Self-Employment and Community Development

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Self-employment is an important alternative to traditional paid employment for people with disabilities, especially in rural areas where job opportunities are limited. Self-employment can offer a means to economic independence while overcoming barriers, allow people to remain close to established support networks, provide flexibility to address issues that accompany disability, and reduce environmental barriers to employment, such as inaccessible transportation.

Data show higher rates of self-employment among people with disabilities relative to those without disabilities, and higher rates of self-employment in rural counties relative to urban counties. Self-employment can be a good option for people with diverse disabilities, and is an important option on American Indian reservations.

Websites

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The Vocational Rehabilitation Self-Employment Guide is an online resource for people with disabilities and VR counselors to assess self-employment readiness and develop a business plan. The Guide is self-directed, and can be used by individuals on their own or with the guidance of a counselor or business development mentor.

VR Self-Employment logo
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The Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Self-Employment Toolkit is an online resource for tribal VR counselors and consumers to assess self-employment readiness and develop a business plan. The Toolkit is self-directed, and can be used by individuals on their own or with the guidance of a counselor or business development mentor.

Tribal VR Self-Employment Toolkit text over a medicine wheel.

Tools, Resources, and Publications

2017

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Rural and urban vocational rehabilitation self-employment outcomes 

January 2017 | Catherine Ipsen & Grant Swicegood
Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation | PDF


2014

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A rapid review of self-employment literature: Implications for the Vocational Rehabilitation program 

September 2014 | Nancy Arnold & Catherine Ipsen
University of Montana Rural Institute | PDF


2010

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A citizen led program for rural community economic development: Two case studies 

November 2010 | Catherine Ipsen, Tom Seekins, Nancy Arnold & Karl Kraync
Journal of the Community Development Society | PDF


2007

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A qualitative analysis of the potential for collaboration between vocational rehabilitation agencies and small business developers 

2007 | Kyle Colling & Nancy Arnold 
Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling | PDF


2006

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Introduction: Disability and community development 

2006 | Tom Seekins (guest editor)
Journal of the Community Development Society | PDF; online access


2005 

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State self-employment policies: Changes through the decade 

September 2005 | Nancy Arnold & Catherine Ipsen 
Journal of Disability Policy Studies | PDF


 

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Self-employment for people with disabilities: Enhancing services through interagency linkages 

2005 | Catherine Ipsen, Nancy Arnold & Kyle Colling
Journal of Disability Policy Studies | PDF


2003

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Self-employment for people with disabilities in the United States: A recommended process for Vocational Rehabilitation agencies 

2003 | Nancy Arnold, Tom Seekins, Catherine Ipsen & Kyle Colling
Australian Journal of Career Development | PDF


 

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Small Business Development Center experiences and perceptions: Providing services to people with disabilities 

August 2003 | Catherine Ipsen, Nancy Arnold & Kyle Colling
Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship | PDF, online access


2002

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Self-employment: A process for use by vocational rehabilitation agencies 

2002 | Nancy Arnold & Tom Seekins
Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation | PDF


2001

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NxLeveL for Micro Entrepreneurs Disability Component: What you should know about owning a business if you have a chronic illness or disability: Debunking myths, evaluating your capabilities, creating a work environment, evaluating a business opportunity, promoting and growing a business, finding startup $$, and working with disability agencies

2001 | Nancy Arnold,  R. Foley &  E. Wollman 
Helena: Montana Department of Commerce | Introductory small-business course