Striving to work and overcoming barriers: Employment strategies and successes of people with disabilities

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: People with disabilities experience longstanding barriers to employment. However, beyond the conventional metrics of labor force participation or unemployment rates we know very little about the workplace experiences of people with disabilities. OBJECTIVE: This study describes findings from the 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey (2015 KFNEDS), a nationally representative survey of Americans with disabilities. METHODS: A dual-frame, random digit dial, nationally representative survey was conducted. Survey respondents included 3013 working age adults with a disability. Survey respondents were asked about disability, employment status, job search activities and workplace experiences. RESULTS: Over 42% of survey respondents were currently working. 68.4% were striving to work characterized by job preparation, job search and/or participation in the workforce since the onset of their disability. Although some barriers persisted in the workplace, many were able to overcome the same. Overall, 47.8% of the respondents used workplace accommodations, 45.3% were satisfied with their jobs, 86.6% felt accepted in their workplace. CONCLUSION: The 2015 KFNEDS highlights how people with disabilities strive to work and overcome barriers, a discourse largely overlooked in contemporary disability and employment research. Survey findings can inform new programs and policies to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
  • Authors

  • Sundar, Vidya
  • O'Neill, John
  • Houtenville, Andrew
  • Phillips, Kimberly G
  • Keirns, Tracy
  • Smith, Andrew
  • Katz, Elaine E
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • 2018
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In


  • Disability
  • barriers
  • employment
  • statistics
  • striving
  • survey
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 93
  • End Page

  • 109
  • Volume

  • 48
  • Issue

  • 1