Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Tansey, T.N., Dutta, A., Kundu, M., & Chan, F. (2016). From admiration of the problem to action: Addressing the limited success in vocational rehabilitation of persons from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 45 (2), 117-119.
Title:  From admiration of the problem to action: Addressing the limited success in vocational rehabilitation of persons from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds
Authors:  Tansey, T.N., Dutta, A., Kundu, M., & Chan, F.
Year:  2016
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Purpose:  The authors of the articles published in this issue of Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation (Issue 45[2]) and corresponding editorial by Dr. Paul Wehman provide ample support for the following assertions: 1) work is central to the health and well-being of people with or without disabilities; 2) people with disabilities are significantly less likely to be working than people without disabilities; 3) people from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, with disabilities or without disabilities, experience additional barriers in obtaining and retaining employment; and 4) people with disabilities from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds receiving services from state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies lag behind their non-Hispanic white counterparts in terms of employment outcomes and employment quality. Work, beyond the financial benefits, promotes societal participation through opportunities for social interaction and support while also offering protective factors that promote mental well-being, physical health, and community participation (Chiu et al., 2015; Neff, 1986; Strauser, 2014).In the United States, the labor force participation rate of 20.5% for people with disabilities is significantly lower than the 68.4% rate for people without disabilities (U.S. Department of Labor, 2016). The unemployment and underemployment of people with disabilities limits full community inclusion and participation, stalls upward mobility, and negatively affects their health-related quality of life (U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions [SCHELP], 2012). People from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, when compared to non-Hispanic whites, experience greater educational barriers and fewer opportunities for developing the vocational skills and behavior that are necessary for obtaining and retaining employment. Even when controlling for the impact of education, people from diverse backgrounds are less likely to obtain employment, and ultimately, are paid on average 37% less for their work (Yin, Shaewitz, & Megra, 2014). This large disability wage gap is consistent with the gender and race discrimination in the job market (Fryer, Pager, & Spenkuch, 2011). The fact this group is less likely to be accepted for VR services in comparison to their non-Hispanic white counterparts complicates the employment outlook even further (Chan, et al., 2005). Finally, although not specifically addressed by the articles in this special issue, the effects of generational poverty and of living in marginalized communities cannot be overlooked. People with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be living in poverty as people without disabilities (Erickson, Lee, & von Schrader, 2012; Institute on Disability, 2016). The consequences of living in poverty include low academic success, food insecurity, increased odds of living in an unsafe neighborhood, substandard health care resulting in decreased physical health, increased stress and depression, and, if employed, a greater chance of working in jobs associated with higher risk for injury and death (Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension, 2014; Dutta & Kundu, 2013; Gomez & Haymann, 2009; Rogers, et al., 2011).
Conclusions:  Articles in this special issue make an important contribution by shedding greater light on the challenges experienced by this population. However, research is needed that demonstrates methods to address the multiple discrimination related to the intersection between disability, gender, race and poverty, and increase the employment outlook for these individuals.

Disabilities served:  Multiple disabilities
Populations served:  Consumers receiving federal financial assistance through TANF
Culturally diverse populations (e.g., African Americans, Native Americans, and non-English speaking populations)