
    • People with intellectual or developmental disabilities want to work in real jobs for real pay for many reasons.
    • People with disabilities want equal rights to employment opportunities.
    • Barriers continue to exist to closing sheltered workshops.

Students and Youth with Disabilities:

Decisions about employment, careers, or college require thoughtful consideration. APSE pulled together some resources to help you evaluate and consider different options.

  • Bridges to Work
    Bridges to Work helps more than a thousand young people, each year, most of whom are transitioning out of high school special education to prepare for the workplace, and find a job with an employer in need of qualified, entry-level applicants. Creating and supporting mutually beneficial competitive employment relationships, the program creates opportunities for employment for youth while driving bottom-line results for business.
  • College Resoures for Students with Disabilities
    This guide explains your legal rights as a student with disabilities ― both physical and learning disabilities ― and the campus resources that can provide you with assisstive services and tools. Additionally, they list a number of sites, apps, and software resources designed to aid students with specific types of disabilities, be they physical impairments or learning disabilities.
    Best Colleges: Overview of College Resources for Students with Disabilities
    Best Colleges: Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
    Winning in College: A Guide for Students with Disabilities
  • Project Search
    Project SEARCH is a one-year, school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. This innovative, business-led model features total workplace immersion, which facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and work site-based training and support. The goal for each program participant is competitive employment.

Additional Resources:

  • ABLE National Resource Center
    The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) is a collaborative whose supporters share the goal of accelerating the design and availability of ABLE accounts for the benefit of individuals with disabilities and their families. ANRC brings together the investment, support and resources of the country’s largest and most influential national disability organizations.


APSE put together tips, facts, and resources on how to recruit, hire, retain and advance individuals with disabilities – and it’s all in one convenient place!

Learn how to recruit, hire, retain and advance individuals with disabilities!

A Better Bottom Line: APSE believes that a strong economy is fueled by all Americans working and contributing to the bottom line. As an employer, people with disabilities represent an untapped talent pool to help you expand and enhance your business.

Disability in the Workforce: At 79%, people with disabilities have the highest rate of unemployment or underemployment.

The Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities

Return on Investment: Employers see $28.69 average return for every dollar invested in accommodations.

Marketing Opportunities: Customers with disabilities and their families, friends and associates represent a $3 TRILLION market segment. Additionally, 87% of customers say they would prefer to patronize businesses that hire employees with disabilities. 1

Reduced employee turnover: The turnover rate for employees with disabilities is 8% compared to 45% for other workers. 2

Qualified Applicants: In 2012, approximately 31% of persons with a disability aged 21-64 had some college or an associates’ degree compared to 33% of the same population without a disability. 3

Additional Tax Incentives

There are great tax benefits available for employers who hire employees with disabilities, including:

  • Small Business Tax Credit – 50% credit for expenditures between $250 and $10,250.
  • Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction – up to $15,000 per year.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit – federal tax credit reducing employers’ federal income tax liability by as much as $2,400 per qualified new worker.

Section 503: What does it mean for you?

On September 24, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a Final Rule in the Federal Register that makes changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. With these new rules, private businesses that do business with the federal government (which is well over 20% of businesses) will be undertaking increased efforts to actively recruit and employ individuals with disabilities. As a federal contractor/sub-contractor, you may be asking how to improve your success with employing and retaining individuals with disabilities. As an organization exclusively focused on employment of individuals with disabilities, we can serve as an important resource to assist employers to meet these new requirements through identification of qualified job candidates, and assistance and supports to ensure these individuals succeed on the job.

Highlights of the New Section 503 Rules

  • 7% Employment Goal: Federal contractors and subcontractors will now have a goal that 7% of individuals in each job group in their workforce consist of qualified individuals with disabilities.
  • Data Collection: Contractors will be required to track data on the number of individuals with disabilities who apply for jobs and are hired.
  • Compliance Enforcement: Contractors must allow the federal government to review documents to ensure they are complying with these new regulations.
  • Affirmative Action Requirements: The regulations specify a series of requirements for federal contractors to ensure they are maximizing their efforts to recruit, hire, and provide career advancement to individuals with disabilities, including outreach to an array of disability organizations.
  • Invitation to Self-Identify: In order to track recruitment efforts, under the new rules, federal contractors can now ask job applicants to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability prior to receiving a job offer and after they have received a job offer. Additionally, current employees will be asked to voluntarily identify themselves as individuals with disabilities every 5 years. It will be critical to monitor the implementation of these voluntary self-disclosures requirements to ensure that the rights of individuals with disabilities to non-disclosure under the American’s with Disabilities continue to be respected.

When Do the New Regulations Go Into Effect?

The new Section 503 regulations became effective on March 24, 2014. However, contractors with a written affirmative action program already in place on the effective date have additional time to come into compliance with the AAP requirements.

Additional Information

Additional resources:


1 Siperstein, Romano, Mohler, Parker; “A national survey of consumer attitudes towards companies that hire people with disabilities”; University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA; Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation; 2005.

2 2003 Crain’s Chicago Business Survey; Washington Mutual, Inc. Study.

3 Erickson, W., Lee, C., and von Schrader, S. (2014). Disability Statistics from the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute (EDI). Retrieved October 15, 2014 from http://www.disabilitystatistics.org/

U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability and Employment Policy


Letters, Statements, Publications, and Documents of Interest

Letters and Statements:

  • APSE statement on the Department of Education’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act regulations, posted May 17, 2018.
    Learn More
  • Joint statement from APSE and Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) on opposition to Medicaid work requirements, posted February 8, 2018.
    Learn More
  • APSE statement of opposition to H.R. 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017,” posted February 8, 2018.
    Learn More
  • APSE statement on proposed ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, posted September 8, 2017.
    Learn More
  • Letter to the Secretary of Education regarding proposed changes in the regulations that define “Competitive Integrated Employment” in Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, posted September 5, 2017.
    Learn More
  • APSE’s Employment First statement – adopted by APSE’s Executive Board in 2010, this statement remains a guiding force for APSE and its members.
    Learn More


  • American Institutes for Research: The Purchasing Power of Working-Age Adults With Disabilities – shows that “People with disabilities are financial decision-makers who select investments, including accounts and retirement accounts and that businesses would do well to recognize these disability types and unique consumer needs.
    Learn More
  • National Council on Disability’s Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work and in the Community – in this report, NCD reviews the research on outcomes since Olmstead, and finds that strong trends indicate that smaller, more dispersed and individualized community settings further integration and positive outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Specifically, greater individual choice, satisfaction, housing stability, and higher levels of adaptive behavior and community participation are associated with living in residential settings of smaller size.
    Learn More
  • President’s Committee for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Report to the President 2017, America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis: Effects on People with Intellectual Disabilities, Families, Communities and the U.S. Economy – provides an overview of the effects of the direct support workforce crisis and the opportunities to address it in ways that strengthen the ability of people with intellectual disability to both participate in and contribute to their communities and the American economy.
    Learn More


  • At the end of 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) rescinded guidance on the application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Olmstead v. L.C. to state and local government's employment service systems for individuals with disabilities. APSE has archived the guidance documents here.

Success Stories

There is no better explanation of Employment First than a success story!

APSE is proud to share the success stories of the Employment First movement. For every industry, every disability, and every community there is a success story to share. We’ve selected just a few of our favorites. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact us at info@apse.org.

Clark County, Washington, Shows Inclusion Works

#inlcusionworksLooking for a reminder about why we do what do? Take a few moments and watch the #InclusionWorks videos from Clark County, WA. The stories of employment specialists and employees beautifully illustrate the benefits that supported employment brings to individuals, families, businesses, and communities.