Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Disability Status; Employability; Job Applicants; Employers.

Cameron, L., & Murphy, J. (2002). Enabling young people with a learning disability to make choices at a time of transition. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30(3), 105-112.


A study examined whether Talking Mats, a light-technology augmentative framework, could be used successfully with 12 young adults with a learning and communication disability. Participants were able to indicate likes and dislikes and express views about the choices available to them. Some expressed opinions not previously known to their carers.
KEY WORDS: Assistive Technology; Augmentative and Alternative Communication; Decision Making; Interpersonal Communication; Mental Retardation; Personal Autonomy; Pictorial Stimuli; Secondary Education; Self Determination; Transitional Programs; Young Adults.

Charlton, J. I. (2000). Nothing about us without us: Disability oppression and empowerment. Berkeley: University of California Press.


This book examines the lived oppression that people with disabilities have experienced and continue to experience as a human rights tragedy. There are a number of unifying arguments that run throughout this book which attempt to synthesize both the conditions of disability oppression and the exigencies of its resistance: 1) the oppression of 500 million people with disabilities is rooted in the political-economic and cultural dimensions of everyday life; 2) the poverty, isolation, indignity, and dependence of these 500 million people with disabilities is evidence of a major human rights catastrophe and a fundamental critique of the existing world system; 3) the scant attempts to theorize the conditions of everyday life for people with disabilities are either incomplete or fundamentally flawed as a result of the medicalization/depoliticization of disability and the failure to account form the vast majority of people with disabilities who live in the Third World; 4) a disability-based consciousness and organization is emerging throughout the world which has begun to contest both the oppression people with disabilities experience and the depoliticization of that experience; 5) the political-economic and socio-cultural dimensions of disability oppression determine who is affected and the form resistance takes; 6) notwithstanding the importance of political-economic and socio-cultural differences, all the individuals and organizations that have taken up the cause of disability rights in the last twenty years have embraced the concepts of empowerment and human rights, independence and integration, and self-help and self-determination; and 7) these leitmotifs suggest a necessarily fundamental reordering of global priorities and resources based on equality, respect, and control of resources by the people and communities that need them.
KEY WORDS: Disability Oppression; Disability Rights; Empowerment; Political Economy; Consciousness; Alienation; Self-determination.

Church, K. (2001). Learning to walk between worlds: Informal learning in psychiatric survivor-run businesses: A retrospective re-reading of research process and results from 1993-1999. NALL Working Paper No. 20. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


Using a new lens of informal learning, Church revisits processes and results of six years of research with psychiatric survivors working in psychiatric survivor-run businesses. Church reports on three dimensions of social learning: solidarity learning, reshaping the definition of self, and organizational learning. Key aspects of organizational learning that she reports include peer training, on-the-job learning, trial and error learning, and "failing forward."

The author concludes by presenting examples of successful learning and management practices such as: using membership and team meetings to communicate background information, spending time with employee board members before board meetings, reading feedback through body language, and staying connected to your workforce and key employees.


KEY WORDS: Disability; Illness; Informal Learning; Organizational Learning; Work.

Church, K., Frazee, C., Luciani, T., Panitch, M., & Seeley, P. (2006). Dressing corporate subjectivities: Learning what to wear to the bank. In S. Billett, M. Somerville & T. Fenwick (Eds.), Work, Subjectivity and Learning. New York: Springer.


In this Chapter the authors convey the research team's learning about their own subjectivity - of who they are - which emerged in the course of doing a study with a large financial institution ("Everybank") of learning practices of disabled employees. The authors discuss a variety of practices the team learned for fitting in when entering corporate spaces and interacting with corporate managers: how to dress, how to write, how to speak, and how to disappear. Subheadings like "Melanie gets dressed" give specific examples of team members' experiences of learning (or being trained) in relation to corporate culture. The authors credit this ongoing learning, and the data each team member's "subjective shifts" generates (p. 11), with drawing the team's attention to areas of employee experience, like clothing practices, they might otherwise have overlooked. Through learning who they, the research team, are in the corporate environment they discovered a question they should ask themselves in the course of their research with Everybank: "What kind of self do I need to (learn to) become to be a successful worker in this environment?"
KEY WORDS: Corporate Culture; Disability; Identity; Informal Learning; Methods.

Church, K., & Luciani, T. (2005). "Stepping to the rhythm of circumstance:" A choreography of corporate disability: Reprise. Paper presented at the 2005 annual conference of the Research Network on Work and Lifelong Learning (WALL), Toronto, ON: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. Retrieved September 29, 2006 from http://www.wallnetwork.ca/resources/workingpapers.htm.


Church and Luciani report findings from the study "Doing Disability at the Bank." The purpose of the study is to discover learning strategies that disabled people initiate and rely on to keep jobs within corporate environments during global restructuring. The inductive inquiry was designed around conversations: individual interviews with a standpoint sample of disabled people with substantial work histories, focus groups with self-identified disabled bank workers and non-disabled co-workers, participant observation, and documentary analysis. The study exhibited three characteristics of second wave feminist epistemology and methodology: reflexivity, emotionality, and innovation in the face of exclusion. Church and Luciani highlighted four kinds of work: the work of keeping up, which highlights effects of the pace of work and expectations for productivity; the work of waiting, which explores waiting for equipment and waiting to be understood; the work of hiding, which explores ways in which employees manage disclosure; and the work of keeping it light, which uncovers disabled employees use of humour to teach and to create an impression of cheeriness.
KEY WORDS: Body; Corporate Culture; Disability; Informal Learning; Methods; Workplace Learning.

Church, K., Panitch, M., Frazee, C., & Luciani, T. (2006). Recognizing the invisible work of doing corporate disability. Paper presented at the 2006 annual conference of the Network on Work and Lifelong Learning, Toronto, ON: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.


Findings from the study "Doing disability at the bank: Discovering the learning/teaching strategies used by disabled bank employees" are presented. The authors analyzed conversations of employees who identified as 'disabled,' and another for coworker/manager 'others', from seven focus groups in three Canadian cities to learn about what it's like to work in a corporate bank environment. The researchers learned that disability is both a bodily experience and an organizational construct, with distinct purposes within and for the organization. From coworker groups they observed that the perfect employee has a lean and mean lifestyle. They saw the corporation's commitment to a diverse workforce in tension with the drive for revenue. From disabled groups they learned that disabled employees prefer to stay hidden. Learning to conceal parts of themselves and their bodies was a form of work that had to be learned through trial and error - learning to create a virtual, able-bodied identity. The authors conclude that informal learning practices conceal an underlying politics of personal responsibility in which disabled employees hesitate to ask for workplace accommodations, and where humour is a key quality of success in a corporate environment. The result of self-deprecating humour combined with politics of individual responsibility is disabled employees who make working in a corporate environment look easy.
KEY WORDS: Attitudes; Corporate Culture; Disability; Informal Learning; Work.

Delin, A. (2002). Handbook of good practice: Employing disabled people. London: Arts Council of England.


This document has extracts from the Arts Council of England publication "Handbook of Good Practice-Employing Disabled People". This Handbook takes employers, advisors and employees through all aspects of recruitment and retention. Excerpts focus on in-depth case studies, a section for Associates and mentors providing information and advice for anyone taking on a supporting role, recruitment and learning programme documents, and a directory of contact details for a wide range of arts, disability, employment & training organisations.
KEY WORDS: People with Disabilities; Employment; England; Affirmative Action Programs; People with Disabilities in Art; Apprenticeship Programs; "At Risk".

Department for Work and Pensions. (2006). Improving work opportunities for people with a learning disability: Report of a working group on learning disabilities and employment. Leeds: Corporate Document Services.


This report is based on the experience of a Working Groupon Learning Disabilities and Employmentdrawn from people with a learning disability, local authorities, the voluntary sector and including some managers of supported employment schemes. The report includes a comprehensive list of bibliographical references.
KEY WORDS: Learning Disabled; Employment; Great Britain; People with Disabilities.

Duckett, P. S. (2000). Disabling employment interviews: Warfare to work. Disability & Society, 15(7), 1019-1039.


Employment interview research displays a greater concern for refining employment interviews to benefit employers rather than prospective employees. The interviewee's perspective is often overlooked. Further, generally scant attention has been paid to the interview experiences of disabled interviewees. This study presents findings from a project that sought to understand disabled interviewees' experiences of employment interviews. The analysis suggests that such experiences were dominated by feelings of anxiety and manipulation, especially when contextualized within contemporary labour market conditions. The need for ethical rather than technical concerns into employment interviews and how innovations in interview techniques may be having a negative affect on interviewees was examined. The study stressed the need to reject victim blaming ideologies when researching disabled interviewees' experiences of employment interviews to counter the over emphasis of past research into changing the disabled person rather than the disabling interview environment.
KEY WORDS: Employment Interviews; Interview Techniques; Negative Effects; Anxiety; Manipulation; Labour Market Conditions.

Dudley-Marling, C. (2004). The social construction of learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(6), 482-489.


Underpinning the technical gaze that dominates learning disabilities theory and practice is the assumption that learning disabilities are a pathology that resides in the heads of individual students, with the corollary that remedial efforts also focus on what goes on in the heads of students classified as learning disabled. This article begins with a critique of the ideology of individualism that situates individual success and failure in the heads of individuals as a means of introducing an alternative perspective--social constructivism--that locates learning and learning problems in the context of human relations and activity. Extended examples are used to illustrate how the performative aspects of learning disabilities emerge in the context of human relationships. The primary argument developed here is that one cannot be learning disabled on one's own. It takes a complex system of interactions performed in just the right way, at the right time, on the stage we call school to make a learning disability. The article concludes with a brief consideration of the instructional implications of a social constructivist stance.
KEY WORDS: Pathology; Learning Problems; Human Relations; Constructivism; Learning Disabilities.

Dyck, I., & Jongbloed, L. (2000). Women with multiple sclerosis and employment issues: A focus on social and institutional environment. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67(5), 337-346.


Examines employment issues for women with multiple sclerosis. Focuses on experiences of women managing their disability and demonstrates the importance of the social and institutional dimensions of environment in shaping occupational performance.
KEY WORDS: Adults; Disabilities; Employed Women; Females; Occupational Therapy; Organizational Climate; Work Environment; Multiple Sclerosis.

England, K. (2003). Disabilities, gender and employment: Social exclusion, employment equity and Canadian banking. The Canadian Geographer, 47(4), 429-450.


Investigates the numerical representation and occupational distribution of women and men with disabilities compared to their non-disabled counterparts working in six of Canada's large banking institutions under the federal government's Employment Equity Act. It accesses the banks' progress towards identifying and eliminating discriminatory disabling barriers. Results from the 2001 Employment Equity Report shows the representation of persons with disabilities declined in 2003, which continues a declining trend from 1996. Furthermore, of all the designated groups, people with disabilities have had the least progress under the Act. The study closes with a discussion on workplace culture and locates the Act in the context of a broader discussion on the need for a network of economic and social change that includes challenging ableism.
KEY WORDS: Accommodation; Disability; Diversity; Workplace Culture; Employment Equity Act; Numerical Representation; Occupational Distribution; Banking Institutions; Canada; Discrimination; Employment Trends.

Fawcett, G. (2000). Breaking down the barriers: The labour market and women with disabilities in Ontario. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development.


This report provides statistics on working-age women with disabilities in Ontario. It employs quantitative and qualitative research and provides insights into the complex interplay of factors that create employment barriers for women with disabilities. While women and men with disabilities are typically both affected by the same barriers to employment, they are not always affected to the same degree or in the same way. Because of both their gender and their disability, women often face a unique obstacle course when trying to navigate their way through the world of paid work. Findings show women with disabilities have the lowest rates of labour force success and one of the highest rates of poverty. This report comes at a time when programs and policies in Ontario and across Canada are changing and evolving in response to In Unison, the latest vision paper for persons with disabilities.
KEY WORDS: Employment Barriers; Ontario; Working-age Women; Disabilities; Labour Market; Discrimination; Earnings; Poverty.

Ferri, B. A., Hendrick Keefe, C., & Gregg, N. (2001). Teachers with learning disabilities: A view from both sides of the desk. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34(1), 22-32.


This qualitative multi-case study explores the perceptions of individuals who have experiences from both sides of the special education desk as students and then as teachers with learning disabilities. The study focused on how participants' past experiences with receiving special education services influenced their current practice as special education teachers. Participants' views on service delivery models, the importance of teacher expectations, and the value of conceiving a learning disability as a tool rather than a deficit were discussed.
KEY WORDS: Special Education; Students with Disabilities; Teachers with Learning Disabilities; Service Delivery Models; Teacher Expectations.

Gates, L. B. (2000). Workplace accommodation as a social process. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 10(1), 85-98.


Successful sustained employment for people with disabilities is a function of a complex array of factors. Key among these factors is appropriate accommodation at the workplace. Current approaches to accommodation, however, are often unsuccessful. Research suggests that this is due, in part, to the limited view of accommodation as technical changes to the job. An approach to accommodation that does not take into account the social context ignores the consequences of the process on work group morale and individual self-esteem and well-being. This has repercussions for individual job performance, job satisfaction and work retention, as well as overall work group productivity. An intervention was designed to take into account the social nature of the accommodation process and pilot tested with 12 workers who were out on a short term disability leave with a psychiatric diagnosis and their work groups. Based on a sychoeducational model, the intervention educates the work group about what it means to work with a disability, provides a safe environment where the worker with disability and coworkers can share concerns about the impact of accommodation on the group, informs about the accommodation process and specifies strategies to help the worker with disability best meet job requirements.
KEY WORDS: Accommodation; Disabilities; Psychoeducation; Employment; Return to Work; "At Risk".

Gerber, P. J., & Price, L. A. (2003). Persons with learning disabilities in the workplace: What we know so far in the Americans with Disabilities Act era. Learning Disabilities: Research & Practice, 18(2), 132-136.


This paper synthesizes empirical studies from the past 12 years concerning the realities of the workplace for adults with learning disabilities (LD). Employer perspectives address awareness and knowledge, productivity, training, self-advocacy, and reasonable accommodations. Employee perspectives cover advocacy, disclosure, self-knowledge, and reasonable accommodations.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Adults; Civil Rights Legislation; Employee Attitudes; Employer Attitudes; Employer Employee Relationship; Federal Legislation; Learning Disabilities; Work Environment Americans with Disabilities Act 1990; "At Risk".

Gerber, P. J., Price, L. A., Mulligan, R., & Shessel, I. (2004). Beyond transition: A comparison of the employment experiences of American and Canadian adults with LD. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(4), 283-291.


With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the United States and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there is a new work environment for individuals with learning disabilities (LD) in North America. This qualitative study sought to compare the employment experiences of 25 U. S. adults with LD and 24 Canadian adults with LD. Areas of comparison were job getting, experiences on the job, and job advancement. Remarkably, the U. S. and Canadian adults with LD had nearly the same employment experiences. In essence, each set of data mirrored the other despite marked differences in U. S. and Canadian federal disability legislation.
KEY WORDS: Work Environment; Employment Experience; Learning Disabilities; Accessibility; Americans with Disabilities Act 1990; North America; United States.

Gosling, V., & Cotterill, L. (2000). An employment project as a route to social inclusion for people with learning difficulties? Disability & Society, 15(7), 1001-1018.


Government policy to reduce social exclusion focuses on increasing employment opportunities and incentives, especially for disadvantaged groups. This paper evaluates a project in the North West of England for people with learning difficulties which sought to create opportunities for paid and/or integrated employment. Findings suggest that this goal can be undermined by many factors such as the isolation of social care services from employers and the disinclination of service organizations to include users, carers and staff in the development of new service approaches. Social welfare policies also mitigate against this aim, by failing to enable providers to translate the rhetoric of social inclusion into a reality. It concludes by discussing some obstacles that prevent people with learning difficulties from inclusion into mainstream employment and the overall impact of these results on the North West project.
KEY WORDS: Social Exclusion; Disabled People; England; Paid Employment; Learning Difficulties; Social Welfare Policies.

Grover, C., & Piggott, L. (2005). Disabled people, the reserve army of labour and welfare reform. Disability & Society, 20(7), 705-717.


Explaining why in contemporary society there has been many changes to income maintenance and labour market policy for disabled people. From a regulation approach theoretical framework. This article focuses on the debate over whether disabled people can be considered part of the reserve army of labour. Rejecting approaches that suggest that all disabled people are part of the reserve army, it contends that the policy changes have been aimed at reconstructing unemployed disabled people as an important part of the reserve army at a time when labour markets are becoming tighter. Disabled people are seen to be crucial to New Labour's regulation of neo-liberal accumulation.
KEY WORDS: Disabilities; Disabled (Attitudes Toward); Employment Status; Government Policy Making; Welfare Services (Government); Income Level; Supported Employment; "At Risk".

Hall, E. (1999). Workspaces: Refiguring the disability - employment debate. In R. Butler & H. Parr (Eds.), Mind and body spaces: Geographies of illness, impairment and disability (pp. 138-154). New York: Routledge.


Hall refigures the disability employment debate, introducing an idea of embodiment into discussions that previously focused on either the medical or social model of disability. He argues that we need an approach to disability that allows the everyday experiences of disabled people in. He says disability is not exclusively an individual pathology nor a socially constructed concept. Using McDowell (1994) and Hochschild (1983)'s studies of body normalization, and codes and rules of the body in employment, Hall studies a major high-street banking company, and specifically one woman experience, to illustrate the value of an embodied approach. Hall draws three key issues from the case study discussion: Employment has real effects on the employee's body and the body then has real effects on employment, these interactions and expectations take place within a framework of rules, codes, and performance about which bodies are acceptable and which aren't, and employment operates within certain work spaces, and employees work out their position and identity within these spaces. According to Hall the relationship between the body and work in space lies at the heart of the disability-employment relationship.
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