201125 Because I work: A qualitative study on what people with disabilities get from work besides a paycheck

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:06 AM

Patricia Yeager, MS , DBTAC: Rocky Mountain ADA Center, Colorado Springs, CO
The 2006 American Community Survey indicated that only 35% of people with disabilities work as opposed to 74% of the general population (Smith, F.A., & Clark, D.M. 2007). As an advocate in the Independent Living movement, I have noticed people with disabilities who overturned various barriers to go to work and wondered what motivated them to do so. We conducted a phenomenological qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with 21 employed persons with disabilities in California, Colorado, Montana and Utah. Key questions were: “What do you get out of work besides a paycheck?” “What strategies did you use to go to or get back to work?”

Seven themes were richly developed. Most were substantiated by a review of the literature. Participants indicated that because they work 1) they could support themselves and a family, 2) were socially connected to their communities, 3) experienced satisfaction in their lives, 4) their mental and physical health improved, 5) they role modeled for others, 6) they were empowered and 7) they eloquently described self-actualization: a) what others said about them, b) what they learned about themselves and c) how they changed because of work.

Sixteen participants described what got them to work or back to work. Strategies included family role models and expectations, seeing other people with disabilities working, disability agencies' assistance, social networks and volunteering. This research has been translated into a consumer friendly document for distribution and the authors call for ways to show people with a variety of disabilities working.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the importance of work for the 21 cross disability participants of the qualitative study 2. Articulate the 8 themes that emerged from study 3. Describe how the data could be used to inform other people with disabilities considering going to work. 4. List the 3-5 top strategies that this group used to join or re-join the work force.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Conducted research on AT usage and Californians with disabilities with Dr. Steve Kaye. Primary author, "Assistive technology and employment: Experiences of Californians with disabilities," Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation Co-author, Tools for Living: Assistive Technology Experiences of Californians with Disabilities, published by the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers. Presented research data on AT at the 2007 ICADI conference. Presented AT data at several State IL Council conferences and state IL conferences. Currently conducting research for dissertation on internal barriers that people with disabilities have who could work but don't.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.