Supported employment refers to service provisions wherein people with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, mental health, and traumatic brain injury, among others, are assisted with obtaining and maintaining employment. In many cases, individuals with significant disabilities would qualify for supported employment funded by a government agency, a provider of services to individuals with disabilities, or the employer. Not everyone within these disability categories will need supported employment services.
Supported employment means competitive work in an integrated work setting. Supported employment for people with significant disabilities could be provided directly by the employer, or through external service providers, such as a government rehabilitation agency. Supported employment is both an approach and an array of services that enables people with significant disabilities to be successful in the workplace. The goal is for people to become as independent as possible in their jobs or careers. Examples include, but are not limited to, one-on-one coaching and extended training programs.
Why is this question important to the disability community?
Supported employment means competitive work in an integrated work setting. It is an accommodation for someone who needs more intense assistance to participate in an interview and/or learn his/her job. Supported employment is typically provided to someone who has a significant disability but can perform the essential functions of a job with added support. That support can include job coaching, someone providing assistance at the jobsite to help the employee learn his/her job, and training that is customized to meet the employee’s specific needs. It may take the employee a bit longer to learn his/her position, but once mastered, individuals accessing supported employment services are often excellent long-term employees.
Supported employment services can include:
- Support finding and getting a job
- Working with the employer on job customization and/or job carving
- Job training (both job tasks as well as soft skills, etc.)
- Identifying and recruiting natural supports
- Training/supporting employers, managers, and coworkers
- Fading supports over time, with ongoing intermittent assistance as needed
Employees using supported employment services may also use reasonable accommodations, assistive technology, and personal attendant services.