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October 2, 2023

Disability Resources

In recent years, the landscape of employment opportunities for individuals living with disabilities in California has undergone significant transformations, aiming to address the unique needs associated with different disabilities, including physical, intellectual, developmental disabilities, substance use and mental health conditions. In 2022, there was a notable increase in the employment rate for individuals with disabilities in the United States, reaching 21 percent, up from 19 percent in 2021. This is the highest rate since the U.S. began tracking this statistic in 2008, demonstrating the positive impact of recent policy changes and initiatives. 

Policy Changes 

One significant milestone achievement is the implementation of a 2021 California law aimed at phasing out the practice of sheltered workshops, where individuals with disabilities often earned less than minimum wage and had limited interaction with other non-disabled employees. Under this law, by 2025, all workers with disabilities will be entitled to receive at least the minimum wage of $15.50 per hour, thereby ensuring fair compensation for their labor.

Individualized Placement and Support 

Another noteworthy initiative contributing to this transformation is the adoption of the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model, which has been widely successful in supporting employment for individuals living with serious mental health conditions. This model, developed at Dartmouth College and extensively validated, is now being adapted to help individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities secure and maintain competitive jobs. Marjorie Solomon, Associate Director of the UC Davis MIND Institute, is at the forefront of this effort, having secured a $552,000 grant from the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to pilot test this innovative employment model in California. Solomon’s research aims to uncover the potential of IPS in assisting individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities to access rewarding employment opportunities.

The San Diego Workforce Partnership’s Behavioral Health Services Supported Employment program provides assistance to over for 40 behavioral health services programs in San Diego County to build the County’s capacity to accurately implement IPS, expand services and increase competitive employment placement services to individuals living with serious mental health conditions.

These new advancements not only ensure fair compensation, but also encourage the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the mainstream workforce, promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Know Your Rights 

Whether you are an individual with a disability in California or a caregiver, it’s essential to be aware of employment laws—such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. This federal law also extends protection against discrimination in state and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications—and workforce resources that support individuals with disabilities. Job discrimination is illegal, whether it is practiced by private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, or labor organizations. Understanding the available resources can aid self-advocacy and assist caregivers in providing the necessary support to their loved ones in the workplace. To learn more about the laws protecting Californians with disabilities, visit

Get Connected to Employment and Training Resources

To reach California’s commitment to equal workplace opportunities for individuals with disabilities and create a more equitable San Diego for those living with a disability, the Workforce Partnership works collaboratively with the local partners to increase workforce development programs for job seekers living with disabilities.

We recently began a new collaboration with the Department of Rehabilitation—one of our co-located partners at five of our six career centers located around San Diego County—to support participants in gaining quality jobs in healthcare and behavioral health career pathways including, substance use counselors, medical assistants, peer support specialists and entry level roles in healthcare administration. Our other long-standing program, Ticket to Work and Self Sufficiency helps people who receive Social Security due to a disability find work and keep their health coverage.

Other organizations that provide local services are The Arc of San Diego and Options for All; both provide help with independent living, employment and community engagement.

Resources and Job Boards that Serve People Living with Disabilities

Helps people who are blind or have significant disabilities find jobs. Job openings are with nonprofit agencies nationwide

Helps management recruit, hire and accommodate people with disabilities

Provides information about workplace accommodations

Provides resources to assist children, parents, job seekers and adults who are blind or low vision

Helps job seekers with disabilities overcome employment obstacles, share opportunities and create new connections

If you are an employer interested in hiring people living with disabilities, call  (619) 404-HIRE (4473) or email to discuss how we can help. 

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The Workforce Partnership is dedicated to providing San Diego Residents with the most up-to-date resources for finding a career.

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