The National Center on Self-Employment, Business Ownership, and Telecommuting has issued a report authored by the Harkin Institute identifying ways vocational rehabilitation agencies can enhance business-ownership and self-employment opportunities for people with disabilities, especially those categorized as having the most significant disabilities.

According to a release, the rate of individuals with disabilities who are self-employed is about 9.6%, nearly double the rate for individuals without disabilities, but only 1.7% of participants in vocational rehabilitation programs “achieve self-employment as a form of successful, competitive integrated employment.”

Researchers summarized self-employment policies from 73 state vocational rehabilitation agencies, representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The report found four key opportunities that agencies can pursue to create more equitable access to self-employment, including implementing self-employment tools and guides that allow for more individualized exploration of self-employment possibilities.

“Self-employment is well-aligned with current economic trends in the U.S. – including the gig economy,” said Joseph Jones, executive director for the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. “It also offers vocational rehabilitation agencies a creative and flexible way to increase the employment of people with disabilities, including those categorized as having the most significant disabilities.”