Nearly 22 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law and 39 years after the passage of the Rehabilitation Act, employment outcomes for people with disabilities still lag far behind their non-disabled peers. According to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (April 2012), individuals with disabilities have an unemployment rate of 12.5%, compared to 7.6% for those without disabilities. And those numbers don’t even tell the whole story: currently 8 in 10 Americans with disabilities aren’t even part of the labor force.
But the continued expansion of accessible technology can play a critical role in enabling Americans with disabilities to gain access to the labor force and ultimately find jobs that match their interests and skills. Technology can make jobs that were once impossible for an individual with a disability accessible, and it can be used to educate employers about the value people with disabilities can bring to the workplace.
That’s why the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) recently launched the Disability Employment App Challenge.