DRI will focus on the following areas:

Assisting individuals who want to move from sheltered work to competitive integrated jobs.

Why is this important? Individuals can do real work if they receive sufficient supports, services and reasonable accommodations. However, many individuals with disabilities wind up in sheltered workshops where only people with disabilities work—often at wages below minimum wage. Many of these individuals have realistic job expectations and prefer to do work where they have contacts with individuals without disabilities in the community.

Possible activities to accomplish goals

  • Monitor sheltered workshops for compliance with federal and state law and educate people with disabilities and their families about their legal rights (In conjunction with the Client Assistance Program in the Iowa Department of Human Rights);
  • Educate rehabilitation professionals and educators about the changes in the laws which encourage integrated employment;
  • Collaborate with other organizations who are promoting employment first and benefits planning in Iowa;
  • Provide legal representation to individuals in sheltered workshops who are not receiving services from Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation

Stopping employment discrimination because of a disability and remove barriers to work.

Why This is Important: Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities who can perform jobs, with reasonable accommodations or modifications of employment policies. However, many individuals with disabilities still experience discrimination or barriers to work. Therefore, it is important for DRI, as the protection and advocacy agency for Iowans with disabilities, to challenge discrimination so that individuals with disabilities can get and keep jobs and assist in an individual’s efforts to return to work.

Possible activities to accomplish goals

  • Teach applicants and employees how to file complaints with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission;
  • Provide legally-based advocacy or representation to applicants or employees who need reasonable accommodations in their workplace or who have been terminated because of their disability;
  • Provide legally-based advocacy or representation to beneficiaries of social security who received improper or inadequate services from an employment network, service provider, services provided by Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation, or other entity involved in the beneficiary’s return to work effort.
  • Help people who are entitled to benefits understand work incentives and issues with their disability benefits.

Providing planning and assistance to Social Security beneficiaries who want to return to work, but not lose their benefits.

 Why is this important? Individuals receiving social security benefits often do not realize that Social Security provides ways in which they can maintain their benefits while returning to work full or part-time. They may need help from skilled benefit planners who can help them understand how they can do this.

Possible activities to accomplish goals

  • Provide comprehensive benefit planning assistance to individuals who are about to return to work
  • Refer individuals to Social Security’s hot line for basic benefit planning questions.
  • Provide outreach and services on benefits planning to transition aged youth.