Let's Get Down to Business (No Matter What Disabilities You May Have) | Teen Ink

Let's Get Down to Business (No Matter What Disabilities You May Have)

May 21, 2019
By 23bigelowsy BRONZE, Farmington, Connecticut
23bigelowsy BRONZE, Farmington, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard" - Tim Notke

Turned on the news lately? Well, perhaps you’ve seen one of the most recent rallies or protests for equal job opportunities. As our society grows stronger, people all over the U.S. have been fighting for equal pay between all races and all genders. However, there is one employment fight that is often overlooked and rarely fought for: equal job opportunities for people with disabilities. Employers need to respect people with disabilities and provide equal access to employment for all.

The Constitution is the law of the land, but human rights are law of the world. Throughout history, human rights, also known as  “basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled to”, have been fought for long and hard, and to quote article 23.1 of these universal rights, “everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.” So how come employment numbers of people with disabilities is so low?

Rachel Ratcliffe of “The Guardian” states that only 46.5% of working aged adults with disabilities are employed. More than half of the disabled community is unemployed! With limited opportunities, few people with disabilities are able to find a job. Also, some people may need a job that they can do with their disabilities, and there may not be many available.

In a survey conducted at Irving A. Robbins Middle School, 95.8% of eighth graders say that they rarely see people with disabilities working in their local community of Farmington, CT. These students wrote that they “feel like it's a lot more difficult for people with disabilities to get jobs, and very rarely see anybody with a disability working” and that “people think that people with disabilities can't do as much as people without them so they don't even give them a chance”. One eigth grader noted that she has “never seen someone with a disability working as the hierarchy", and “ only ever sees them working below the hierarchy.” If 13 and 14 year old children are able to realise the injustice involving people with disabilities in the workplace, why aren’t the employers of the United States?

The main reason that there are unequal job opportunities for people with disabilities is the fault of employers’ prejudices. Many don’t want to “take on the challenge” of hiring someone with disabilities. The thought of having someone with disabilities on staff may even scare some. All people, not just employers, tend to only see the disability in a person, not the ability. In fact, 6% of employers surveyed openly admitted refusal to employ disabled applicants (The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential). By refusing to even try, employers are clearly discriminating against those with disabilities.

Many people may argue that it is economically impossible for companies to adjust their jobs to fit the needs of people with disabilities. What they do not argue, however, is how easy it is for employers to compromise. Although it might be difficult for someone who can’t see to be a chef, there’s nothing stopping them from being a great host. The employment rate of those with disabilities is so low is due to employers inability to create these compromises.  

The reason this fight needs to be fought is because there is so much good that can come out of a job for a person with a disability. In an interview, Big Y employee Larry Little talked about all the things he’s done over the years he’s been on their staff. He truly loves his job, and it is reflected by his smile everytime he talks about it. Based off of Larry’s stories, I’ve noticed that his job has helped him see his duties change over time, allowing him to be proud of improvements, and that his job teaches him to think and find solutions to problems.

All people with disabilities deserve the chance to have a job that can positively impact them like it has with Larry, not just 46.5% of people.  Access to employment is a human right, and employers need to honor that right by having more opportunities for people with disabilities. Just like we are fighting for equal employment to all races, genders, and sexualities, we need to be fighting for equal employment to those with disabilities. The right to employment is a universal human right, and it is an injustice when it is not honored due to disabilities.  So, next time you attend an event encouraging companies to close the gender wage gap, or share a Facebook post about racial discrimination in the workforce, think about speaking up for those with disabilities who may not be able to speak for themselves.


Works Cited

Little, Lawrence. Interview. By Sydney Bigelow. 24 Mar. 2019.

Ratcliffe, Rebecca. "'I don't think employers can see what disabled people can do.'" The Guardian, Guardian News and Media Limited, 3 Oct. 2017. Accessed 20 Mar. 2019.

"Unequal employment opportunities for disabled persons." The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, Union of International Associations. Accessed 21 Mar. 2019.

The author's comments:

I am in middle school and I am a big supporter of the rights of those with disabilities. I work closely with people with disabilities, and it is important to me that I use my own voice to have others voices heard. 

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