Let us help answer your questions and help debunk some myths versus facts.

For more than 34 years, Abilities at Work has been dedicated to promoting economic and professional success for job seekers with intellectual/developmental disabilities throughout the Portland Metro region.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does AAW do?


Long term employment with a public or private entity anywhere in the Portland Metro region.


Skill development that includes:

  • Computer, writing and soft skills
  • Mock interviews
  • Job shadowing
  • On the job training


  • Job Carving: Identify and bundle tasks
    performed by other employees not
    germane to their positions
    (photocopying, sorting, etc) to create
    an AAW job
  • AAW job coaches provide a FREE
    evaluation and design an employment
    plan with the employer.


  • Raise awareness around the pool of
    interested job candidates with
    intellectual/developmental disabilities
  • Conduct research and share information
    about the importance of economic and
    workplace inclusion.
What is the process?


An AAW Employment Specialist meets with a client candidate to explore their interests and needs. Through “discovery”, AAW meets with family and observes the candidate in the community and on job interviews to fully understand the client and facilitate the best job placement. Discovery is a thorough process conducted by AAW free of charge to clients and employers.

Regular Placement

Job developer meets with employer and arranges an interview with client.

Job Carve

Job coach meets with employer. Conducts evaluation of work, staff and tasks and with the employer helps craft a new position that maximizes employer’s resources.

Ongoing Support

  • Job developer onboards clients into jobs by walking through on site job training until client is ready to perform tasks independently.
  • AAW remains a resource to the employer.
Are there benefits for the Employers?

Yes! There are many benefits to hiring an employee through Abilities at Work.

  • Long term placements
  • Positive job morale
  • Social justice
  • Disabled Access Credit of up to $5,000 for small businesses that hire people with disabilities
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC): 40% credit on first $6,000 in wages
  • Job coach evaluation and support
How many Employers do you work with?

Over 35 current employers, both private and public/nonprofit.
Examples: City of Hillsboro, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Koi Fusion

What are examples of job duties and industries served?

Duties include: cleaning, sorting, packaging, administrative, retail/greeting, etc.

Industries include: Hospitality, government, retail, manufacturing, nonprofit, office, and more!

What is the job placement success rate?

90% placements are permanent - with some lasting more than 30 years!

How is AAW funded?
  • Social security
  • Medicaid
  • County & State Funds
  • Community Partners
  • Donations
How much does it cost Employers?

All of our services are free-of-charge. And in fact, there are tax benefits you could be eligible for.

Myths vs. Facts

MYTH: People with intellectual/developmental disabilities have family who can take care of them.

FACT: Most people with intellectual/developmental disabilities live in group homes or adult foster care - services made available to them via social security and Medicaid.

MYTH: People with intellectual/developmental disabilities are middle class or financially stable.

FACT: 34.7% of people with intellectual  / developmental disabilities live below the poverty line (general population that count is 13%).

MYTH: Most employers are eager to hire someone with a disability.

FACT: Hiring people with disabilities is often outside the scope of traditional HR. Over 9% of people with cognitive disabilities seeking work in Oregon are unemployed.

MYTH: People with intellectual/developmental disabilities have limited skills and can perform only rote tasks.

FACT: Intellectual/developmental disabilities impacts various functions, but does not mean that people with cognitive disabilities lack high end thinking. For example, individuals may possess strong computer and technical acumen, but may have a condition that impacts anxiety, i.e., autism.

MYTH: People with intellectual/developmental disabilities are prone to tantrums and meltdowns that could disrupt the workplace.

FACT: Employees with intellectual/developmental disabilities are reported to be highly reliable, possess a positive attitude, and contribute to a higher workplace morale.

Change a life today! Learn more.

AAW promotes employment of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. To learn more about becoming an AAW partner, employer or client, please contact GeraldP@abilitiesatwork.org

Special Thanks to Our Partners & Sponsors