A look back at 2017
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Disability Policy and Research
- Assisted in the development of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research draft 2018-2022 Long-Range Plan. Comments received from the public were summarized for NIDILRR Leadership and integrated into the organization’s internal draft of the Long-Range Plan. An approved Long-Range Plan is expected to be released to the public in early 2018.
- Conducted analyses to show the overall distribution of research and development projects, their methodologies, and populations of focus; unspent funds compared to allocated funds; grantee identified goals, problems, and anticipated benefits of projects focusing on the Participation and Community Living domain; and grantee outcomes, anticipated outputs, and implications for future research for both the Participation and Community and Employment domains. These analyses were conducted for NIDILRR.
- Developed NIDILRR’s 2016 Annual Report to Congress and Organizational Highlights. These documents present significant organizational accomplishments to Congressional leadership, federal partners, and the broader research community.
- Participated in the development of The Future of Autonomous Vehicles and the Disability Community key stakeholder meeting. The meeting brought together NIDILRR leadership, prominent researchers in the field of autonomous vehicles, and disability advocates to discuss emerging technologies and their accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
- Began the analysis and data re-structuring for the AGing Integrated Database (AGID), after being awarded a new contract from the Administration for Community Living. The AGing Integrated Database (AGID) is an on-line query system based on ACL-related data files and surveys, and includes population characteristics from the Census Bureau for comparison purposes. The aim of this project is to provide ACL with recommendations for more efficient navigation, improved data visualization and presentation, and increased power for end users in need of more sophisticated analytical options.
- Responded to over 10 task requests and began work on approved tasks in support of ACL’s Office of Performance and Evaluation, during the first six weeks of a new ACL Analytic Support Contract. These tasks span a range of evaluation and analytical support activities to inform ACL policy and programs.
- Supported the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requirement for the development of a comprehensive government-wide strategic plan. The process included the completion of a draft report that reflected the work of the ICDR Executive Committee, stakeholder input, and public comments garnered from the Federal Register.
- Supported two Federal Rehabilitation Research Roundtables through the ICDR. These sessions were led by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) and brought together key partners to discuss rehabilitation research portfolios and to support partnering and collaboration. This activity supports the mission of the ICDR to promote coordination and cooperation among federal departments and agencies conducting disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research and to foster collaborative relationships that maximize the best use of federal resources for disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research.
- Established a Mental Health Working Group for the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), a first for the Agency. Convened a listening session with USAID staff working on mental health issues to share information on USAID’s current work in mental health and psychosocial support. The working group now provides USAID professionals with a platform to identify the good work that is already taking place and connect with colleagues who are pursuing similar programming goals across the Agency.
- Developed a scope of work for programming to address the need to provide guidance to program designers and front-line social workers on how to work effectively and appropriately with children with disabilities and their families to prevent unnecessary separation and to support family reintegration from institutional care. For the past two years, New Editions’ child protection technical advisors Martin Hayes and John Williamson worked with USAID's Disability Advisor to prepare the call for proposals for this activity, which was released in spring 2017, enabling USAID to begin addressing the need for practical guidance in this area.
- Produced the Ninth Annual Report to Congress on the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity, describing the diversity of assistance provided by U.S. Government Agencies aimed at supporting vulnerable children to grow up in protective care and free from violence, deprivation, and exploitation.
- Gave a presentation on the global development of the rehabilitation sector at the World Confederation of Physical Therapy’s World Congress on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Rehabilitation 2030 Initiative in Capetown, South Africa. Rehabilitation 2030: A Call for Action brought together a range of professionals working in health policy, clinical practice, academia, and development to establish joint commitments for action toward scaling up rehabilitation services and addressing the profound unmet needs that exist around the world.
- Participated in the launch of an activity to strengthen government monitoring and evaluation capacity to assess progress on national child care reform in Armenia.
- Gave a presentation on integration of mental health and psychosocial support into organizational priorities at the annual inter-agency Standing Committee’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Reference Group meeting in Geneva.
- Participated in this year’s Conference of State Parties (CoSP) for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), themed, “The Second Decade of the CRPD: Inclusion and Full Participation of Persons with Disabilities and Their Representative Organizations in the Implementation of the Convention.” Participated in high-level discussions with representatives of state parties and global disability leaders on: 1) the of discrimination on persons with disabilities; 2) inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities in humanitarian assistance; and 3) promoting inclusive urban development and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
- Participated in a five-day Child Care Reform workshop, during which 40 government representatives from four partner countries (Armenia, Ghana, Moldova and Uganda); staff from USAID missions in each country; and other key stakeholders in care reform developed plans to build the capacity of government partners to assess existing national care systems for children.
- Initiated a cross-site evaluation of the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Disabilities (AoD) Home and Community-Based Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Living Well Quality Enhancement, Effectiveness, and Monitoring demonstration initiative. New Editions is developing a cross-site evaluation to examine the effectiveness and replicability of projects being developed by the Universities of Georgia, New Hampshire, and Virginia Commonwealth University. The projects focus on enhancements to local service delivery models with goals that include improved quality of the direct service workforce; reduction in critical incidents (injury, neglect, etc.); and service satisfaction. Findings from this multi-year evaluation will inform future AoD policy and resource allocation.
- Supported the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act requirement for the development of a comprehensive government-wide strategic plan. The process included the completion of a draft report that reflected the work of the ICDR Executive Committee, stakeholder input, and public comments garnered from the Federal Register.
- Organized the Seventh Annual HHS-CMS-HUD-USDA Central Office Training “Housing as a Platform for Health.” HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson welcomed the largest attendance since its inception: 80 staff from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Administration for Community Living, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, and Department of Justice. Discussions focused on sharing practices across agency lines and identifying opportunities for cross-agency collaboration at both the Federal and State levels to recognize the role of housing as a social determinant for health and to promote community living for people with disabilities.
- Supported two Federal Rehabilitation Research Roundtables through the ICDR. These sessions were led by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) and brought together key partners to discuss rehabilitation research portfolios and support partnering and collaboration moving forward. This activity supports the mission of the ICDR to promote coordination and cooperation among federal departments and agencies conducting disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research and foster collaborative relationships that maximize the best use of federal resources for disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research.
Assistive Technology and Accessibility
- Continued to secure AbleData’s standing as the leading site around the globe for assistive technology (AT) product information. AbleData’s website traffic now far exceeds its international counterparts and its website trust rank is at its highest in its 30 year existence. In 2017, there were 1,245 commercial entries and 158 noncommercial entries, bringing the total count to over 47,000 AT product descriptions. AbleData also features a directory of almost 9,500 AT resources, manufactures, and distributors; as well as useful guides, news, and other relevant information on AT. New Editions continues to grow AbleData’s social networking status. We have increased the number of Facebook likes by over 150% and the number of AbleData followers on Twitter by 87% since we began managing the project. This year we also developed our first animated guide (Options for Paying for AT), as well as a reinvigorated blog series.
- Participated in the Global Research, Innovation, and Education in Assistive Technology (GREAT) Summit at the World Health Organization (WHO), which brought together 200 global leaders to advance a priority research agenda for assistive technologies, including fostering collaboration around identified themes. It also promoted the engagement of member states to support a resolution for WHO to prioritize access to assistive technologies that will be presented at the 2018 World Health Assembly.
- Actively promoted and facilitated understanding and implementation of Section 508 accessibility standards throughout the Federal Government including DHS, DoED, DOT, HHS, and USDA through trainings, hosting community of practices, Help Desk, and remediation support.
- Assisted Federal Agencies to understand and prepare for revised Section 508 standards and new accessibility requirements from the Section 508 Refresh, ensuring ICT is more accessible to people with disabilities.
- Served as experts and thought leaders on the Symposium Committee for the second Annual Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Accessibility Testing Symposium held in Washington, DC, helping to adjudicate articles submitted for presentation at the Symposium. We also presented at the symposium on Agile Accessibility. We discussed considerations and implications for incorporating accessibility throughout an Agile development process, including conformance governance and documentation to assist federal government agencies revise their system development lifecycle approaches to accessibility, as they migrate toward Agile methodologies for ICT development.
- Provided technical assistance to students taking the Department of Homeland Security Trusted Tester Training, including programmers for industry leader, Microsoft. Microsoft used knowledge gained form the Trusted Tester training to help launch a new accessibility program. As stated in their Microsoft Accessibility Blog on February 20, 2017: “Our new accessibility testing program has been instrumental in helping us launch the most accessible version of Office 365 that we have ever shipped, a consistent user experience across devices, and a more streamlined deployment experience for our customers.”
- Developed and hosted a Section 508 Community of Practice under the NCRTM to increase awareness of the need for compliance and sharing of tools, resources and solutions for developing compliant documents. Over 300 individuals from a variety of fields—including, vocational rehabilitation, government, university, technology, and advocacy—joined the group to share their perspectives on the barriers of creating and remediating digital materials and to identify bridges that will lead to more widespread document accessibility. Members contributed their thoughts about why people find it so difficult to provide accessible documents and generated ideas for addressing those barriers. Surveys helped to narrow these thoughts and ideas into the Top Five Frustrations & Fixes of Document Accessibility.
- Created brief tutorial videos to demonstrate how to create and remediate documents in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF and to familiarize viewers with screen readers. Also developed resource links on these topics and the business case for accessibility, universal design, and accessible videos and webinars. These accessibility resources are available in the NCRTM.
- Developed an employment services reference tool to help state Medicaid organizations transition seniors and individuals with disabilities from institutional to community living. This reference tool facilitates the identification of potential partners who can provide employment services and support for those individuals seeking employment as part of their transition plans.
- Continued to support commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in The Federal Diabetes and Vision Exemption Programs, ensuring that they are healthy enough to safely perform the demanding job. Assisted drivers with the application process and answered over 50,000 calls from drivers. As of November there were 4,236 drivers in The Diabetes Program and the 3,165 drivers in the Vision Program. With the instrumental support of New Editions, FMCSA was able to complete a successful records transfer of 91 boxes to the Federal Records Center under NARA requirements in 2017.
- Launched the 2018 annual Disability Equality Index (DEI), a benchmarking tool to help businesses assess their progress toward employment practices that are inclusive of people with disabilities. This is the fourth year of the DEI. New Editions has been contracted by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the US Business Leadership Network to develop and support the DEI since its inception.
- Continued collaboration with the Division of Community System Transformation (DCST) in the Disability and Elderly Health Programs Group of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to draft Designing a High-Performing Community-Based Long-Term Services and Supports System: A Guide for States. This document provides a framework for continuing to enhance these systems to increase options for individuals with disabilities and seniors to live in the community. Once this document completes the final stages of CMS approval, New Editions will work with CMS to release it for state use.
- Kicked off a new contract in support of the Division of Long Term Services and Support (DLTSS) within the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group of CMS to assist in the review of state transition plans and achieving compliance with the home and community based settings rule. New Editions’ updated standard operating procedures for consistent review of states’ plans and provided comments on plans reviewed to CMS.
- Assisted States in the design and development of home and community-based services for people with disabilities and those over 65 years of age. In 2017, New Editions completed 17 technical assistance engagements with States and maintained the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Technical Assistance website to assist States with 1915(c), 1915(i) and 1915(j) HCBS waivers and State plan amendments.
- Organized the 2017 Money Follows the Person Demonstration Grantee Project Directors Meeting. The meeting brought together approximately 150 Grantees and their partners to discuss promising practices, strategies for increasing access to home and community-based services in rural settings, increasing the availability of qualified direct service workers, and exploring approaches for sustaining services and supports proven effective under this program. New Editions also hosted a three-hour meeting for five states working on the MFP Tribal Initiative. During this meeting, attendees heard from CMS regarding Tribal Consultations and how to use waivers to provide culturally appropriate home and community-based services for Native Americans, particular those living in Indian country.
- Produced the Office of Special Education Program’s Annual Report to Congress, a report that includes analysis and presentation of State- and National-level data on the implementation of special education programs.
- Supported the provision of direct assistance to States and monitoring compliance with Federal laws as States implement Enhanced Assessment Grants, Title I, Title II, Title III, and Equity programs under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). New Editions is providing conference and logistical support to the Department of Education’s Office of State Support. Under this contract, we are supporting vetted peer reviewers who are critiquing assistance plans submitted by the states for the previously described ESSA programs. Activities have included the identification of appropriate meeting space, reviewing and vetting contractual language directed towards the reviewers and meeting space providers, and arranging travel and honorarium on behalf of the Department of Education.
- Coordinated the logistics for the U.S. Department of Education’s 2017 Improved Reentry Education (IRE) Grantees Conference. The conference brought together Grantees, subject matter experts, federal agency staff, and members of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council to recognize the progress made over the past two years to improve reentry education, discuss topics critical to their work, and to identify and discuss next steps and technical assistance needs to address IRE program priorities for the final year of the grant.
- Won Washington Post’s Top Workplaces 2017. In a survey conducted in partnership with survey firm WorkplaceDynamics, The Post asked people about their employers to identify 150 of the highest ranked organizations in the region. New Editions was among the government contractors, law firms, nonprofits, schools, and businesses from D.C.’s growing service sector that were recognized by their employees for being a great place to work. More than 3,000 companies were invited to participate and more than 52,000 employees participated in the survey questionnaires.
- Earned the 2017 National Organization on Disability (NOD) Leading Disability Employer Seal. New Editions is one of 45 (mostly very large) companies to be awarded the seal. NOD’s Leading Disability Employer Seal is a public, annual recognition designed to applaud those organizations that are leading the way in disability hiring and encourage additional companies to tap into the many benefits of hiring talent with disabilities, including high rates of productivity and dedication, and greater employee engagement across the workforce.
- Expanded our evaluation and analysis portfolio through a new relationship with the Administration for Community Living’s Office of Performance and Evaluation (OPE). New Editions was awarded an IDIQ by OPE to conduct both multi-year research and evaluation studies and short turn around analytic support activities. Three multiyear studies were initiated, as well as ten shorter term analytic projects, in 2017.
- Won five re-competes of our disability-related contracts and won seven new contracts, expanding into three new agencies.
- Continued our inclusive environment that encourages work-life balance. More than 20% of our employees self-identify as having a disability. About 30% are workers over the age of 55. Another 30% are Millennials. We have staff at all stages of life—some just starting out, some with young children, some juggling the needs of aging parents and all those in between. We strive to accommodate them all.
- Gave back to our community. New Editions and our employees donate time and money to admirable causes. Many of our staff members serve on boards of worthy organizations. We donate money in the name of our employee of the year and those named Outstanding Contributors, and we support local charities. Local kids go back to school with backpacks filled with school supplies; homeless families are supported at Christmas; and community organizations are supported through contributions and sponsorships for Fun Runs, book drives and other events.