Kessler Foundation, based in West Orange, NJ, has released the results of what it reports in a news release as a first-of-its-kind, nationally representative survey of Americans with disabilities’ workplace experiences.

The 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey, commissioned by Kessler Foundation and conducted by the University of New Hampshire, was presented recently by experts on Capitol Hill, according to a news release from Kessler Foundation.

A total of 3,013 people with disabilities, aged 18 to 64, were questioned. A key finding of the survey is that Americans with disabilities are striving to work and are overcoming barriers to employment, according to the release.

“Nearly 69 percent of those surveyed are striving to work, defined as working, actively preparing for employment, searching for jobs, seeking more hours, or overcoming barriers to finding and maintaining employment,“ says Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation, in the release.

“This clearly demonstrates that people with disabilities are ready and able to contribute their talents in the workforce. By providing a better perspective on workplace experiences, this survey will help us prioritize our grant-making efforts and refine our approach to expanding employment for Americans with disabilities,” he continues.

According to the survey findings, Americans with disabilities who are employed work an average of 35.5 hours per week, and 60.7% of them work more than 40 hours per week. Also, Americans with disabilities are encountering—and overcoming—barriers as they look for work, the release explains.

The top three barriers include the lack of sufficient education or training, the employers’ assumption that they cannot do the job, and a lack of transportation. In the workplace, the top three barriers are receiving less pay than others who perform a similar job, negative attitudes of supervisors, and negative attitudes of coworkers.

A large percentage of employees responded in the survey that they were overcoming these barriers, per the release.

Additional responses, according to the release, indicate that workers are mostly comfortable disclosing their disability when necessary and requesting accommodations. The most common were flexible schedules, modified job duties, and building accessibility.

Andrew Houtenville, PhD, director of research for the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability, says that this survey focuses on the successes of people with disabilities who find and maintain employment, rather than on the disparities between people with and without disabilities and on the barriers to employment.

“By reframing this dialogue, the survey will inform the work of policymakers and legislators and help reshape the future of employment for people with disabilities,” he shares.

“The survey provides key information that will aid the development of targeted strategies and programs that ignite long-term increases in workforce participation among Americans with disabilities,” he continues.

“Efforts need to focus on improving self-advocacy, supporting family members and friends in job search efforts, and educating co-workers and supervisors,” he concludes.

The full report of the survey is available online at the Kessler Foundation website at

[Source: Kessler Foundation]