Date of Original Version
Employment rates for individuals with disabilities are significantly lower than employment rates for individuals without disabilities and not all of this variance can be explained by an inability or lack of desire to work. This paper conducts a literature review to examine the barriers to employment that individuals with disabilities must overcome in order to be gainfully employed. It finds that a wide variety of factors influence the decision of an employer to hire, retain, or accommodate an individual with a disability and that there are likely a wide variety of factors which influence the decision of an individual with a disability to participate in the workforce. The findings support the hypotheses that knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its reasonable accommodation mandate influence an employer’s decision, but it also highlights other factors that employers have cited as similarly or more important. The hypothesis that many employers are influenced by bias and stereotypes of the disabled population is supported; and the hypothesis that Social Security benefits provide a disincentive for individuals with disabilities to participate in the workforce is supported by scholars and refuted by recent survey data. Recommendations for strategies to improve the situation are provided.