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Karen Flippo worked with the University of San Francisco's (USF) Rehabilitation Administration Department in the 1980s and offers this perspective on the period.

"Our work took on more importance when the Department of Education began its funding of state systems change grants for supported employment. Rob McDaniel, the USF staff, and I worked in many states to discuss the values of employing individuals with significant disabilities.

"In 1985, it was almost unheard of that individuals with severe disabilities could work in competitive, integrated employment. We had role models of individuals with physical disabilities working, but there was considerable disbelief when we talked about the capacities of individuals with significant disabilities.

"And we were talking about breaking down physical plants, which had political and financial repercussions. State by state, we assisted direct service staff in learning supported employment training and job placement strategies, and with managers to help shift their operations from segregated options to community based options.

"… We were able to challenge assumptions. Yet, while we talked about values and dreams, we were also able to talk practically about education and training of individuals and organizational development to transform operations.

"While at the University of San Francisco, I designed and delivered the first Certificate Program for Employment Training Specialists. Now, we have certificate programs across the country. We knew that no matter how important supported employment was as a concept, it would not be effective unless we had trained staff to deliver the technology."

Karen Flippo
Karen Flippo