The Arc Tennessee strongly believes that people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) can be employed in the community alongside people without disabilities and earn competitive wages. They should be supported to make informed choices about their work and careers and have the resources to seek, obtain, and be successful in community employment.

The Arc Tennessee is actively involved in several taskforces, alliances, and other collaborations committed to improving employment outcomes for all people with IDD including:

  • TennesseeWorks – click HERE to visit the TennesseeWorks website that is designed to be the “one-stop shop” in Tennessee for all information related to employment of people with disabilities. To watch a video of Nashville Mayor Karl Dean talking about employment of people with disabilities, click HERE.
  • Tennessee Employment Consortium – a statewide collaboration between DIDD and the Council on Developmental Disabilities. Read their initiatives HERE.
  • Alliance for Full Participation (AFP) – a national organization dedicated to increasing the integration, productivity, independence and quality of life of people with developmental disabilities; to view the goals of the Tennessee AFP, click HERE.
  • Tennessee Alliance for Postsecondary Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities – Tennessee currently has four post-secondary programs for young adults with IDD; to learn more about these programs, click HERE.
The Arc Tennessee has received a Letter of Agreement with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to work with high school aged students age 14 to 22 that have disabilities to provide certain services designed to help them prepare for the world of work as adults. These students do not have to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. They only need to have a diagnosis. Students do not have to apply for or be eligible for VR services. They only need to ask their teacher how to get Pre-ETS services with The Arc Tennessee.

The services we will be providing will be in the categories of: workplace readiness, postsecondary education counseling, and self-advocacy.

  • Workplace readiness will include learning about things like, appropriate dress for interviews and work; interview skills; attendance; interacting with co-workers and customers; problem-solving; reading a work schedule; appropriately calling in sick for work.
  • Secondary education counseling will include learning about different postsecondary education options; information on postsecondary programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities; information for other postsecondary educational programs; applying for postsecondary programs; applying for educational financial aid.
  • Self-Advocacy topics addressed will include, the history of the disability movement; having self-advocate speakers who share their stories; self-determination; student directed Individualized Education (IEP) meetings; basics of learning when/where to self-disclose your disability; learning how to assess your own need for accommodations.

For more information on the Pre-ETS Program, contact Loria Hubbard Richardson or phone (615) 248-5878 extension 28.

Fact Sheet on Pre-ETS from Disability Rights Tennessee

Job Club is a safe place where young adults and adults with disabilities who are working or want to work meet the third Tuesday of every month in Nashville to share their experiences and problem solve together. To learn more about the Job Club, contact David Griffin. Click our Events Calendar HERE for information on the next scheduled meeting.

Tennessee is an Employment First State
On June 19, 2013, Governor Haslam signed Executive Order #28 and proclaimed Tennessee an Employment First state. Through this order, a taskforce of government departments, family members, provider, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders was created to assess the barriers to employment for people with disabilities in Tennessee. The Employment First Taskforce report can be found HERE.

DIDD continues working with providers to improve employment outcomes for people with IDD.  To view employment success stories of people with IDD click HERE.


Employment Resources Sheet

Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR) is a federal and state-funded program providing services to help individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment. It is designed to assist individuals of work age with physical and/or mental disabilities compete successfully with others in earning a livelihood. To learn how to get a head start with Vocational Rehabilitation, click HERE. If you have applied for VR services and you are experiencing difficulties with the process, contact Client Assistance Program (CAP) at Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) for help.

Ticket to Work
The Ticket to Work (Ticket) is a voluntary program of the Social Security Administration for people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of a disability. Individuals who are eligible will have received a letter at some point indicating they are eligible for the program. People do not receive a physical “ticket” that must be “redeemed” in order to receive the benefits of the program. To view power point presentation that discusses the Ticket to Work Initiative in Tennessee, click HERE.

Benefits to Work
Many people with IDD are afraid to pursue community, integrated employment options because of the potential loss of their benefits. The Benefits to Work Program promotes self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities by alleviating significant obstacles faced when going to work including concern about healthcare coverage and others benefits. Their experts have years of experience with Social Security employment supports such as Ticket to Work and will provide in-depth analyses of benefits and guidance. They equip those they serve with tools to make informed decisions about their financial circumstances and courage to pursue career goals.

Check out our Entrepreneurs HERE.

To read Kindred Stories on Employment click HERE.

To read our Employment Success Stories click HERE.