Jargon can accidentally alienate your partners. It is encouraged to speak in plain language and use acronyms as little as possible. Posted below are common terms and acronyms that may be used when discussing employment of people with disabilities.

A means of approaching, entering, exiting, communicating with, or making use of; The ability or right to approach, enter, exit, communicate with, or make use of.
Accessible Web Design
Creating web pages according to universal design principles to eliminate or reduce barriers, including those that affect people with disabilities. Ideally, all websites should conform to Level AAA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. For more information about these guidelines, please see the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative website.
An adjustment to make a program, facility, or resource accessible to a person with a disability.
ADA|Americans with Disabilities Act
A comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public services, public accommodations and services operated by private entities, and telecommunications.
Accommodating the needs of persons with different types or degrees of disability.
Adaptive Technology
Adaptive technology refers to special versions of already existing technologies or tools that provide enhancements or different ways of interacting with the technology.
Advocacy on the individual or systems level is acting with or on behalf of an individual or group to resolve an issue, obtain a needed support or service or promote a change in the practices, policies, and/or behaviors of third parties. For More information, visit Types of Advocacy as defined by West Virginia University, Center for Excellence in Disabilities.
In the disability context, this is someone, who may not themselves have a disability, who speaks or intercedes for people with disabilities.
ASL | American Sign Language
American Sign Language (ASL) is a visually perceived language based on a system of articulated hand gestures and their placement relative to the rest of the body (other hand, face, head, arms, and torso) along with non-manual markers such as facial expressions, head movements, shoulder raises, mouth morphemes, and other movements of the body. ASL is the primary sign language used by deaf and hearing-impaired communities in the United States and Canada. ASL is a primary component of Deaf Culture.
Assistive Device
Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Assistive Technology
Assistive technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult. Assistive technology can include mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software, and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies.
Blended Funding
“Blended funding'' is used to describe mechanisms that pool dollars from multiple sources and make them in some ways indistinguishable. Blending may require the changing or relaxing of regulations guiding relevant state and federal funding streams by policy makers at the federal, state, or local level to permit program flexibility, and change the way services are structured and delivered.
CIE | Competitive Integrated Employment
Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) is work performed by a person with an impairment or health-related disability ("health impairment") within an integrated setting. Wages are at least minimum wage or higher and at a rate comparable to non-disabled workers performing the same tasks.
A disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Amendments Act (ADAAA) as:
(A) A physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning;
(B) A record of such an impairment, such as an illness that is in remission; or
(C) Being regarded as having such an impairment, even if it is not present.
DRC | Disability Resource Coordinator
A Disability Resource Coordinator (DRC) is an individual typically employed at the Career Center level, working both directly and indirectly with individuals with disabilities.
Self Advocacy
An individual's ability to advocate for their own interests, needs, and desires.
SSI | Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not FICA taxes). It provides cash payment and Medicaid eligibility to aged, blind, and disabled persons (including children), who have limited income and resources.
SSDI | Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured” by workers’ contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on one's earnings (or spousal or parents' earnings) as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Title II of the Social Security Act authorizes SSDI benefits. Dependents may also be eligible for benefits from an individual's earnings record.
Universal Design
Designing programs, services, tools, and facilities so that they are useable, without modification, by the widest range of users possible, taking into account a variety of abilities and disabilities. Examples would include curb cuts and automatic opening doors.
WIOA | Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a United States public law (signed into law in July 2014) that replaced the previous Workforce Innovation Act (WIA) of 1998, as the primary federal workforce development legislation to bring about increased coordination among federal workforce development and related programs. WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

This glossary was created by adapting resources from:

Glossary of Disability-Related Terms | Rochester Institute of Technology, Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education

Glossary of Disability-Related Terms | DO-IT Center, University of Washington, Seattle

For more help understanding disabilities-related terms, please visit:

Terms and Acronyms | NY State Multiple Systems Navigator

Glossary of Developmental Disability Terms | Developmental Disabilities Resource Center

Social Security Disability Glossary | Disability Benefits Help

Glossary | United States Census