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Central Accommodation Fund

The State of Minnesota, as the state's largest employer, should be a leader in promoting employment for people with disabilities. The State of Minnesota should lead by example, improving the state's practices of recruitment, hiring, and retention. On August 4, 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed Executive Order 14-14, which requires that we do just that as well as increase the percentage of state employees who self-identified as having a disability to represent at least 7% of all state agencies' workforce by August 2018.

A Central Accommodations Fund is a fund housed at a central agency, such as Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB), that state agencies can tap into to pay for accommodations for job applicants and employees with disabilities. Accommodations could be special desks, screenreading software, sign language interpreters, or CART (captioning). It removes disincentives for hiring managers to hire workers with disabilities due to the impact of paying for reasonable accommodations out of their division's budget.

Having an accommodation fund is recommended as a best practice for hiring more people with disabilities by many organizations including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. Department of Labor, and the Minnesota Governor's Workforce Development Council.

Who this impacts

  • Current and future State of Minnesota employees with disabilities, including those who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing
  • State agencies, commissions, and boards

Solution

MNCDHH advocated for the Central Accommodation Fund since 2009. In 2014, we advocated for legislation that required Minnesota Management and Budget and the Commission to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a centralized accommodation fund.  We researched the success of programs in other states and surveyed state hiring managers and learned they would be more likely to hire people with disabilities if they knew the accommodation costs would be covered.  We submitted the report to the legislature in January 2015.  During the 2015 legislative session, our efforts became successful and the Central Accommodation Fund was successfully passed in the State Government Finance bill, which put $200,000 per year into it. This funding is in the state's base budget and continues from year to year.

On December 18, 2015, the Minnesota Department of Administration officially launched the state fund to cover the costs of accommodations for state employees. Visit the State of Minnesota's Accommodation Fund page. The information provided on their site includes a document with the answer to commonly asked questions as well as any reports to the legislature.

The Minnesota Department of Administration is authorized to provide reimbursements for state agencies providing reasonable accommodations for state job applicants and for current state employees. 

The 2017 Legislature changed reimbursements from 100% per reasonable accommodation to up to 50% of the cost of expenses per reasonable accommodation.

Who was involved

  • Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Minnesotans (MNCDHH)
  • Representative Dean Urdahl and Senator Jim Metzen (bill authors)
  • Representatives Cindy Pugh and Carolyn Laine especially fought for this
  • Roberta Cordano, Eric Nooker, Jessalyn Akerman-Frank, Beth Fraser, Commission board members, and many more (testified)
  • Minnesota Management & Budget

Testimonial

"The Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans (MNCDHH) works hard to improve employment for people with disabilities, which is one of its top priorities.  As a Deaf state employee, I benefit from sign language interpreting and captioning services that are paid for by a central accommodations fund.  MNCDHH was a key player with establishing that fund, providing the state more incentive to hire people with disabilities.  Additionally, MNCDHH negotiated the signing of the Governor’s Executive Order 14-14 which will increase the number of people with disabilities employed by the state of Minnesota.  These are only two of the many things MNDCHH has done to improve employment of the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing community in Minnesota." ~ Eric Nooker, Minnesota Department of Agriculture   

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