What is the Difference between Disability Employment Policy Research and Employment Research?

For people with disabilities, full participation in the community can include working full- or part-time, ideally in an integrated setting with a mix of people with and without disabilities and for competitive pay. Research and development in employment seeks to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, identifying and removing barriers to full participation in the workforce. Those barriers can be physical, technological, or a matter of the policies and practices in place that make it difficult for people with disabilities to be hired, trained, retained, and advanced in jobs they want. Disability employment research and employment policy research both aim to remove barriers, but in different ways:

  • Disability employment policy research looks at policies, strategies, and practices that impact the employment of people with disabilities.
  • Employment research looks at the interventions, technologies, and practices that make employment possible and productive for people with disabilities.

Disability employment policy research looks at current policies in government and within companies and organizations and options to improve these policies, program interactions, and employment outcomes for people with disabilities, and measures the labor market experiences of people with disabilities. This type of research works toward the increase of evidence-based advocacy and policymaking and fosters more effective policies and practices to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Centers such as the NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training on Employment Policy: Center for Disability-Inclusive Employment Policy Research design and implement studies that produce new data and evidence on disability-inclusive employment policy (DIEP) to increase the employment rates and improve outcomes for people with disabilities.

Employment research develops and evaluates programs, interventions, training, and tools that make it possible for people with disabilities to participate in the workforce. This can include research and development in accessible technology for the workplace, training for employers and human services personnel, self-employment resources, vocational rehabilitation and employment services and their delivery, job search and interview skills for people with disabilities, transition processes for students with disabilities entering the workforce, and more. An example of centers that conduct research on employment is the NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training (RRTC) Center on Employment for People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision, which improves the employment opportunities and outcomes for people who are blind or have low vision (B/LV) by conducting rigorous research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities that explore accessible technology in the workplace, evaluating the effects of virtual interview training of youth, develop and test an interactive video to educate employers about B/LV, evaluating the feasibility and efficacy of teaching job search skills via videoconferencing, and more. Another example is the NIDILRR-funded RRTC on Employment of Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities, which generates evidence-based interventions to assist youth to enter competitive integrated employment and which addresses the need for evidence-based research for youth with disabilities, family members, school personnel, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and other stakeholders on information and interventions that can impact employment outcomes.

Resources related to disability employment policy and employment for people with disabilities include:

  • The NIDILRR-funded ADA National Network and its regional centers provide people with disabilities, employers, organizations, and state and local governments information on their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA National Network also provides factsheets, guides, and other resources on employment of people with disabilities and how it is covered by the ADA, which are also available in Spanish.
  • The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the US Department of Labor is a federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities. ODEP’s mission is to develop and influence policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Two resources funded by ODEP:
    • The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a free resource that helps employers tap the benefits of disability diversity by educating public- and private-sector organizations on ways to build inclusive workplace cultures. EARN offers information and resources to empower individuals and organizations to become leaders in the employment and advancement of people with disabilities.
    • The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. JAN works toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace. JAN also provides information in Spanish.
  • Do you have a question about reasonable accommodations in the workplace? NARIC’s information specialists created an FAQ on reasonable accommodations to assist employees with disabilities, employers, human resource departments, and other interested parties discover more about this topic.

To learn more about disability employment policy and employment research, contact NARIC’s information specialists by email, chat, or phone.