• Description

Early exposure to the workplace can improve the employment outcomes for persons with disabilities by enabling youth to develop employment skills and identify a career direction. Studies show that work-based learning experience, especially paid work integrated into curriculum, leads to improved postschool employment outcomes for all youth with disabilities, regardless of primary disability label or required level of support (Benz, Yovanoff, & Doren, 1997). Despite the demonstrated value of work-based learning experiences for youth with disabilities, participation in these experiences remains low (Colley & Jamison, 1998). It is clear that attention needs to be focused not only on workplace preparation of youth, but also on the workplaces themselves. Work-based learning experiences are based on available and willing employers. Examining employer perceptions of hiring and accommodating individuals with disabilities is an important consideration in making work-based learning opportunities available to youth with disabilities. This information can be used to improve the processes of establishing work-based experiences, identifying necessary workplaces supports, and eventually securing successful adult employment.