Community Engagement: A Pathway to Competitive Integrated Employment

People gardeningCommunity Engagement:A Pathway to Competitive Integrated Employment

The employment of individuals with disabilities benefits our communities and our nation as they maximize their skills and talents and contribute fully to our economy.  Individuals with disabilities are often unemployed, underemployed, or employed at low wages because of low expectations.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services released A Framework for Community Engagement — A Pathway to Competitive Integrated Employment.

The Framework presents a Federal vision for community engagement by individuals with disabilities to inform policymakers and service providers.

Supported community engagement enables individuals with disabilities to expand skills and experience. The benefits include:

  • Building relationships and social networks
  • Sharpening workplace skills
  • Learning work skills

Community engagement provides meaning and purpose specific to the individual. Examples of community engagement opportunities include:


  • Continuing education classes
  • Volunteering
  • Using a computer at a public library

The framework also describes how service systems work together to support community engagement and links to resources for families, young people, and providers.

Review the framework here

Learn more about “competitive integrated employment” here

View the REAL Transition Partners webinar to learn about Individualized Plans for Employment

The 11 Building Blocks to a Student-Led IEP

The-11-Building-Blocks-to-a-Student-Led-IEPIndependence and self-determination are treasured and important to each of us. As students enter transition and prepare for adulthood, they should feel empowered to use their voice and work equally with the IEP Team to make decisions about their future.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you help your child prepare for their IEP Meeting:
Does your teen understand the components, purpose, and significance of their IEP?
Does your teen understand their disability, their strengths, and areas that need support.
Do they feel they have the tools to be successful.
Join our guest presenter, Annemarie Stone, as she shares tips, activities, and strategies to help your teen lead their own IEP Meeting with confidence.

Introducción al programa de rehabilitación vocacional – seminario en línea

RAISE BannerEsta sesión proporcionará una descripción básica de los servicios disponibles del sistema de rehabilitación vocacional para personas con discapacidades. Cubrirá la elegibilidad, el desarrollo del Plan Individualizado de Empleo, los servicios disponibles y los factores financieros a considerar.
Fecha: lunes 24 de enero de 2022
Hora: 2pm ET
Presentado por:
Ron Hager, abogado gerente de educación y empleo de la Red Nacional de Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad (NDRN)
Amy Scherer, abogada sénior de personal para rehabilitación vocacional
Se ofrecerá interpretación al español y ASL (lenguaje de señas americano)

Introduction to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program – Webinar

RAISE BannerThis session will provide a basic overview of the services available from the vocational rehabilitation system for people with disabilities. It will cover eligibility, developing the Individualized Plan for Employment, available services, and financial factors to consider.

Date: Monday, Jan. 24, 2022
Time: 2pm ET
Ron Hager, Managing Attorney for Education and Employment, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
Ron Hager is a Senior Staff Attorney at the National Disability Rights Network in Washington, DC.  Ron provides training and technical assistance to the P&A/CAP network on special education and assists in overseeing training and technical assistance to CAP. He has specialized in disability law, particularly special education, since 1979, when he started his legal career in Buffalo as a VISTA attorney. After that, he was a Clinical Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School for nine years, supervising the Education Law Clinic. In 1991, Ron moved to Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) where he represented clients in a wide variety of disability-related cases. As part of NLS’s National AT Advocacy Project, Ron also was a frequent author on disability-law-related issues. He was co-chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities for four years, and was the President of the Board of Directors of Autistic Services, Inc., in Western New York, for 10 years. Ron earned a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.
Amy Scherer, Senior Staff Attorney for Vocational Rehabilitation
Joining NDRN in December 2009, Amy Scherer provides training and technical assistance to the P&A network on issues related to Vocational Rehabilitation and the Client Assistance Program. She is a member of NDRN’s employment team which focuses on a variety of issues related to helping individuals with disabilities achieve competitive wages and integrated jobs in the community. Prior to arriving at NDRN, Amy worked for seven years at a vocational training facility for individuals with a variety of disabilities in Atlanta, Georgia. She worked primarily with VR clients as both a case manager and as a certified vocational evaluator. Amy earned a B.A. in Psychology from Furman University, an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling/Vocational Evaluation from Auburn University, and a J.D. from the St. Louis University School of Law.
Amy happens to be wheelchair user which has contributed to her strong interest in the areas of vocational rehabilitation and employment law. She wholeheartedly believes that all people with disabilities are capable of working in the community. The keys are appropriate job matches as well as the effective implementation of reasonable accommodations.
ASL interpretation & Spanish interpretation will be offered!

Lunch and Learn Webinar: Youth Programs for Chicago Youth

Young disabled African American  sitting in front of a computer .

Presented by Access Living’s Youth and Employment Institute

Access Living offers multiple opportunities and award-winning virtual programs for youth with disabilities to learn, grow, build community, and prepare for their futures. In this presentation, you will learn about:
-Access Living’s Youth Team and their Youth Focused Programs,
-What Youth will gain from participating in these programs.
-How youth can access these programs,
-And participation criteria,

Interested in exploring employment and transitioning to a job? Anixtercenter can Help!

Anixtercenter logoInterested in exploring employment and transitioning to a job? Anixtercenter can Help!

Anixtercenter offers unique employment support program, located at the Westin 0’Hare Hotel (Rosemont, IL), offers on-the-job evaluation services for people with disabilities.



  • 10-week program provides an individual with an opportunity to experience community-based employment
  • Real work experience in a hospitality environment, learning skills that can be transferred to other jobs.
  • On-site support from Anixter Center and Westin staff
  • Management feedback on individual’s marketable skills, including endurance and dexterity, communication, problem-solving abilities, and work attitude
  • Upon completion of the 10-week program, placement services may be provided
  • Daily transportation allowance
  • Easy access to public transportation
  • Eligibility:
    • At least 18 years old
    • High school diploma or GED equivalent
    • Open case with Illinois Department of Human Services

Tom Jahncke, Manager

Employment Services,  Anixter Center

847-507-0976 /

Hiring Event for Youth with Disabilities

Save the Date Hiring Event Flyer October 12, 2017 SAVE the date

Are you between ages 18 – 24?

Hiring Event for Youth with Disabilities
2525 Cabot Dr. Suite 302 Lisle, IL 60532 630-955-2070

Time: 10am-12pm
WorkNet DuPage Career Center will be hosting a hiring event for youth with disabilities. The event will provide youth with an opportunity to speak to employers who have current job openings. Youth are encouraged to bring a resume and be prepared to discuss their interests, skills and abilities with employers. Make sure to check the website to the right for updates and to register for the event as we approach the event.

Research Study: Are you a parent of a student with an intellectual and/or developmental disability between the ages of 14-24?

Think Work LogoAre you a parent of a student with an intellectual and/or developmental disability between the ages of 14-24?

Are you interested in how Facebook Messenger might be used as a tool to coach families on planning for employment?

Please join us for a research study on how to increase family knowledge, attitudes and expectations around employment.

The purpose of this study is to test the impact of an individualized motivational communication strategy on planning for employment in the community. We are also exploring how individuals with I/DD and family members use information and supports to develop an employment vision and move from that vision to an employment outcome. All participants will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Amazon gift card in appreciation of their time and effort in participating in this study.

To register, or to get more information, please contact John at or 617-287-4345.


Collage of diverse familiesLunch and Learn Webinar: Dissecting the IEP Part 5: Transition

Do you find your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) document cumbersome and overwhelming? Would you like to feel better prepared for your child’s next IEP meeting?  This 6 part webinar series breaks down the components of the IEP to ensure that you have clear an understanding of your child’s IEP.

This webinar will focus on the transition to the post-secondary education portion of the IEP process and questions parents should be asking.


Special Education: Transition Webinar Series

Family Matters LogoSpecial Education: Transition Webinar Series Presented by Family Matters PTIC

Guardianship and Alternatives to Guardianship

Join us for a webinar on Aug 11, 2016 at 12:00 PM CDT.

Register now!

The speaker will review guardianship versus some less intrusive and restrictive alternatives to guardianship and discuss the pros and cons of each alternative. Consent issues such as right to terminate life support systems, right to refuse medical treatment, residential placement decisions, etc. will be discussed. Many persons with cognitive disabilities are under guardianship even though there may be other options available to them and their families. By addressing these options and their pros and cons, families and individuals will gain knowledge of a variety of alternatives that may better fit their needs.

Building Bridges from School to Adult Life for Students with Disabilities: What Families Need to Know and Do

 Join us for a webinar on Aug 31, 2016 at 12:00 PM CDT.

Register now!

Research tells us that all youth should be actively planning (bridge building) to make successful transitions to adult life, especially youth who disabilities! Parents/families and their students who have disabilities have a vehicle for this bridge-building in the IEP transition plan and should take advantage of the opportunity to consider and plan for all facets of adult life, as well as the community services and relationships that could add strength to the “bridge”. Proactive partnerships between community service providers, schools, and families are essential in creating dynamic person-centered transition plans, maximizing available resources and supporting the dreams and self-determination of youth with disabilities. This webinar will provide information to parents/families about secondary transition; the critical role of parent/family in assisting transition planning teams; parents/families assisting their young adults to successfully navigate between the education and adult service systems; and, supporting the use of a variety of tools that increase the participation of young adults and their families in building a solid bridge from school to adult life.

Preparing Students with Disabilities for Successful Transition to College

 Join us for a webinar on Sep 15, 2016 at 12:00 PM CDT.

This webinar will NOT be archived! You must attend the live webinar in order to receive the handouts!

Register now!

The transition to college can be challenging for students with disabilities, but with the proper preparation, they can enjoy success! Author and Columbia University learning consultant Elizabeth C. Hamblet explains how the system for accommodations works at college, describes students’ rights and responsibilities within that system, and shares what the research says are the skills and knowledge correlated with success at college. She also reviews the paperwork students need to apply for accommodations and discusses what accommodations may be available.

Taking A T Along – Transitions for People Who Use Assistive Technology

Join us for a webinar on Sep 21, 2016 at 12:00 PM CDT.

This webinar will NOT be archived! You must attend the live webinar in order to receive the handouts!

Register now!

No matter how simple or complex your child’s transition may be, the new start always means that steps must be taken to ensure that AT that was working well in one environment is used in the new environment , and AT use is re-examined and adapted to meet new environmental demands. With the right kind of skills and supports leading up to and during transitions, continuity of AT use is much more likely.

This webinar about AT and transition will invite participants to use three aspects of effective transition preparation as a basis for helping individuals who use AT to plan their transitions from school to post-school living and work environments. We will address AT skills for Independence; Self-determination and AT; and activities to ensure quality transition planning. Participants will learn about ways to help students leaving high school to be as independent as possible in their AT use and as prepared as possible to use it in post-high school environments.