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Yang-Tan Institute to lead national disability policy center

The U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy has awarded $2 million to the Yang-Tan Institute, in Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR), for the first year of a four-year, $8 million agreement to operate an employer-focused disability and employment research, policy development and technical assistance center.

The center will conduct research, engage with the business community, and identify effective policies and practices that support business needs. It will also provide resources, technical assistance and training to help public- and private-sector employers – including federal contractors – recruit, hire, retain and advance individuals with disabilities.

The center will build on the work of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), an employer-focused policy development and technical assistance center.

Yang-Tan Institute director Susanne Bruyère is the center’s principal investigator and will be project co-director. The institute will lead a consortium that includes Concepts Inc., a communications firm; the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University; and Disability:IN, an employer membership association promoting employment of people with disabilities.

The Cornell consortium, in cooperation with the Office of Disability Employment Policy, will operate and manage EARN. According to Bruyère, the center will conduct research to ensure all policy review and development work is based in sound research practices and systematically engages business intermediary organizations across all stages of work.

The national center will work with 10 business intermediaries to inform national employer policy and practices around workplace disability inclusion. ILR-affiliated partners include the Center for Advanced Human Resources Studies and the Institute for Compensation Studies.

The ILR School has led employment- and disability-focused initiatives since the 1960s. More concertedly since 1990 – with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act – the institute has focused on employer practices to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

Mary Catt is director of communications at the ILR School.

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Gillian Smith