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Disability and Economics

A Basis for Understanding


In order to better advance customized and supported employment opportunities for people with disabilities, we must recognize the positive relationship between disability and economics. We spend a great deal of our time thinking about funding, but we should also think about purchasing power, return-on-investment, and community strength. Both qualitative and quantitative data support the claim that customized supported employment is not only beneficial for individuals, but also for employers, tax-payers, and the community as a whole. Please check out the resources below to learn more about the positive relationship between disability and economics!

The Economics of Our Work

This presentation covers core topics such as:

  • The difference in the labor market and  customized employer engagement approaches

  • Understanding our work through Economic Development

  • Building and expanding on business networks during Covid-19

  • Practicing the art of conversation

  • Discovering unmet needs

Click the icon to download the presentation.

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Balancing Economics and Advocacy: UCEDDs’ Role in Increasing the Awareness and Importance of Competitive Integrated Employment

This paper states that public policy is integrally connected to economics, and to increase the rates of employment, self-determination, and inclusion, we must accept that language can put up more barriers than solutions. In this way, a UCEDD can function as translator, convener, and economic advocate. Some common methods of services advocacy juxtaposed with economic advocacy are covered.

Authored by: Doug Crandell, MFA, Director of Advancing Employment, IHDD for DETAC  -  May 2022

Click the icon or the link below to download.

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The Economic Approach to Job Development

Most job development is rote and based on the opportunities we believe exist in a local community rather than starting with a sense of abundancy, cooperation and curiosity. New approaches however should focus on both the micro-level (understanding a specific, local business) and the macro-level (using economic tools) to boost outcomes. This presentation will review current research with an eye on easy implementation tips to add to current employer engagement efforts.

Presented by: Doug Crandell, MFA, Director of Advancing Employment Technical Assistance Center, Institute on Human Development & Disability, Center of Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research & Service (UCEDD)

External Resources

The link above is a recorded webinar from the Institute for Educational Leadership. The panel focuses on the "benefits to the business community in serving customers with disabilities." People with disabilities possess considerable spending power. 

The link above from the United States Department of Labor has information and resources geared towards promoting an understanding of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The article above, by Judy Owen writing for Forbes, explores five principle issues: 1) Importance of Disability Employment Agencies & Disability Advocates 2) Persistence of Manager Bias 3) Lack of Promotion  4) Costs Associated with Workers with Disabilities and 5) Benefits Associated with Workers with Disabilities.

The publication above, by Sarah Zak Borgman for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, states that bringing people together in an environment that encourages and facilitates idea exchange is one of the most powerful communications strategies for driving change.

The information brief above from the LEAD Center provides the results of six focus groups conducted in 2015 under ODEP’s Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). The purpose of the focus groups was to garner the perspective of employers of various sizes, sectors, and locations who had hired individuals with disabilities into customized jobs

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