School of Behavioral Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
Disabilities, Human Resources, Educational Intervention, DEI, Neurodiversity
Human Resources Management | Psychology
McElvaney, Claire Gallagher, "Disability and Employability: Challenging Stereotypes through Information and Education" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3696.
Individuals with disabilities (IWDs) have had an alarmingly low employment rate despite introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislation meant to enable workplace inclusion. This low employment rate seemed illogical as employed IWDs have often demonstrated extremely high work engagement and organizational loyalty. Prior research indicated that organizations were willing to hire IWDs but were concerned regarding potential costs and training issues. Because lifelong unemployment has often resulted in segregation and depression for those with disabilities, this research sought to determine if educational intervention, i.e. a presentation designed to address some of the myths regarding costs and training, might alter how IWDs were perceived as potential candidates for employment by those in human resources positions. A quantitative study was conducted utilizing staff from local businesses. Pre-and post-educational intervention assessments to gauge the subjects’ perception of employability of IWD’s portrayed in various scenarios and with differing behavioral symptoms were utilized. Areas examined included measurement of employability, ranking observable versus non-observable disabilities, and desire to connect with local vocational rehabilitation programs. ANOVA tests indicated that there was a statistically significant increase in perception of employability post-intervention. Observable versus non-observable disability-related behaviors did not seem to make a difference. More than half of the subjects were interested in learning more about local vocational programs. This indicated that educational intervention appeared to be effective, suggesting that more widespread research of this type should be conducted.