Any of us can become disabled at virtually any time. But for many Americans, disability is a fact of life from a very young age. Depending on the circumstances, some people can work a job upon reaching adulthood and some will never be able to do so. For those who cannot work, programs like Supplemental Security Income are a critical safety net.
Unfortunately, very capable individuals living with a disability may be unemployed not because they can’t work, but because potential employers cannot see past their disability. This was the experience a young journalist recently wrote about. He says his cerebral palsy made it very difficult to find a job despite his impressive academic credentials.
In a recent online article, a journalist named Reid Davenport notes that “Cerebral palsy is something I have lived with all of my life, but there may not have been a time in my 22 years when I felt more disabled than that year after graduation. Encountering small-mindedness and hesitancy is inevitable with a visible disability, but I never thought it would completely turn off so many potential employers.”
Davenport argues that many individuals with disabilities need only minor accommodations in order to be successful employees. The accommodations may be as simple as using adaptive technology that the applicant already owns (an adaptive keyboard, for instance).
SSI and SSDI are important safety nets for those who cannot work (or can no longer work) due to a disability. But no one should be forced into this category simply because they were victims of disability discrimination. How many more creative, intelligent and hard-working people would be in the American workforce if accommodations were easier to receive?
Source: FCW, "IT and disability: A symbiotic pair," Reid Davenport, July 2, 2014