Americans with disabilities have significantly lower levels of employment than their non-disabled peers. Prior study of employment rates among people with disabilities generally has relied on a “supply-side” approach, analyzing how personal characteristics predict employment and earnings. These models have not sufficiently analyzed variables related to employer demand (and the interaction of employer demand/supply and the environment) as predictors of employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Thus, there is a need to systematically understand demand characteristics for qualified workers with disabilities, particularly as work requirements change over time.
This project, funded by a five-year grant from the U.S Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), sets out scientifically rigorous and evidence-based methods to develop, identify, and evaluate employment demand-side models. It generates new knowledge to better understand market-driven workforce trends: to improve employment outcomes and inform employment practices and policies to prepare individuals with disabilities for the changing needs and requirements of the present and future workforce.
The project weaves together a series of nine targeted and coordinated demand-side research projects (guided by a Blue Ribbon Expert Panel and an Independent Evaluator), providing new data gathering, data analysis, hiring tools, partnership building, and experimental study, to inform comparison of the efficacy of demand- and supply-side models in understanding and improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities
Additionally, the sub-projects deal directly with issues of “corporate culture,” including focus groups and town meetings to understand the nexus between disability and corporate culture, as well as providing specialized trainings for senior management, department heads, and hiring personnel.
The partnership is an unprecedented nationwide collaboration of economists, statisticians, and leading experts in law, public and disability policy, corporate culture, applied life studies, technology, rehabilitation, and education. Project partners will translate findings into valid and practical tools for large and small businesses in different market sectors to improve employment outcomes for persons with disability.
U.S Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Grant No. H133A060033.
- What Is An Inclusive Culture? PDF | HTM
- Inclusive Policies & Practices: What Do We Know? PDF | HTM
- Model Diversity Policy: Changing Policies, Practices and Culture PDF | HTM
- Policies that Support the Inclusion of Employees with Disabilities PDF | HTM
- Impact of Management on the Inclusion of Employees with Disabilities PDF | HTM
- Reasonable Accommodation Policies & Practices PDF | HTM
- Promoting the Hiring, Retention and Advancement of Individuals with Disabilities PDF | HTM
- Is your workplace culture inclusive? An Inclusive Culture Checklist PDF | HTM
- Workforce Development Resources: State & Federal Funding Opportunities for Employers PDF |HTM
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Helping Employers Staff a Skilled Workforce PDF | HTM
- Accessible Recruitment Checklist PDF | HTM
- Accessible Training Checklist PDF | HTM
- Colleges/Universities that Offer Adapted Sports
- Introducing the Employer Demand Toolkit: Inclusive Culture and the Workplace (02/21/12)
- Employees with Disabilities: Recruitment, Hiring and Training (03/07/12)
Research and Publications
Blanck, P. (2008). Flattening the (inaccessible) cyberworld for people with disabilities. Assistive Technology, 20(3), 175-180.
Blanck, P. (2009) “The right to live in the world”: Disability yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, 13(2), 369-403.
Blanck, P., Adya, M., Myhill, W., Samant, D., & Chen, P. (2007). Employment of Persons with Disabilities: Twenty-Five Years Back and Forward. Minnesota Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, 25, 323-353.
Blanck, P., Myhill, W., Vedeler, J., Morales, J. & Pearlman, P. (2009). Individuals with cancer in the workforce and their federal rights. In M. Feuerstein (Ed.), Cancer Survivorship and Work. New York, NY: Springer Publishing, 255-276.
Friedman, M. (2006). Securing access for people with disabilities: A community affair. Society and Values,11(11), 9-10.
Hill, E. & Blanck, P. (2009). Future of Disability Law and Advocacy and “The Right to Live in the World”, Second Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium. Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, 15, 1-31.
Hill, E. & Blanck, P. (2009). Future of Disability Rights: Part Three—Statutes of Limitations in Americans with Disabilities Act, “Design and Construct” Cases. Syracuse Law Review, 60, 125-159.
Kaye, S. (2009). Stuck at the bottom rung: Occupational characteristics of workers with disabilities.Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 19(2), 115-128.
Logue, L. & Blanck, P. (2008). “Benefit of the doubt” African-American civil war veterans and pensions.Journal of Interdisciplinary History, xxxviii:3 (Winter, 2008), 377–399.
Myhill, W. Cogburn, D., Samant, D. Addom, B., & Blanck, P. (2008). Developing accessible cyber infrastructure-enabled knowledge communities in the national disability community: Theory, practice, and policy.Assistive Technology, 20(3), 157-174.
Myhill, W.& Blanck, P. (2010). Disability and Aging: Historical and Contemporary Challenges. Marquette Elder’s Advisor, 10, 47-80.
Myhill, W., Samant, D., Klein, D., Kaplan, S., Reina, V. & Blanck, P. (2007). Distance education initiatives and their early 21st century role in the lives of people with disabilities. In E. P. Bailey (ed.), Focus on Distance Education Developments. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 1-39.
Reina, M. V., Adya, M. & Blanck, P. (2007). Defying Double Discrimination. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 8, 95-104.
Samant, D., Soffer, M., Hernandez, B., Adya, M., Akinpelu, O., Joel M. Levy, J., Repoli, E., Kramer, M. & Blanck, P. (2009). Corporate Culture and Employment of People With Disabilities: Role of Social Workers and Service Provider Organizations. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 8, 171-188.
Schartz, H., Schartz, K., Hendricks, D.J., & Blanck, P. (2006). Workplace Accommodations: Empirical Study of Current Employees. Mississippi Law Journal 75, 917-43.
Schreuer, N., Myhill, W., Samant, D., Aratan-Bergman, T. & Blanck, P. (2009). Workplace Accommodations: Occupational Therapists as Mediator in the Interactive Process. Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, 34, 149-160.
Schur, L., Kruse, D., Blasi, J. & Blanck, P. (2009). Is disability disabling in all workplaces? Workplace disparities and corporate culture. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 48(3), 381-410.
Schur, L., Kruse, D. Blasi, J, & Blanck, P. (2007). Corporate Culture and the Experiences of Employees with Disabilities.
Solovieva, T., Dowler, D. & Walls, R. (2010). Employer benefits from making workplace accommodations. Disability and Health Journal, 3, in press.
Solovieva, T., Walls, R., Hendricks, D. & Dowler, D. (2009). Cost of Workplace Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities: With or Without Personal Assistance Services. Disability and Health Journal, 2, 196-205.
- Project 1: Employer-Based Hiring & Retention Tool
- Project 2: Work Disability Trends by Industry
- Project 3: Projections of Employer Demands for Abilities/Disabilities
- Project 4: Employer Demand for Workers with Disabilities During Layoff/Downsizing
- Project 5: Employer Demand for Alternative Workers & Work Arrangements
- Project 6: Experimental Study – Employer Responses to Applicants with Disabilities
- Project 7: Process, Outcomes & Implications for Workplace Accommodations
- Project 8: Employer Brief and Toolkit Resource Dissemination and Training
Project 1: Employer-Based Hiring & Retention
Project partners at the Disability Research Institute (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) will develop a comprehensive employer based information resource designed to improve the employment outcomes for persons with disabilities. This project will develop and test a unique and comprehensive, skill-based hiring and retention tool, drawn from an extensive collection of job skill and job analyses sources. This unprecedented tool will equip hiring personnel (as well as educators and others) with an ability to match jobs and qualified applicants with or without disabilities. The outcome will be to ensure that employers and applicants with disabilities benefit directly from more informed and sophisticated employment matches, and thereby measurably and directly increasing the perceived and actual employability of persons with disabilities overall.
This project will benefit placement professionals and persons with disabilities by providing them with more accurate and detailed information regarding the specific functional requirements of real jobs within the particular market in which they are searching for employment. Thus, the accuracy with which recruiters, employers and others will be able to match the skills, competencies and knowledge of a person with a disability to the available positions will be enhanced. Further, this tool will aid the placement professional and the person with a disability in more accurately identifying specific tasks associated with real jobs (i.e., essential job functions) for which accommodations will be required. This information thereby will enhance the ability to strategize possible accommodative solutions prior to applying/interviewing. Thus, the applicant with a disability will be much better prepared for any resultant job interview. This benefit, combined with the unique expertise of project team partner JAN will greatly enhance employment demand characteristics for employers and persons with disabilities.
Project 2: Work Disability Trends by Industry
This project will create new baselines and predictions of employment demands over the next ten years, prepared in light of disability-type (across the spectrum of disability), industry and sector, region and state, alternative workers and work arrangements, and during downsizing and layoff. These data will inform large and small employers of how their employment policies and practices must change internally to attract qualified workers, and how persons with disabilities may prepare themselves for the changing workforce.
To improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities and to better meet employer demands for qualified workers who may have disabilities, policy makers need a realistic and straightforward understanding of how people with disabilities fare under different employment conditions. These conditions are affected by employment-related factors such as (1) occupation types, job structures and physical/mental requirements, wage levels, employer policies regarding hiring, retention, and benefits, and the degree of competition for workers within an industry; (2) macroeconomic conditions such as recessions or periods of rapid economic growth, outsourcing and other causes of workforce shrinkage, and changes in long-term unemployment levels; and (3) policy factors such as work incentives and disincentives.
Employers having difficulty hiring qualified workers will use the results of this study to better understand the types of employer- or industry-specific policies that need to be altered to retain more qualified workers with disabilities.
Project 3: Projections of Employer Demands for Abilities/Disabilities
This project, implemented by project partners at the School of Management and Labor Relations (Rutgers University–The State University of New Jersey), will use occupational projections matched to datasets with disability information and ability requirements to create (i) baseline projections of the expected changes in employment of people with disabilities, and (ii) estimates of the potential for increased employment of people with disabilities based on the ability requirements of growing occupations. The results provide a useful planning tool for employers, people with disabilities, and vocational planners.
The data on ability projections will be of direct benefit to people with disabilities in two essential ways. First, the data will be of direct benefit in career planning: people with specific impairments will be able to identify the types of jobs available for someone with their abilities, and then make appropriate plans and choices regarding their education and training. Second, these data will be useful to vocational planners, educators, and advisers for people with disabilities by improving advisers’ abilities to provide more accurate and realistic information regarding short and longer term career options.
Project 4: Employer Demand for Workers with Disabilities During Layoff/Downsizing
This project will be carried out by project partners at Rutgers University. Employer-focused employment needs are revealed in employer decisions regarding how many, and which, workers to lay off when economic times are bad. Such decisions reveal important information about the relative demand for workers with and without disabilities. In addition, job longevity is an important employment outcome for all workers, including those both with and without disabilities.
The data to be acquired on layoffs and downsizings among people with disabilities will be directly valuable to people with disabilities, career advisors, and policy makers. People with disabilities will be able to more accurately predict their potential for long term employment or risk for layoffs and downsizing. This information will enable people with disabilities and others to proactively seek new training and employment opportunities prior to job loss. Policy-makers also will gain information to fashion policies ahead of time to decrease layoffs and downsizing, and to cushion the blow and speed the adjustment process of workers with disabilities who get laid off, or importantly who lose benefits of employment such as pension or health care coverage.
Project 5: Employer Demand for Alternative Workers & Work Arrangements
This project, implemented by project partners at Rutgers University, will analyze the employer demand for contingent, part-time, and home-based/telecommuting work, and provide an on-going picture of how this demand is being met by people with disabilities. The results on alternative work arrangements will be useful directly to people with disabilities by establishing the extent to which these arrangements provide a good means of livelihood for people with disabilities. The results also are useful for those interested in alternative work arrangements as a stepping stone toward more secure employment for those who would like to secure standard jobs.
Project 6: Experimental Study of Employer Responses to Applicants with Disabilities
This project, carried out by BBI researchers at Syracuse University, will ascertains the extent to which employers are likely to hire applicants with disabilities. Existing empirical literature and examination of employment statistics demonstrate that persons with disabilities are employed at lower rates than persons without disabilities. The conclusions from existing literature (largely based on self-report/survey studies and analog/experimental studies) suffer from criticisms that the analog research is weak in realism (and therefore meaningful generalizability) and the self-report/survey studies are susceptible to social desirability and other reporting biases.
This project uses an unprecedented experimental design (i.e., with randomization) that allows for causal conclusions to be drawn with greater confidence, and thus furthers the ability to generalize from the findings. As such, conclusions from this study will add force to calls for strengthening and adding to existing legislation and policy that prevents and protects persons with disabilities from attitudinal discrimination in the workplace.
Project 7: Process, Outcomes, & Implications of Workplace Accommodations
Project partners at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN, West Virginia University) have exclusive access to an ever-increasing and unique dataset gathered directly from employers nationwide regarding their experiences in accommodating persons with disabilities. This data represents the voice of the employers as they tell us what they have found works and what does not. JAN will analyze the input, process, and outcome characteristics of successful and unsuccessful accommodation attempts, and develop new best practice models and implementation guidelines for small and large employers in different market sectors. Specifically, the data will inform individuals with disabilities and professional representatives as to the best strategies for: (1) requesting accommodations of an employer, (2) successful implementation of an accommodation by an employer, and (3) application of accommodations in the hiring process.
The overarching goal of this project is to determine how difficult it is for different types of employers to implement the five indicated types of accommodations, including: (1) problems encountered by accommodation attempts; (2) employers’ perceived effectiveness; (3) best practices that increase probability of successful implementation; and (4) viable alternatives accommodations for employers. Additionally, we analyze effectiveness across four stages of accommodation: input, process, outcome, and policy impact.
Project 8: Employer Brief and Toolkit Resource Dissemination and Training
This project of BBI is designed to provide direct training and dissemination of the emerging tools and best practices from Employer Demand Projects 1 through 7 for hiring and retention of workers with disabilities, to the business community, human resource and hiring personnel, general counsel, and disability community.
We are developing for distribution a series of Employer Briefs showcasing the findings of the Employer Demand research, Corporate Culture Case Study research, the New York Medicaid Infrastructure Grant projects, and other BBI initiatives. These will be distributed through BBI’s extensive projects and partnerships, including but not limited to including the DBTAC: Southeast ADA Center, Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBVD), and Center on the Effective Delivery of Rehabilitation Technology by State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies to Improve Employment Outcomes; as well as the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) and Business Leadership Networks (BLNs).
Additionally, we are developing Employer Toolkit strategies help employers implement the effective practices identified in the research. We will offer Online Trainings for implementing the Employer Toolkit, In-Person/Phone Technical Assistance, and Conduct Follow-up Surveys to gather feedback on the effectiveness of these initiatives.
U.S Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Grant No. H133A060033.