By Dennis Deany, Program Specialist, ICDD
Since October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities (ICDD or the Council) would like to share that during 2020 we have partnered with Marc Gold & Associates to bring a project to Illinois that focuses specifically on Customized Employment (CE) where we have been able to train agency providers and others who work in the field providing employment services to people with disabilities.
What is Customized Employment? Customized employment refers to competitive integrated employment (CIE), for an individual with a significant disability, that is based on an individualized determination of the strengths, needs, and interests of the individual with a significant disability. It is designed to meet the specific abilities of the individual with a significant disability and the business needs of the employer, it is a relationship between the employer and employee that is negotiated to meet the needs of both parties and is carried out through flexible strategies. A position is carved to benefit both the employer and the job seeker.
The Essential Elements of Customized Employment are:
- Negotiation of job duties
- Individualization, involving a job for one person
- Negotiated pay of at least the minimum wage
- CE occurs in businesses in the community or in businesses owned by an individual
- CE facilitates mutually beneficial voluntary employment relationships
- Job development “agents” are used as necessary to represent the employment seeker
- A qualitative “no-fail” process that presumes that all individuals can work
- Customized self-employment or customized wage employment, as chosen by the individual
- CE is best used to meet the needs of employment seekers with disabilities who have not been or are unlikely to be successful with traditional, demand-side employment
Customized employment matches a capable and interested candidate with an employer who would benefit from their skills, interests, and abilities. Through the Discovery process, we learn all about a job seeker by meeting with them and observing them in various settings in which they are comfortable, including the home. The goal is to customize discovery activities to align with a person’s abilities, interests, and circumstances. During the observation, a list of observed abilities is created. This information is used to create a profile that guides customized job development and employment plan. It is important to keep in mind there is “no one size fits all.”
It is the hope of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities (ICDD or the Council) that by educating and training the greater community throughout the state on the essentials of customized employment that we can begin the shift to get more people with disabilities employed in community integrated employment settings in Illinois in a job of their choice, pursuing their dreams, and making minimum wage or above. As Marc Gold & Associates says, we need to “Try Another Way.” We need to keep trying until we find what works for each individual job seeker with a disability.
ICDD: We help lead change in Illinois so all people with developmental disabilities exercise their right to equal opportunity and freedom.
Learn more about The Council at: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/icdd/Pages/default.aspx