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June 2022

Rehabilitation Research & Training Center

Announcing a New Policy Paper

Understanding the Provision of Self-Employment for People with Disabilities In the United States

Understanding the Provision of Self-Employment For People with Disabilities in the United StatesOn October 1, 2020, Griffin-Hammis Associates (GHA) launched the National Center on Self Employment, Business Ownership, and Telecommuting (The Center), a five-year Innovative Rehabilitation Training Program funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). To better understand the challenges and opportunities Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professionals and participants (VR service recipients) face when pursuing self-employment or telecommuting outcomes, GHA partnered with The Harkin Institute (THI) to conduct a broad review and analysis of state VR self-employment policies, identify barriers that impede equitable access to self-employment services, and provide recommendations on how to address these nationally.

To collect policy data, The Center researched and summarized self-employment policies for the 50 States plus the District of Columbia. In total, 73 State VR Agencies were included in this research: 29 Combined VR Agencies, 22 General VR Agencies, and 22 Blind VR Agencies. VR Directors were asked to review, edit, and approve these summaries for posting on the policy page of the Center’s website,

The Harkin Institute reviewed all policy data as well as the data on VR self-employment and telecommuting training needs and challenges collected via The Center’s focus groups, a national self-employment and telecommuting needs assessment, and a review and analysis of the 2017-2019 RSA 911 self-employment data. Appendix A contains tables summarizing key data points included in this analysis for both the General/Combined VR Agencies and the Blind Services Agencies.

This paper represents the background and impetus behind the policy review, summarizes the findings, and offers initial considerations and recommendations for state VR policy makers. A full copy of the report can be found here.

This paper was produced through U.S. Department of Education funding under the Innovative Rehabilitation Training program, PR/Award #H263F200005. The ideas, opinions, and conclusions expressed do not represent recommendations, endorsements, or policies of the U.S. Department of Education.

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