Task Force Seeks to Curb Unemployment for People with Disabilities


As an employment professional, you know the challenges that face people with disabilities when finding employment. With unemployment rates typically in the double-digits, and with accessibility and discrimination set as two of the many barriers facing people with disabilities, work can sometimes feel impossible to find.

This past March, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order establishing a task force on Economic Opportunity for Populations Facing Chronically High Rates of Unemployment. The goal of the eight-month task force is to seek statewide solutions in helping populations facing chronic unemployment find work, includes people with disabilities.

The task force includes William Kiernan, the founding dean of the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and who holds the James T. Brett Chair in Disability and Workforce Development.

“There is exactly one chair in the United States that’s focused on work for people with disabilities and it was just started a year ago and it was named after Jim Brett. There’s one,” Governor Baker was quoted as saying an article in the Berkshire Eagle. “Fifty states, 300 million people, one chair that’s focused at an academic institution around connecting people with disabilities to work. That should tell you something about how far we have to go.”

As we continue to strive toward a totally inclusive society, disability is proving to be a key arena in the struggle for civil rights in America. Employment specialists would do well to learn the history and understand the big picture regarding the challenges people with disabilities face when seeking employment and living and working in a community. The DirectCourse/College of Employment Services course Foundations of Employment Services lays the groundwork for the trained employment professional to fully understand this complex issue.


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