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Common Questions About Supported Employment

Here at SMART Options, we receive a lot of questions about supported employment, hiring people with disabilities, and how exactly our disability services in Kamloops work. And we love answering them!


We think it’s so important that people take the time to learn more about people with disabilities and the importance and benefits of inclusive hiring—especially Kamloops employers who are interested in diversifying their workforce with inclusive hiring. 

People with diverse abilities can make great contributions to workplaces, and deserve to receive fair pay for fair work if they wish to enter the labour force. 


Here are some common questions about supported employment to help you better understand what it is we do here at SMART Options, and why we do it!

Questions About Supported Employment: SMART Options FAQ

What is a developmental disability?

The term “developmental disability” envelopes a variety of chronic conditions that arise during the developmental stages (before adulthood) and typically last the entire lifetime. These conditions may impair one’s physical and/or cognitive abilities and can impact day-to-day functioning. Things like movement, learning, problem-solving, social skills, behaviour, or speech may be affected.

What are the most common types of developmental disabilities? Some include:


  • Motor disorders (such as Tourettes or cerebral palsy)

  • Learning disabilities (such as dyslexia)

  • Autistic spectrum disorders 

  • Down syndrome

  • ADHD

  • Intellectual disability

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

  • Pervasive developmental disorder

  • Hearing or vision impairment

  • Rett syndrome

  • Spina bifida

  • Behaviour disorders


Some of these conditions—such as ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and other learning disabilities—are more recently being categorized as “neurodivergent” rather than as a disability. 


Developmental disabilities (and neurodiversity) vary in their impact and severity, and some are more obvious and debilitating than others. 


It’s important to note that just because someone has a developmental disability or is neurodivergent, it does not necessarily mean they aren’t capable of accomplishing the same things as someone without a disability such as going to school, having a career, being in fulfilling relationships, or having a family. It all depends on the severity and the level of support, understanding, and accommodation that they receive. 

How many people have a developmental disability? 

According to Statistics Canada, 22% of the Canadian population aged 15+ had one or more disabilities in 2017. That’s one in five people, or about 6.3 million people total.


People with disabilities were also less likely to be employed (59%) compared to those without disabilities (80%). Of people with disabilities aged 25-64 who were unemployed, 39% had the potential to work (that’s nearly 645,000 people who could be employed).

Can people with developmental disabilities work?

Yes! Depending on their abilities, many people with disabilities can have a job that is fulfilling for both the employee and the employer. 


The employer may need to make some accommodations, but people with diverse abilities are known to be great employees who are reliable, positive, helpful, and remain employed with the company for a long time. 


Here is one of many inclusive hiring success stories from right here in Kamloops! 

Why is it hard for a person with a disability to get a job?

There are several reasons why people with diverse abilities struggle to find or keep employment beyond the disability itself, including:


  • A negative stigma/lack of understanding around those with disabilities.

  • A lack of support that’s needed to find and keep employment.

  • A lack of accommodation from employers.

  • The struggle of finding and obtaining a job that suits their skills and interests.

  • A lack of support for employers who aren’t sure how to go about hiring or training employees with disabilities.

What are the benefits of hiring someone with a disability?

There are several benefits of hiring people with developmental disabilities! Not only are you helping to improve someone’s life, but inclusive hiring improves company culture, image, and bottom line.


Employees with disabilities are known to have lower turnover rates, better safety records, and better attendance. They also offer new perspectives and increase company morale. The accommodations made for employees with disabilities typically end up bettering the workplace for other employees and customers, as well. 


Companies who hire inclusively are showing that they care about diversity in the workplace and about the people in their communities. It’s truly a win-win situation! 

What kind of employment opportunities can I create for someone with disabilities?

This really depends on the nature of your workplace, but the fact that you’re asking this question is a great start! 


Many people with disabilities are qualified and capable to fill the job roles companies already have.


You can also try looking for gaps in your current processes or opportunities for improvement. Where could you use some assistance? A task that one employee finds tedious or unappealing might be perfect for a different candidate.


At SMART Options, we are employment solutions experts. We would be happy to help you find inclusive hiring opportunities that will make your workplace more efficient and productive. 

What is a good career for someone with a disability?

As with any career, this depends on the person’s abilities and interests. At SMART Options, we have clients who work in every type of industry from customer service to office work to labour jobs to working with animals.


We take the time to get to know our job-seekers as well as their skills and interests so that we can help them find a career where they will feel fulfilled and be successful. 

How do you hire someone with a disability?

Many employers aren’t sure how to go about hiring someone with a disability, which is where we come in!


We understand that employees with diverse abilities may have different needs and require certain accommodations. It’s important to take the time to get to know the employee and understand what they need to be successful. 


If you’re apprehensive about the process, consider working with your local supported employment organization!


Working with a supported recruitment agency like SMART Options takes the guesswork out of inclusive hiring. We assist with every part of the process including pre-screening, finding the right employee for the job, hiring, onboarding, on-the-job training, evaluations and advancement opportunities, and more. 


Plus, all of our services are free of charge for employers!

What is supported employment?

Supported employment is a person-centered approach to helping people with more severe disabilities find rewarding paid employment. It involves offering both people with diverse abilities and employers the support they need to create employment relationships that benefit everyone involved.


This often involves a third party, such as SMART Options, that can assist with placement opportunities and job coaching, and offer ongoing support for both the employee and the employer. 

Why is supported employment important? 

Supported employment operates under the belief that everyone who wants paid employment should be able to attain it. 


When both job seekers and employers receive the support they need, it creates a win-win situation for everyone involved. The employee benefits from finding meaningful paid employment, and the employer benefits from hiring a valuable employee. Not only that, but building diverse workplaces helps us build better businesses, communities, and lives.


Supported employment agencies like SMART Options are here to help make this happen. People with disabilities make up a large pool of talent that deserves to contribute and be compensated for their work. 

What is an example of supported employment?

Looking for an example of supported employment? Check out the inclusive hiring success story of Vincent, an employee at Cain’s Your Independent Grocer in Kamloops

What is reasonable accommodation/Duty to Accommodate?

The Duty to Accommodate is a Canadian law against workplace discrimination. Employers have a duty to make certain accommodations for employees to avoid discrimination, including discrimination against an employee with disabilities. This must be done up to a point of undue hardship for the employer. 

In our experience, most accommodations don’t cost the employer any money. They are often simple solutions like adjusting working hours or having a job coach help with training (and organizations like SMART Options offer job coaching free of charge!).

According to a 2020 survey of 3,369 employers by the Job Accommodation Network:  "The employers participating in this survey reported a high percentage (56%) of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to implement ($0), while the rest of the accommodations made had a typical cost of only $500."

I’m not in Kamloops—how do I find someone to help me with supported employment?

There are supported employment and other disability services available in many regions. If you’re a job-seeker or an employer looking for supported employment assistance, try looking up local organizations in your area. 


If you’re in Canada, you may find this listing of organizations committed to employment inclusion helpful

What does SMART Options do?

As a supported employment agency in Kamloops, SMART Options helps to connect employers with people who have disabilities to create mutually beneficial employment opportunities. 


We achieve this by getting to know our job-seekers and matching them with jobs where we know they have the potential to succeed. We also assist employers every step of the way, from the hiring and onboarding process to job coaching and ongoing support. 


Our services are completely free of charge for Kamloops employers, so we are an accessible option for any Kamloops business looking to diversify their workplace with effective hiring solutions! 

Have More Questions About Supported Employment?

Have questions about supported employment that we didn’t answer here? We’re here to help! 


We’d love to speak with you about our supported employment services and answer any questions or concerns that you may have. Please feel free to get in touch with the SMART Options team and we will get back to you as soon as possible! 

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