Scholarship in Action and the Syracuse Miracle
Edited by Bruce Kingma
Chapter 9: Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Gary Shaheen FOSTERING HOPE AND ADDRESSING CHALLENGES Americans with disabilities represent an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population, making this the nation’s largest minority, which crosses lines of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. Recent data suggest that, of the 21.5 million Americans with disabilities between the ages of 21–64 the majority are also members of an existing minority group (National Council on Disability, 2008, p. 28). Americans with disabilities are disproportionately unemployed, underemployed and living in poverty. It is difficult to determine the real unemployment rate for people with disabilities, both in the U.S. and worldwide; however, it is generally estimated that only around 38 percent of people with disabilities are employed (Erickson et al., 2009). Tens of thousands more have likely given up hope of working, while thousands more spend their days in sheltered workshops earning wage stipends at usually less than the federal minimum wage, and never making the transition to a job in the competitive job market or to self-employment. The personal consequences of chronic unemployment can be devastating. As John Allen, Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health and Director of the Bureau of Recipient Affairs as well as being a person in recovery from a psychiatric disability noted: It’s not just an issue of helping people with disabilities get jobs. We must also work ‘upstream’ from employment and tackle the important task of helping those who have lost all hope...
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