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Does 1% Improvement Matter in Disability Services?

1% improvement in disability services may not sound like that much. 1% improvement in anything may not sound like that much. An article published today on, addresses this exact strategy, albeit through the lens of cycling. As I read it, I could not help but think about those we serve and wanted to expand the idea for those with disabilities. We are going to explore language, range of motion, and employment pursuits using the 1% rule.


The average person says approximately 20,000 words per day. If we are working with someone who is non-verbal, going from zero to 20,000 seems impossible. When we apply the 1% rule, we get to 200 words. Not only does this matter, it is also not so overwhelming for the person and those around them to believe it is possible. Would their life be better and the relationship with those around them improve if they added 200 words to their ability… ABSOLUTELY! 1% matters.

Range of Motion

Normal elbow flexion is 150 – 160 degrees. If someone is experiencing paralysis on one side of their body and their current flexion is 80 degrees, what does one percent actually mean to them? 1% improvement is 0.8 degrees. If this improvement continued weekly for twelve weeks, what would it be? An increase of almost 10%, which could actually mean the ability for the individual to feed himself. 1% matters!

Employment Pursuits

For all of us, finding a job is hard, especially if you’ve never had one. How many of you have heard, “It’s easier to find a job if you currently have a job?” This is often not the case for those we serve. The statistics from Hire Lehigh say it takes 10-15 applications to get an interview and 10-15 interviews to get a job. These statistics conclude applicants have a 8.3% chance of getting an interview from a single application. Through application support and a little extra effort, 1% matters.

Everyone loves to hit a home-run, but often a consistent base hit is more valuable. While we like to see things increase by 100%, we should not shy away from 1% improvement. This small amount over time can make the difference between thriving and simply surviving. So when you’re asked does 1% improvement matter in disability services, you can answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

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