When considering points outlined in the revolutionary 1990 legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s often believed that one of those points included equal opportunity for employment and wages for persons with disabilities.
However, there are numerous positions of confusion when looking at statistics of individuals with disabilities who are actually in the workforce. While some applaud the improvements for the population with disabilities since the ADA passed, others feel it falls short of the goals set forth.
According to an August 2015 article:
This year is its 25th anniversary, and advocates are taking stock of whether the ADA has achieved its goals of equal opportunity and access. What it doesn’t seem to have done: improve employment and overall economic conditions for disabled Americans.
Studies show that at all levels of education, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed, or more likely to be underemployed, than were their counterparts with no disability, and were more likely to be working jobs in the service and labor sector as opposed to management and professional occupations.
Additionally, unemployment statistics show that individuals with disabilities who are ready and able to work, are unemployed and underemployed at a higher rate than those without disabilities, but that there has been improvement of that rate since the passage of the ADA.
On the other hand, the percentage of those who are working, yet living below the poverty level, has increased creating a wage gap that hasn’t improved over the years.
The question of wage equality
Part of the problem of wage equality lies within definitions, and the fact that certain disabilities can change during the course of one’s life, and others are temporary disabilities. All of these factors are difficult to measure when building a body of statistics.
The debate as to why there is a wage gap runs from employer reluctance to hire people with disabilities because they fear potential lawsuits, to the approach to disability benefits which often is an incentive to stay out of the workforce.
Solutions to wage equality and employment for those with disabilities are complex and continue to point out the perpetual work that needs to be done to create a better understanding of needs, as well as incentives for employers.
Opengate is a leader in its field and is recognized by New York State as one of only seven like agencies among thousands that have earned a prestigious COMPASS designation.