Advancing policy to increase job opportunities

By Karen Stecher 12/09/2021
Advancing policy to increase job opportunities

SourceAmerica® strives to create a more inclusive, productive, and innovative economic future for Americans of all abilities. The organization works closely with policymakers and others in Washington, D.C., to create jobs and break down barriers for people with disabilities. In addition to working to impact legislation, SourceAmerica helps shape regulations by commenting on proposed federal rules that will affect the U.S. AbilityOne® Program, federal contracting, and employment for people with disabilities. 

Vice President of Government Affairs Stacy Palmer Barton leads SourceAmerica’s efforts on Capitol Hill and answers some key questions about the organization’s legislative approach. 

Why is it important to educate members of Congress and other legislators on employment issues facing people with disabilities? 

With so many competing interests for members of Congress and other legislators, disability employment issues often get lost in the shuffle. The best way to prevent that from happening is to educate legislators about the importance of these issues, keep them informed of upcoming opportunities, and provide legislative solutions that will benefit people with disabilities. Legislators need to be familiar with the issues at hand and aware of the opportunities and obstacles for people with disabilities that exist in their states, districts, and communities in order to be effective representatives for constituents with disabilities. 

What are the biggest obstacles people with disabilities face regarding current legislation and employment? 

The biggest obstacle people with disabilities face on Capitol Hill is a lack of representation and awareness about the key issues affecting them. While most members of Congress recognize that people with disabilities are severely under-unemployed, only a select few have a comprehensive understanding of the barriers people with disabilities often face when searching for meaningful employment. That is why engaging with your representatives at the local, state, and federal levels is so important. Policymakers listen to their constituents and are informed on the issues that matter to the people they represent. The goal of SourceAmerica’s Government Affairs team is to educate members of Congress about the existing pathways and barriers to employment for people with disabilities so that policymakers can make informed decisions when considering legislation that would impact the disability community. 

What key policy / legislative issues are a focus for SourceAmerica? 

SourceAmerica constantly monitors policy issues that could impact the AbilityOne Program and other employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Our Government Affairs team works to help shape public policy, lead strategic coalitions, and build awareness within the disability community and members of Congress. Though the policy issues frequently change, the focus is always the same - increasing meaningful employment opportunities and improving working conditions for people with disabilities. SourceAmerica’s Board of Directors recently established a Public Policy Committee and has directed the Government Affairs team to focus on key federal policies, including: 

  • Supplemental Security Income, 
  • 898 Panel recommendations regarding the AbilityOne Program, 
  • Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and 
  • Guidance from the Rehabilitation Services Administration regarding Competitive Integrated Employment.  

Want to learn more about employment advocacy with SourceAmerica? Visit our Employment Advocacy page.