INCOME: A Career Development Model You May Want to Learn

In 2002, Scott Beveridge, Sharon Heller Craddock, and James Liesener published “INCOME: A Framework for Conceptualizing the Career Development of […]

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In 2002, Scott Beveridge, Sharon Heller Craddock, and James Liesener published “INCOME: A Framework for Conceptualizing the Career Development of Persons with Disabilities.”  INCOME stands for Imagining, iNforming, Choosing, Obtaining, Maintaining, and Exiting.

The authors propose a career development model helpful to people with disabilities by dividing disability types into three major categories: precareer-onset disabilities (a disability that occurs early-on in life or at birth), midcareer-onset disabilities (a disability that occurs later in life, such as a spinal cord injury or even simply growing older), and episodic disabilities (disabilities that withdraw into remission and flair up periodically, for one reason or another).

The model is based on statuses instead of stages (click here to view summary of the income model chart). According to Beveridge and his colleagues, stages are a set of characteristics that follow a sequence, are different from each other, represent hierarchical integrations, and are universal. Statuses are interpreted as categories that may occur in any order or simultaneously allowing for flexibility to move between those statuses without a specific sequence. You can also skip, revisit, or be in more than one status at the same time. It is recommended, however, that if you are at a particular status for the first time you go through all previous statuses at least once.

The primary audience for the INCOME model is vocational rehabilitation counselors, however, any individual with a disability and their families would benefit from it. Getting a job is only part of a process called career development. Everybody is encouraged these days to be in charge of his or her career. A person with a disability should be expected to do that, as well. Learning about INCOME would also help with questions for vocational rehabilitation counselors regarding services and assistance needed to accomplish career goals.

An overview of the model is in the table called “Summary of the Model for Individuals with Precareer-onset Disabilities”. This article defines the first two of the six statuses proposed by Beveridge, Craddock and Liesener called “Imagining”. It will also suggest some strategies that some of our readers may want to apply.



This is the recognition that occupations exist, and that there’s one out there for you. It includes learning about occupations from parents and other family members. This knowledge grows when going to school, watching TV, reading newspapers, or interacting with the environment.

This status begins naturally during childhood and continues throughout life. As learning takes place, perceptions about work and career develop and change with knowledge and experience. Dreams about occupations and work attitudes develop influenced by continuous learning.

The keyword for this status is exposure. Beveridge, Craddock, and Liesener encourage counselors who work with clients within the precareer-onset disabilities category to assess early experiences. Based on the findings, client and counselor can work on new experiences such as job shadowing, internships, or matching the consumer with a role model who has a disability.

Exposure can be increased by exploring other options, hobbies and likes. It is very common these days to have a “Bring Your Child to Work” day. Why not bring a child or a young adult with a disability to the workplace? What if we substitute “Bring Your Child to Work” day for “Career Development” day, transition programs, or any other experience that will build vocational maturity? How about increasing the participation of the child or young adult with a disability by including assistive technology as a part of the experience?

Along with increasing exposure, the use of assistive technology (AT) may increase participation. In the case of speech impairment, AT may improve communication. Someone no longer merely observes but may also be able to ask questions. AT may also help accessing information in electronic format. For example, individuals with vision impairment may use a screen reader.



This status is about gathering information. It means learning about self, details on careers of personal interest, and cultural influence. The outcome of this informing status is a perception of possibility.

Successes, failures, and feedback from the environment shape perceptions of possibility. Beveridge, Craddock, and Liesener mentioned the concept of work competencies as “the person’s work habits, interpersonal skills, and physical and mental skills that are applicable to jobs”. These work competencies begin forming at a young age and are influenced by feedback. Individuals with disabilities may learn about their abilities and opportunities. The benefit over time is the creation and strengthening of career self-efficacy.

The keyword for this status is learning. In the case of individuals with precareer-onset disabilities, learning may have been limited. The INCOME model recommends counselors help individuals explore interests, needs, values, abilities, skills and work in general. The goal is to identify strengths and opportunities for success. It may also include supporting an individual with a disability to confront prejudice and discrimination.

Since INCOME is a flexible model, let’s build on my suggestions from the Imagining status. The “Bring Your Child to Work” day may include an activity where children or young adults with disabilities choose and perform a work task of their interest. Designed with success in mind, the activity is performed in a supportive environment. At the end, the participant receives feedback and has the opportunity to describe the meaning of the experience.

If the idea proposed is not feasible, how about creating an informative activity either at school or at home? The supportive environment could include not only people, but also AT tools. Judith Sweeney and Chauncy Rucker published “Categories of Assistive Technology” in 1996, suggesting four major categories of assistive technology devices and services depending on the individual’s needs.

Communication (augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices (AAC) and related services), mobility (wheelchair, stair lifts, walkers, scooters, vehicle driving adaptations, van and bus lifts, airline access, canes, special sports equipment, positioning and customization), cognitive growth (Computer technology, assistive hardware and assistive software), and environmental control (engineering and architecture, low-tech, very high-tech, ramps, adapted doorknobs, gym sets, alternative doorbells, smoke alarm and telephone readers, lowered counters, especially designed bath areas, and easy open and close clothing) are the major AT categories that hold a broad range of options. It would be worth exploring what AT tools would enhance the outcome of the Informing status. This would make a difference in self-esteem and career self-efficacy.

After learning about imagining, do you have any ideas that you would like to try? Take a month to imagine and take some action. In the next issue, you will get another piece of this puzzle that will help you on your journey.

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