Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

inclusion. integration. independence.

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Goals &

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Competitive Integrated Employment

Inclusive Employment in Arkansas

Employer Benefit Infographic

First Steps to an Inclusive Workplace Flyer

What does competitive, integrated employment mean?

Competitive, integrated employment means a full-time or part-time job (with or without supports) in the competitive labor force, in a physically/functionally/socially integrated setting, paying at least minimum wage but not less than the customary wage for the same or similar work performed by workers without a disability, and offering a level of employer-paid benefits that are the same or similar as offered to workers without a disability. Self-employment (with or without supports) in a competitive business or industry – while earning a similar or customary wage for the same or similar work performed by workers without a disability – is also considered to be competitive, integrated employment.

Is it competitive, integrated employment?

CE Checklist:

  • Full-time, part-time, or self-employment (with or without supports)
  • Employed in the competitive labor force
  • On the payroll of a competitive business or industry
  • Pays at least minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by workers without a disability
  • Offers a level of employer-paid benefits that are the same or similar as offered to workers without a disability
  • Fully integrated physically, functionally and socially within the workplace

More on the meaning of Competitive, Integrated Employment:

Competitive. Refers to wages that are at least minimum and ideally prevailing wages (not how person got the job).

Integrated. Refers to work occurring in a typical work setting where the employee with a disability interacts (or has the opportunity to interact) continuously with co-workers without disabilities.

Individualized. Must be an individual employment situation where the employee is paid directly by their employer.
(Work in small groups does NOT meet the CE definition, even if pay is competitive and setting is integrated).

Are you interested in learning more?

If you would like our Executive Director, Jon Taylor, to come speak to your civic organization, association, business, leadership team, hiring managers or general staff, please contact him at or call 501-682-2912. Before joining the Council staff, Jon was a retail manager with extensive on-the-job experience in inclusive hiring, leading managers and human resource personnel, and supporting individuals with disabilities to gain employment and remain employed. Jon has real-world, usable tips and tools to share with you and your team! 

Employment First

Employment First means that employment in the general workforce should be the first and preferred option for individuals with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly funded systems. Simply put, Employment First means real jobs for real wages.

Statistics clearly show that if you have a disability, you are much more likely to be poor. Working age adults with disabilities are living below the poverty line at twice the rate of the general population (US Census). It has been continuously shown that with assistance, accommodations, and encouragement, many more people with disabilities can work successfully in the community.

Focusing our public resources on Employment First, providing the assistance necessary for disabled workers to find and succeed in employment, is a road out of poverty, dependence, and isolation, for individuals with disabilities. It may also eventually reduce the number of Arkansans with disabilities who rely on certain publicly funded programs. The next step in this process for Arkansas is to pass Employment First legislation which will make this the official policy of the State. Check out our Disability Policy Platform here.

GCDD Arkansas is a proud member of  Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) and is active in the Arkansas Chapter of APSE. Arkansas APSE hosts a conference every other year with the next one scheduled for October 7-9, 2024 at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Please join us at the conference! View a Save-the-Date here. Learn more about Arkansas APSE and national APSE by visiting their website, links below.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is an annual, month-long event which celebrates the important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive American workforce and recognizes the contributions of workers with disabilities. NDEAM also provides a time to showcase employers with supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices.

At the national level, the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) sets a campaign theme for each year. You can visit ODEP’s NDEAM website here to learn more.

Join us, each year, throughout October as we advocate for the competitive, integrated employment of people with disabilities.

Use the hashtag #NDEAM on social media.

Visit our 2023 NDEAM webpage here.

For more information, check out the following resources/links:

APSE (The Association of People Supporting Employment First): The national voice of the Employment First movement. APSE believes in real jobs for real pay for all people with disabilities: Employment First.

Arkansas APSE (The Arkansas Chapter of the Association of People Supporting Employment First)

Arkansas Rehabilitation Services
Mission: Prepare Arkansans with disabilities to work and lead productive and independent lives. To achieve its mission, ARS provides a variety of training and career preparation programs. They operate 19 field offices across the state, serving all 75 counties, where individuals can receive assistance with accessibility and training needs that can lead to successful employment.

ADA National Network Regional Centers: The ADA National Network consists of ten regional ADA Centers located throughout the U.S. that provide information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to employers, state and local governments, people with disabilities and others.

Empowering businesses to achieve disability inclusion and equality.

Disability:IN Arkansas (Disability Inclusion of Arkansas)
As an affiliate chapter of national Disability:IN, Disability Inclusion of Arkansas assists business with outreach, recruitment, onboarding, hiring and retention supports. This is accomplished through tools, resources, consultation and technical assistance focused on elevating disability inclusion.
Contact Disability:IN Arkansas:  Rodney Chandler, or Elizabeth Reed

US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

Office of Disability Employment Policy
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington DC 20210

Phone: 1-866-ODEP-DOL (633-7365) or 202-693-7880

ODEP’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Campaign

ODEP’s Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE)

ODEP’s Workforce Recruitment Program

ODEP’s Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)

ODEP’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

ODEP’s Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

Take the Employer Survey

Employers – Please take a few minutes to complete the Arkansas GCDD’s Disability Inclusion Survey. The feedback we receive will help us to craft resources to support employers in creating a diverse workforce, including people with disabilities.
Take the Survey:

Employer Survey Toolkit

Employer Survey News Release (included in Toolkit)
Employer Survey TIMELINE EXTENDED News Release(included in Toolkit)

Employer Survey Flyer (included in Toolkit)

  • The Disability Inclusion Survey is for Arkansas-based companies of all sizes and is seeking input from employers on their current practice of inclusive, integrated employment for individuals with DD.
  • The Disability Inclusion Survey is 100% anonymous unless you would like to leave your contact information for further questions.
  • Responses from the survey will help the Council develop programming to assist Arkansas employers.