Oh Yes, I CAN Work! (AZ UCEDD)

Competitive Employment for Persons with Significant Disabilities

October 22, 2018

In September, the Arizona University Center on Development Disabilities (AzUCD) at Northern Arizona University partnered with the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to host two half-day trainings and a simultaneous webcast designed to advance an interagency approach to the concept that competitive, integrated employment is achievable for people with significant disabilities. Additional collaborators included the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration (VR), the Division of Developmental Disabilities and Arizona's Employment First initiative.

Our featured speaker, Laura Owens, Ph.D., CESP, President of TransCen Inc., highlighted basic underlying principles and real world programs that help people with significant disabilities become employed. Attendees also listened to a panel of individuals with disabilities who are successfully employed in integrated settings earning competitive wages. The panelists were joined by a parent, job coach and employer who supported their journeys to job success.

379 persons participated in the trainings including a significant number of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, Developmental Disability Support Coordinators, high school teachers, Transition Specialists and Employment Services Providers.   As one attendee expressed: "It is important to raise the bar in our expectations of what a client can accomplish"; another said "... I've seen a totally different perspective and see much more possibility."

This first set of trainings was about influencing attitudes and perceptions; a follow-up implementation training is planned for February, 2019.  For more information, contact Jill Pleasant, MA, OTR/L at jill.pleasant@nau.edu; 602-728-9532.