Keys to the employment services castle: Needed skills and experiences

Julie L. Pickens, Stacy K. Dymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was designed, in part, to ensure all students with disabilities have access to pre-employment transition services and are provided the opportunity to try competitive integrated employment. However, access to employment services continues to be limited for students with severe intellectual disability. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the types of skills and experiences rehabilitation services providers believe impact the ability of students with severe intellectual disability to obtain employment services. METHODS: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 rehabilitation service providers. Providers reflected on three students with severe intellectual disability whom they previously denied employment services and the skills/experiences they felt these students needed to obtain employment services. RESULTS: Service providers' perceptions of the employability of students with severe intellectual disability were influenced by the student's ability to understand work, display work-related skills, and demonstrate work behaviors. Prior work experience was deemed essential to obtaining employment services. CONCLUSIONS: Recent legislative factors have led to an increased focus on ensuring greater access to needed work skills and experiences; however, there remains a need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure students with severe intellectual disability access these skills and experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Transition to employment
  • intellectual disability
  • rehabilitation service providers
  • severe disabilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy


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