Jobs for the Disabled?

Innovation IconThe fact remains that in America and around the world, job opportunities are limited for those with disabilities.  According to Department of Labor statistics, those with severe disabilities are more likely to be employed when they have higher levels of professional qualifications.  The statistics in this job market do show that unemployment among the disabled is more the 17 percent, but the reality is much more severe as those who are not seeking work are not counted in those figures.  Actually it is said that less than 20 percent of the disabled actually have work.

What gives?  Hasn’t all the laws promoted a more integrated society, where disabled and nondisabled work together.  Well laws change, but hiring practices of many companies haven’t changed.  The disabled are considered less productive and unwelcome.  People who are whole are considered damaged merchandise, so why should someone be given a job when a full bodied person with equal skills can be hired?  Also with the market in this shape, over qualified candidates without disabilities can do the work, and will.  The research shows that disabled workers are actually safer than non disabled because they know that getting a job is difficult and so they hold on to the jobs they get:

Thomas Schindlmayr in an opinion in the New york Times writes:

“I know of smart, capable people who have been turned down from jobs because of their disability. Why is this the case, when studies show that people with disabilities do as good a job, if not better, than the general population? A 30-year analysis by DuPont de Nemours showed that people with disabilities have equal or higher performance ratings, less absenteeism and better retention rates, thus reducing the high cost of turnover.  ( http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/16/opinion/16iht-edthomas.2505347.html)

But whatever the reason, many firms will not hire disabled workers, so families with disabled children sometime go to extreme effort to get their children working.  One mother in a Chicago suburb, raised $25,000 and set up a company so that her son with Asperger’s could work.  Now the idea is great, but it seems impractical to have to start firms to be able to employee the disabled.  Here is the link:   http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123567371

Well innovation comes from the trials and tribulations of being disabled, and so it was no surprise to me to see how family will create something their kids can make a living at.  However it was a big surprise to me a recent ad campaign had in a national effort to encourage businesses to hire persons with disabilities (when will the reporter understand that handicapped is a derogatory term for those who are disabled and beg).

The ads are really funny, but  I’m not going into detail when you can read the article online yourself. Here is the link:



2 Responses to “Jobs for the Disabled?”

  1. 1 l. a. woman
    20/02/2010 at 5:01 pm

    Blind people in general, and particularly in California, have an exceedingly high unemployment rate. Do you think it has anything to do with how inadequately blind children are educated? Could it be that teaching people braille might enhance their employability? And funding special education? How about providing more skill training, social skills, rehabilitation funding, and so on? You can’t expect people to get employed when they are not properly prepared by SOMEONE.

  2. 22/02/2010 at 10:52 pm

    In my experience, any severe disability such as blindness causes several layers of difficulty for making employment connections. Many tasks require sight. Mental tasks are where individuals who are blind should focus. The higher level of education, the better equipped a person will be for finding the positive opportunities for work. As society drops the age old attitudes about blindness, the fetters of prejudice have loosened on the blind.

    Today New York State has a Blind governor, England has a MP (Paterson). Today we have scientists and doctors, attorneys and politicians. These achievements are substantial. Years ago, the blind were beggars — (living off SSDI). Work was not an option, except for making brooms and things. I know that some states have programs where the bind tend vending machines to make money, only slightly better than charitable programs.

    What the blind need is the best education possible. They need to be stirred form their early days into mental tasks if they have any slight bent for learning, than drive them into the scope of academic endeavors where they can become knowledgeable professionals.

    The information age is an age that can help the blind see a better future. Despite the failings of library database manufacturers (programs) and internet inaccessibility, the blind still have a better shot at getting to the knowledge that can help them attain the level of professional work that can make them stand on their own two feet.

    I do believe an able bodied person should work and not live off the government. Why shouldn’t the blind?

    So if Braille makes education work then provide it, but if electrical files are the pathway, then provide access to them. Just don’t give up the effort to persuade these students to go the whole way with a PhD or Master’s at least. They need terminal degrees, not AA or Bachelors degrees where even sighted peers can’t get jobs.

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