People with disabilities may encounter barriers to obtaining competitive employment, meaning full- or part-time work in an integrated setting that pays at least a minimum wage. These barriers may include inaccessible work sites, a lack of transportation, and health challenges that make it difficult to keep a traditional work schedule. Self-employment is an alternative that can reduce these challenges by giving people with disabilities more control over their work setting and schedule.
Working-age Americans with disabilities often face more challenges getting health insurance than their peers without disabilities. They may have more complex healthcare needs, along with lower incomes that may prevent them from accessing private health insurance plans. Medicaid programs provide essential health insurance coverage for people who are low income, including many Americans with disabilities. Medicaid is funded by federal and state governments and administered by individual states.
An estimated 1.1 million Americans are legally blind, meaning that they have central vision of 20/200 or less, or a visual field smaller than 20 degrees. Compared to other disability groups, Americans who are legally blind have a higher college graduation rate. However, they still face disadvantages when seeking employment: These students may not have the same early work experience as other students and may not have developed their job search or interview skills.
For people with disabilities, transportation can be a major challenge. People may be unable to drive a car, ride a bike, or travel on foot due to a disability. If transportation is not available, accessible, and affordable, people with disabilities may not be able to fully participate in daily activities. For example, people may have trouble getting to work, running errands, going to the doctor, or socializing without adequate transportation.
Young adults with disabilities are less likely to find employment than young adults without disabilities, and those youth with disabilities who are employed may earn less than their peers without disabilities. Unemployment and under-employment rates are especially high for young women with disabilities and some ethnic minority youth, such as African Americans.
Youth with disabilities have access to a variety of services throughout their school years and as they transition to adulthood. These services include special education, transition supports, vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, and social and health services. After high school, however, these services can become fragmented and harder to access. Compared to youth without disabilities, research has shown that youth with disabilities may be less likely to continue with their education or pursue employment after high school.
With advances in cancer treatment, more and more people with cancer diagnoses are returning to work after treatment or continuing to work while being treated for their cancer. The effects of cancer such as fatigue, pain, depression, and cognitive difficulties can have an impact on work life. Cancer survivors may find they need information and resources regarding legal protections to prevent job loss, managing their employers’ expectations when they return to work, and benefits and services available to support them in the workplace.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord or the spinal nerve roots within the spinal canal resulting in temporary or permanent loss of movement and/or feeling. Learning to manage health after SCI can be a long and complicated process that is dependent on numerous personal and environmental factors, and it is an important part of the overall recovery process. Employment has been shown to be a key part of recovery and strongly related to health, life-satisfaction, and longevity, but the effects of SCI can present barriers to finding and keeping a job.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person's life. ASD can affect how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. For example: A person with ASD may express ideas and emotions differently, may exhibit repetitive behaviors, or may have difficulty adapting to new or changing situations.
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