The employment of people with disabilities has been something which has been discussed, fought over, denied, attempted, and successful to varying degrees. As people who experience disabilities, we are among the most loyal, hardworking and dedicated employees to be found. We have these attributes because we are not only interested in earning a paycheck, we also are truly interested in the jobs we are there to perform and we want to be involved in life and living.
Our history explains some of the reasons why people with disabilities are interested in employment. In the past, we have been hidden in back rooms, forced into institutions, mistreated, and even abused. As a population, many of us have been denied the opportunity to participate in society in the past. In the past we have faced incredible amounts of stigma and prejudice; we still do to a certain extent. While non-disabled members of society complain about having to go to work, people with disabilities often view work as a right or privilege, something to be respected.
Governments, organizations, foundations, and others have made attempts to assist people with disabilities where obtainment of employment is concerned, and still do, over time. In America alone, the Federal government is a large employer of people with disabilities. As time has progressed, so have perceptions of people with disabilities. Laws have been created in relation to our rights, not only where employment is concerned, but in relation to our status in society as a whole. The process of defining the civil rights of people with disabilities, both in societies and in regards to employment, continues today.
Technology, through computers and medical science, has contributed greatly to the ability of people with disabilities where employment is concerned. We are very rapidly approaching a point in history where disabilities of many types will have no bearing on a person's capability to perform a number of technology-related positions in the computer industry. The Yahoo corporation opened an Accessibility Lab almost two years ago, making it available to both employees and developers from other companies. The Google corporation has already taken advantage of the lab. (The World Wide Web and Accessibility Improvements, Disabled World). As businesses continue to recognize and reach for technologies which enable people with disabilities to participate in employment involving computer and other industries, the options for employment in general will continue to expand for us.
On a social level in America, our civil rights are increasing due to laws that have been legislated. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws are being enforced that bring awareness to businesses that either were unaware of the need to equalize participation capabilities for people with disabilities, or are reluctant to. Employment, and obtainment of job positions, is one thing - the ability to participate in society as well as actually reach the job position a person has found is another. In American society, a process of continued recognition of the immense value of people with disabilities and our ability to contribute to society continues to grow. The ADA laws are a sign of this continued recognition. (ADA Law and Accessibility - The Costs of Non-Compliance).
As it states in the article posted by Disabled World, "During the Twentieth Century the advancement of medical treatments, coupled with progressive social and inclusion policies worked to change the status of persons with disabilities. In the Western world, all citizens are valued and efforts to include as many people in the work of the communities are not only good social policy, but good economic practice." (Disability Employment Information, Facts, and Myths).
Employers who are seeking employees to fill positions are increasingly aware that the largely untapped population of people with disabilities in this world present an incredibly valuable pool of potential workers. We are here, and we want to work. We have every attribute an employer could possibly desire, and we are loyal and hardworking as well.
Our history has shown how valuable we can be and are.
During war time we have served America without a second thought about balking. We performed the same jobs that non-disabled persons did, and we performed those jobs exceptionally well. As people with disabilities, we have fought for jobs - The League of the Physically Handicapped is one example of a group of people with disabilities who did so. People with many forms of disabilities are performing jobs in America and other nations around the world this very day. We are performing those jobs and often out-performing others.
For people with disabilities, the world of employment is changing.