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The Team at ALSO

June 25, 2024

Supported Employment Services: Empowering Individuals with Disabilities in the Workplace

ALSO provides a wide variety of individualized supported employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). We are known throughout Oregon for facilitating excellent employment outcomes for the people we support. In addition, ALSO employment programs create collaborative partnerships with employers that benefit local communities. It’s a win-win for everyone!

What are Supported Employment Services?

The Rehabilitations Services Administration [1] defines supported employment services as those that achieve competitive integrated employment. This means that employment opportunities pay a reasonable living wage, and the work environment is well integrated into the community.

ALSO’s customized support services help those we support to make meaningful contributions to their community. At the same time, they fulfill employers’ needs for enthusiastic, capable, and dedicated employees. All support services and individual placements are customized to:

  • Strengths
  • Needs
  • Employment goals
  • Interests

LEARN MORE: ALSO Assists Oregonians with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to Find Employment

How do Supported Employment Services Empower People with Disabilities?

High-quality supported employment programs empower people with disabilities to live a life of their own choosing in many ways.

Increasing Self-Worth and Self-Confidence

The ability to serve customers or help co-workers creates a boost in confidence and increases our self-worth.[2] Simply put—we feel better about ourselves! We get tangible evidence that we’re valued by peers, employers, and customers. This is the same for people living with I/DD.

Facilitating Financial Independence

Historically, people with I/DD have lived at or below the poverty level. [3] It wasn’t long ago that they struggled in repetitive, boring, sheltered workshops that paid far below minimum wage. Competitive employment (employment that provides a competitive wage with benefits) has fortunately become more common.

Improving Community Inclusion

As it states in the ALSO Mission, we promote the full inclusion of people experiencing disabilities into the life of their communities. The opportunity to do meaningful work and demonstrate talents is an integral part of full community inclusion. [4]

Facilitating Social Connectedness

When people living with I/DD are in competitive employment programs, they tend to experience increased social connectedness with other employees both with and without disabilities. They also express feelings of being a valued member of society, just like everyone else.[5]

Learning New Skills

The professional experience and job development training obtained from a positive work environment enable further improvement of skills, abilities, and productivity.  With high-quality on-going support services, individuals may even be able to use these skills in other work settings, at home, or at school.

LEARN MORE: The Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities.

The Process of Supported Employment

ALSO’s supported employment services are at the heart of our organization. We’re tenacious and creative in providing assistance that helps those we support to thrive in integrated settings. We collaborate with other organizations, such as the Oregon Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Throughout the individual supported employment process, we embrace a person-centered approach that respects their rights to input, personal goal setting, and choice. Here are the steps that we follow, with adjustments along the way as needed.

  1. Assessing and learning the individual’s strengths, interests, preferences, and needs.
  2. Formulating a career development plan to provide a concrete career-goal pathway.
  3. Implementing individualized job development strategies to identify and/or create job opportunities.
  4. Job search and application process assistance.
  5. Employment specialist accompanies individual to job interview. [6], [7]

If needed, we explore available funding sources and additional community-based services.

The Role of Job Coaches and Employment Specialists

Once an employment offer is made, individuals receive ongoing support through targeted job coaching. ALSO service providers never leave the new employee alone without making sure they are able to complete job tasks. We use various teaching strategies (e.g. breaking tasks down into smaller parts) and assistive technologies so that, eventually, supported persons can function on their own. We’re truly excellent at establishing long-term supports and reasonable accommodation that will help employees succeed.

Supported Employment Services from ALSO

Most of us define ourselves (at least in part) by our chosen career. The need to have a job that is satisfying and well-paid is the same for people living with I/DD. Job security may very well be the primary pathway for independence, identity, financial freedom, and full community inclusion.

By working together with the individuals we support, we’ve been successful in helping people with disabilities achieve vocational and career goals. Our commitment is reflected in our Mission and Vision for full inclusion of people with all types of disabilities as participating and valued members of their communities.

Would you like to learn more about ALSO Employment Services? Contact Chaz or Spencer!



  1. Rehabilitation Services Administration [RSA]. (2017, May 10). Frequently-asked questions about supported employment.
  2. Steffens, L. Felix, L. (2022). Evidence Brief: What is the current evidence around employment interventions that specifically focus on people with intellectual and development disabilities? Disability Evidence Portal.
  1. Emerson E. (2007). Poverty and people with intellectual disabilities. [Abstract]. Mental retardation and developmental disabilities research reviews, 13(2), 107–113.
  2. Walker, A. (2011). Checkmate! A self-advocate’s journey through the world of employment. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49(4), 310–312. [as cited in] Winsor, J., (2014, October). Partnerships in employment: Supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their communities.,%28d%29%20the%20quality%20of%20social%20relationships.&text=In%20another%20study%2C%20individuals,quality%20of%20social%20relationships.&text=study%2C%20individuals%20with%20IDD,%28d%29%20the%20quality%20of
  3. Voermans, M. A. C., Taminiau, E. F., Giesbers, S. A. H., & Embregts, P. J. C. M. (2021). The value of competitive employment: In-depth accounts of people with intellectual disabilities. Journal of applied research in intellectual disabilities : JARID, 34(1), 239–249.
  4. Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities. [Compiled by Nancy Molfenter] (n.d.). The 6 steps of providing employment supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.,Search%2C%20Job%20Training%2C%20Fading%20Support%2C%20and%20Ongoing%20Support.
  5. Oregon Department of Human Services [Web Page]. (n.d.).

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