This site highlights the employment successes of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the use of innovative employment support practices, these individuals are earning money, forming networks and contributing to their communities. Learn more about these people and the promising practices that led to their successes.
This website describes itself as "designed to celebrate the success of people with significant developmental disabilities who are working in paid jobs throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. These individuals have forged valuable relationships and roles with their coworkers, employers, and community members, and possess solid workplace skills." Included are more than 150 stories, complete with pictures; a tutorial about how to use the site; and opportunities to blog and discuss. The site also contains a video featuring three employers and supported employees.
Massachusetts has a comprehensive system of specialized services and supports to give individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunities to live the way they choose. The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is the state agency that manages and oversees this service system. The types of specialized services and supports include day supports, employment supports, residential supports, family supports, respite, and transportation.
500 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118
Voice: (617) 727-5608 • Fax: (617) 624-7577
TTY: (617) 624-7783
DDS' publication The Road Forward is written for families of transition-age youth. It addresses the following topics: Individualized Transition Plans, eligibility for DDS services, and benefits and services provided by state agencies. The resource section has been customized for each region of the state. Families can request a copy from their Children's Service or Transition Coordinator or by calling the area office. A generic copy is also available on the DDS website www.mass.gov/DDS. (On the right hand side of the page, click on "Publications" and go to the Turning 22 Section.)
MCB provides the highest quality rehabilitation and social services for blind individuals, leading to independence and full community participation. It provides a wide range of social and rehabilitation services to legally blind Massachusetts residents of all ages. Services and programs of MCB include: Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living Social Services, Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation Teaching.
48 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116
MRC assists individuals with disabilities to live and work independently. This state agency promotes dignity for individuals with disabilities through employment, education, training, advocacy, assistive technology, and independent community living. MRC is responsible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services to help individuals find or return to work; Community Services, such as assistance in living independently in the home; Information, Referral and Peer Counseling; and Independent Living Programs for individuals turning 22.
27 Wormwood Street, Boston, MA 02110
For an excellent general article about Vocational Rehabilitation--what it is and how to apply--consult the following article:
Getting the Most from the Public Vocational Rehabilitation System
One-Stop Career Centers are designed to provide a full range of assistance to all job seekers under one roof. Established under the federal government's Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Centers offer training referrals, career counseling, job search workshops, job listings, and other employment-related services. Services are provided to individuals with and without disabilities. One-Stop Centers: A Guide for Job Seekers with Disabilities is a helpful guide available online at www.tinyurl.com/kjttbp. To find your local One-Stop Career Center, go to www.servicelocator.org or
Workforce Investment Boards were created to implement the WIA, and they also oversee the One-Stop Career Centers. Under Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), employment services are available for young people. These include Youth Services funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) for young people aged 14 to 21. These services primarily consist of after-school and summer employment-related programs, as well as assistance for young people who have left school and need employment assistance. Details can be found at
Another option from the workforce development system is Connecting Activities, a school-to-work initiative that operates in many schools throughout the state (www.doe.mass.edu/connect).
WIA Youth Services and Connecting Activities are both administered by local Workforce Investment Boards; these WIBs may also administer other services for young people. To learn more about these programs in your area, contact your local WIB, and ask to speak to the staff person responsible for youth services. A listing of WIBs is available at
The Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) in Massachusetts provides information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities. FCSN offers a number of services, programs and trainings for families, including a monthly e-newsletter and an annual conference.
FCSN's Parent Training and Information Center (found under the "Education & Special Needs" link at the top of their home web page) provides a number of publications and tip sheets on the topic of transition, including employment. There is also information about FCSN's training offerings on transition.
1135 Tremont Street Suite 420
Boston, MA 02120
Phone: (617) 236-7210 • MA Toll-Free: (800) 331-0688
Fax: (617) 572-2094
NCWD/Youth seeks to improve services to youth with disabilities by identifying proven quality workforce development strategies. It is composed of partners with expertise in disability, education, employment, and workforce development policy and practice. NCWD/Youth has a resource-rich website for professionals as well as for parents.
Institute for Educational Leadership
4455 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: 1-877-871-0744 • TTY: 877-871-0665
The mission of the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) Center is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life for children and young adults with disabilities and their families, based on the concept of parents helping parents. PACER provides information, resources, and consultation to parents of young adults with disabilities, aged 14 to 21, and the professionals who work with them on transition-related topics, including employment.
8161 Normandale Blvd.
Bloomington, MN 55437
USA: 888-248-0822 • TTY: 952-838-0190 • Fax: 952-838-0199
(Use the search function to find topics related to transition and employment or go directly to PACER's publications page for a listing of products, books, articles and fact sheets at www.pacer.org/publications/transition.asp)
Person-centered planning is an approach that gives individuals a chance to share their dreams for the future while incorporating the active involvement and support of others. The individual works with a facilitator to identify important people in his/her life who come together as part of a planning group; they then share their ideas and help to shape the individual's future plans. Together, the individual and the planning group answer questions and develop a vision of "positive possibilities" for the individual's future. The group leaves with action steps that can be taken to move in the direction of the person's vision. (see sidebar below for publications and resources)
Career exploration involves gathering information about an individual's skills, interests, personal characteristics and work environments that will lead to the best job match. Research on specific careers and employers can also help to map out a job search and identify business contacts. Visit the following websites for assistance with these activities.<
This site includes a wealth of information on job trends, wages, and national and local labor markets.
This online database describes a wide variety of occupations, required skills, and earning potential.
This is a job preference program using online videos. For a 3-month unlimited access cost of $20, this program allows youth with limited or no reading skills to watch videos of 120 different jobs, listen to a narrator describe key tasks in each job, and select preferred ones. With the help of a parent or teacher to facilitate, the result is identification of the best-matched job, strengths and weaknesses and training priorities.