October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Join the Conversation on Creating Careers for Working Age Adults with Disabilities

Today, we had a great conversation on Zoom with guest moderator, Dahlia Shaewitz, Kate Rolander from Virginia's Adult Learning Resource Center, and Kate Kaegi and David Leon from Virginia's Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services (DARS) on their collaborative Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities (CPID) project.  

Kate K. shared DARS' CPID Resources, which includes information for learners, counselors, and business partners.  There's a lot to explore here for everyone involved in these pathways.  The panelists also included several other important links to inclusive career pathways resources: 

Career Pathways Webinar Series

Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship

Expanding Apprenticeship for Individuals with Disabilities 

We'd love to hear your questions and learn more about how you're creating inclusive and accessible career pathways in your state, or local community.  For those who are at the beginning stages of planning CPID opportunities, I'd like to ask our panelists to share how their initial collaboration working across agencies started?  What advice do you have for others who are interested in creating these connections and harnessing combined resources to meet shared education and employment outcomes for our learners? 

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator






During our live event, universal design was mentioned briefly. The Expanding Apprenticeship for Individuals with Disabilities link above takes you to several other resources. One of those resources I found interesting was Using Universal Design for Learning in Apprenticeship. I really liked the example they shared of how CAST and Youth Build were working together to universally design a web-based career exploration and engagement tool—called the STEMfolio. I also liked how it mentioned coupling UDL-oriented curriculum with accessible and assistive technologies (another topics we heard about yesterday). 

I am curious to hear how others are using the UDL framework, or thinking about using UDL, to improve career pathway programming for individuals with disabilities. 



The Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities (CPID) grant allowed us in adult education to explore new ways of partnering with our state's Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) offices. Our relationships began at the state level with discussions between DARS and the adult education office about how we could adapt an adult education model of integrated education and training to support learners who have disabilities. The real work began with the local relationships and having EVERYONE at the table from the beginning. We were able to collaboratively develop a model that involved co-teaching (basic skills instructor and occupational skills instructor) and consistent student and instructor support from DARS, including assistive technology. From there, our adult education professional development office has adapted all of its offerings to be more inclusive in line with our learnings from this project, including using Universal Design for Learning principles as a foundation for all of our trainings. 

The resources in the CPID link in the introduction to this thread include a CPID manual that details the process of how we developed relationships and worked to build a new model of instruction that could support learners with a wider range of needs. 

Major takeaways from CPID for adult education: 1) Instructional design that is good for learners with disabilities is good for ALL learners. 2) Always keep the students' needs at the center of all decisions, especially regarding scheduling and supportive services. 

Thanks, Kate and Chrissie, for bringing the importance of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) back into the conversation.  Last May, we had a discussion on UDL and Anti-Racism Education, which highlighted how the application of UDL practices creates truly equitable opportunities for all learners.  

UDL asks us to provide multiple means of engagement, representation, action & expression, which can feel like a tall order f you haven't had training or a clear example of how to apply the UDL framework to your lessons.  Still, it's something that we've seen time and again makes a difference for learners, especially those who have been marginalized in the past.

I'm hoping that our presenters from Virginia might illustrate how they applied the UDL framework to a lesson in their existing curriculum to help make it more accessible for learners under the Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities (CPID) project.


I'm happy to share some of the strategies we've implemented to make our professional development and our instructional modeling in Virginia more UDL-aligned.

A big one is the Plus 1 strategy: adding an addition means for engaging, representing, and expressing knowledge in the classroom. An example of the Plus 1 strategy would be, after engaging learners' interest on a new topic by connecting the information to their experiences and interests (through discussion, photo prompts, or a video on the topic), providing an audio version along with a written text (2 means of representation) and then providing learners with multiple options for demonstrating their understanding of the new information (e.g., written response, oral telling, an artistic rendering, using manipulatives, or story telling).

Another strategy is to allow flexibility in work/study environments. Provide options for individual, small, or whole group work. When possible, have learners choose where they sit or stand in a learning situation. Two important strategies that work well, too, are clear and posted goals (if goal-setting is individual, having regular check-ins to revisit and revise them when necessary) and regular feedback that ties how a learner is doing in the class to their goals, as well as what supports and steps might help them progress. 

Thanks for sharing the Plus One Strategy, Kate.  It really is a great way to engage learners in a new topic and provide different means for demonstrating their understanding of concepts in academic and vocational domains.

Here's a good resource for thinking through Plus One, from Pierce College.  What do you think about the Plus One as a "Mindset" and how you might implement it into your classes and/or curriculum?