This topic has become an interest to me personally and politically over the last several years. I’ve had CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth), a progressive neuropathic disease, and ESRD since birth, and the latter finally caught up when I was 12. At that point, after the medical issues are straightened out, after each setback, you try to get back to a normal life, as anyone who has gone through something life altering does, as quickly as possible. And being productive, I would assume, for most people is an important part of life, whether disabled or non-disabled.
A study done in 2004, by Jolls & Prescott,DISAGGREGATING EMPLOYMENT PROTECTION: THE CASE OF DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION, using a sample survey data and laws from states which had some protections for disabled workers, through anti-discrimination laws, or similar to those of the ADA. The researchers suggest that the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), had a negligible value in a decrease in the employment of disabled workers after the law was passed in 1990, and that certain parts of the law be modified instead of scrapping the whole ADA. The study goes on to ask if the previous studies which found the ADA decreased disabled employment might be due to the provisions employers must follow: reasonable workplace accommodations, and firing costs. Both of which can lead to costly upgrades, and modifications for hiring, and significant court and legal fees, even if an employee is fired legitimately.
So, if the ADA had a somewhat negligible decrease in the employment of those who are disabled, according to the 2004 study; then the policy more than likely isn’t having the desired increase in disabled employment. A quick perusal of BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) employment data shows that government policy, like the ADA, rarely if ever has the desired effect on it’s intended benefactors.
Personally, I looked for full-time employment for 3 years in my field, and part-time in anything I was physically able to do, which I was very limited. Eventually, I used the vocational rehabilitation services for 2 years when I wasn’t having any luck on my own. However, I was later told that someone with a 4 year degree is something they didn’t deal with at all. So, their best option was to have me fill out job applications…..Why didn’t I think of that! Some of the interviewers I talked to as much said, ” You’re on SSID, right?Then, you’re already being taken care of.” And I can understand the apprehension of hiring a disabled employee, there was as much apprehension in my mind as well, as to, whether I would be able to perform the jobs duties as expected. I also wasn’t going to sue a potential employer for “discrimination”, where does that get me, and I want to be employed because I have value to an employer. At that point, honestly, I kind of just gave up, and believed there wasn’t another option to obtain a job.
So, what could be other solutions for the disabled? Why not work from home doing what someone is able to do specific to one’s limitations. According the BLS 2016 data, “Employed persons with a disability were more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. (See table 4.)” PERSONS WITH A DISABILITY: LABOR FORCE CHARACTERISTICS — 2016. Private corporations/business would employ disabled workers as well, for instance, Citi provide trainings specifically referring to consideration for persons with disabilities. Globally, Citi has five Persons with Disability Networks. This is what, as I referred to above, are what state and federal agencies lack, resources to help people who really want to work and become productive individuals. Government policy usually hinders innovation and productivity, and the ADA is no different.