241277 Capturing and disseminating the strategies of successfully employed people with disabilities

Monday, October 31, 2011: 4:48 PM

Erica C. Jones, MPH , Pacific ADA Center, Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA
Lita Jans, PhD , DBTAC - Pacific ADA Center, Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA
H. Stephen Kaye, PhD , Institute for Health & Aging, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Many people with disabilities want to work, but face barriers to employment that have resulted in continually low employment rates. Yet successfully employed people with disabilities have valuable experience in obtaining work and thriving in the workplace, and are likely to have devised strategies that could help others; these have not been systematically studied or described in the literature. In this project, we collected and analyzed qualitative and quantitative data to inform development of training materials.

We conducted five focus groups, during which 41 employed people discussed their job-seeking and employment experiences related to their visible or hidden disabilities of various kinds; interviews were coded and themes extracted using a grounded theory approach. Statistics on disclosure- and accommodation-related practices of employed people with disabilities were obtained by analyzing the California Survey of People with Disabilities, based on interviews of 1,000 working-age adults identified as having disabilities in the state Behavioral Risk Factor Survey.

Key themes include whether and when to discuss or disclose the disability, depending on its visibility and level of stigmatization, as well as need for accommodations; accommodation as an ongoing process requiring assertiveness, educating oneself and one's employer, and active problem solving; addressing unspoken employer concerns about their abilities during the job interview; and performing well on the job to prove oneself capable, while acquiring skills and education for advancement. The training materials developed based on these themes and the quantitative findings will help job seekers with disabilities improve their prospects for success in the workforce.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the major issues identified by workers with disabilities in dealing with actual or potential employers. Identify strategies for resolving issues related to disclosing or discussing one's disability, interviewing, requesting accommodations,and succeeding on the job.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Experienced disability researcher with numerous publications in this topic area.
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.