Visit Transition to Adulthood for more resources on the transition process.
Work is an important part of adult life. Workers have a feeling of worth by contributing to society, and it’s a meaningful way to spend the day. Work is a place to learn social skills and responsibility. Employment is also a way to combat isolation, loneliness, and depression.
People with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed than people without disabilities. Work experience during school, postsecondary education, and family involvement help youth be successful as they transition to adulthood.
- Paid Work During Transition Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council
Where do we start?
One of the first steps is to explore what careers match their strengths, preferences, and interests. Students likely have completed an Educational Development Plan (EDP) at school. State law requires local schools to begin developing an EDP in Grade 7 and requires that every student has an EDP before high school. The EDP shows educational and career goals, a way to achieve these goals, and the activities accomplished.
- Educational Development Plan Fundamentals
- Educational Development Plan Example
- Frequently Asked Questions About Career Exploration for Youth with Disabilities
More getting started resources:
- Set an Employment Destination and Map a Course to Get There
- Road to Inclusive Careers Pathway
- Talk to Your Child About Employment: A Checklist for Parents
- Start Now to Chart your Youth’s Career Path after Graduation
- Soft Skills to Pay the Bills — Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success
- I’m Determined- Transition Guide to Employment
What is Vocational Rehabilitation?
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) programs provide employment services for students, youth, and adults with disabilities, empowering them to engage in competitive, integrated employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
- Self-Advocacy Tips for Vocational Rehabilitation Suggestions for students with IEPs when working with a VR agency
- Michigan Rehabilitation Services MRS provides services to assist people with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment.
- Bureau of Services for Blind Persons BSBP provides training and services that empower people who are blind or visually impaired to achieve their individual employment and independence goals.
What are Pre-ETS?
Pre-Employment Transition Services are available through MRS and BSBP to students with disabilities who are age 14-26 who are in a secondary or post-secondary school. Pre-ETS are designed to be an early start at job exploration, and includes:
- Job Exploration & Counseling
- Work-based Learning
- Post-secondary Exploration
- Workplace Readiness Training Including Social Skills and Independent Living
- Self-Advocacy Instruction
- Michigan Rehabilitation Services Website
BSBP provides vocational rehabilitation services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired to achieve employment and independence.
- Bureau of Services for Blind Persons Website
What about getting the first job?
Families and youth can work towards that first job by focusing on building skills employers want, developing good work habits, and showcasing talents.
- Building a Resumé: Tips for Youth with Disabilities PACER
- Tapping into the Power of Families: How Families of Youth with Disabilities Can Assist in Job Search and Retention NCWD
- Preparing for Employment: On the Home Front Describes ways in which youth and families can help youth effectively explore work-based learning outside of school settings.
What about working as a volunteer?
Volunteering helps connect people with similar interests and is a good way to develop new skills. Volunteering can be a great way to gain new experiences and put you in a position to find employment.
- How Volunteering Can Help You Find Employment Choose Work
- Understanding Volunteering PACER
- Pathway to Employment for Youth with Disabilities Corporation for National & Community Service
- Inclusive Volunteering The Arc
- Volunteer in Michigan Today Michigan Community Service Commission
What agencies or organizations can help with employment?
Michigan Rehabilitation Services has job coaching as part of their services. Ticket to Work is a Social Security Administration opportunity that includes job coaching, job counseling, training, benefits counseling and job placement
Job coaches are individuals who specialize in assisting individuals with disabilities to learn and accurately carry out job duties. Job coaches provide one-on-one training tailored to the needs of the employee.
- The Role of a Job Coach
- Adult Services Agency Overview includes information on Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Michigan Works, and Social Security
What about accommodations? After IEPs are gone, then what?
There are two main federal disability-rights laws that protect adults with disabilities in postsecondary education settings. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 cover postsecondary education and training, employment, and for independent living. Under the ADA you can request an accommodation during the application process or while you are employed, but you first have to disclose that you have a disability.
- Help Your Young Adult Learn About Accessing Accommodations After High School PACER
- Your Employment Rights
- Accommodation Categories Chart
- Using Assistive Technology in the Workplace
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a source for workplace accommodations and disability employment information.
- Job Accommodation Network
- Disability Disclosure
- Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR)
- A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations
What is supported employment?
Supported employment is for persons:
- with more significant disabilities,
- who need intensive or ongoing job support,
- who have traditionally been excluded from competitive work settings, or
- whose work has been interrupted or intermittent because of their disabilities.
Supported employment is based on the principle that individuals with severe disabilities 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 experience all of the same benefits as other employees of the company. This idea is often referred to as “Employment First.”
- Employment First in Michigan Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council
- Thoughts for Professionals on Increasing Family Involvement in the Planning, Development, and Monitoring of Supported Employment
- Employment First Executive Order
- Supported Employment MDHHS
Individuals with disabilities fare better financially from working in the community rather than in sheltered workshops.
- Community Based Vs Facility Based Employment Michigan Developmental Disability Council
- Community Employment Infographic Michigan Developmental Disability Council
What is customized employment?
Customized employment is a process for individualizing the employment relationship. This may include job carving, negotiated job description, or creating a new job description.
- Customized Employment Works Everywhere Examples of customized employment success stories
- Customized Employment US Department of Labor
- Customized Employment- Job Carving
What about self-employment?
When you are self-employed, you would be working for yourself rather than for an employer. You are your own boss. A small business is sometimes called a microenterprise.
- A Guide to Entrepreneurship for Youth with Disabilities
- Do I Want to Own My Own Business?
- Michigan Small Business Development Corporation
Can you work and receive social security?
Work Incentives are special rules that make it possible for SSI beneficiaries to work toward an employment goal while still receiving monthly payments and health care benefits (Medicaid or Medicare).
- Opportunities to Work While Receiving Social Security Benefits: Work Incentives and the Ticket to Work Program
- WIOA: What it means for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD)
- Ticket to Work Program
- MRS and the Ticket to Work Program
What about subminimum wage?
Currently some people with disabilities are paid less than minimum wage. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) put significantly limits on placements at sheltered workshops where people are paid sub-minimum wage.
- Subminimum Wage for Workers With Disabilities
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
- Day Training and Supported Employment Programs: Information for Parents of Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth With Disabilities provides guidance for youth with disabilities to achieve their post-school and career goals. Produced by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
- The Transition to Employment: What Parents Can Do Now PACER
- National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) has information about employment and youth with disabilities.