2003 Conference Proceedings

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Kendall Simmons
Computer Learning Center
Independence, Inc.
2001 Haskell
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: 785-841-0333
Email: kendalls@independenceinc.org


This presentation will describe how to develop and implement a successful job training and placement program that is in keeping with the independent living philosophy using the STEP-UP Job Training and Placement Program model.


The lack of employment opportunities for people with disabilities has long been a huge issue. Studies have shown that not only are persons with disabilities unemployed at a significantly higher rate than the able bodied, but that most persons with disabilities want to work but haven't had the opportunity to do so.

Job training and placement programs have been around for decades dealing with this very issue. On one hand are sheltered workshops, supported employment, job coaches. On the other are programs such as The Computer Training Program (CTP) and the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation (CPRF) who have developed school settings for training individuals with disabilities in subjects like advanced computer programming. However, most independent living centers - as well as many other agencies serving persons with disabilities - are not going to fall into either category, and yet are equally interested in providing effective employment services to their consumers.

Independence, Inc. is an independent living resource center in Lawrence, Kansas serving people with any sort of disability who wish to use our services. Among many other services, it has been providing people with computer training since 1987 but, as with so many other agencies, was not successful when it came to employment-related results. That has changed with the development of a new model for providing employment services. This presentation describes this new and successful model and how to go about implementing it.

The STEP-UP Job Training and Placement Program - A Model for Success

Developing a training and placement program, particularly one in keeping with the independent living philosophy of consumer-driven services, may be a challenge, but it is not one that is insurmountable. Indeed, this model provides a blueprint for establishing a successful program without an excessive outlay of funds and without having to be an expert in the field.

The model is divided into three main components - training/education, person-oriented skills, and opportunity development:

Training -

Person-oriented Skills -

Opportunity Development -

Measuring Success

Since implementing this model (which will be explained with examples and with questions from the audience during the presentation), the percentage of our employment-seeking students being offered employment has hovered around 90%, Vocational Rehabilitation service authorizations have skyrocketed, and the number of new consumers seeking our services has increased significantly. We are now in the process of expanding our training programs into two neighboring counties.

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