Technology and Disability: A Barrier or an Opportunity for Employment?

by John Leonard and Trevor Maat

The Kessler Foundation has commissioned the University of New Hampshire Survey Center (UNH-SC) to conduct a national survey on the employment situation of Americans with disabilities. The results of the 2014 National Employment Survey on the Status of Americans with Disabilities will be released in July 2015 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The employment gap is a significant one. In 2012, 73.6% of working age (18 to 64) people without disabilities were employed, compared with 32.7% of people with disabilities, a gap of 40.9%.


Is technology a barrier or an opportunity for those with disabilities? (Photo credit: Wikipedia / Phillie Casablanca)

“Our goal is to maximize employment opportunities for people with disabilities, the largest minority in the U.S.,” said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. “This in-depth survey will provide detailed information about the current status of employment and support efforts to identify innovative strategies that result in long-term employment for large numbers of people.”

And releasing the results on the 25th of anniversary of the ADA might be fitting considering the impact new adaptive technologies have had on the work place of those with disabilities. Forbes, for an example, recently highlighted how technology can mitigate cognitive disabilities, while a paper from Cornell’s Society for Human Resource Management provides a more nuanced look at how technology can be both a barrier and an opportunity for those with disabilities.

And the American Foundation for the Blind, a member organization of the National Human Services Assembly, has this great page of resources for those interested in learning more about assistive technologies for those with disabilities.

We look forward to see the results of 2014 National Employment Survey on the Status of Americans with Disabilities, along with other reports and surveys on the employment challenges and opportunities those with disabilities face today.

Have other great resources to share? Let us know below!


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