EBED’s Supported Employment (SE) is an approach to vocational services for individuals with intellectual disabilities that emphasizes helping them obtain competitive work in the community and providing the supports necessary to ensure their success in the workplace. SE programs help individuals find jobs that pay competitive wages in integrated settings (i.e., with other individuals who don’t necessarily have disabilities) in the community.
EBED’s philosophy of SE is the belief that every person with a disability is capable of working competitively in the community if the right kind of job and work environment can be found. Rather than trying to sculpt individuals into becoming “perfect workers” through extensive prevocational assessment and training, individuals are offered help finding and keeping jobs that capitalize on their personal strengths and motivation. Thus, the primary goal of SE is not to change individuals, but to find a natural “fit” between individuals’ strengths and experiences and jobs in the community.
In contrast to other approaches to vocational services, EBED’s SE de-emphasizes prevocational assessment and training and puts a premium on rapid job search and attainment. The job search is conducted at a pace that is comfortable for individuals and is not slowed down by any programming prerequisites.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities differ from one another in terms of the types of work they prefer and the nature of the support they want/need while at work. EBED’s SE programs respect these individual preferences and tailor their vocational services accordingly.
In addition to appreciating the importance of individual preferences, EBED’s SE programs recognize that most individuals with intellectual disabilities benefit from long-term support after successfully getting a job. Therefore, SE programs avoid imposing unrealistic time limitations on services, while focusing on helping individuals become as independent and self-reliant as possible.
As individuals succeed in working in the community, their self-perceptions often change, and they view themselves as workers and contributors to society. Furthermore, as Individuals in the community see individuals working, individuals are less stigmatized for their disabilities and they become more socially accepted.
EBED’s SE programs are based on a core set of practice principles. These principles form the foundation of the program.