Resources: Real Work
Despite successes like those demonstrated through Iowa's EWD Program, individuals with disabilities continue to experience attitudinal and systemic barriers to business development. The 1999 Entrepreneurship Committee of the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities identified lack of supportive expertise as a significant barrier to successful self-employment for people with disabilities:
Support to Microenterprises. The Abilities Fund currently manages a national demonstration program in nine states which links microenterprise development organizations with their state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies. The Capital Access Program (CAP) is a Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) funded initiative designed to provide comprehensive assessment, training, technical assistance and ongoing monitoring for clients of VR that are interested in self employment. Additionally, CAP funds are used to create credit enhancement products for microlenders that will allow VR clients to self finance a greater portion of their business, thus reducing their need for VR funding. These credit enhancements exist in the form of loan guarantees and specialized loan loss reserve grants to micro lending organizations. http://www.abilitiesfund.org/index.php
Web Based Resources to Navigate the System. Disability Benefits 101 (http://www.db101.org/) is a web site from California which helps workers, job seekers, and service providers understand the connections between work and benefits. DB101 brings together rules for health coverage, benefit, and employment programs that people with disabilities use. These programs may be administered by the state, the federal government, or private organizations; here, we discuss them under one roof, in plain language. DB 101 takes a broad, customer-centered view, focusing on the linkages among programs. It does not attempt to replace existing web resources on these topics.
Disability Benefits 101 was conceived and developed in the disability community. Results showed that not enough people with disabilities or public program staff know about new laws and program rules that support employment so many people with disabilities choose not to risk losing health coverage or other vital supports by working.