Dialogue Library

For the past five years, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) ePolicyWorks initiative has hosted more than 25 national online dialogues that allowed various partners to enlist public stakeholder input on key policy issues related to the employment of people with disabilities. Browse our Dialogue Library below for further details and to review the outcomes of each online event.

Closed Dialogues

Join the Conversation: Transition Back to Work

This dialogue, hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Policy Collaborative, explored what it would take for states to develop initiatives or programs, or institute policy changes, that support workers in the transition back to work. The dialogue was held from April 1 through 21, 2017.

Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Care Coordination Strategies from Washington’s COHE Model

This national online dialogue took place in support of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) efforts to develop strategies and practices to promote the return-to-work process for injured workers. From March 7 to 24, 2017, participants shared ideas on ways that states might adopt or adapt occupational health best practices and care coordination strategies from Washington’s COHE model to improve outcomes for injured workers. Input in this virtual discussion played an integral role in informing the efforts of ODEP’s Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAW/RTW) Policy Collaborative to develop policy steps to promote timely and effective strategies to support individuals who need SAW/RTW services and supports to remain in the labor force.

Building a Disability-Inclusive Talent Pipeline: Ideas for Effective Outreach and Recruitment Strategies

This online dialogue, hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and its Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), gathered insight into successful strategies federal contractors are using to recruit and hire people with disabilities. Information gleaned is used to develop technical assistance materials to help more covered employers ensure their doors are open to all qualified individuals.

Promoting Inclusive Career Pathways Online Dialogue

In this dialogue, the LEAD Center, an ODEP-funded technical assistance center, sought to gather ideas and insights on how to improve the effectiveness of Inclusive Career Pathways programs to provide career support for people whose options may be otherwise limited. Insights gathered during this dialogue will now be used by the LEAD Center to help shape its work to promote inclusive career pathways initiatives and full workplace inclusion for people with disabilities.

Making it Happen: Increasing Awareness of Accessible Workplace Technology Online Dialogues I and II

For today’s workers and job seekers, information and communication technologies are essential to getting a job and performing in the workplace. But, numerous systemic barriers still prevent the development and adoption of technology that is accessible to many job applicants and employees with disabilities. In this two-part series of dialogues held in October  2016 in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, ODEP and its Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) listened to participants’ ideas on the kinds of policies, programs and structures needed to advance accessible workplace technology, along with ways ODEP and PEAT can advance them.

What Can States Do? Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Online Dialogue

Each year, millions of workers across the nation develop a chronic illness or sustain an injury that significantly reduces their productivity or causes job loss. But, carefully designed policies and practices, especially those that target lower-skilled workers, may promote retention and re-employment after an injury or an illness, whether job-related or not. As part of ODEP’s Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAW/RTW) Policy Collaborative, this dialogue, which took place from July 18 to August 12, 2016, solicited feedback from a wide array of stakeholders on policy recommendations for increasing retention and re-employment among workers facing illness or injury. Input gathered is now being used to fine-tune the collaborative’s recommendations for action.

Careers in the Arts National Online Dialogue

As a follow-up to two national conferences held by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1998 and 2009, and 28 NEA-sponsored Statewide Forums (2002 to 2014), the NEA and National Arts and Disability Center co-hosted this dialogue from June 6 to 9, 2016. An array of voices from within the disability and arts communities answered the question – what ideas do you have to increase the career preparation and employment of people with disabilities in the arts?

YouthACT Transitions Truths National Online Dialogue

Hosted in collaboration with ODEP’s Youth Policy Team and the ODEP-funded National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) from May 19 through 22, 2016, this forum allows youth and young adults with disabilities to discuss an important topic: what they need to become successful adults. Participants shared supports and strategies they find useful, as well as actions people took that helped them achieve success and the things that could further help them as they become successful adults. ODEP and NCWD/Youth are now using the ideas generated to inform policymaking efforts and improve supports for youth making the transition from school to work

Work Matters: Advancing State Policy for a More Inclusive Workforce Online Dialogue

In preparation for the inaugural meeting of the National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities, the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) collaborated with the State Exchange on Disability & Employment (SEED), an ODEP-sponsored initiative, to host this online dialogue from February 5 to March 19, 2016. It gathered ideas and information from individuals involved in state policymaking about their experiences with state level disability employment-related policy in order to inform the National Task Force’s priorities and help focus policy options. Dialogue participants played a key role in helping ensure that state policies are inclusive and that states continue to work together to move the needle on disability employment.

Breaking Down Employment Barriers with Accessible Transportation Innovation

ODEP and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative hosted this online dialogue from November 2, 2015 to February 14, 2016. It focused on the future generation of accessible transportation solutions, including connected and automated vehicles, to further develop and enhance transportation options as an effective employment support for people with disabilities. During the dialogue, many new and innovative ideas were gathered to help transform the future of transportation, particularly as it relates to employment.

Advancing the Conversation on Disability Inclusion: Strategies for Achieving the Goals of Section 503 Online Dialogue

ODEP and its Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) hosted this online dialogue from November 18 to December 18, 2015. The goal was to gather insight into successful strategies federal contractors are using to achieve their goals under new Section 503 rules that went into effect in 2014. Information gleaned was and continues to be used to develop technical assistance materials to help covered employers foster a disability-inclusive workplace culture where people feel comfortable disclosing disabilities openly, without fear of discrimination.

Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Policy Collaborative Online Dialogues

ODEP’s SAW/RTW Policy Collaborative hosted a series of three online dialogues from June 22 through October 9, 2015. The first, “Expanding Access To Evidence-based, Early Intervention (EBEI) Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Services and Supports,” invited participants to comment on policy recommendations for expanding timely access to SAW/RTW services and supports. The second, “Establishing Work and Full Participation as Accountable Health Outcomes,” asked invited participants to provide input on how to reduce the number of working adults who lose their jobs or leave the workforce due to a health condition, and how to increase the number of people who receive the help they need to stay employed. The final, “Promoting Retention and Re-employment Following Injury or Illness,” invited participants to suggest ways to respond to five draft policy recommendations intended to promote retention and re-employment after an injury or an illness. Mathematica Policy Research, which manages the SAW/RTW collaborative, used information gathered to prepare three corresponding reports.

Connecting with Families: Supporting Postsecondary Success of Young Adults with Disabilities

ODEP and its National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) hosted this online dialogue January 22 through February 11, 2015. It engaged families of young adults in postsecondary educational or technical programs, asking them to share their ideas on what postsecondary institutions and other providers could do to better assist families in supporting young adult’s educational and employment success. The results are now helping inform ODEP and NCWD/Youth guidance and support of postsecondary institutions.

Image of table with work in progress

CIO Council’s Accessibility Community of Practice Online Dialogues

ODEP, in partnership with the Vendor Outreach/Acquisition Subcommittee of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council’s Accessibility Community of Practice, hosted two online dialogues from October 21 through November 14, 2014. The first, “Join the Conversation: Understanding and Conforming with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act,” asked federal contractors for their ideas on how the Federal Government can improve communication with industry about Section 508 requirements and increase compliance. The second, “Join the Conversation: Increasing Communication and Collaboration around Section 508 within the Federal Procurement Community,” sought ideas from the procurement community, as well as success stories and effective practices, in dealing with issues and roadblocks with regard to Section 508 implementation.

State Governments: What Can We Do? Join the Conversation for Change

ODEP hosted this ePolicyWorks online dialogue from August 4 to 18, 2014. The virtual event invited state government disability employment, human resources and diversity professionals, as well as all others with insight into disability employment, to share new or innovative approaches to employing individuals with disabilities. Participants contributed ideas and best practices on hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities and commented or voted on posts made by others. The results from this dialogue will help inform ODEP’s technical assistance to states and will be promoted to improve employment opportunities for everyone.

Encouraging People with Disabilities to Pursue Careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

The dialogue hosted by the National Council on Disability (NCD) and ODEP ran from July 28 to August 8, 2014 and was the final in a series of three dialogues. This dialogue gathered ideas and recommendations on how to ensure careers in the STEM fields are open to everyone, including people with disabilities. Participants were encouraged to contribute their ideas on how to increase the number of people with disabilities pursuing STEM careers, as well as, suggestions on how to provide better support to ensure successful employment outcomes in these growing fields. NCD and ODEP used the ideas generated by this dialogue to improve the support and accessibility of STEM opportunities for people with disabilities.

Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media — The Tech Experience

Co-hosted by ODEP and the NCD, this virtual event, the second in a three-part series, was held from May 12 to June 13, 2014. The dialogue invited participants to work together to improve social media accessibility by reviewing ideas from the first dialogue, “Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media – The User Experience,” and coming up with creative ways social media companies could integrate those ideas into the design and development of social media online tools and apps. In addition, the dialogue asked for ideas on the most effective way the social media industry could engage with the disability community for user feedback and ideas. NCD and ODEP will continue to use the ideas generated by these dialogues to collaborate with the tech industry on solutions for improving the accessibility of online tools.

Help Shape National Disability Employment Awareness Month’s (NDEAM) 2014 Theme

Hosted by ODEP, this national dialogue took place from March 24 to 31, 2014. Participants were asked to submit slogans or taglines that serve to remind everyone of the valuable skills and talents that people with disabilities bring to the workplace. The ideas and comments received during this online dialogue were used to help develop a theme for the year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media — The User Experience

The dialogue hosted by the NCD and ODEP ran from March 17 to April 4, 2014 and was the first in a series of three dialogues focusing on social media accessibility. This dialogue asked social media users for ideas on how social media can be made more accessible for everyone. The input from the dialogue helped NCD and ODEP understand the role of social media in the lives of people with disabilities and identify creative ways people with disabilities deal with a variety of accessibility issues. The information gathered from this dialogue was also used to inform the second dialogue that asked the tech industry for their input on the use of universal design in the design and development of social media tools. The ideas and comments received during this online dialogue was used by NCD and ODEP to collaborate with the social media industry to improve the accessibility of online tools.

Join the Conversation for Change: Improving the Accessibility of Online Tools for Workers with Intellectual Disabilities

This dialogue hosted by ODEP, PEAT and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) took place from December 30, 2013 to January 10, 2014. The thoughtful responses added tremendous value and helped frame efforts to improve the accessibility of workplace technology for everyone. The ideas and comments received during this online dialogue were used by ASAN and PEAT to develop recommendations to help make online tools more accessible for people with intellectual disabilities who are seeking jobs or using the Internet to work.

Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI) Grantee Online Dialogue

This dialogue, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and ODEP asked, “What activities are you finding to be most beneficial in helping Veterans and Military families access transportation resources in your community?” The online event was held from November 18 to December 20, 2013. VTCLI grantees from across the country were invited to participate and provide their input around activities they find beneficial in helping Veterans and military families access transportation resources in their communities including ways to promote better, longer-lasting partnerships; use online and social media tools; and improve one-call centers. Ideas posted to the online dialogue were organized into topics, including: Partnerships, Social Networks & Peer-to-Peer Exchange, One-Call & Intelligent Transportation Technology. This dialogue encouraged creative thinking and improved communication around local transportation efforts for Veterans and Military families. The thoughtful contributions and responses during this online dialogue will help FTA and its partners set goals and shape the direction of efforts moving forward.

Join the Conversation for Improved Transportation Services in St. Lucie County

Hosted by St. Lucie County, Florida as part of the VTCLI and with the support of the FTA, its partners and the ePolicyWorks team, this virtual event was held from November 4 to December 16, 2013. Local veterans, their friends and family members, seniors, community-based and military organizations, Treasure Coast residents, active duty service men/women along with transportation experts were invited to join the conversation. Participants were asked to provide their input on what could be done to improve the availability, quality and efficiency of transportation services in their community and what changes are needed to help all of those in the region, including retired and returning veterans, get where they need to go. The ideas and comments received during this online dialogue were greatly appreciated and will help St. Lucie County develop a plan to improve transportation services for those living in the Treasure Coast community.

Join the Conversation for Change: Employer Dialogue — What Can We Do?

From September 9 to 11, 2013, ODEP, hosted its second online national dialogue. A wide range of employers, human resources and diversity professionals, and other interested stakeholders participated in the event, providing their ideas, comments and votes on responses to the question, “What services do you need to facilitate the hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities?” The thoughtful contributions and responses will add tremendous value in helping develop programs, services and policies that serve to advance employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

Federal Partners in Transition National Online Dialogue

ODEP’s first national online dialogue took place from May 13 to 26, 2013. Hosted together with the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Social Security Administration, this national online dialogue examined the impact of existing federal regulations on the transition from school to work for youth with disabilities. The event was designed to address the reality that, compared to their peers without disabilities, youth with disabilities are twice as likely to drop out of school and half as likely to enroll in and complete postsecondary education.