Employment and the disabled



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Current approaches to secure more equitable competitive employment for the disabled have not been successful. The literature indicated negative employer attitudes as a basis. Criticisms of the validity and representativeness of the responses of mailed questionnaires, has necessitated a new approach. The technique and aim employed in this investigation involved a more direct confrontation and an exploration in depth as the best means of eliciting more valid information about employer attitudes and concrete areas of concerns about disability and employment. Two employer groups were utilized; six companies in each (range 100-4,200 employees per company), and two levels of experience with employed disabled. A counselor group (twelve counselors) was also utilized because of their experience with disabled and employers. Six disabilities (paralysis, epilepsy, cardiac, facial scar, deaf, and blind), all equally capable of performing two defined jobs (clerk typist, desk sales) were discussed by each group, and rated independently before and after discussion by each respondent for degree of employability for each job. An interdisability ranking was similarly completed. Discussion responses were analyzed and grouped into four major response categories (Employment, Attitudes and Relationships, Medical, Psychological) each with several subcategories, indicative of the specific areas of concern by each group, for every disability for each job. A response category hierarchy was noted and related to frequency of responses in each category for each disability and job. Employability ratings and interdisability rankings revealed a disability hierarchy with three distinct subgroups. Paralysis, epilepsy, and cardiac were consistently highest, facial scar was in the middle, and deaf and blind lowest. Response frequency was also directly related to this disability hierarchy with highest percentage of responses in the disability triad receiving the highest ratins. The location of each disability on a scale of employability parallelled the disability hierarchy; highest rated and ranked disabilities in the upper part of the employability scale, facial scar in the mid zone, deaf and blind at the bottom. There was high intergroup similarity for all the results noted above, across all conditions. An interrelationship table was constructed summarizing the relationship between disabilities, jobs, groups, response categories (areas of concern) and degree of concern by each group. Four methods of analytical approach to this table were described to aid in isolating any relationships among these factors. A clear and concise picture of the specific types of concerns by employers for each disability in relation to each job was demonstrable from this table. Shifts in ratings before and after discussion by particular disabilities, the slight downward trend in employability for particular disabilities post discussion, high positions occupied by the top rated disability grouping, and median and low positions of the other disabilities, and the relationship between the positions occupied by the disabilities on the visibility-invisibility continuum, were all noted and explained. The investigation revealed the strategy and usefulness of the small group employer discussion technique as a means of providing more valid and concrete information about employer attitudes and concerns regarding employment of the disabled. It also dispelled, to some extent, employers' negative attitudes and hiring reluctance. The information also revealed that employers have specific attitudes and concerns about each disability rather than a general view that encompasses all disabilities as a single common entity. Recommendations stemming from the results, were made of immediate application to validate this information as well as extend and generalize the findings to other employer groups, disabilities, and job situations.



Employment, Disability