Working in the Community:

Real Stories of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Doing Paid Work in Their Community

 If you have a family member with a disability, you may have already confronted a problem many people do not want to discuss: the lack of safe employment options for individuals with disabilities.  This is a shame because it ignores the fact that many people with disabilities have or can be taught valuable skill sets that contribute to the community.  Furthermore, while people may be eligible for government benefits that would exceed pay, there is something very satisfying about providing for one’s own needs, and the opportunity to do so should be extended to those who have disabilities.  It not only helps with self-esteem, but can provide a safety net for a person in case family resources ever disappear.

People with disabilities work in every community.

You may be frustrated about the lack of job opportunities for people with disabilities in your community because you are making the same mistake that many people make: you assume that you would be able to tell if a company employed those with disabilities.  However, it is important to keep in mind that while there are certain conditions associated with intellectual or developmental disabilities that have physical markers, most people who have those disabilities have physically apparent differences from anyone else.  You may deal with employers every single day who actively seek to employ those with disabilities, but be unaware of their policies.  Therefore, if you have a disability or are helping a family member with an intellectual or developmental disability look for a job, one of the best things to do is contact potential employers and see if they have any type of existing programs or policies making them a good potential employer.  Even those employers who do not might find that they do have jobs that could be performed by someone with a disability, if you take the time to explain the capabilities and limitations of the individual.  The worst thing they can tell you is “no.”

One of the best ways to find ideas for employment in the community is to find out what others have done.

At Real People, Real Jobs, real people with intellectual and developmental disabilities tell their stories about working for pay in the community.   Not only is it a valuable resource for helping determine what type of jobs might be available, but it also provides tips for how to handle common workplace scenarios, such as negotiating for a job or raise, and how to create an on-the-job support network.

At Chelsea Senior Living, we believe that work helps people be a part of the greater community, and are happy to help our residents and off-site consumers develop the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.


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