Iowa UCEDD Capitalizes on Partnerships to Promote Employment First

November 14, 2016

Recent production of a two-part television series highlighting National Disability Employment Awareness Month combines the Iowa UCEDD's emphasis on promoting Employment First with its commitment to information dissemination. Entitled "The Power of Employment," the series aired on "Hello, It's Us!", a weekly Public Access Television program produced by the UCEDD dedicated to educating viewership about a variety of disability-related topics through the lens of community inclusion.

The series features young workers and their business partners who embody the collaborative efforts of the Center for Disabilities and Development (Iowa's UCEDD), the Iowa City Community School District and area community rehabilitation programs. All of the workers are in differing stages of transition from school to work. Matt is doing a work experience while participating in 4+ programming through the school district's Transition Services Center. Seth is working in paid employment while attending the Transition Services Center. Edward is competitively employed with supports and additional career exploration. There are a number of gems to be found in the show for both people considering employment and businesses who might consider employing.

"Do what it takes for you to be successful - one of them is a job." Edward Esbeck, Hy-Vee Employee

The series reflects the Iowa UCEDD's Employment First "on-the-ground" efforts, which include employing a dedicated staff person who facilitates and supports workers with disabilities and their business partners through a contract with the local school district. The outcomes which this partnership continues to achieve demonstrate how systems change efforts trickle into practice. In addition, it positions the UCEDD in the eyes of community stakeholders as a change agent able to relate to the challenges being faced in the field of employment.

"Hello, It's Us!" presents another example of how the UCEDD relates to the real-life challenges of individuals with disabilities. The three-member production team (a UCEDD program coordinator, a Community Advisory Council member, and a long-time community partner) all have lived experience with disabilities. Utilizing it as a platform to share an example of the UCEDD's work in the field of employment represents a synergistic partnership translating research into practice and service. To view "The Power of Employment" and other archived episodes of "Hello, It's Us!", visit