Kessler survey shows education paves the way to employment for youth with disabilities

June 30, 2020

EAST HANOVER, NJ - June 30, 2020 - On a June 24 webinar, titled, "The ADA Generation: A Dialogue with Recent College Graduates with Disabilities," experts in employment and disability engaged with three young professionals to relate the results of a new national survey to the real-world experiences of recent college graduates with disabilities. The survey, commissioned by Kessler Foundation and implemented by the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and explores its impact on the first generation to come of age since the ADA's passage in 1990.

The panel focused on the topline findings of the 2020 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey: Recent College Graduates, the third in a series of surveys that are changing perceptions about disability and work, and establishing new pathways for greater inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. The overall results of the 2020 survey were presented nationally on June 3, 2020 via a Zoom webinar, titled, "The ADA Generation: New Perspectives on Employment and College Graduates with Disabilities," and via a EurekAlert release. The experts reported that college students with disabilities were taking advantages of career services during college, and were transitioning from college to work at the same rate as their peers without disabilities - 90%.

Economist Andrew Houtenville, PhD, of UNH-IOD chaired the June 24 webinar, which featured John O'Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability at Kessler Foundation, Kimberly Phillips, PhD, of UNH-IOD, and psychologist Elizabeth Cardoso, PhD, chair of the Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs at Hunter College-City University of New York. Dr. Cardoso related the survey's new findings to the outcomes of the MIND Alliance grant she received from the National Science Foundation. MIND Alliance fosters careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among minority students with disabilities in high school, community college and college.

The college graduates with disabilities who shared their experiences were Hieu Duc Dang, AA, BA, MS, benefits counselor at the Center for Independence of the Disabled (CIDNY), Bryce Stanley, BA, MS, PhD candidate, research assistant at the University of New Hampshire, and Annemarie Veira, BA, MS, CRC, coordinator of the Office of Disability Resources at of the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

The 2020 survey collected a wealth of information, including details of college majors and occupations, finding that students with disabilities were more likely to pursue career paths focused on helping people, and less likely to choose STEM majors, or to work in STEM disciplines. "Preparing for STEM careers will help people with disabilities take advantage of this growth sector in our economy," said Dr. O'Neill. "Research shows that this is a disparity that can be addressed with the right support system," he added.

Providing comprehensive support beginning in high school can increase the participation of minorities with disabilities in STEM careers, according to Dr. Cardoso. "More than 700 students received the services of the MIND Alliance," she reported, "including role modeling, tutoring, and mentoring, as well as exposure to internships, exposure to careers in STEM, and exposure to individuals with disabilities in STEM careers. These MIND Alliance students excelled in terms of their graduation rates at every level, in transitioning to higher education, and in choosing STEM careers."

During the webinar, Dang, Stanley and Veira shared how their college experiences compared with the survey's main findings, in terms of disability and career services, accommodations, and preparation for transitioning to the workplace. They were encouraged when the survey showed that peers with disabilities were striving to work and transitioning to jobs as they had, but cautioned that there are still disparities in job quality (e.g., earnings, hours working) between college graduates with and without disabilities.

"We've learned a great deal from the survey and our panelists," Dr. O'Neill acknowledged. "We plan to look deeper into our results to find better ways to support and advise youth with disabilities, their families, and educators. Looking at the impact of the type of disability and the type of college, for example, will yield useful information," he predicted. It's clear that we can build on the gains that individuals with disabilities have made since the ADA, and improve their educational experience and employment outcomes."
Visit for all survey materials:

Recorded Webinar 1 (June 3): The ADA Generation: New Perspectives on Employment and College Graduates with Disabilities

Press release, Executive summary, Survey results, PowerPoint slides, and FAQs.

Recorded Webinar 2 (June 24): The ADA Generation: A Dialogue with Recent College Graduates with Disabilities

Find Kessler Foundation's previous employment and disability surveys below:

2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment & Disability Survey:

2017 Kessler Foundation National Employment & Disability Survey: Supervisor Perspectives:

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. Kessler Foundation and UNH issue National Trends in Disability Employment (#nTIDE), and nTIDE COVID Update, custom monthly reports that compare employment data for people with and without disabilities. Learn more by visiting

To talk to one of our experts, contact: Carolann Murphy, 201-803-0572,

Kessler Foundation

Related Disabilities Articles from Brightsurf:

College students with disabilities at greater risk for substance abuse
College students with physical and cognitive disabilities use illicit drugs more, and have a higher prevalence of drug use disorder, than their non-disabled peers, according to a Rutgers study.

Asthma among children with developmental disabilities
How common asthma was among children with various developmental disabilities (including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder and vision, hearing or speech delay) was compared to children without disabilities in this survey study.

Children with developmental disabilities more likely to develop asthma
Children with developmental disabilities or delay are more at risk of developing asthma, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open led by public health researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) as part of the Center for Pediatric Population Health.

Self-help groups empower caregivers of children with disabilities
Caregivers in low-income settings will be able to respond to the challenges of bringing up children with disabilities, thanks to a new model created by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).

Unintended pregnancy rates higher among women with disabilities, study says
Pregnancies among women with disabilities are 42% more likely to be unintended than pregnancies among women without disabilities, says a new report published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

More medical students are telling their schools about disabilities, and getting a response
The percentage of medical students who told their schools that they have a disability rose sharply in recent years, a new study shows.

The unpopular truth about biases toward people with disabilities
Needing to ride in a wheelchair can put the brakes on myriad opportunities -- some less obvious than one might think.

How to improve care for patients with disabilities? We need more providers like them
When it comes to patients with disabilities, the chance of getting a clinician 'like them' is extremely low, which may lead to patients' reluctance to seek care or follow prescribed interventions and treatments.

Progress to restore movement in people with neuromotor disabilities
A study published in the advanced edition of April 12, 2019 in the journal Neural Computation shows that approaches based on Long Short-Term Memory decoders could provide better algorithms for neuroprostheses that employ Brain-Machine Interfaces to restore movement in patients with severe neuromotor disabilities.

Certain physical disabilities may affect outcomes in kidney transplant recipients
Compared with kidney transplant recipients who did not report a disability, recipients with a visual disability were at higher risk of organ failure and recipients with a walking disability were at higher risk of early death.

Read More: Disabilities News and Disabilities Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to