What is CareerACCESS?

Several years ago, the World Institute on Disability (WID) began an effort focusing on disability, economic growth, and prosperity. The result of this effort is the CareerACCESS model. The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Policy Works, and many others have partnered with WID in the development of our CareerACCESS model. The purpose of CareerACCESS is to impact the dramatic unemployment rates and poverty of people with disabilities by focusing on what’s missing in disability employment policy. By focusing on what’s missing, the CareerACCESS model can help all disability employment related programs become more effective.

The core techniques being offered under the CareerACCESS model can be applied for young adults with disabilities receiving Social Security Insurance, adults with disabilities on Social Security Disability Insurance, students with disabilities transitioning from school to work; clients or customers of state and community rehabilitation programs; people being served by Centers for Independent Living; and, more broadly, people with disabilities who are wondering about their employment potential. Furthermore, CareerACCESS can be pursued either (or both) as a separate initiative or as a supporting one for other disability-related employment efforts.

The core techniques also emphasize better appreciation and understanding around employment potential, competitive job seeking and keeping skills, benefits planning, financial skills and more. The focus is on career building and comports with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) ‘career pathways’ approach. In short, CareerACCESS develops the Employment, Benefits and Economic Empowerment of people with disabilities through coaching and individualized career planning. And, that’s where disability employment programs should begin.

The CareerACCESS Model

CareerACCESS, originally targeted for young adults with disabilities, is designed to educate, motivate and empower youth with disabilities, often on disability benefits, so that they are better prepared; and, thereby, more likely to succeed in transitioning from school to competitive employment.

CareerACCESS is based on the reality that far too few youth with disabilities make the transition to work successfully. The reasons for their failure to launch are anchored in three basic fears:

  • Fears or doubts about their employment potential.
  • The general lack of knowledge about how to become a competitive job seeker with a 
  • Fears around losing disability benefits should they seek employment.

CareerACCESS focuses on these missing pieces of the disability employment puzzle by offering strategies and options designed to improve existing disability employment programs and outcomes. The CareerACCESS goal is to help generate self-confident and well-prepared job seekers with disabilities—job seekers who are more likely to become success stories for our nation’s existing education, rehabilitation, and independent living and workforce employment programs. CareerACCESS offers the following three approaches to respond to these roadblocks.

CareerACCESS Coach

  • Assists young adults grow the self-confidence, social capital, and other workplace skills required in today’s competitive workplace.
  • Offers professional development courses, mentoring, and internships.
  • Assists young adults to navigate the complex systems that are often required to obtain 
the goods, services, and supports needed to succeed in a modern economy.

CareerACCESS Individualized Career Plan 

  • Provides a template to assist CareerACCESS Coaches in developing customized plans to assist young adults with building careers.
  • Includes an assets inventory, needs assessment, goals, revision tracking and more.
  • Contains timelines, steps, tools and supports needed to meet goals.

CareerACCESS Training and Curriculum

Provides career readiness and resilience tools to equip participants with new information and tools through WID E3 content.
  • Helps all concerned better address the fundamental fears which cause too many people with disabilities to discount the idea of their employment potential.
  • Empowers people to make more informed choices while developing more powerful and skillful job seeking skills.

There are two implementation possibilities for CareerACCESS:

  • The first focuses on pursuing further policy advances to better support the transition of youth beneficiaries from SSI to employment.
  • The second offers a complementary program of employment coaching and learning, designed to people with disabilities the confidence, skills, vision, plan and supports they need to effectively seek and retain jobs and careers. Given the challenges inherent in achieving both of CareerACCESS components (new policy changes and program supports) simultaneously, it appears to be a better strategy to first pilot or demonstrate the program portions of the CareerACCESS model.

State and local pilots will demonstrate the value and potential of the program elements of CareerACCESS which will serve to further stimulate, inform, and justify needed policy adjustments.

Key Program Elements

The CareerACCESS model offers several programming supports. These are:


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