Scientists find positive workplace experiences among Americans with disabilities

April 13, 2018, Kessler Foundation

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), have authored a new article that identifies how Americans with disabilities are striving to work and overcoming barriers to employment. Their findings are detailed in "Striving to work and overcoming barriers: Employment strategies and successes of people with disabilities," which was published online February 26, 2018 by the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. The authors are John O'Neill, PhD, and Elaine Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, of Kessler Foundation, and Vidya Sundara, PhD, OTR/L, Andrew Houtenville, PhD, Kimberly G. Phillips, PhD, Tracy Keirns, PhD, and Andrew Smith, PhD, of UNH.

People with disabilities experience persistent obstacles to employment, resulting in poorer labor force participation, higher unemployment rates, and lower wages earned compared to without disabilities. Identifying the strategies and resources necessary to sustain people with disabilities in paid employment is the first step toward increasing the participation of this population in the workforce. Findings of the 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey (KFNEDS) show that people with disabilities are actively engaging in job preparation and job search activities, and successfully negotiating barriers at work.

"Approximately 69 percent of those surveyed are striving to work, which is defined as working, actively preparing for employment, searching for jobs, seeking more hours, or overcoming barriers to finding and maintaining employment" said Elaine Katz, of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. "By focusing on the successful outcomes of jobseekers and employees with disabilities, rather than the barriers, we are reframing the discourse and adding to the growing body of knowledge on best employment practices."

A substantial percentage of employees reported experiencing - and overcoming - barriers to finding and maintaining employment, including insufficient education or training, negative attitudes of supervisors and coworkers, inaccurate assumptions on ability, pay disparity, and lack of transportation. Over 42 percent of survey respondents were currently working, with 60.7 percent of those working more than 40 hours a week. Other findings showed that approximately 50 percent of the respondents used workplace accommodations and were satisfied with their jobs, and nearly 90 percent felt accepted in their workplace.

"This review highlights the strategies people with disabilities use to search for work and navigate barriers,a topic largely overlooked in contemporary disability and employment research," explained John O'Neill, PhD, director of disability and research at Kessler Foundation. "Our hope is that this information will aid the development of targeted policies and programs that foster long-term increases in workforce participation among Americans with disabilities."

Further research exploring the efficacy of practices that employers use to recruit, hire, train, and retain people with disabilities in their organizations, from the unique perspective of supervisors of employees with and without , is presented in the 2017 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey: Supervisor Perspectives.

Explore further: Job numbers reflect rising inclusion of Americans with disabilities

More information: Vidya Sundar et al, Striving to work and overcoming barriers: Employment strategies and successes of people with disabilities, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation (2018). DOI: 10.3233/JVR-170918

Related Stories

Job numbers reflect rising inclusion of Americans with disabilities

November 3, 2017
The major economic indicators continue to reflect increasing inclusion of Americans with disabilities in the workforce, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment - Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler ...

Survey provides new directions for employment of people with disabilities

October 10, 2017
October 10, 2017 - Kessler Foundation released the results of a new national survey that shows that employers are striving to recruit, hire, train, and retain people with disabilities, and reveals areas of opportunity for ...

Ongoing job growth reflects people with disabilities striving to work

July 7, 2017
Americans with disabilities continued to engage in the labor market, reaching 15 months of job gains, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment - Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and ...

Survey: Most Americans with disabilities 'striving to work'

June 2, 2015
More than two-thirds of American adults with disabilities are "striving to work," according to a national employment survey being released just before the landmark legislation protecting their rights turns 25.

Economic recovery extends to 18 months for Americans with disabilities

October 6, 2017
Americans with disabilities continue to close in on pre-recession employment levels with yet another month of strong job numbers, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment - Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued ...

Recommended for you

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Colder, darker climates increase alcohol consumption and liver disease

November 14, 2018
Where you live could influence how much you drink. According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, people living in colder regions with less sunlight drink more alcohol than their ...

Survey reveals how we use music as a possible sleep aid

November 14, 2018
Many individuals use music in the hope that it fights sleep difficulties, according to a study published November 14 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tabitha Trahan of the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.