Study: Individuals, Economy both benefit by accommodating people with disabilities’ intermittent work capacity

An SRDC study reports on the biggest barriers people with disabilities and intermittent work capacity in Ontario have in holding down jobs that suit both their disability, skill and education level

When it comes to people with disabilities and work, there’s a gap between perception and reality. While many Canadians with disabilities rely on benefits provided through income support programs, a large proportion is actually willing and able to work as much as their disability permits – if not full-time, then at least on an intermittent basis.

That’s one of the key findings of a study conducted by the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC). In addition to a literature review, SRDC conducted interviews and focus groups with people with disabilities in Ontario who have work experience but are unable to work full-time. The discussions explored myths and misconceptions about disability, its disclosure and accommodations in the workplace, barriers to work, and supports to employment.

The results of the study were clear – the likelihood of a disabled person holding down long-term employment hinges on three key questions. First, what degree of control does the individual have over the disclosure of their disability? Second, once the individual is able to return to work, is there still a job to return to? And last, once back at work, does the individual receive appropriate accommodations in the workplace?

The study’s findings may lead to improvements in both individual lives and Canada’s economy. The long-known benefits of employment include improvements to quality of life and sense of self worth thanks to a feeling of inclusion in society – especially important for this often marginalized group. What’s more, as the baby boomers retire, it will be all hands on deck as Canada faces a shortage of skilled labour. Keeping people with disabilities working will help this country through that transition and beyond.

Download the report here.