I remember when I was about 8 years old, a man who couldn't walk came to our house to fix my dad's computer. I was amazed by this guy as he could drive his van even though he didn't have use of his legs. Before he left that day, I watched him from the kitchen window as he was lifted into his van with a wheelchair transporter. At the time I didn't realize the perseverance and courage this man had. Reading the article, Barriers to employment as experienced by disabled people, gave me a new perspective of the challenges people with disabilities face towards employment. I was surprised to read that many people with disabilities are not even considered for interviews.
The article, discusses the challenges that people with physical and mental disabilities face, and also their personal opinions about the difficulties faced in regards to employment. As quoted by one who was interviewed: “I guess the biggest thing is, when I go to the interview I don't usually let the employer know that I'm in a chair. 'Cause I find that if I do, it might scare them off, or it might give them a reason to say, 'don't bother coming in'. I did experience that with one person. … I had asked the person whether the workplace was wheelchair accessible. And they said that they would get back to me and they never did” (Shier, M., Graham, J. & Jones, M., 2009, p. 66-67). There are many other similar stories in the article that testify that people with disabilities are oftentimes not even given a chance to be considered for jobs, even when they have the education and requirements necessary. Oftentimes when they do have a job, they have more chances of employee dismissal. One example of job dismissal is of a man who had been fired after working at an office supplies store for 25 years (15 of which he had been managing), once his employer found out he was illiterate. Providing education for employers and companies was a common response in the article by those who participated in the interviews, to providing a solution to the discrimination people with disabilities face in the work industry.
In Shier, M., Graham, J. & Jones, M., many respondents, especially those with mental-health related disabilities, identified much difficulty in job security, based on the symptoms of their disability. Labeling in the workplace is also identified as an issue in the article. Oftentimes the person with a disability is judged and stereotyped for his/her disability. Other barriers identified by respondents are inadequate transportation, lack of support, self-esteem issues, past influences, personal care, and disability.
Shier, M., Graham, J. & Jones, M. acknowledge that Canada, as well as other countries have tried to decrease welfare dependency by increasing incentives for people to work. "In their efforts to increase labour market participation, contemporary welfare states have frequently emphasized financial incentives, active job searching, and participation in labour market programmes" (Shier, M., Graham, J. & Jones, M., 2009, p.64). The article states that many shifts have been influenced by debates about economic efficiency towards the inability of sustaining social service programming. “Disabled people in Canada remain under-represented in the Canadian labour market, even though policy and programming is present to increase participation” (Shier, M., Graham, J. & Jones, M., 2009, p.64).
“Disabled people live with ongoing trauma, arising from chronic experiences of injustice, exclusion and prejudice. The reality of this trauma, however, is often ideologically deflected, obscured, offset or disguised, whilst simultaneously overlaid with projected, culturally condensed 'disability meanings” (Watermeyer, B., 2009). The article, Claiming loss in disability, mentioned that empirical studies show evidence that many people with disabilities do not see their disability as a loss, but as an enrichment to their life. Who is anyone to judge or devalue the meaning and potential of people with disabilities? In the Mullaly textbook, it suggests that marginalization is probably the most dangerous form of oppression since it cuts off entire groups of people from meaningful and beneficial participation in society (p. 266). I believe there are so many opportunities to see the beauty and potential in all people, and physical and mental disabilities should not be a preventative to do so.
Shier, Michael, Graham, John R., & Jones, Marion E. (2009) Barriers to employment as experienced by disabled people: a qualitative analysis in Calgary and Regina, Canada. Disability & Society. Vol 24, Iss 1, 63-75. DOI: 10.1080/09687590802535485
Watermeyer, Brian (2009). Claiming loss in disability. Disability & Society. Vol 24, Iss 1, 91-102. DOI: 10.1080/09687590802535717
Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (third ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.