Webinar: Employment Success for People with Developmental and/or Mental Health Disabilities

audio version (opens in a new tab)


This week, I focus on a webinar about employment for people with two types of disabilities. On June 29, 2021, I attended a webinar offered by the

Mental Health and Developmental Disability National Training Center.

The training was entitled “MHDD Webinar Series– Effective Supports to Lead to Success on the Job: Toward Recovery and Empowerment”

It was stated at beginning of the event that the webinar recording will be available on the

MHDD National Training Center YouTube channel.

In this article, I will summarize what I learned.

Challenges for Employment

There are a variety of reasons why the number of people with developmental and/or mental health disabilities are not employed. Examples: bias in hiring process, fear of losing benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance or people with mental health/developmental disabilities not understanding expectations. Customized employment focuses on what skills a person with a disability has to contribute and find a business which can use those skills. By contrast, labor market employment focuses on the business’s perspective (what jobs are currently available). The presenter then focused on the importance of optimism for both employees and employers. Example: the job seeker can demonstrate confidence in how he/she can benefit a business. Focus then moved to a second presenter.

Strategies for Success

The second presenter focused on strategies which can enable on-the-job success. Internships can help both employers and employees. The employer receives first-hand experience interacting with people who have disabilities. Similarly, interns with disabilities gain experience discovering what they like to do vocationally. Additionally, a vocational rehabilitation agency can be a useful resource. Supportive employment (SE) can be more challenging than competitive employment. However, SE can be beneficial if implemented. According to the second presenter, SE success includes focusing on business need in addition to what the employee with a disability needs and can provide. Another success strategy for SE is networking. The presenter then shared two relevant videos.

Video 1

An employer providing an internship contacted a job coach to identify strategies for success. For example, it was important for the intern with a disability to learn about not raising voice at work. A job was created for the individual with a disability which helped a medical department to be more efficient. At the time the video was produced, the person had been successfully employed with the medical department for 5 years. The employee identified his own accommodation of writing down tasks he needed to do. A second video featuring another person with a disability was then shared.

Video 2

A person with a disability in the second video demonstrated clerical ability. An effective accommodation was a quiet environment because voice volume can be challenging for the individual. The narrator stated it is also beneficial to educate work colleagues about providing accommodations for people with disabilities. The second presenter then provided final comments.


Technology can help people with disabilities succeed. Example: reminder alarms can enable a person to focus on what needs to be done. Ultimately, the presenter said people with disabilities can choose to work. It is important to focus on family support and what an individual with disability needs for success. Bottom line: People with invisible can be successful on-the-job.


Question for readers: What was the most important you learned while reading this blog post? I will return next week with another article.

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