Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec


Social Work


This research assessed the research question of how people with disabilities overcome barriers of discrimination in employment settings. The introduction focused on the overall impact of societal discrimination towards people with disabilities. The literature review narrowed the discrimination focus to how that discrimination arises in employment settings for people with disabilities and how it negatively impacts their opportunity to find work, and advance in competitive career settings. The literature also discussed the benefits of hiring people with disabilities which included factors related to reliable, hardworking, and unique perspective to use for workplace collaboration and discussion. A conceptual framework of the “persons in the environment theory” was used to assess the data with, and a total of 12 articles were analyzed using the grounded coding theory to find themes in the data related to the research question. Four main themes were found within the data and discussed in the findings section: (1) Pride in identity, (2) motivation and determination, (3) advocacy, and (4) benefits to the individual and employer. People with disabilities who grew up in an empowering environment were less likely to believe the narrative of incapability that society has labeled them with. They were more likely to be confident and persistent with advocating for their right to have an opportunity in competitive employment settings, when they grew up feeling empowered and in empowering environments from families, peers, and education settings. These themes were expanded in the discussion section where their implications for advocacy within research, social work, and the business world were explored. Further research is needed to further understand how people with disabilities overcome barriers of discrimination to obtain competitive employment opportunities.

Included in

Social Work Commons