ALSO (Advocates for Life Skills and Opportunities) is an Oregon-based nonprofit for disability support services that works closely with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities and helps them in their homes, workplaces and integrate into their communities. Disability affects approximately 61 million, or nearly one in four (26 percent) people in the United States. ALSO is working to create a safe space for the people seeking assistance, while also adding to the workforce and encompassing a meaningful and rewarding work environment for those employed.
As a disability support services provider, ALSO’s mission is to support people experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities to build a life of their choice. With a mission to, “promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the life of their community.” ALSO believes that ALL people should be able to go to work, go out for groceries, go to the mall and have their own living space as their disability allows.
Direct support professionals (DSPs) are different from caregivers in that they support and encourage a person to do things for themselves and teach them how to live independently as opposed to simply doing things for them. Sometimes, these roles overlap, but a DSP will always encourage individuals to do things for themselves as much as possible.
There are currently more than 77,000 DSPs working in the United States and the demand for DSPs is continuing to grow dramatically. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for DSPs is expected to grow by 40 percent by 2026. With such a high rate of turnover in different industries and the magnitude of folks looking for jobs growing, ALSO provides fulfilling and genuine work for those looking currently and in the near future.
According to a recent study by the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL), DSPs are “crucial to support not only the health and safety but overall quality of life of people with disabilities.” This study also found that DSPs are essential “for community inclusion and for the integration of people with disabilities.” Below is a testimonial from a DSP within ALSO’s program:
“I love what I do and I am passionate about the impact that we make in the lives of people we support,” said Miranda Chatterton, ALSO manager. “ALSO cares about every single individual that it supports from residential to supported living to employment.”
This National Disability Employment Month, ALSO is encouraging businesses and job seekers to diversify their workplace to embrace a culture of strength, creativity, and richness that comes from bringing unique perspectives and talents to each workplace.