In the video, “Down syndrome entrepreneur sews successful six figure sock empire” (available at https://youtu.be/Vb1ELIa8dII) we get to see the “success” story of an individual with disabilities making it within the employment industry. Not only has John successfully started a business, but he has created an entire company that offers employment opportunities for other individuals with disabilities. Though this is a happy story, it begs the question of how often the employment industry is open to working with individuals with disabilities? In addition, how often do those individuals get to work within the entrepreneur status?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2017, there were 79.4% of people with disabilities not in the labor force. The labor force is defined as individuals who are looking/available for work that are classified in either category of employed or unemployed. 1.9% of people with disabilities were unemployed, and 18.7% were employed. The distribution percentages showed of people with disabilities who were employed in management, business, and financial operations was at 14.6%. The professional and related category showed that the distribution was 19.4%. However, the highest distribution category was sales and office at 22.7%. unemployment rates for individuals with disabilities was at 9.2%, compared to the 4.2% of individuals with no disabilities.

We can see through these statistics that although people with disabilities have opportunities to engage in work that is along the lines of entrepreneurship, there is a larger number who are employed as mass producer works (i.e. factory workers, grocery store greeters, sales associates within retail, etc.). A potential target of resolution for this would include mandates of vocational and entrepreneurial trainings and workouts that are to be incorporated into services at facilities such as day programs for group home settings, as well as provided to individuals within home settings. A big target for resolution would be to solve the issue of transportation, as this tends to be a barrier consistent with several individuals with disabilities. This could include having services associated with public transportation systems to provide consistent scheduled rides and discounts on fees. Another solution may be to increase rideshare services in areas. Communities could also look into creating specific transportation services similar to rideshare services that are targeted for individuals with disabilities. In addition, more awareness should be delivered to businesses and individuals with disabilities to services like Workforce Accelerator, that is specifically meant to match individuals with disabilities to potential employers. However, these are just a few solutions to an issue that could have several solutions that could be solved through different levels of resolution, from federal to state to communities.

Resources:

Person with a Disability, 2017. Current Population Survey

Disability Employment Statistics

How We can Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities