Barriers to Employment
by Becky Johnston
May 01, 2020
Consumer Barriers When Looking for Employment
As we know, disability and many other “diverse” populations have a certain stigma when it comes to social norms. Individuals with disabilities have to deal with this on a daily basis in just about everything aspect of life, including employment.
For those working in the human service field, we see past these labels and see the true potential and skill of our consumers. When working in a day program, some clients participate in vocational tasks that are eligible for special minimum wage, which allows clients who may not have developed the skills of cleaning, shredding, folding, etc. to earn a paycheck and provide a sense of community. Within the next two or three years, special minimum wage will be eliminated and along with that many jobs for our consumers. Many clients participate in enclave (job) sites, both independent and group. Companies currently have the option to bill for the services we provide or choose to bring them on as an employee on their payroll. We see many companies go with the billing option, because of the liability that comes along with putting consumers on their payroll. Many companies fear that there will be an increase in workman’s- compensation claims. Although this fear is valid when employing anyone with or without disabilities, this simply comes down to lack of knowledge.
Consumers with disabilities have been living with their disability for most, if not all of their lives. This makes our consumers very aware of their limitations and how to function on a day-to-day basis. Our consumers are just as or as not less likely to be injured on the job as someone without a disability.
So many readers may be ask themselves, “Okay, now what? How do we proceed?” unfortunately, the answer is not black and white. Individuals with disability and those who advocate have been fighting this battle of discrimination for a quite some time. Since 1990, when the ADA was passed, many great things have changed in the world of disability. Things continue to change for the better and we will continue to educate. Moving forward, we need to provide education to our local legislators, to show them how the elimination of special minimum wage will impact those with disabilities. As for employment in the community, we will continue to educate and destigmatize the endless capabilities that our consumers possess.
As always, the DAC is grateful for the opportunities that continue to arise for our consumers and the business who are willing to give our consumers a chance.
Becky Johnston, Program Coordinator