Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
A law passed in 1990 that protects people with disabilities from discrimination in employment, and mandates accessible public accommodations, government services, transportation and telecommunications.


Benefits Counselor
Also known as Certified Work Incentives Counselors. A trained individual who can help one understand his/her Social Security benefits. A benefits counselor can answer questions about eligibility, work incentives, and the effect of work on benefits.


Career Advancement
Activities that promote job growth or expansion of job roles or responsibilities.
Career Exploration
Enabling an individual to learn about different careers.
Career Planning
Planning about employment that is facilitated by an experienced employment support provider, in which individuals and family and/or community members chosen by the individual actively participate.
Carve Out a Job (or job carving)
Job carving is a way to create a job (see job creation) where certain duties from one or more existing jobs are selected and combined into a new position.
Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP)
A community-based agency, typically private and non-profit, that provides employment and other services to adults with disabilities. The majority of funding for most CRPs comes from government agencies and funding sources.
Community-based Employment
Working in the community with employees who do not have disabilities and earning at least minimum wage.
Competitive Employment
See “community-based employment.”


Day Program
Also known as day habilitation programs or day activity programs, day programs as used in this site are non-work services that offer a variety of activities such as daily living skills training as well as leisure and recreational activities.


Employment Service Providers (see also Community Rehabilitation Provider)
Typically, private and non-profit community-based organizations that provide employment and other services to adults with disabilities. The majority of funding for most CRPs comes from government agencies and funding sources, but families can also pay for them on their own.
Employment Specialist
Any employment professional who provides employment-related support to an individual with a disability. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “job coach.”
Employment Support
The help that an individual receives while looking for the job or after being hired.
A small group of people with disabilities who are trained and supervised at a community employment site, and receive ongoing support and supervision from an employment specialist or job coach. They work alongside employees without disabilities.


Facility-Based Employment (also called a Sheltered Workshop)
Work is contracted with businesses and people usually earn less than minimum wage.


Job Coach
A staff member from a human service agency who provides on-the-job support to an employee with a disability to support integration into the work place. See also employment specialist.
Job Creation
Changing existing staff responsibilities to create a new job, or to bring together a combination of new job tasks that didn’t exist before.
Job Developer
A professional who works with a person with a disability to find, or develop, a job for him or her based on skills and interests.
Job Development
Creating job opportunities for a person with a disability. Job development can also refer to the work done sometimes by a counselor, with an employer, to create a job that would fit well with the person’s skills and the employer’s needs.
Job Matching
Helping an individual to find a job that fits well with his or her interests and skills.
Job Negotiation
Any discussion between a job developer, employer and job-seeker with a disability that leads to a job being created or adapted.
Job Trial
An opportunity for a job-seeker to try working for an employer so that the job-seeker and employer can decide if the job is a good fit.


The joint federal-state health benefits program for people with disabilities and others who qualify. Many services provided by state IDD agencies are funded with Medicaid under the Home and Community Based Services Waiver program.
A federal health insurance program typically connected with SSDI and Childhood Disability Benefits. Part A covers hospital insurance while Part B provides supplemental medical insurance. Beneficiaries receive Medicare after 24 continuous months on SSDI, and must pay certain deductibles and co-insurance fees. Part B also requires payment of a monthly premium that is usually deducted from the SSDI benefit check. Part D prescription drug coverage is a new program that became available as of January 2006.
A career exploration experience where a student is matched with an employee and forms a relationship which supports learning about a career or job of interest. Mentors can also be coworkers at a new job who help to support the initial orientation and training needs of the novice employee.


Natural Supports
Sources of on-the-job help that an individual can find naturally on the job. Natural supports may be formal, such as job orientation, training, supervision and mentorship, or informal such as social or job support received from coworkers who are friends. Examples include a coworker providing job training during orientation, or a coworker providing a ride to or from the job.
Using contacts within the individual’s or the job developer’s personal network to find and obtain employment.


On the Job Supports
Innovative approaches to job coaching including supports provided by co-workers rather than by a paid job coach.
One-Stop Career Centers
Coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor, these Centers are designed to provide a full range of assistance to all job seekers. The Centers offer training referrals, career counseling, job listings, a career library, job search workshops, computer workstations and more.


Person-Centered Planning
A planning process that focuses on the individual and his/her interests, strengths, and needs. Emphasis is placed on the planning process being controlled by the individual with a disability, with involvement by individuals of their choice from their personal network. There are numerous models of this type of planning available, and they are often used to guide career planning.
Personal Networks
The personal contacts from an individual’s family, friends, and other community relationships.


Rehabilitation Counselor
A person working for the state department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) who helps individuals with disabilities learn skills they can use to work in the community.


Individuals with disabilities speaking and/or acting for themselves to advocate for their own rights and needs. Self-advocacy groups for persons with developmental disabilities are growing across the United States.
Individuals having control over those aspects of life that are important to them, such as the services they receive, their career choices and goals, where they live, and which community activities they are involved with.
Developing a business ownership opportunity.
Service Coordinator or Case Manager
A person working for the state agency that serves individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities who manages all the different supports, including employment, for a person with a disability.
Sheltered Workshop (also called Facility-Based Employment)
A workplace just for people with disabilities. Work is contracted with businesses and people usually earn less than minimum wage.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Administration (SSA) cash income benefit for people determined by SSA to be disabled and who either: a) have previously worked and paid Social Security taxes (FICA) for enough years to qualify, or b) have a retired or deceased parent who has paid into the system. Eligibility for SSI is linked to eligibility for Medicare.
Social Security Work Incentives
The Social Security Administration provides benefits called work incentives that are designed to help individuals enter employment. The work incentives have been designed to support people to move toward financial independence by supporting continued access to health benefits or reducing the impact of earned income on benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Social Security Administration (SSA) cash income benefit for people determined by SSA to be disabled and who have low income and low resources. Eligibility for SSI also typically is linked to eligibility for Medicaid.
Supported Employment
A model of employment support that provides ongoing employment support both during the provision of ongoing support from an external source (e.g., a community rehabilitation provider or state agency) to an individual in a paid, community-based employment setting, where the majority of the workers do not have disabilities. Supported employment typically uses a job coach (also known as an employment specialist or consultant) to provide assistance on the job.


Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA)
Legislation that became effective in the year 2000, TWWIIA offers Social Security disability beneficiaries age 18 to 64 more choice in obtaining the services they need to help them go to work.
In the special education and rehabilitation fields, the process of a student’s movement from school-based, school-sponsored activities and services to community-based and/or adult services.
Transition Coordinator
Usually a school staff member, a transition coordinator is a person who organizes or manages a student’s transition plan. Transition planning usually begins around age 14 and is one component of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which charts educational goals and school-based support needs. Transition coordinator’s primary roles may be as teachers or IEP team leaders.
Transition Services
Support that students can receive when they are close to graduating from high school.


Work Crew
A small crew of persons with disabilities who work together, usually traveling to several different places in the community, under the supervision of a job coach.

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Date posted: May 22, 2012. Content created by The Institute for Community Inclusion at University of Massachusetts Boston. Last updated: March 21, 2018.

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