Services for Employment

The Speech-Language Pathologist Role in Vocational Outcomes

Speech-Language Pathologist identify speech and language deficits, determine how and if speech-language deficits will affect job performance and provide strategies to minimize the impact of these deficits in the work place.

Communication deficits that can impact employment or the process of obtaining
successful employment include deficits in Speech, Receptive Communication,
Expressive Communication, Pragmatic/Social Skills, Cognitive-Linguistic skills
and/or Executive Functioning Skills.

The Occupational Therapy’s Role in Vocational Outcomes

Occupational therapy practitioners, through their education and training, possess the unique ability to evaluate individuals’ interactions with their work demands and the work environment through detailed and scientifically based task analysis. Using a holistic perspective, occupational therapists evaluate and understand the impact of wellness, cognition, physical disabilities, psychosocial factors, and medical conditions on work performance. The occupational therapy evaluation can identify supports and barriers to success in the work environment that, if indicated, can be addressed in the intervention plan in order to facilitate work performance. These specialized evaluation skills allow the occupational therapist to understand and deliver results in the complex psychosocial and physical work environment (Ellexson, 2000).

Areas of impact from Speech-Language Pathologist services for Employment:

  • Successful interactions with co- workers and bosses
  • Increased skills in customer service/interactions
  • Expanded phone skills
  • Enhanced interviewing skills
  • Accurate identification of appropriate visual supports to use for enhanced receptive understating (text, icons, photos, tangible symbols)
  • Development of skills to effectively and accurately communicate likes/dislikes regarding job tasks, work environments and supports
  • Accurate response to Yes/ No questions
  • Functional use of Speech Generating Device or other AAC system within the job development, employment and/or community (transportation) setting
  • Advocating for self or change within the work place.
  • Understanding & following directions
  • Understanding technical vocabulary
  • Responding to non-verbal cues from job coaches, coworkers and customers
  • Responding appropriately/accurately to WH, Yes/No and preference questions (like/don’t like) from job developer, job coaches, bosses
  • Increasing independence in job tasks
  • Accurate interpretation of other’s feelings and intentions
  • Solving work-related problems / conflict management
  • Successful use of body language /eye contact
  • Topic maintenance and turn taking
  • Appropriate use of volume in various settings/interactions
  • Enhanced listening skills
  • Socially appropriate behaviors and comments/topics
  • Being a team member and team player
  • Initiating social interactions
  • Understanding other’s perspective
  • Remembering and responding to rules and regulations
  • Increasing attention and concentration in work tasks
  • Attending to tasks in distracting settings
  • Increasing perform rates with increased understanding and processing
  • Increased job efficiency
  • Successful planning/organization/prioritizing of tasks
  • Maintaining daily/weekly schedules

Use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): Low Tech or High Tech Communication System /Device and Assistive Technology (AT) in the employment setting

Ineffective or unsupported Assistive Technology (AT) and/or an Augmentative or
Alternative Communication (AAC) needs are also often a barrier to employment which
can be successfully supported by a Speech-Language Pathologist and/or Occupational
Therapist knowledgeable and experienced in providing these supports in a community
based setting.

Areas of impact from a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist with Experience in AAC and/or AT in Employment:

  • Evaluation and (insurance covered) acquisition of AAC and AT materials
  • Increase access to and functional use of AAC and AT in employment setting
  • Identifying employment specific vocabulary
  • Skills training to job coach and natural supports on AAC and AT


Services for the Employment setting:

  • Evaluation is geared to identifying barriers to employment.
  • Goals are functional to the employment setting.
  • Therapy is short-term and related to specific work-place behaviors.
  • Therapy is delivered (initially or once employment is obtained) in the employment setting to facilitate generalization and implementation of learned strategies.
  • Consultation as a part of the rehabilitation team for successful employment outcomes


Functional Approach to Therapy for Employment

  • Always involve the individual in developing goals and therapy tasks.
  • Whenever possible use work-related therapy materials.
  • Use situations in role play that are modeled after actual work situations.
  • If the individual is employed, involve the employer or job coach in the consultation/assessment of the individual needs.
  • If the individual is not yet employed, follow up with the employer or job coach once employment is obtained to reassess needs per the individual employment setting.