Employment Empowerment

After decades of disability employment efforts (employer education campaigns, access initiatives, expanded employment programs, new policies, and disability rights laws) people with disabilities have made little progress.

In 1971, the Census Bureau noted that 33% of people with disabilities participated in the labor force. During the “Great Recession,” which began in 2007, people with disabilities lost their jobs at a rate three times higher than non-disabled people and have recovered far more slowly. Now, well past this recession and over forty-six years since the first documented 1971 labor force participation rate of 33%, that rate is current around 33%.

Why haven’t we made more progress over the years? What’s missing?

We are missing efforts designed to counteract the negative forces discouraging youth and adults with disabilities and their supporters from embracing their employment potential.

Having a disability from childhood or acquiring one later in life subjects people with disabilities to negative labels, definitions, messages, and discrimination, all of which tell them they are unable to work. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This content offers an effective employment empowerment effort designed to communicate the knowledge, skills, and motivation needed in order to become both self-confident and ready to pursue competitive jobs and careers.

Make It Work: Disability & Competitive Employment Book

WID’s evidence-based employment empowerment materials focus on topics that can improve the fundamental competitive employment skills of both youth and adults with disabilities. Read more about about the evidence we base these materials on in our Evidence about this Course (PDF). These employment empowerment materials reveal how to be competitive and successful in the world of work. These materials are not designed to replace existing disability employment programs. Rather, they have been designed to augment and help improve them.

As we seek integrated competitive employment for both youth and adults with disabilities, here’s the content that can help make that happen.

Each chapter has an accompanying animated video, linked at the beginning of each page below.

Click on the topics below to begin exploring Make It Work: Disability & Competitive Employment.

Access the PDF of the entire book here: Make It Work: Disability & Competitive Employment (PDF).

CareerACCESS Initiative

To compliment the employment empowerment materials, WID E3 also hosts the CareerACCESS Initiative, which focuses on specific policy and programming elements designed to facilitate the transition of people with disabilities from Social Security benefits to competitive employment and economic independence. The purpose of the CareerACCESS model is to impact the dramatic unemployment rates and poverty of youth with disabilities on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or both.

The core CareerACCESS techniques are derived from WID’s E3 resources, which can be used with other non-working people with disabilities, students transitioning from school to work, and clients or customers of state and community rehabilitation programs. Additionally, the core program includes creating a cadre of CareerACCESS Coaches who utilize a specifically designed CareerACCESS Individualized Career Plan (ICP) and emphasizing better appreciation and understanding around employment potential, competitive job seeking, and job-keeping skills, benefits planning, financial skills, and more.

The CareerACCESS model offers 4 major policy and programming components:

  1. Policy Changes
  2. Career Coaches
  3. Individualized Career Plans
  4. Training Program

Click on the image below to visit the CareerACCESS website.

Link to the CareerACCESS website; image of the homepage of the CareerACCESS website.
For more information, contact Tom Foley, WID’s Managing Director, at tom@wid.org

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