ERIC Identifier: ED478950
Publication Date: 2003-00-00
Author: Wonacott, Michael E.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Employment of People with Disabilities. ERIC Digest.
Successful employment remains a critical issue for people with disabilities, although legislative mandates and a gradual change in attitudes across our culture have brought about some improvement. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 has clarified the legal rights of both individuals with disabilities and employers; at the same time, however, both groups still face important issues in employment, such as the disclosure of disabilities and the provision of reasonable workplace accommodations. Likewise, successful employment experiences require a match between the skills of individuals with disabilities and the skills needed for jobs.
THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
* Disability: physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual
* Qualified Individual with a Disability: person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position held or sought and who can perform the position's essential functions with or without reasonable accommodation
* Reasonable Accommodation: any modification or adjustment to the work environment or job that will enable a qualified job seeker or job holder with a disability to apply or to perform essential functions; includes adjustments to ensure a qualified individual has equal rights and privileges
* Essential Function: a function that is necessary for the performance of the job
* Nonessential Function: a function that may be marginal, modified, eliminated, transferred, or reassigned
Under ADA, individuals are considered disabled if they have a disability, have a record of impairment, or are regarded as having an impairment. Major life activities are things an average person can do with little or no problem (e.g., walking, speaking, working, learning). Covered employment practices include recruitment, hiring, training, pay, benefits, promotions, leave, job layoffs, and firing.
WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES AND THE LABOR MARKET
Rojewski (1999) analyzed 1996 data from the National Education Longitudinal Study:1988 on 11,178 participants 2 years after high school completion, including 441 young adults with learning disabilities (LD) and 10,737 without. LD participants had lower graduation rates, aspired to less prestigious occupations, were less likely to be enrolled in postsecondary education, and were more likely to be employed. Disabilities were associated with lower rates of working or being in the labor force but not with lower postsecondary participation--high educational aspirations in grade 12 and completion of an academic or college prep high school program were both predictors of 2-year postsecondary status for all students; disabilities were not. Similarly, Goldstein, Murray, and Edgar (1998) conducted annual telephone interviews over 5 consecutive years to gather post-high-school status information on earnings and hours worked per week of graduates with and without LD from three large midwestern U.S. school districts. In the first 5 years following graduation, graduates with LD had higher annual earnings and worked more hours per week, whereas the reverse was true in the second 5 years after graduation--presumably reflecting the higher likelihood that those without disabilities were more likely to participate in postsecondary education immediately or soon after high school. In addition, students with LD were less likely to participate in any form of postsecondary education or to have graduated from any postsecondary program 10 years after graduation (Murray et al. 2000). However, that lesser likelihood did not seem to matter much: there was little relationship between the postsecondary education status of students with LD and either their employment or their earnings.
DISCLOSURE OF DISABILITIES
* The Job Accommodation Network http://www.jan.wvu.edu is a free service offered by the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor that provides information and consulting on job accommodations, self-employment and small business opportunities, and related subjects to employers, people with disabilities, and others.
* The Office of Disability Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor provides fact sheets and other publications <http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/publicat.htm> on a range of employment issues for people with disabilities, including job accommodations.
* DisabilityInfo.Gov http://www.disabilityinfo.gov/employment is a comprehensive federal website of disability-related government resources; it provides information on job accommodations and identifies resources for technical assistance.
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