State Partnership

New state consortium aims to improve employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities.
Employment and Disability Institute will lead training
Thursday, June 27, 2013

ILR's Employment and Disability Institute has announced a five-year agreement between the New York State Education Department and Cornell University to establish the New York State Consortium for Advancement of Supported Employment.

The consortium, which launched April 1, is a collaborative of the Employment and Disability Institute, the New York State Association of People Supporting Employment First, the New York State Rehabilitation Association and the Center for Human Services Education, a division of Heritage Christian Services.

Cornell has been a leader in promoting supported employment since the inception of the approach in the mid-1980s as an evidence-based practice for assisting people with the most severe disabilities in getting and keeping jobs, said Thomas P. Golden, associate director of the Employment and Disability Institute.

The project will help reverse the downward employment trajectory of New Yorkers with disabilities, according to Golden.

As part of the consortium's agreement, Cornell will support the training and development of supported employment service providers statewide to enhance their abilities to provide high-quality services, he said.

Services and assistance to be provided by the consortium are for supported employment service providers under contract with the New York State Education Department’s Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation.

Consortium team members have expertise in vocational rehabilitation, supported employment, special education, rehabilitation counseling, human and organizational learning, disability law and health education, Golden said.

According to the agreement, the consortium will implement a human capital and organizational development strategy that includes:

  • formulation of a state performance baseline
  • establishment of policy and practice goals
  • design of training curriculum and organizational development resources
  • implementation of regional and distance training opportunities
  • organizational development support
  • evaluation of satisfaction and quality of training and resources provided.

Employment and economic disparities continue to deepen for New Yorkers with disabilities, according to Arun Karpur, a researcher with the Employment and Disability Institute.

Average weekly working hours and earnings have decreased for people in supported employment jobs, he said.

Between 2006 and 2010, employment for New Yorkers with the most severe disabilities dropped 12 percent. It is anticipated that the training and organizational development support to be provided by consortium partners under the state's sponsorship will begin to turn this tide, said consortium member Wendy Quarles, director of the Center for Human Services Education.

Since 1968, researchers, educators, and practitioners at Cornell's Employment and Disability Institute have helped state vocational rehabilitation programs, community rehabilitation providers, companies, labor organizations, government agencies, schools and communities throughout the United States and abroad to accommodate and integrate individuals with disabilities.

For more information, contact the consortium program assistant, Michelle Podolec, at