Career Design and Development for Adults with Intellectual Disability: a Program Evaluation


Formal disability support systems are focusing on promoting integrated, community employment for adults with intellectual disability. This study describes and evaluates a novel approach to employment services that was implemented within a community service agency for adults with intellectual disability to promote such outcomes. The approach uses the Self-Determined Career Design Model (SDCDM) along with job development activities to fully involve the person with intellectual disability in the career design process. Nine out of 12 participants found integrated employment, working an average of 3.8 h a day, 2.3 days each week. Key components of the program include focusing on strengths, identifying environmental supports, and using research-based practices to support self-determination, job development, and career design.

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The authors would like to thank Olivia Hargreaves, Kaitlin Hartman, Christina Kerr, Morgan Odegard, and Becky Nicholson who contributed to the services and research described in this study. The authors would like to thank the Borchardt Family Scholarship Fund at the Beach Center on Disability, University of Kansas, for funding this research.

Author information




EED designed and executed the study, created the conceptual model, wrote the manuscript and assisted with data analysis. KAS and MLW collaborated with developing the conceptual model and assisted writing the manuscript. BA and RM assisted with writing the paper and collected data.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Evan E. Dean.

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Ethics Statement

The authors obtained approval from their institution’s Institutional Review Board. Because this research was retrospective in nature, no identifying personal information was collected, and some participants were no longer served by the CSA; informed consent was waived for this analysis.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Dean, E.E., Shogren, K.A., Wehmeyer, M.L. et al. Career Design and Development for Adults with Intellectual Disability: a Program Evaluation. Adv Neurodev Disord 3, 111–118 (2019).

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  • Integrated employment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Community practice
  • Participation