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Barriers to Employment for Adults with Disabilities
Just about everyone will face difficulties or challenges at some point in their lives. However, persons with disabilities are more impacted by personal and environmental barriers. Whether you are a person with a disability looking to get a job, have a loved one in this position, or are wondering if you have a disability, this article can help you get clarity on the rights of disabled persons in the workplace.
Obstacles to employment can range from physical to social. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines employment barriers as “factors that limit functioning through their presence or absence.” They can include:
- A physical environment that is inaccessible or hard to navigate
- Lack of assistive tools or technologies to help the person be effective
- Negative attitudes within the work environment
- A lack of relevant systems, services, and policies
Physical barriers can take the form of structural issues in the environment that impede functioning; for example, the lack of a wheelchair ramp or elevator, or not providing modified equipment that allows the disabled person to perform in the position. For example, if a person has severe dyslexia or visual impairments, they need to be provided with a computer that is capable of reading the screen to them.
Attitudes and Stereotyping
Judgments and assumptions about disabled persons can also prevent them from getting hired or having a positive experience in the workplace. These attitudes can lead to prejudice, stigma, and discrimination. While this is becoming less of an issue than it once was, it can still be a factor and a barrier to both getting a job and keeping a job. For example, a person may be denied resources because their employer does not believe that they have a learning disability, Autism or other types of “invisible” disabilities. This is illegal.
Barriers to Communication
Communication obstacles can create an inability to effectively speak, write, read or otherwise understand what is required to be effective in a job. Some examples would be:
Employers should be mindful of the obstacles disabled workers face and take steps to reduce their impact. For example, offering large print versions of manuals for those with vision problems or closed captioning in training videos can help disabled workers to get up to speed.
- Inability to use a phone due to a hearing issue
- Lack of Braille printed items for blind persons
- Language that is too technical for persons with cognitive impairments
Program and Policy Barriers
Program and policy barriers can also be a factor, including not enough time allowed for disabled persons to complete tasks. Employers should strive to take advantage of federally funded programs and services for disabled persons to provide them with accommodations that allow them to excel in their roles.
Focused Workplace Adjustments Can Make All the Difference
If a disabled person is having trouble completing their work, they legally need to be provided with the necessary accommodations. Employers should take all relevant factors into consideration and create a workplace environment that facilitates success for all.
If a person in a wheelchair has a desk job, they should be provided a ramp or elevator so that they can navigate the workplace. If someone has a developmental disability, they may need a little more training before they start working. Adjustments like these can facilitate success in the workplace and support valuable employees that excel for years to come.
Many people with disabilities will thrive in the workplace under the right conditions. Our societies are seeing their role in assisting these persons as a social responsibility to ensure all people are supported in living fulfilling, independent lives.
If you or someone you love is having trouble finding viable employment due to a disability, RISE is here to assist you. We provide services for persons with a range of challenges and impairments. Our goal is to help break down barriers to employment for persons with disabilities and facilitate a higher quality of life. Contact us today to find out more about our programs and resources.