Advocating, Educating & Partnering for Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

  • 2010 - President Obama issues Executive Order 13548, which provides that the Federal Government must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities
  • 2006 - WA State implements the Working Age Adult Policy, emphasizing community employment as the primary service option for People with Disabilities.

what is community employment?

History of Employment for People with Disabilities
  • 2013 - The National Governors Association released the Chair’s Initiative, A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities; Washington State Governor Inslee signs an Executive Order to promote hiring of people with disabilities within state government and the private sector.


  • 2014 - The Center for Medicaid Services announced a rule change that established new integration requirements for employment services resulting in a national phase out of sheltered workshops and an increased focus on Supported Employment. 


  • 1800s - ​People with disabilities considered unfit and unable to contribute to society.


  • World War I - Veterans with disabilities expect rehabilitation in exchange for their service.


  • 1930s - Advancements in technology and government assistance contribute to the self-reliance and self-sufficiency of people with disabilities. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt becomes the first president with a disability.
  • 2012 - The WA State Legislature votes unanimously to put Employment First in statute.

Initially founded in 1974 as Rehabilitation Enterprises of WA, the Community Employment Alliance is a 

non-profit organization, with a membership network of businesses and employment service providers 

for people with disabilities throughout Washington State. 

  • 1990 - Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed; ensuring equal treatment and equal access of people with disabilities to employment opportunities and to public accommodations.
  • ​​1973 - The Rehabilitation Act passed, providing equal opportunity for employment; prohibiting discrimination on the basis of either physical or mental disability.

Community Employment starts with a presumption that a person with a disability can work. 

It is assumed that individuals are capable of working, and employment in the general workforce should be

the first option pursued for individuals with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly funded systems. 


Under Employment First, assistance to find a job in the community, and become a tax-paying citizen, is the preferred choice. 


Simply put, Employment First means real jobs at real wages.


Studies have shown that the vast majority of individuals with disabilities prefer to work in the community,

 regardless of the level of their disability. 


It has been continuously shown that with assistance, accommodations, and encouragement,

 many more people with disabilities can work successfully in the community.  

  • 1940s and 1950s - World War II veterans with disabilities pressure government to provide rehabilitation and vocational training.


  • 1960s - The civil rights movement includes advocates who demand equal treatment, equal access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities.