Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Perspectives on Employing Individuals with Special Needs

Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Perspectives on Employing Individuals with Special Needs

Article excerpt

Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was implemented three decades ago, society has been engaged in improving the lives of people with disabilities (Sarkees & Scott, 1986). In 1977, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano, approved regulations for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and said, "It will usher in a new era of equality for handicapped individuals in which unfair barriers to selfsufficiency and decent treatment will begin to fall before the force of the law" (Mancuso, 1990). Legislation such as Section 508 of the 1986 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 (Carney, 1990), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 and its 1997 amendments, and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 were enacted to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. This legislation was also enacted to facilitate the marketable and saleable skills of individuals with special needs and to facilitate their employment under the fewest limitations (Appell, 1990; Johnson & Halloran, 1997; National Center for Education Statistics, 1996; U.S. General Accounting Office, 1996).

In response to the requirements of the federal legislation and to increase the employment of individuals with special needs, vocational special needs educators have also been endeavoring to improve vocational programs by modifying teaching strategies and coordinating resources (Chadsey-Rusch & Gonzalez, 1988). In addition, computer technology is being applied to assist individuals with disabilities to learn and work. Further, supported employment is advocated for the employment of individuals with disabilities in the real world (Hill, Banks, Handrick, Wehman, Hill, & Shafer, 1987; Unger, 1999).

Employment accommodations do not necessarily guarantee employment success until a match is found between employee capabilities and the requirements of specific jobs (Bowman, 1987; Mancuso, 1990). Further, the employment rate among special needs populations does not increase directly in relation to the activities of vocational special educators and legislators (Bowe, 1990). Expenses, related- to accommodating populations with special needs are one of the major American economic costs. Social welfare subsidies for people who are either unemployed or not in the workforce comprise the majority of this expense. The subsidiary costs for special needs populations who were unemployed represent a large portion of these funds. The demographically changing workforce and the declining number of available workers has caused employers to pay more attention to the need for integrating persons with disabilities into the labor market.

The success of individuals with disabilities in employment is influenced by cooperation among employers and employees, support of legislation, and appropriate efforts of vocational programs (Greenan & Tucker, 1990; National Council on the Handicapped, 1987; Salomone & Paige, 1984; Storey & Garff, 1999; Tilson & Neubert, 1988). Therefore, transition services that are developed to integrate contributions from various resources and match supply-and-demand of business and industry in communities become the emphasis of the vocational special needs agenda (Sarkees & Scott, 1986).

Our Objectives

We sought to (a) enhance the awareness of employers concerns related to the employment of people with special needs, (b) identify employers' difficulties encountered when attempting to assimilate people with disabilities in their businesses, (c) identify difficulties in applying computer technology to assist the employment of people with disabilities in their businesses, and (d) identify government policies that encourage employers to hire people with disabilities. This knowledge will potentially assist legislators and vocational educators to improve current policies. For people with disabilities, this knowledge is also crucial to meet their entry-level job-related skills requirements and plan their careers. …

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