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Are individuals with severe physical impairments underserved in supported employment?

Mast & West (2001) examined the extent to which individuals with severe physical impairments are served in supported employment. They used the National Supported Employment Policy Survey as well the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) National Employment Survey to evaluate the use of supported employment for individuals with severe physical impairments.

The National Supported Employment Policy Survey found that individuals with severe physical impairments are a very small proportion of participants. Only 3.3% of individuals with cerebral palsy and orthopedic impairments and 2.6% of individuals with other physical disabilities were receiving supported employment services in 1995. This contrasts greatly from individuals with mental retardation, which make up 61.5% - 70.5% of those in supported employment. However, the number of individuals with cerebral palsy and other physical impairments in supported employment has grown from less than 200 in 1988 to over 8,000 in 1995. The authors conclude that individuals with severe physical impairments are participating in supported employment in increasing numbers.

The UCP National Employment Survey found of those affiliates that provide supported employment services, 90.8% provide services through the individual model, 23.7% offered enclave settings as an employment option, and 23.7% of the UCP affiliates offer both individual and enclave options for supported employment. The UCP affiliates offer supported employment services for individuals with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, as well as other physical impairments. The survey also found that an average of 83 individuals were in facility-based employment, 38 individuals were in individual placement, and an average of 14 individuals were in enclaves.

Mast & West (2001) state "the lack of strong and proven strategies for job development will continue to hamper the employment efforts for people with physical and multiple severe disabilities." They also report the current products available for preparing the applicant for the interview does not adequately address the applicant with severe and multiple disabilities. Mast & West (2001) conclude, "we must continue to push systematic change at the state and federal levels and continue to question those aspects of the system that make it difficult and unequal for people with severe and multiple disabilities to participate in work."

Mast, M. & West, M. (2001). Are individuals with severe physical impairments underserved in supported employment? Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 16, 3-7.

Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, IOS Press

 


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