New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense

Disability Is Natural Books and Media

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln

Whose Job Is It?

Many people exert tremendous energy to “get jobs” for people with disabilities. Between government entities, non-profit organizations, service providers, etc., thousands work diligently in the field of vocational-rehabilitation, employment services, etc., for individuals with disabilities. It’s seemingly a noble effort (considering the on-going, dismal unemployment rate of people with disabilities). But it’s a strategy that can be terribly counterproductive, resulting in unintentional barriers to successful employment. When we try to secure employment “for” a person with a disability, we may inadvertently make the person with a disability appear to be incompetent in the eyes of a potential employer. The employer’s thinking might be: “If the person needs someone to find a job for him, he must not be very competent, so do I really want him working for me?”

In addition, doesn’t this practice send a similar message to the person with a disability, as in: “You have a disability and are therefore not able to get your own job, so I’ll need to do it for you.” Do we really want to reinforce this negative, harmful attitude in the people we say we’re trying to help?

Like many other practices in Disability World, this one is so common that we seldom question its validity or effectiveness. Parents routinely attempt to “find a job” for a son or daughter with a disability, special ed personnel do the same for students with disabilities, and a variety of professionals follow suit for adults with disabilities.

But if we look at a similar practice in the Real World, our common sense may kick in. What would happen if “Mary,” for example, called or visited a potential employer to inquire about employment for her husband, her friend, or her teenager (none of whom have a disability)? The employer’s reaction would probably be something like, “Hmmm, this person must be a real dud if his wife [or friend or mother] is here on his behalf. I sure don’t want him working here!”​ Click here to continue.