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Helping severely handicapped persons enter competitive employment Paul Wehman Janet W. Hill Frances Koehler This paper addresses the issues involved in helping severely developmentally disabled individuals become placed in competitive employment. Based on the placement experiences of Project Employability, factors in job selection and in working with employers are described. The client's previous work history, functioning level, supplemental security income, living situation, transportation needs, and parent attitudes are identified as critical factors in selecting an appropriate job. Identification of an appropriate employer is discussed as well. Factors involved in this process include community job assessment, approaching the employer, establishing a training period, and conducting a job interview. The information in this article will facilitate job placement of severely disabled clients with limited work histories. The results of a number of recent studies suggest that severely devel opmentally disabled individuals can succeed in a sheltered work environment (e.g., Bellamy, Peterson, & Close, 1975; Gold, 1972,1974,1976; Karan, 1979; O'Neill & Bellamy, 1978; Wehman, Schutz, Renzaglia, and Karan, 1977). Although this is a positive development, it still falls considerably short of job placement into competi tive employment (Mithaug & Haring, 1976; Usdane, 1976). There are several reasons for this. First, few sheltered workshops pay the minimum wage, but rather The development and dissemination of this paper were supported by an Innovation and Expansion grant from Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services. AAESPH Review, 1979,4 (3), 274-290 Wehman, Hill, & Koehler 275 compensate on a piece-rate basis. Consequently, many workers earn only $20 to $80 per month, if that. Secondly, sheltered employment is primarily restrictive; that is, it includes only handicapped workers and therefore limited opportunities for interaction with nonhandicapped individuals. Sheltered employment unfort; unately perpetuates programming in segregated settings. Furthermore, in sheltered work shops there are rarely the full spectrum of fringe benefits (i.e. Blue Cross) which are available in many competitive employment situations. A final limitation of sheltered employment is that it is often a needlessly terminal placement for many individuals. It becomes terminal because the skilled employee is a critical part of the production process and invariably is "carrying" several less productive workers. Therefore, the workshop supervisor may be reluctant to move the worker out of the shop and into competitive employment. The purpose of this article is to describe the factors involved in helping severely developmental^ disabled individuals enter competitive employment. Through Proj ect Employability, a project funded by the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services, we have been working with moderately to severely retarded adults who heretofore have been excluded from vocational rehabilitation services because of their lack of demonstrated employment potential. This project uses an on-the-job training model by which a trainee is placed from a local adult activity center into a job opening in the community and supervised on a continual but gradually decreasing basis by project staff. The project staff member helps assure the employer that the job will be completed even during the initial stages of training and assures the trainee and his family that the skills needed for employment will be acquired. As the prospective employee's performance reaches appropriate standards, the employer may then exercise his option to officially hire the trainee. Extensive follow-up services are continued by the project staff. (The reader interested in more informa tion is referred to Wehman and Hill, 1979.) This paper is based on experiences which we have had in using this model to place severely disabled individuals. It is directed to special and vocational education teachers, job coordinators, and rehabili tation counselors. It is divided into sections on job selection and working with employers. Several representative cases are provided to highlight the training, placement, and follow-up processes. FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN JOB SELECTION There are numerous client-related variables that must be evaluated before job placement. Because potential job openings for severely disabled individuals are often difficult to locate, program staff are frequently tempted to decide arbitrarily which trainee is most suited for placement in a rare job opening rather than search for job specifications which most suit a given individual. In this regard, Mithaug, Hagmeier, and Haring (1977) note: We can begin by focusing upon one job at a time, rather than trying to analyze the entire job market at once. Also, we should specify the most probable job placements for our client's immediate career. Finally, we can analyze the job situation of selected placements, noting and listing the work skills and habits necessary for entry . . . . Unfortunately, information on methods to use in this assessment is not available. All we can suggest is that the focus be on the job supervisor, (p. 91 ) 276 AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 There are several other factors which are essential to identify the most appropriate job for a severely handicapped client. Client's Previous Work History Systematic vocational instruction for severely handicapped individuals has been in practice only in recent years (e.g., Bellamy, Horner, & Inman, 1979). Therefore, an examination of the previous work record of a severely handicapped adult will frequently yield a history of successive failures. The severely handicapped have, in the past, been dismissed from public school vocational education pro grams, sheltered workshops, and even community-based activity centers under the rationale that progress was not possible. However, even a record of failure may provide important information when considering job placement. Through this record, specific breakdowns in programming can be identified. Examples of this might include client preference for certain reinforcers, lack of seizure control, or volatile behavior problems which occur under different conditions. An investigation of previous work may be done by initially surveying the follow ing sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Parents and family members School personnel Rehabilitation intake workers and counselors Case managers or social workers assigned to the trainee Written records from schools, activity centers, or workshops These sources frequently document some aspect of the trainee's previously at tained production rates, quality of work, length of work history, and level of indepen dence in a work setting. The work attitude of the trainee as well as the family's attitude toward work and transportation needs may also be available. An analysis of this information, which is admittedly not always a valid predictor of job success, can nevertheless help the job coordinator avoid the mistakes which may have been made earlier and prepare for previously exhibited vocational problems. Client Functioning Level and Physical Characteristics Once previous job history information has been accumulated, the client's functioning level should be carefully analyzed. For example, Mithaug and Hagmeier's (1978) Prevocational Assessment Checklist is one possible assessment tool to use. Though this tool was designed for sheltered workshops, it has numerous items which would be equally appropriate for those entering competitive employ ment. The interested reader might also consult the vocational behavior checklists listed by Walls and Werner (1977). From this screening, a list of job categories or types of jobs which most suit the trainee's competencies can be generated. The following client characteristics influence the type and length of job placement: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Frequency of on-task behavior Degree of independent mobility Communication skills Degree of self-initiated work behavior Appropriateness of social skills Presence of concomitant handicaps (i.e., vision impairment) Wehman, Hill, & Koehler 277 Clearly, certain jobs required more of certain abilities than others. For example, in order to pick up trash and bag it on a college campus, independent walking and orienting skills are required but well-developed social skills might not be necessary. On the other hand, in order to operate a utility elevator in a large hospital, ambulation skills could be impaired but number identification and selection, fine motor skills, and social skills should be well-developed. There are other, more subtle variables in the characteristics of the trainee which may be critical for the ultimate success of a placement. As with nonhandicapped workers, certain trainee personality and physical characteristics, when mixed with certain personality traits of the immediate supervisor, are related to job success and ease of adjustment to a new work setting. The easiest way of analyzing the interac tion of these factors is to have program staff spend time in the work setting before making the placement. It is usually necessary to consider the group dynamics, the flexibility or rigidity of the supervisor, the age and openness of the coworkers, and whether other handicapped personnel are present to help make some judgment as to whether a given trainee will be accepted within a given job site. If supervisors have had previous experiences with disabled employees, and these experiences were positive, there is usually a better opportunity for making the placement. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) One frequently cited obstacle to job placement of the handicapped is the threat of losing guaranteed financial aid payments from the government. Although these payments are relative low ($189.40 per month, if no other earned income, as of July, 1978), parents and sometimes clients themselves often prefer the arrival of a guaranteed check each month rather than risk job placement. In addition, if the SSI benefits are reduced to zero dollars per month according to local and federal deduction formulas, Medicaid benefits are also lost. The loss of Medicaid can be serious for those individuals who require a great deal of medication, in that Medicaid pays all but 500 on every prescription. However, other than this area, a good medical insurance plan as part of employment provides equal or better medical coverage for the working individual. Placement personnel realize that this aspect of the employment process is a serious concern to all involved, and reduction of financial aid due to employment must be fully explained to the family. If the client and family understand these procedures, they will find that during the first 12 months of employment there is little risk of permanently losing all forms of monthly income. That is, if the job is termi nated, SSI benefits can be readjusted to the pre-employment level within 10 to 60 days during the first year of employment. After the first year of work, the handi capped person must reapply for benefits if employment is terminated. If an individual clearly must retain Medicaid benefits, it would be wise to arrange for part-time empoyment rather than a full-time job. In this way, the part-time employee, depend ing upon the rate of pay, would probably retain some portion of SSI benefits and, therefore, remain eligible for Medicaid coverage. For persons who are ready or desire full-time work, it is a policy of the Project to only make placements in jobs where full medical benefits are available or to insure that the individual purchases a medical insurance plan when no benefits are available with a job. Table 1 shows a written fact sheet which Project Employability provides to the client and family regarding the effects of employment on SSI benefits. 278 AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 Table 1 The effects of employment on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When a disabled person who is receiving SSI benefits takes a job, the federal government does not view this person as suddenly rehabilitated or no longer requiring benefits, but rather the disabled person is viewed as "working regardless of his or her impairment." This is an important statement because it indicates that the government is well aware that this person is still disabled and that if the current job does not work out, the handicapped individual may again require SSI benefits. In fact, the government automatically sets aside a 9- to 12-month job adjustment period during which the benefits can be quickly reinstated (within 10 to 60 days) if the person's new job is terminated, for whatever reasons. This grace period indicates that the government encourages the handicapped individual to try to hold down a job, but it also realizes that a handicapped person is handicapped for life. The government, therefore, understands that if job requirements change and the person loses the job, he or she may again require and fully deserve SSI benefits. However, if the job is lost after a 12-month period, the disabled person must reapply for benefits. Reinstatement of benefits would then require approximately 3 months before a check would be received. It would be wise for the disabled working person to save a small portion of his or her earnings each month in the event that the job would be lost after the 12-month adjustment, in order to carry the person through this possible 3-month period of no income. • What must be done regarding SSI when the disabled person is employed? The local social security office must be notified immediately regarding this change in employment status. The easiest way of accomplishing this is to obtain a statement from the employer describing the new employee's hours of work per week and the rate of pay per week. Project Employability staff will arrange for this statement. The statement must be taken to any local Social Security office in order that the benefits can be reexamined in view of this information. The next monthly check should be reduced. If it is not, notify the Social Security office immediately to find out why the reduction did not occur. The Social Security office may have "overpaid" you and, if so, they will request that the overpaid amount be returned later. Therefore, be certain that the first check received after employment is reduced. Client Living Situation and Transportation Needs The client's living situation is another factor which can play an important role in job selection. For example, the distance of the job from the trainee's home must enter into the decision to seek employment with a given company. Transportation is usually a problem, because most severely disabled individuals cannot drive and may not be able to use public transportation. Thus, transportation must be worked out by the job coordinator, rehabilitation counselor, parents, and any other agencies which are involved with the client. Here is a hierarchy of alternatives to work out this potential obstacle to placement: 1. Consider whether a placement which is close enough for client to walk to is available. Wehman, Hill, & Koehler Table 1 279 (Continued) • Will the handicapped person lose all SSI benefits due to employment? SSI benefits are reduced according to a person's income. Handicapped per sons can earn income without losing all benefits ($65 to $85 in earnings per month are allowed before any reduction); however, if the person holds down a full-time job at minimum wage, the benefits will probably be reduced to zero for as long as the person remains on the job. When the Social Security office receives the statement from the employer regarding earnings, a reviewer will figure the necessary reductions to the current SSI payment. Remember, the check can be increased rapidly if the job is terminated by simply notifying the local social security office. • How does employment affect Medicaid? As long as the new employee remains eligible for some reduced portion of SSI payments, even if only a few dollars a month, the person will still receive Medicaid benefits. Thus, a person who is working full-time will probably no longer be eligible for SSI or Medicaid while he/she remains on the job. However, again, both benefits can be regained if the person leaves or is terminated from the job. In addition, Project Employability only places disabled persons in jobs where they receive full medical benefits with a full-time position; therefore, the loss of Medicaid benefits while working with insurance should not alter the person's medical coverage. In fact, a good medical insurance plan gained through employment provides equal or better medical coverage for the working individual. • What are the financial benefits of employment vs. the receipt of SSI benefits? 1. If full-time employment is gained even at minimum wage, the employee's income will increase from the maximum SSI benefit of $189.40 to at least $424.00 per month (gross salary) and full medical insurance coverage is provided. 2. If part-time employment is obtained, some portion of the SSI payment will continue each month and Medicaid benefits will also continue. Therefore, the employee will receive salary and SSI payments. 3. With employment, the disabled person becomes eligible for regular Social Security income in the future due to his/her contributions from earnings. 2. Complete bus training if public transportation is available and feasible. 3. Investigate whether the area has a bus or van which is used to help disabled or senior citizens get around the community. 4. Have a coworker pick up trainee and take him home; work out an equitable pay situation. 5. Have parents form a car pool with parents of other trainees, if possible. 6. Have parents take the individual to work. Unquestionably, transportation can be a major stumbling block. The job coordinator initially may have to participate in the actual transporting of the trainee. Once the individual is formally hired and is being paid regularly, parents and other coworkers may view him in a more credible light and therefore make a greater commitment 280 AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 toward helping with transportation. The type of home in which the trainee resides will also influence the job selection process. As Schalock and Harper (1978) note, the disabled individual's physical grooming, clothing care, eating and sleeping habits, and financial re sources are important variables in the competitive employment process. The indi vidual's competence in these areas may vary depending on whether he lives in the family home, a group home, a boarding house, or residential facility. To take this factor one step further, consider a family of three. The parents are in their late sixties with a father who is physically incapacitated, and they have a severely retarded son in his midthirties. Assume the son has an opportunity to work as a kitchen laborer at $3 an hour for a nearby restaurant for 40 hours a week. However, the only work shift available is 5:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Transportation may pose a real dilemma for the parents; equally important, the job would severely interrupt the normal life style in the home. These are real concerns which a job coordinator must face in placing severely disabled adults with limited work histories, and sometimes an ideal job match cannot be made because of these realities. The job coordinator's role must be one of problem solving —to reduce as many barriers to job placement and job retention as possible. The arrangement of feasible hours and some form of transportation to the job are critical initial factors. Client and Parent Attitudes As already noted, many severely developmentally disabled individuals have experienced more than one disappointment from unkept promises made through previous programs. Therefore, the idea of job placement is frequently met with much skepticism on the part of the parents or guardians. Indeed, the client's attitude may also reflect that of the parents. The "I don't want a job" philosophy often stems from the fact that the individual has learned from his or her parents that it is not necessary to work. If this is the case, job placement personnel must assu re the entire family that the objectives and techniques of the program are sound and that the prospective employee deserves the dignity of risk (Perske, 1972). We have found several factors which may help persuade reluctant families: 1. Assurance of continual daily on-the-job supervision and "in-servicing" of nonhandicapped coworkers and supervisors provided by program staff. 2. Assurance that the trainee's placement spot in his current sheltered-type program will be kept open for an extended period if the job placement does not work out. 3. Careful explanation of the rules and regulations governing the Supplemental Social Security Income which most severely disabled persons receive and which will be halted after 9 to 12 months of full-time employment. 4. Careful explanation of the amount of weekly wages and fringe benefits which will now be available to the individual. After the parents and client consent to job placement, they should be involved in the initial planning, including discussing the location of the job, the type of work required, and any special employer requirements. The location of the job may be a particular source of fear for the families of women. For example, we have found that parents of several women did not want their daughters to be placed in a job Wehman, Hill, & Koehler 281 downtown. If the job coordinator cannot give definite assurances regarding the long-term safety of the client, then certainly the parents' wishes must be viewed as realistic concerns. The trainee and the parents should be clearly informed as to the type of work and its requirements prior to placement (e.g., crew work vs. working alone, hours, clothing required). Parents should also be made aware of any changes in job responsibilities as they occur. Frequent communication will help families remain informed and avoid poten tially embarrassing incidents, where parents contact the employer concerning the job requirements imposed on the trainee. Even with daily communication, however, some parents may call the employer unnecessarily. As with most companies and government organizations, the employer is largely concerned that the employee is performing the job adequately; there is not usually time available to counsel worried or overprotective parents. Furthermore, this tends to cast a negative light on the trainee, who may subsequently be viewed as less independent. In short, the job coordinator must function not only in training and placement but must provide systematic supervision and follow-up once the placement is made. Furthermore, it is critical that the job coordinator serve as a mediator between the employer's needs, client's capabilities, and parent's wishes. IDENTIFICATION OF AN APPROPRIATE EMPLOYER Once relevant factors which influence the job selection process have been assessed, it is necessary to select an appropriate employer. This includes (a) se lection of the company and organization which the job coordinator and client will apply to, (b) information on how to approach .employers initially and overcome the misconceptions and problems which many employers have about retarded workers, and (c) establishment of an extended field training and evaluation. Community Job Assessment A survey of available community jobs must be initiated as the first step in locating a place of employment for the client. This may be facilitated through screening newspaper want ads for low skilled or nonskilled employment opportuni ties. Descriptions to look for within ads include "Will train" or "No experience necessary." The types of jobs may vary from location to location. However, there will usually be those which fall under categories such as food service, groundskeeping, and maintenance. Although these are but a few of the types of jobs disabled individuals can perform, they have proven to be ones in which severely devel opmental^ disabled individuals can excell (Becker, 1976). There are other means of screening the community for jobs as well. For example, reviewing the yellow pages in local phone books may yield major contrac tors in targeted occupational categories. Personal contacts within companies or organizations which have relevant jobs should also be used if appropriate. The National Alliance of Business (NAB) usually has a local branch which may prove helpful, since they receive many job pledges from business and industry every year. Most states have an employment commission which receives a listing of job vacan cies that may be appropriate as well. 282 AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 We have found, as others have (Rusch, Thompson, Sowers, & Connis, 1979), however, that universities, colleges, hospitals, and other large institutions are most fruitful in terms of job placement for severely disabled individuals. This type of employment has several advantages. First, they typically have a high turnover in the types of jobs which severely disabled persons can perform. Second, they are frequently committed to hiring handicapped individuals. Third, the pay and benefits are frequently quite desirable. Finally, it may be most efficient to assign one teacher or job coordinator to the same job site and gradually increase the number of trainees. As a trainee becomes increasingly competent at the job, a second individual can be introduced with the same employer. This process can continue until quite a few trainees have been hired if the employer is a large enough institution. Once several job leads have been identified, the next step is to follow through by making an initial telephone contact. This can be facilitated by a social contact or someone already working in the company who is willing to talk to the employer before the phone call. The Director of Personnel is the logical contact person in most cases. In our experience, an honest, yet optimistic, approach is best received. A brief explanation of the program in general terms should be followed by asking if the company would consider allowing a mentally retarded person to train for the adver tised position or a similar one. At times, employers may have jobs which were not advertised but which may be more appropriate for the client. During the telephone call, the employer will have an overall reaction which may be positive, negative, or cautiously positive. In most cases it is best to avoid the negative employers and concentrate on the positive ones. To a certain degree, this will be influenced by the type and number of appropriate job vacancies which an employer has. An interview date should be set as soon as possible with the employer who appears to be receptive. Approaching the Employer The initial personal contact is critical in terms of making a placement. It is du ring this stage that the program, clients' abilities, and staff's training capabilities, as well as the generally positive aspects of hiring mentally retarded workers, are described. This contact will also give the job coordinator an opportunity to find outwhat other job possibilities are available and what the prevailing sentiment is toward hiring disabled clients. Some employers, unfortunately, have had disappointments in attempting to work with other programs for the handicapped. These disappointments may be expressed in terms of "The counselor only came the first day" or "No one else was here to teach us how to work or communicate with him" or "They came the first day with the teacher and we never heard from them again." During the initial contact, it is important to dispell these concerns and point out the differences between the present training program and others. The sincerity demonstrated during this time must be kept to establish a good future working relationship with the company or organization. It is necessary to keep in mind that interacting with businesspeople is not the same as interacting with special educators and rehabilitation personnel. Mentally retarded clients' capabilities must be presented in general descriptive terms. Their potential benefit to the company must be presented in business terms, Wehman, Hill, & Koehler 283 such as the predominantly positive track record which retarded workers have after initial supervision, and tax benefits to the employer of disabled persons ("Tax breaks .. . ," 1979). If the employer has a positive attitude toward the program and future placements, then a trial training period may be negotiated. Establishing a Training Period The establishment of a training period may take place during the initial personal contact or during future contacts. It is not unlikely that several more contacts may be needed before agreement on the training period is reached. This is especially likely with larger businesses with extensive personnel division hierarchies. Approval needs to be given from the Director of Personnel down through the immediate foreman or supervisor. The length of the training period should be based on the clients' abilities, prior training, job surroundings, and skills involved. The training period may be viewed as extended training from the classroom or workshop and hence be nonpaid for a short period of time, or the client may be brought on the payroll immediately. In some cases National Association for Retarded Citizens (NARC) funds may be used for on-the-job training, or rehabilitation counselors may provide funds to reimburse employers. For rehabilitation funds to be used, however, the counselor must be convinced of the trainee's employment potential. This is usually quite difficult with severely retarded individuals, who have been previously excluded in most cases. The training period should be presented to the potential employer and parents as a predictor of the client's ability to perform the job accurately and within the specified time frame. Ideally, the immediate supervisor will agree to directly observe the trainee at certain periods throughout training. In this way the company will be aware of the progress which the trainee is making. Furthermore, the supervisor can advise the job coordinator in ways that the job may be completed more efficiently. The job coordinator must keep careful, objective records of the trainee's progress. These may include: 1. Observations at different times of the day of on-task versus off-task behav ior. 2. Recording at different intervals during the day of frequency and type of trainer prompts required. 3. Recording at the end of each day of the client's general work behaviors. These include absenteeism, tardiness, appearance, and social behavior with the supervisor and coworkers. These data should also be collected after the hiring at selected follow-up intervals. This information will document the success of the trainee, pave the way for other clients, and cite areas where immediate intervention can avoid future difficulties (e.g., inappropriate social behavior). The training period is a time when the job coordinator and supervisor can work together in helping the client (Cooper, 1977). To a large extent, the rapport between the supervisor and trainee will facilitate his hiring as well as the hiring of future trainees. The job coordinator's role in this process is two-fold. One, there may be a demonstration of how to most effectively work with the trainee. The caution here is to not work with the client to the exclusion of the real supervisor; if this occurs, there 284 AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 may be difficulties in maintaining work performance once the job coordinator leaves. The second function of the job coordinator is to be an effective advocate for the trainee with other individuals in the setting. This may include getting media support, explaining the client's role in the work force to others in the work environment who are not informed, or simply helping the trainee become adjusted to unfamiliar work surroundings. The Job Interview After the training period is established, a time for an interview between super visor, trainee, and staff member must be set. The interview should take place after the trainee has had formal interview training. The job coordinator should only enter the discussion if the trainee's interview abilities break down, as in the case of some nonverbal clients. The following job interview skills should be stressed in preplacement training: 1. 2. 3. 4. Eye contact upon introductions. Good body posture when standing and sitting. Firm handshake and release after appropriate time has passed. Ability to respond to typical interview questions; i.e. "How are you?" "Have you worked before?" Although lack of proficiency in any of these skills will not necessarily preclude placement, it will considerably enhance the trainee's chances of being hired if there is evidence of good interview behavior and a neat appearance. REPRESENTATIVE CASE STUDIES DEMONSTRATING VOCATIONAL POTENTIAL The three case studies below provide data to support our on-the-job training efforts made in competitive employment situations. To date, Project Employability has placed 15 clients (Wehman & Hill, 1979). Momentary time-sample data are collected four times a day (four sessions) in 5-minute intervals on client on-task behavior. The number of trainer prompts and type of prompt (verbal assistance, gestural assistance, or physical assistance) is also recorded during four 10-minute intervals daily on each client. Chuck Chuck is a 23-year-old noverbal male who had been attending a local adult activity center for several years when Project Employability began to work with him. Chuck resides at home and, although his measured IQ is reported to be 27, he is very social and out-going. Project Employability trained Chuck in kitchen utility skills and placed him in a local university cafeteria. Chuck had never been placed on a rehabilitation counselor caseload because of his apparent lack of vocational potential. In fact, during his preplacement training he was observed by a local counselor and still considered unable to work produc tively. Because Chuck lives at home, his father is able to take him to and pick him up from work each day. Wehman, Hill, & Koehler 285 Chuck's independent living skills were also deficit, especially in functional academics, i.e. use of telephone and meaningful expressive communication. He continues to require training in these areas. Chuck had never worked before. Here is the summary of Chuck's evaluation data: Previous Rehabilitation Status: Considered too difficult for counselor caseload Dafe Hired: October, 1978 Absences and Tardiness: None Percent of Time On-Task: 85.9% Average Frequency of Trainer Prompts: 1.47 verbal prompts per session .64 gestural or physical prompts per session Total Wages: $1615 Comprehensive Fringe Benefits: Yes Supervisor Evaluations: Positive except for occasional appearance problems. Figure 1 depicts Chuck's daily work behavior. Jack Jack is a 33-year-old, profoundly deaf male who is classified as severely retarded. Jack spent the majority of his life in a large state institution for the mentally retarded. He had been deinstitutionalized for approximately 20 days before he was referred to the Project. Jack uses some unrefined sign language; however, he communicates largely through grunts and gestures. In addition, mild to moderate spasticity is evident with some accompanying involuntary movements. On occasion, Jack exhibits the noncompliant behavior of turning away from the trainer when his routine is altered. Jack received some vocational training within the institution and apparently he was placed on a 1 - to 2-hour a day job at a night club while residing in the facility. • = VERBAL PROMPTS o» GESTURE .MODEL OR PHYSICAL PROMPT(S) f 8 ω Ξ * «0 -5 IO Ι5 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 SESSIONS Figure 1 Percentage ottime on-task and number of prompts required persample session for Chuck. 286 AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 However, no records of performance or earned wages have been received from the institution or rehabilitation staff to date. Project Employability staff placed Jack in a 1 -month nonpaid training position in a large university cafeteria as a pot scrubber. This job consists of preparing sinks and pots for wash, scrubbing pots, rinsing, sanitizing, and putting items in their proper place. Related jobs included use of the garbage disposal, emptying trash, and sweeping and mopping sink area. Jack's training consisted of the use of gestural prompts, modeling, physical prompts, and some sign language, although Jack's repertoire is limited in this area. Jack was reinforced with smiles, gestures, and pats on the back for favorable job performance. When noncompliance occurs, all activity is halted until Jack complies with the trainer, unless the supervisor or coworkers require an immediate response or task to be completed. Jack was recently hired after 4 weeks of training on a part-time basis. The data below are primarily from Jack's nonpaid training period. Previous Rehabilitation Status: Ready for work adjustment training Date Hired: March, 1979 Absence and Tardiness: Zero absences; however, three times tardy due to bus training errors. Percent of Time On-Task: 98.12% Average Frequency of Prompts: 3.64 gestures, models, or physical prompts. Comprehensive Fringe Benefits: None, due to part-time status Supervisor Evaluation: Positive but some concern about involuntary movements. Figure 2 indicates Jack's progress during nonpaid training. Ned Ned is a 35-year-old man with Down's syndrome. He is classified as moderately to severely retarded with an IQ of 41 ; however, Ned moves very slowly when performing any behavior. This aspect of his functioning is his greatest disability and decreases his proficiency on all tasks. Ned worked in a sheltered workshop for several years but was laid off several years ago due to low production rates. Since that time he has attended an activity center program for mentally retarded adults in a church. Project Employability had previously placed Ned in two different job types; both placements were unsuccessful due to Ned's slowness. The first was a groundsman's position as a trash stabber on a large college campus, and the second was a food service utility worker. On the first job, Ned was hired and received wages; however, after 3 months of training, the Project staff and the employer agreed mutually that Ned simply could not complete the job adequately due to lack of speed. Ned then received 2 weeks training in food service; however the employer did not have an opening for Ned at that time. The Project staff members then searched for a position which was more appropriate for Ned. Ned has recently been placed in a potscrubber's position for a small, slow-paced kitchen at a nursing home. He was placed on the payroll on his first day of training. He is responsible for the sink area only, in preparing pots and sinks, scrubbing pots, and putting them away. The employer has stated that speed is not the most essential factor; thoroughness is critical. Wehman, Hill, & Koehler 100 90 Θ0 * 70 ° 287 ■"ΛΛ> 50 ■ UJ ϊ 40 S? 30 ■ 20 ■ 10 0 GESTURE, MODEL OR PHYSICAL PROMPTS IO SESSIONS Figure 2 Percentage ottime on-task and number of prompts required per sample session for Jack. His training thus far has included 100% trainer supervision and the use of verbal, gestural, modeling, and physical prompts. Ned is reinforced for proficiency and speed with verbal approval and pats on the back. The data below are a composite report of the three training placements: Previous Rehabilitation Status: 28-Services closed Date(s) Hired: Groundsman, October, 1978 to January, 1979; pot scrubber, March, 1979 Absences and Tardiness: Zero in over 75 days of work and training. Average Percent of On-Task Behavior: Groundsman =90.09% per session Food service utility =93.50% per session Pot scrubber =85% Average Number of Prompts: Groundsman =1.41 verbal prompts; .46 gestures, models or physical prompts per session Food service utility =4.86 verbal prompts; 2.05 gestures, models, or physical prompts per session Pot scrubber =8 verbal prompts; 7 gestures, models, or physical prompts per session Total Wages Earned: $871.20 as a groundsman for 2 months of full-time paid work; 1 week of part-time work as a pot scrubber ($2.90 per hour). Comprehensive Fringe Benefits: None, due to part-time status Supervisor Evaluation: Groundsman =negative due to speed Food service=Positive Pot Scrubber=Not yet received. Figure 3 indicates Ned's progress in each job. 288 * Ï lg LÜ g ^ AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 90; 80: 7060 : 50 40^ 30 2010 v rv ^ 1/ g % o et CL V v Γ 1 o- , -^M/V — 1 24 η 22 : 20 : 18: 16 10. 1 6 2 4 20- · VERBAL o GESTURE, MODEL OR PHYSICAL PROMPT(S) : 5 Λ,/ ^ w X^ùr^AJ^ ^.J& 10 15 20 25 N PROMPTS \ M A 1 |4- er POT SCRUBBER FOOD SERVICE UTILITY WORKER 30 35 40 45 50 SESSIONS 55 . r\à 60 65 70 75 80 85 Figure 3 Percentage of time on-task and numberof prompts required per sample session for Ned. CONCLUDING REMARKS This paper is concerned with aiding the entry of severely handicapped persons into competitive employment. It has been our experience that even the most sophis ticated pre- and postemployment training technology cannot lead to the severely handicapped individual's employment if the factors and potential barriers noted above are not seriously considered on an on-going basis. Although not all of the points described here will always play a part in job placement and retention, many of them will. These points represent the need for a unique combination of behavioral training (e.g., teaching job interview skills), coun seling skills (e.g., interacting with parents and employers), knowledge of job market (e.g., community job assessment), and interagency cooperation (e.g., working with NARC, NAB, or Social Security Administration) as necessary components of a placement model. For teachers in special education classrooms, this suggests a unique challenge of training outside classroom walls; similarly, those in community-based adult programs must begin to evaluate training models other than those which provide only sheltered employment. Although this paper demonstrates the generic and sometimes overwhelming program needs for successful job place ment of the more severely handicapped, the results of this program over the last year have been most encouraging. In all, 15 previously unemployed persons have been successfully placed in competitive employment. Wehman, Hill, & Koehler 289 REFERENCES Becker, R. Job training placement for retarded youth: A survey. Mental Retardation, 1976, 74(3), 7-9. Bellamy, G. T., Horner, R. & Inman, D. Vocational habilitation of severely retarded adults. Baltimore: University Park Press, 1979. Bellamy, G. T., Peterson, L, & Close, D. W. Habilitation of the severely and profoundly retarded: Illustrations of competence. Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded, 1975, 10, 174-86. Cooper, B. Occupational help for the severely disabled: A public school model. Rehabilitation Literature, 1977, 38(3), 67-74. Gold, M. W. Stimulus factors in skill training of the retarded on a complex assembly task: Acquisition, transfer, and retention. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 1972, 76, 517-526. Gold, M. W. Redundant cue removal in skill training for the mildly and moderately retarded. 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Manuscript submitted for publication, 1979. Wehman, P., & Hill, J. W. (Eds.). Vocational training and placement of severely disabled persons (Vol. 1), Richmond: School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1979. Wehman, P., Schutz, R., Renzaglia, A., & Karan, O. C. The use of positive practice training in work adjustment with two profoundly retarded adolescents. Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 1977, 74(3), 14-22. 290 AAESPH Review, Fall, 1979 Paul Wehman is Assistant Professor, Division of Educational Services, Virginia Common wealth University, and Principal Investigator, Project Employability, Richmond, Virginia 23284; Janet W. Hill is Coordinator, Project Employability, Richmond, Virginia 23284; Frances Koehler is a graduate student in the Division of Educational Services, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23284.