I am an Employment Specialist at Social Vocational Services (supporting Oakland CA, Concord CA, & Antioch CA), a doctorate student at the University of San Francisco, studying Disabilities studies, with a focus on inclusive culture in both the academic and professional settings, and a researcher at heart. I love my job, but I can be in love with this job if there could be added support for the employer training. Here's why. The Social Model of Disabilities suggests that people who are disabled do not see themselves a disabled; it is society that imposes the labeling of human ability, based on historical social conditioning to the true nature of human ability. It is hard to imagine a world where misconceptions of human ability are not always viewed as incompetence, even by employers.
Employers and organizations that provide vocational support to people with disabilities have a fundamental responsibility to create and implement systems and policies that reflect the missions and core values of their organizations; and that also reflects in their hiring and talent acquisition practices. The root problem here is employers' ignorance of the disability culture which poses greater challenges to employing more people with disabilities. Employers are just not educated, yet we run on ideologies that they are. And so we place clients in hostile environments which they cannot navigate. We never assess the employer's climate. We never assess the education of employers.
I recognize that access to job opportunities for people with disabilities and people with a different cognitive process are still challenging today for multiple reasons. Job candidates with disabilities are discriminated against by employers based on false ideologies pertaining to human ability. One would assume that employers stand on a different platform of inclusion. However, that is not always the reality for people with disabilities in the workplace. As people, we are conditioned by our environments, and our environments shape our understandings and, ultimately, our inherent beliefs; those people include employers
Administering Disability Inclusion Training to prospective employers about the DO's and the DONT's of disability work culture should be added to the roles of Employment Specialist. Or assign a designated person to conduct this training to prospective employers. I have come up with a disability inclusion "Customized Employment" training I am currently using that has been relatively effective for me. I can share it if you need it. Teaching employers and site managers who oversee the work of disabled people about how they can humanize their work experiences and create an inclusive and non-segregating space for them is essential in increasing employment for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, current culture and practice place people with disabilities in a work environment that are hostile and indifferent to their existence in the world.
Customized Employment: "Customized Employment is a flexible process designed to personalize the employment relationship between a job candidate or employee and an employer in a way that meets the needs of both. It is based on identifying the
strengths, conditions, and interests of a job candidate or employee through a process of discovery. Customized Employment also identifies the business needs of an employer. Together, these create a match resulting in a customized position"
Thanks for your comments. Does anyone have any ideas on how to bring this important issue to the forefront of employers' thoughts? It seems that the disability community has a lot of tools that could assist employers from the knowledge of AT to improving the workflow by realigning tasks, to...more »