Article Summary

The Impact of Employment Goals and Settings on People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Available formats:    Word   |    PDF

This summary is for general information and reference purposes. The original article is owned and copyright protected by Sage Publications.

A quick look:

To determine the impact of employment goals and appropriate work settings on employment outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, researchers reviewed 12,706 case studies of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from 25 states who received vocational rehabilitation services. These states had all passed Employment first legislation or had administrative directives or executive orders propelling Employment First. Researchers also examined policy and practice procedures of systems that assist and support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in employment. They did this in response to the disproportionately low number of people with disabilities who have an employment goal or no paid employment.

Key Findings:

  • Only 22.2% of 11,370 individual cases reviewed included an employment goal.
  • Of 11,790 individual cases reviewed, 65.6% did not result in paid employment.
  • Individuals with an employment goal were 11 times more likely to be employed in an individual community setting than those who didn’t.
  • Research participants expressed a desire to work in the community, similar to the general population.
  • Those who could verbally communicate without assistance had 387% and 222% higher chance of having an employment goal.
  • Every increased level of intellectual or developmental disability reduces the odds of individuals having an employment goal by an average of 41%.
  • People with the most significant levels of intellectual and developmental disability had almost a 0% chance of having an employment goal.

Putting It into Practice:       

  • Assist in establishing an employment goal in the service plans of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • Encourage integrated community employment and implement supported employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Educate the guardians of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities of the importance of having an employment goal so they don’t inadvertently create barriers.
  • Advocate for impartial access to individual community employment for all people regardless of the level of their intellectual or developmental disability.

More about this Article

Researchers used the 2012-2013 National Core Indicator (NCI) Adult Consumer Survey in the policy and practice procedure examination portion of this study.


Article Citation: Nord, D.; Hamre, K.; Pettingell, S.; & Magiera, L.(2018). Employment Goals and Settings: Effects of Individual and Systemic Factors. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 43 (3), 194-206.

Learn More Access this article by visiting the Research Articles Database

Questions? Feedback?    Do you have questions or feedback about putting this research into practice? We’re waiting to hear from you!  Send us your questions or feedback

Virginia Commonwealth University, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (VCU-RRTC) is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution providing access to education and employment without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation, or disability.  The VCU-RRTC is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant #90RT5041).  NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).f special accommodations are needed, please contact Vicki Brooke at (804) 828-1851 VOICE or (804) 828-2494 TTY.