What is supported employment?

Supported employment provides real pay for real work. Any individual with a disability who has a desire and a need to work is entitled to supported employment services if he or she needs support in order to find and sustain a job. Supported employment is based on the concept that individuals with IDD have the right to be employed by community businesses where they can earn comparable wages, work side by side with co-workers with or without disabilities, and have access to the same benefits as other employees of the company. This idea is often referred to as “Employment First”, which is the origin of our organization’s name.

What is I/DD?

I/DD stands for intellectual or developmental disability and is defined as a severe, chronic disability attributed to a mental/cognitive or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments diagnosed or that become obvious before the age of 22. Individuals with I/DD are typically limited in the areas of self-care, language, learning, mobility and/or self-direction.

What is the origin of the Employment First initiative?

Oregon was one of the first states to formally adopt an Employment First Policy. Adoption of the Employment First policy in 2008 was one result of Oregon advocates’ efforts to bring more employment opportunities for Oregon’s citizens experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since that time, approximately half the states have adopted Employment First policies or legislation and another 14 have actions related to an Employment First initiative.

Is it true that hiring employees with I/DD will increase my company’s workers compensation insurance rates?

No. Insurance rates are based on the relative hazards of the operation and the organization’s accident record, not on the abilities of the organization’s workers.

I’m concerned that providing accommodations for people with I/DD will be too expensive.

Most workers with I/DD do not need any special accommodations to perform their jobs and for those who do, the cost is minimal (less than $600 according to one study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor). These costs can often be off-set by State tax incentives.

I’ve heard that employees with I/DD have a higher rate of absenteeism than employees without disabilities.

Studies by firms including DuPont show that absenteeism rates are equal, regardless of whether the employee has an I/DD or not. In Employment First’s experience, our employees want to work. They take their jobs very seriously and see their work as a responsibility.