Labor Day 2019 marked the 125th as a national holiday, a day the US Department of Labor says "celebrates and honors the greatest worker in the world – the American worker." Let's be certain we include the contributions of the members of the workforce with disabilities in that celebration and continue to work to create a more inclusive and more accessible workplace that empowers the future achievements of all workers.
Today's employment of people with disabilities
People with disabilities often have lower employment rates and lower pay rates — subminimum wage for some — than their counterparts without disabilities.
According to the Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary (Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 26, 2019):
- The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than double the rate of people without disabilities.
- People with disabilities are more likely to work part-time than people without disabilities (31% and 17% respectively, in 2018), and a greater percentage work part-time because "their hours had been reduced or because they were not able to find a full-time job."
- While employment numbers increase with higher levels of education, at all levels of education people with disabilities face much higher unemployment than people without disabilities. This includes people with a bachelor's degree or higher, who are still unemployed at more than double the rate if they have a disability.
Employ and empower people with disabilities
Digital accessibility can remove some of the barriers for many people who, historically, have been excluded or discriminated against.
Unfortunately, technological advances might not be able to remove stigma or challenge misconceptions. So, maybe it really starts with the recognition of the value of people with disabilities as major contributors and innovators. When we empower people with disabilities as experts, we build a stronger workforce and a stronger future.
Related: Common Web Accessibility Myths
Because Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities throughout the employment lifecycle, the pre-employment process is included. Creating accessible work environments, including digital systems and websites, and providing reasonable accommodations opens doors for job-seekers and employers alike.
Related: Digital Accessibility and the Hiring Process
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