Leading Edge Resources: Real Work

The Anixter Center in Chicago is one of the five projects funded by the Department of Labor to take the lead on what is now being called "customized employment". The target population is individuals with the most significant disabilities who are either in wage and hour certificated sheltered workshops, or are deemed ineligible for that. Anixter will be working with 24 people across disabilities – people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, traumatic brain injury, and people who are deaf-blind. The goal is to successfully assist at least twelve of those people to get into part time competitive employment. Some are not going to work full time due to the nature of their disability and their physical endurance capacity. The paradigm has been well tested by Michael Callahan and is now funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Self-Employment = Customized Employment. Self-employment emerged as a critically important avenue for people with disabilities in the Task Force Analysis of the Choice Demonstration Projects, previously funded by RSA. The following self-employment choices were only some of the outcomes chosen by participants in these projects:

  • Rare book finding service;
  • Clowning;
  • Caterer of kosher foods;
  • Personal assistance agency;
  • Espresso cart owner;
  • Farrier (horse shoer);
  • Therapist;
  • Sign maker;
  • Custom card maker;
  • Used clothing store;
  • Photography service;
  • Scanning service;
  • Audio/visual equipment rental and taping service.

(Source: Michael Callahan. "The Meaning of Choice: Implications for Systems and Providers A Report to the Presidential Task Force," December, 2000)