#WorkWithUs to make sure that every person with a disability has the chance to work together alongside people without disabilities at fair wages.
Work is important to most people. With work comes a sense of identity, community membership, financial stability, access to benefits and independence. This is also true for individuals with disabilities who want to be in competitive integrated employment (CIE).
CIE means that individuals with disabilities:
- Earn the same wage as employees without disabilities who perform the same, or similar work
- Work alongside colleagues who do not have disabilities
- Have the same opportunities to advance and receive benefits as other employees
Get involved in the effort to advance and protect Competitive Integrated Employment.
Stories of Competitive Integrated Employment
After Van finished high school, he joined the first Project SEARCH class in his area. Van interned at National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD for a year before becoming a paid employee. Now, Van works five days a week at NIH in the patient escort unit. He delivers wheelchairs where they need to go in the hospital, brings specimens from people’s rooms to the lab, and picks up equipment and delivers it to be repaired. Van has meaningful relationships with his coworkers and has his own identity as a purposeful working adult. Van’s father admits while it was “absolutely terrifying” to watch Van get on the Metro alone for the first time, he believes, “It’s important for parents of adults with disabilities to let go because our kids can do amazing things given the opportunity.”
After graduation, Evan started working at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, GA. He worked there for eighteen years in different jobs. Now, Evan works at a health club where he checks clients in on the computer. He makes sure the equipment is in good working order, and collects used towels and folds the clean ones. Evan loves to talk to the many people who come to the health club. He knows all their names, greets them, and enjoys joking with so many people. His coworkers have become some of my best friends.
Despite the fact that Liz started out performing meaningless, repetitive tasks (making less than minimum wage) in a sheltered workshop environment, Liz now says that she is literally “living her dream.” Liz had always dreamt of working on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The biggest thing she’s had to overcome is “other people’s attitudes,” even her parents weren’t enthusiastic when she told them that she wanted to be a lobbyist. She tells her story to show other people what was possible. Liz offers other people with disabilities who are seeking employment the advice: “Have a dream and don’t ever give up!”
After graduating from high school, Scott received support from SEEC, a nonprofit provider of community and employment services for people with disabilities. Through SEEC, Scott started Project SEARCH, a one-year school-to-work transition program designed for young adults with developmental disabilities that consists of group learning classes and on the job work experiences. SEEC brainstormed opportunities with Scott based on his skills, interests, and past accomplishments and came up with a way for Scott to capitalize on his strengths by starting a business scanning photos and enabling people to digitize their print memories. Scott, now thirty years old, is working two jobs and is living independently. In addition to his own business, Scott is employed in the community at Ivymount Outreach Services, Inc. three days per week doing office work including scanning, copying, and other administrative tasks. Scott can support himself on his own terms, is thriving on the consistency, and loves living and working independently.
Wilbert went through a transition program that his high school told him about called the Paycheck. Paycheck staff taught him how to be independent, how to catch the bus on his own, and how to use his own bank card. Wilbert helped other students in the program learn the skills he’d been taught. Wilbert’s journey to empowerment and independence “feels amazing” because he has a real job, and makes his own money. His goal is to inspire other people with disabilities to take the opportunity to get a job.