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Disability Services - Employment Options Supports

Persons with disabilities have a wide range of employment options and supports. Below are definitions and terms used to describe the various options from which one could choose.

Competitive employment

Employment in which the employee is compensated at or above the minimum wage and is performed on a full-time or part-time basis in an integrated and competitive labor market.

Supported employment

Supported employment assists people with the most significant disabilities to become and remain successfully and competitively employed in integrated workplace settings.

Supported employment is targeted at people with the most significant disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred, has been interrupted or is intermittent because of the disability, or who, because of the severity of their disability, need intensive or extended support services to work competitively.

The most effective employment outcomes are achieved initially by using natural workplace supports in conjunction with agency-provided supports. Many of the agency supports can eventually be replaced by natural supports in the work environment, similar to the ones that all employees receive.

Definitions/Terminology

Employment specialist/consultant (Job coach)

A person employed by a job training and placement organization serving people with disabilities who matches clients with jobs, provides necessary supports with a co-worker and co-workers socializing with employees with disabilities at breaks or after work. The use of natural supports increases the integration and acceptance of an employee with a disability within the workplace.

Extensive support services

Support services needed on an ongoing basis to support and maintain a person in competitive employment, provided at no cost to the employer.

Natural support

Support from supervisors and co-workers occurring in the workplace to assist employees with disabilities to perform their jobs, including supports already provided by employers for all employees. These natural supports may be both formal and informal, and include mentoring, supervision (ongoing feedback on job performance), training (learning a new job skill during the initial employment period) and then facilitates the transition to natural workplace supports while reducing his or her role.

Carving/Job creation: The process of breaking down jobs into their key components and assigning them to employees based on efficient company operations and customization to meet the skills of the employee with a disability. This process results in either job restructuring or job creation.

Job development: Locating jobs for people with disabilities through networking with employers, businesses and community leaders. The use of Business Advisory Councils is an excellent way to develop contacts that lead to employment for people with disabilities.

Supported services

Job development and placement, intensive job-site training, facilitation of natural supports, special skills training, supplementary assessment, contact with employers, parents, family members and advocacy organizations, teaching compensatory workplace strategies.

Vocational rehabilitation (VR) services

Assists individuals with disabilities in preparing for and engaging in gainful employment. The vocational rehabilitation program provides a wide range of services and job training to people with disabilities who want to work. Priority is given to people with the most significant disabilities.

To be eligible for VR services from a state VR agency, a person must have:

  • A physical or mental impairment that is a substantial impediment to employment
  • Be able to benefit from VR services in terms of employment
  • Require VR services to prepare for, enter, engage in or retain employment

The state vocational rehabilitation agencies assist persons with disabilities to locate employment by developing and maintaining close relationships with local businesses.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services (Minnesota)

Assistive technology

Assistive technology is a device, equipment or combination of methods that improve a person's ability to perform activities. The item, piece of equipment or product system can be acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized.

Send an email to the DHS DSD Response Center if you are unable to find information about Disability Services Division programs and services.

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