The quest for ordinary lives: The integrated post-school vocational functioning of fifty workers with significant disabilities

Authors: Browne, D. J. & Waghorn, G.
Year Published 2006
Publication Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities
Volume 31
Number 2
Pages 93-121
Publisher TASH Publishing

More individuals with significant disabilities are entering and exiting schools and outliving their parents than ever before. As these individuals age, many are presenting more longitudinal, complicated, and expensive difficulties than their chronological age peers (Bittles and Glasson, 2004).


The purposes of this study are to: (1) share information about the integrated vocational functioning of 50 adults with significant disabilities, (2( celebrate their vocational achievements, and (3) affirm the feasibility of integrated vocational functioning.


All participants were clients of Community Work Services, an employment services program in Madison Wisconsin.


The 50 participants were assisted into integrated jobs prior to 2005. The sample included individuals with a variety of disabilities, including autism, intellectual disabilities, and cerebral palsy. All were at least 15 years out of high school.

Data Collection

The data consisted of service records maintained by Community Work Services during the course of services. Additional information was collected from interviews with participants, family members, employers, and others.


There was no comparison condition.


Job retention ranged from 2 months to 27 years and 6 months. Job changes occurred for a variety of reasons, but primarily to enhance opportunities and create better job matches. Work hours ranged from 6 to 30.5 hr/week, with an average of 20.15 hr/week. Hourly wages averaged $5.76, six cents above the prevailing minimum wage at the time of placement.


The study findings provide evidence for the feasibility of integrated employment for individuals with severe disabilities in need of long-term employment supports.

Disabilities Autism Spectrum Disorder | Intellectual disabilities
Populations Male & Female | Urban
Outcomes Increase in tenure | Wages
Research Design Case reports
Peer Reviewed Yes