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Glossary of Disability & Employment Terms

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)

ACT programs offer comprehensive community adjustment services for people with mental illness through a coordinated team approach

Assistive Technology

Technology that assists individuals to participate in activities as independently as possible. This can include low-tech items (i.e., timers, organizational tools, calculators) as well as more advanced technology (i.e., wheelchairs, computers, talkers).

Clubhouse Program

A psycho-social rehabilitation program for individuals who have psychiatric disabilities, with an emphasis on participant control, working in conjunction with paid staff. Clubhouses often provide assistance with employment.

Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP)

A community-based agency, typically private and non-profit, that provides employment services to adults with disabilities. The majority of funding for most CRPs comes from government agencies and funding sources.


Terms typically used when referring to individuals who receive services from human service providers and agencies.

Employment Specialist

A staff member from a community agency who helps people with disabilities obtain employment. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term job coach


A group of individuals with disabilities who work in a community business with ongoing support and possibly supervision provided by rehabilitation agency staff.

Fairweather Lodges

Residential/vocational settings where groups of individuals with psychiatric disabilities live together and jointly operate small business ventures.

Functional Vocational Assessment

Identifies an individuals vocational interests and skills through the performance of job tasks in a variety of actual work environments in the community. Also known as a situational assessment.

Individualized Education Plan

A plan, mandated by law, that states the goals and services for a student for a period of up to but for no longer than one year (it is rewritten each year to reflect changes in the educational program). The school system is required to provide all services that are written into the IEP.

Natural Supports

Natural, supportive relationships that are fostered and developed among individuals with disabilities and non-disabled co-workers, classmates, activity participants, neighbors, etc. An emphasis in recent years in the disability field has been on using these relationships to support an individual with a disability, rather than relying on paid staff for assistance and support.

Person-Centered Planning

A planning process that focuses on the individual and his/her interests, strengths, and needs. Emphasis is placed on the planning process being controlled by the individual with a disability, with involvement by individuals of their choice from their personal network. There are numerous models of this type of planning available.

Provider Agency or Vendor

A private agency that offers residential, vocational, and/or support services that are purchased by state human service agencies.

Reasonable Accommodation

Change in an environment to meet the access needs of an individual in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Situational Assessment

See functional vocational assessment.

Supported Employment

The provision of ongoing support from an external source (e.g., a community rehabilitation provider or state agency) to an individual in a paid, community-based employment setting, where the majority of the workers do not have disabilities. Supported employment typically uses a job coach (also known as an employment specialist or consultant) to provide assistance on the job.


In the special education and rehabilitation fields, the process of a students movement from school-based, school-sponsored activities and services to community-based and/or adult services.

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Institute for Community Inclusion

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