Using a Tiered System for Work Experience

By Denise Fitzgerald

Work Experiences

Work experiences have been defined using a tiered system based on levels of support, as follows:

Tier 1

These work environments and tasks are assigned to students in order to develop and/or enhance work related concepts and habits. Students are assigned tasks and given ongoing, individualized support to complete tasks.   

Trades:  Recycling, mail delivery, greenhouse tasks

Earnings:  Volunteer

Tier 2

These work environments and tasks are assigned with the expectation that the student is completing a series of simple or complex tasks that closely resemble those expected in an entry level position. Students should have the ability to complete all tasks related to the job, given the appropriate supports.  Many tier 2 jobs may in fact be identical to those in tier 3, but students are given more supervision and ongoing support than students in tier 3 positions. Often times this rate of pay will be offered to a student who is in the process of completing the job training he or she will require in order to successfully perform at a tier 3 level.   

Trades:  Seat weaving ; Brailler repair; Woodworking

Earnings:  Training wage plus bonus for completion of work

Tier 3

These work environments and tasks offer “real world” entry level opportunities. Students at Tier 3 often complete an application process including an interview in order to gain the position.  The relationship between the teacher and student in these experiences is similar to that of a supervisor and the students will participate in a performance evaluation process with their teacher/supervisor. 

Teacher or job coach will fade, either directly from the job experience, or attention is almost completely directed toward other students in the class

Trades:  Community based employment, in commercial settings, such as retail, bank, hospital cafeteria

Earnings:  Can be a stipend paid by the employer


Total Life Learning by Wendy Bridgeo,‎ Beth Caruso,‎ & Mary Zatta

Cover of Total Life Learning

The Total Life Learning curriculum was developed for students ages 3 to 22 who are blind, visually impaired including those students who have additional disabilities or are deafblind. The focus is on the development of life and career goals that enable student to maximize independence, self-determination, employability, and participation in the community.