Working for equity, issues of employment for youth with disabilities

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Morris, Janalee
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The purpose of this research project was to explore the past and present experiences of youth with disabilities as they related to their current employment situation. For this research, I documented the experiences of nine youth with physical disabilities as they participated in a six month Employment Training Project. The data collected through this research process has provided a rich source of information describing the experiences of the young people involved in this project. This study has substantiated much of the previous consumer literature on employment access among people with disabilities. Barriers identified by other researchers, including financial, institutional, educational and training issues, attitudinal, physical access, lack of experience, and bureaucratic barriers were all discussed by the youth who participated in this project. It is important that these systemic barriers be addressed in order to promote equal employment opportunities or all people with disabilities. This study presents the lived experiences of the youth that have led to their current status of unemployment. Through the presentation of individual narrative, it has allowed young people with disabilities to give voice to their own experiences of barriers. Interaction with family and friends, perception of their disability, and their self-esteem and ability to set goals have all impacted their ability to pursue employment. At times these factors have had a positive influence on their success. At other times, the negative attitudes of family, friends, and society in general have limited their ability to achieve their goals.