Since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the needle for employment has moved very little for people with disabilities. The underlying barriers preventing forward momentum are ableism and attitudinal barriers, beginning with how we message to youth with disabilities. While most people grow up being told ‘you can do anything if you work hard enough,’ the message for youth with disabilities is that they can’t do what other children can. This message is reinforced in school systems, in the home, and in the community and is compounded by horrific experiences of being bullied. The idea of ‘can’t’ becomes internalized rhetoric that prevents young people with disabilities from engaging in vocational and transitional services, seeking additional education, applying for career opportunities and promotions, and setting life goals. For return-to-work professionals who have gained a disability later in life, they are brought into the disability community from a medical model perspective. The focus is on the limitations introduced by a medical diagnosis, and how that impacts career and lifestyle, as opposed to a focus on exploring innovative accommodations options and making connections to the Disability Community as a societal group. For those with a diagnosis of a non-apparent disability, an additional component is added where stigma and ableism must be addressed that both prevents them from disclosing their disability as well as seeking out services they may believe are available and appropriate for those with apparent disabilities, such as vocational services, corporate return-to-work programming and accommodations interactive processes.
Webinar is being conducted by Joyce Bender.