A Systematic Process for Carving Supported Employment Positions for People with Severe Disabilities

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Abstract

Supported employment offers individuals with severe disabilities the promise of real work in integrated community businesses. National data suggest, however, that people with the most severe disabilities are underrepresented in supported employment. The authors contend that part of the reason for this problem is the manner in which jobs are developed. They suggest that customized job development, in which positions are carved around the skills, interests, and support needs of job seekers and employers are approached in a business-like way, should expand opportunities for people with the most severe cognitive and physical disabilities. This article proposes a seven-step process for carving supported employment positions within integrated community businesses for individuals with severe disabilities. The process is illustrated through an actual case study example with IBM, followed by a discussion of practitioner and research implications. The job carving method presented here combines the human service competencies of tailoring jobs to consumer characteristics with the business skills necessary to work effectively with employers. The process could be especially useful to transition specialists, work experience coordinators, and adult agency staff as they custom-craft jobs for individuals with unique talents.