Developmental Disability and Employment: A Social Work Priority

Cox, Katie

Americans with developmental and other disabilities are often excluded from society due to the assumption that they cannot or do not wish to work. This paper examines the possibilities for and benefits of creating jobs for persons with developmental disabilities through the lenses of policy, law, evidence-based practice and social work ethics. While different perspectives on this issue exist, it is important to reframe our assumptions about the employment of people who have developmental disabilities, taking our cues from these individuals, rather than personal, professional, or societal notions. These notions, if they frame people as unable to participate in our culture, can undermine the many achievements that those with disabilities have fought for in law and public perception. Including people with developmental disabilities in the workplace is beneficial to these individuals and society in a variety of ways. This paper provides an overview of some excellent models of how to create space for people with developmental disabilities who wish to be employed in the workplace and outlines reasons why this type of economic inclusion is essential in order for these individuals to be included in American society. As specialists in understanding the gap between society and those who are typically rejected from it, social workers are well positioned to find creative solutions for this problem.


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Columbia Social Work Review

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August 18, 2022