Increasing the Rates of Employment Among People with Disabilities in the United States
Loh, Clara Li Ling
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There is a problem of low absolute and relative employment rate among individuals with disabilities in the United States, with a secondary problem of the state vocational rehabilitation programs that are meant to help jobseekers with disabilities being less effective than desired. This issue negatively affects the individuals with disability, their families, and the wider society. Therefore, policy action is proposed to encourage state vocational rehabilitation programs and their community partners to significantly engage with employers as valued employment allies through requiring states to spend at least 30% of their vocational rehabilitation funding on activities involving employers. In this paper, the policy advantages and limitations, as well as the political benefits and drawbacks of this proposal are also explored. Policy-wise, despite its limitations, the proposal seems likely to increase state vocational rehabilitation programs’ engagement with employers at a relatively low cost through administratively feasible changes. Politically, the proposal is likely to be supported by the relevant disability employment partners while also benefiting supportive congress members. Additionally, the paper describes potential mechanisms to reduce some of the political drawbacks. In conclusion, since the proposed policy was analyzed to be effective, cost-efficient and a politically feasible way of increasing employer engagement to improve the rates of disability employment across the country, its implementation is recommended.