Understanding the Barriers and Supports of Inclusive Employment for Adults with Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities
Historically, people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) have been marginalized in Ontario. One way to promote community integration, inclusion and belonging for adults with IDD is through paid employment. The purpose of this study is: (1) to gain insight into agreements and discrepancies between employees with IDD and employers on their employment experiences, and (2) to use these results to examine what the potential consistencies, inconsistencies, affordances and constraints are when employing a person with IDD and being an employee with IDD. The study was done using grounded theory and its qualitative analysis process and was approached through a constructivist orientation. The research questions are: (1) What are the consistencies and inconsistencies between employees with IDD and inclusive employers’ perceptions of hiring someone with IDD? (2) How open are businesses who claim corporate social responsibility due to hiring people with IDD? (3) What does meaningful employment mean to employees with IDD and inclusive employers? Three employees with IDD and three employers were interviewed using a semi-structured format. The two main findings from each group are: (1) Employees described their job experiences in terms of stressors, enhancers, and joys and benefits. (2) Employers’ experience was described in terms of awareness of supports, benefits, and advocacy; and attitudes towards employees. The results included that employees with IDD and employers displayed consistencies (stressful situations, benefits and enhancers on the job and valued punctuality) and inconsistencies (based on skills and co-worker relations). Businesses who claim corporate social responsibility and display authentic, anti-tokenistic behaviours are more likely to hire more adults with IDD in the workplace. Finally, meaningful employment is subjectively understood, but is consistent amongst employees with IDD and inclusive employers.