Gateways to Self Determination

The purpose of this booklet is to provide an overview of activities to date of the Gateway to Self-Determination project and describe highlighted activities and products currently available.

The overall goal of the Gateway to Self-Determination is “to establish a sustainable, evidence-based training system that enhances self-determination training programs that lead to quality of life outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities throughout the lifespan.” There are a number of important beliefs upon which the National Gateway to Self- Determination project is founded. They include:

Scaling-up efforts to promote self-determination are most effective when they are conducted in an enabling context focused on the people it is intended to benefit. In the case of this project, this context is established by a social-ecological framework that acknowledges the importance of the interactions occurring between people and their environments through- out their lifespan.

Self Determination Strategies

Children and adults with autism (AU) have difficulties in communication and social understanding affecting their life-planning and self-determination abilities. Self-determination strategies are designed to develop self-directed decision-making ability for people with autism.

Self-Determination and People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: What Does The Research Tell Us?

There exists an already substantive and still growing literature base pertaining to self- determination and people with disabilities. The intent of this slide show is to provide a synthesis of major findings in the area of self- determination pertaining to youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


SparkAction is an online journalism and advocacy center by and for the child and youth field.  Through our site and e-newsletters, we work to:

  1. Connect concerned adults and young people—whether they’re new to the issues or already activists—to compelling stories, context and accurate information on children’s issues, as well as tools to take action, from volunteering to advocating for better policies and programs.
  2. Help child- and youth-focused organizations effectively reach a broad audience (the public, professional peers, and policymakers) with their content and materials.
  3. Elevate the voices and perspectives of young people themselves.
  4. Break down silos in the broad child and youth field and strengthen connections among organizations and agencies to create a stronger, unified voice for children and youth.

 SparkAction  gives visitors stories, information and tools to learn about a range of issues and to take action to improve policies and programs, and, ultimately, the fabric of our nation as a whole.

Self-Advocacy Online

Self-Advocacy Online in an educational and networking website for those involved in making change for people with disabilities. Through our online Learning Center, you can build your skills in many areas of self-advocacy. And the national self-advocacy map will connect you with other across the country working on similar issues.

Massachusetts YouthWorks Employment Program

YouthWorks is a state-funded youth jobs program that provides funds to pay wages to youth for summer jobs in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. The primary component of the YouthWorks program is subsidized employment for eligible youth. Participants are typically employed part-time during the summer or year round.


School Days to Pay Days

This publication was written by staff from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services and the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. It is informed and enriched by the experiences of individuals with intellectual disabilities, family members, school personnel, employment providers and others, who are all committed to creating a workforce that includes individuals with intellectual disabilities. As part of Work Without Limits, this publication is one of many tools designed to provide individuals and family members with the information and resources they need to achieve their employment goals.

ServiceSource – Youth Transition Services

ServiceSource assists youth with disabilities transition from school to work through a number of different programs. Programs provide internship experiences, job skills training, career planning and other customized supports to assist transitioning youth with disabilities to reach their goals of integrated employment in competitive industries.


WorkSmart is an Internet application designed to offer entry-level job seekers and workforce re-entrants “soft” skills and occupational information to assist them in obtaining employment.

WorkSmart is a useful tool for both job seekers and workforce preparation professionals who provide job readiness counseling and career information to job seekers.

Disability and Employment – Connecting the Pieces of the Employment Puzzle

Navigating the services and resources available for assisting people with disabilities to obtain quality employment is like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle. America cannot successfully compete in a global economy without fully engaging the 33 million working-age people with disabilities in our workforce. As we meet our goal of “Good Jobs for Everyone,” the public workforce development system needs to expand its capacity to provide integrated, seamless, and accessible services and programs to people with disabilities and/or other challenges to employment. To achieve this goal and building upon lessons learned from the Employment and Training Administration’s Disability Program Navigator (DPN) initiative, the workforce system is collaborating with a wide range of partners to help people with disabilities obtain meaningful and effective employment opportunities. DOL’s Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) will build on the promising practices of the DPNs, as well as other successful strategies and model programs of service delivery in the workforce system to improve employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities.