Intellectually Disabled Worker

Photo courtesy of Washington Post.

An article in the Washington Post in February 2014 highlights a recent study by the Special Olympics and conducted by the Gallup and the University of Massachusetts at Boston that finds that only 44 percent of adults with an intellectual disability are in the labor pool – employed, unemployed, or looking for work. Only 34 percent are actively employed.

Too many intellectually disabled are still excluded from the world of work, study says

By Sam Hananel February 17

Most Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities remain shut out of the workforce, despite changing attitudes and billions of dollars spent on government programs to help them. Even when they find work, it’s often part time, in a dead-end job or for pay well below the minimum wage.

Employment is seen as crucial for improving the quality of life for people with these disabilities and considered a benchmark for measuring the success of special-
education programs. Yet the jobs picture is as bleak now as it was more than a decade ago.

Only 44 percent of intellectually disabled adults are in the labor force, either employed or looking for work, while just 34 percent are actually working, according to a survey by Special Olympics and conducted by Gallup and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. That compares with 83 percent of non-disabled, working-age adults who are in the workforce.

“The needle has not changed in more than four decades,” said Gary Siperstein, a professor at the University of Massachusetts and one of the authors of the study. “We just can’t move the barometer. And we’ve invested a lot of resources with lots of good programs around the country.”


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