1. Ask to be the featured speaker at a regular Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting. Bring one of your students if he or she enjoys speaking to groups.

  2. Offer to speak or do the program for an adult service club, such as Rotary or Lions. Again, bring a student along if he or she would enjoy the experience.

  3. Provide your local Chamber with a list of students who are looking for work. Take out identifying information. List students' skills and availability. Ask the Chamber to publicize on its listserv to member businesses.

  4. Write an article or guest column for the local newspaper about your school's employment efforts (or invite a local reporter to visit and interview students.)

  5. Partner with your county's University Extension community development specialist to help develop school/business partnerships. Activities might include a career day or job shadows.

  6. Publicize your schools' employment program and supports available to employers in your chamber's newsletter.

  7. Invite employers and/or chamber staff to speak to your students.

  8. Invite your local Chamber to partner with you in hosting a Job Fair, or ensure that your students with disabilities are included in existing school/community employment efforts.

  9. Organize a World Café ( with school staff, and invite the broader community for an evening of conversation about how the community can improve efforts to employ youth with and without disabilities. For more information, see our paper in Teaching Exceptional Children.

  10. Strike up conversations when you patronize local businesses and facilities (libraries, municipal services) to engage new people in thinking about employment for students with disabilities.


  1. Partner with vocational staff and school leadership to include students with disabilities in existing employment opportunities: internships, school-to-work programs, job shadows and work for school credit.

  2. Connect with guidance counselors to share information with students and their families about current student job postings, as well as post-secondary options.

  3. Collaborate with guidance counselors to see if the career assessment tools they have would be useful for students with disabilities.

  4. Connect with general education and vocational teachers to place students with significant disabilities in coursework that fits their interests.

  5. Communicate with school board members and district leadership about the value and importance of existing or potential school programs to support youth with disabilities.

  6. Support students with disabilities who have participated in community activities and employment to present their experiences at a school board meeting or to district administrators.

  7. Connect with school club and sports sponsors and coaches on how students with disabilities can participate in school activities outside the classroom.

  8. Work with your district's special education leadership to develop or expand community-based options for students with disabilities.

  9. Look for ways students with disabilities can participate in school-based jobs that other students already do (e.g. library aides, office assistants, etc.)

  10. Work with paraprofessionals to look for new, more natural ways they can encourage interaction between students with and without disabilities in the classroom and throughout school contexts.


  1. Tell families about their son or daughter's successes you have observed in school and community settings

  2. Ask about the student's life outside school, including student schedules, preferences, challenges, and activities.

  3. Share success stories about students with disabilities who have had positive work and community experiences.

  4. Talk to families about the value of community and work experiences for students, both with and without disabilities.

  5. Ask families about their concerns.

  6. Communicate to families about the supports in place to increase the likelihood of student success.

  7. Invite families to be part of a futures planning process for a student.

  8. Introduce families to community people who will work with their son or daughter (e.g. employers, volunteer coordinators, co-workers, etc.)

  9. Discuss ways families can support their son or daughter to be successful in employment and other community settings.

  10. Share information with families about youth leadership opportunities, parent trainings, and other activities that can contribute to family engagement and youth success.


  1. Set up a regular time each week to check in with the student about how school is going, what they enjoy, what is hard, what kinds of goals and activities they would like to pursue, and what supports they think they need.

  2. Take a student out to lunch or for ice cream to get to know them better.

  3. Help students begin a scrap book of magazine pictures or photos that illustrate their strengths and interests.

  4. Ask students about what they are good at and how they like to spend their free time, as well as activities and opportunities they would like to try.

  5. Observe and connect with students in different settings (classroom, hallways, lunchroom, at home, in the community) to get a sense of what environments are supportive to the student, and which ones may be challenging.

  6. Suggest school activities the student might be interested in. Introduce the student to current members or accompany the student to make introductions.

  7. Invite and accompany students to potential places of employment and activities in the community to see what motivates or excites the student.

  8. Use person-centered planning tools (e.g. PATH, Maps, our planning tool) to talk with students to gather specific ideas for activities and opportunities that connect to their goals for the future.

  9. Use information gathered from futures planning when helping student choose courses for the coming year.

  10. Encourage students to talk about community employment, activities and interests at IEP meetings that can be linked to goals for the coming year and used in long-range transition planning.


  1. Provide youth with opportunities to try out different skills in order to get the right job "fit."

  2. Consider allowing youth to volunteer for a limited time, in order for them to explore skills and for the business to better understand the youth's capabilities.

  3. Consider job "carving," which is combining a certain set of duties across positions into a single job for a youth with a disability.

  4. Take advantage of resources that specialize in offering technical assistance on supporting people with disabilities on the job: Independent Living Centers, vocational rehabilitation, or the Job Accommodation Network website,

  5. Consider matching youth with mentors or role models on the job.

  6. Encourage connections between youth with disabilities and their co-workers: work get-togethers, eating lunch together, social outings.

  7. Think of co-workers as natural supports for small issues, such as reminders, locating necessary work-related items, etc.

  8. Get to know business owners who employ youth with disabilities. Ask them main items to consider and if they would be available to answer questions from other businesses interested in employing youth with disabilities.

  9. Ask your local chamber of commerce to keep a directory of organizations that employ youth with disabilities or have youth volunteers with disabilities.

  10. Consider alternative application methods: applying on tape instead of with a written application.

  11. If you're not sure the youth can do certain job duties, have them demonstrate their skills.

  12. If possible, offer flexible scheduling, which allows a youth with a disability to work at times that can work around personal care needs, and when that person can be most productive.

  13. Talk with colleagues about successes. Spread the word to other business owners and managers that hiring youth with disabilities can be both productive and mutually rewarding.

  14. Ask the youth what accommodations are necessary. People with disabilities often have the most creative and least expensive solutions.