New Mobility Magazine published an article February fourth by Laura Hershey, arguing that employment for people with disabilities should be at the top of the priority list for disability advocates. In the United States only 37% of peoples with disabilities are employed. The downside to this statistic is that this low percentage has very little to do with the United States’ struggling economy. The problem is mostly due to the hassle for employers to make the work place more accessible to meet the needs of these people.
In 2008, The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities went into effect recognizing “the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others. This includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labor market and work environment that is open, inclusive, and accessible to persons with disabilities, (Article 27).” Since taking effect, it has been ratified by 78 countries total, the US not being one of them.
“Our disability advocacy movement needs to prioritize Economic issues, including but not limited to employment. Certainly, everyone should have access to opportunities to use their skills and talents for financial reward, for this increases our choices in life, and improves our own and our families’ well being. Most disabled people are denied those opportunities. In the US, disabled people’s lives tend to enrich the lives of others, while leaving us (disabled people), relatively poor.
Many of us (disabled people), aren’t allowed to earn a living; if we do, we can lose the very supports that keeps us alive and out of nursing homes. There are a few loopholes, called work incentive programs, but these are quite complex, and people who use them frequently face bureaucrats’ suspicion and mistreatment. (Hershey).”
Putting the disabled population back to work can start a domino effect towards many of the other issues. A job provides a person with a sense on self worth which in turn improves a persons’ mental health. A job would encourage community integration and promote a higher level of independence; and most importantly, being employed can give us back a sense of dignity and confidence.
Keeping the disabled community from being forced into nursing homes and other similar facilities against their will is a big struggle and may continue to be one for the next decade or so, but employment is equally as important, and getting disabled people back to work will greatly contribute in regaining and preserving our independence.