According to the U.S. Census, people with disabilities represent over 14% of the population of the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). Almost three times as many adults with disabilities live in a household with an annual income of less than $15,000 compared to adults without disabilities (U.S. Census). Only 29% of people with disabilities of working age work full or part-time, as compared to 79% of people of working age without disabilities (U.S. Census). The Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act, 41 U.S.C. 46-48c) (JWOD), now known as the AbilityOne program, was enacted specifically to provide employment options for people with severe disabilities who can not work in competitive employment. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the federal government made changes in its requirements regarding background checks for employees of government contractors. Individuals employed by organizations that have contracts under the AbilityOne program are not exempt from these new rules. As a result, a select group of people with severe disabilities are being adversely impacted as they are no longer able to participate in a program designed to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities who cannot work in a competitive job environment.
The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of a select group of people with severe disabilities who have encountered attitudinal, environmental, and public policy barriers to employment. Particular attention was paid to the impact of the new emphasis on background checks for employment both in the public and private sectors. Specifically, this study explored the experiences of people with disabilities who have been rejected from employment opportunities through the AbilityOne program because of their inability to pass a rigorous background check.
Through a phenomenological design using in depth, semi-structured interviews to collect data, the impact of these experiences on the lives of people with disabilities were analyzed. Stakeholders (i.e. executive directors, rehabilitation counselors, case managers, and job developers) involved with programs that provide training and employment opportunities for people with severe disabilities provided additional insights into the barriers faced. The findings of the study emphasized importance of work to consumers, the discrimination they face in the private sector, their desire for a second chance, and the importance of the AbilityOne program.
|Commitee:||Kladopoulos, Chris, Owens, David|
|Department:||School of Human Services|
|School Location:||United States -- Minnesota|
|Source:||DAI-B 69/04, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Occupational psychology, Labor relations, Welfare|
|Keywords:||AbilityOne, Disability, Employment barriers, Employment for people with disabilities, Security clearances, Vocational rehabilitation|
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