October 26, 2009

Survey of graduates with disabilities under way

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A survey conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will identify some of the barriers to employment among college graduates with disabilities, according to Linda Renee Baker, a University professor based at the institute.

“I am delighted that persons with disabilities, advocates and education leaders from around the state have agreed to assist the institute in encouraging participation in this survey,” said institute Director David Yepsen. “We are excited to work on a project designed to understand the employment opportunities, experience and challenges that face college graduates with disabilities.”

The survey is funded through a Medicaid Infrastructure Grant to the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services. The survey seeks to obtain data on the barriers to employment --whether attitudinal, structural, physical, mental, logistical or other factors -- faced by this subset of college graduates.

“Research indicates persons with disabilities experience difficulties finding employment regardless of the economic conditions,” Baker said. “This survey provides an excellent opportunity for the institute to work with the persons with disabilities, persons working in the field of disabilities services and public policy makers to address this very serious issue.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires supports necessary for persons with disabilities to fully participate in society and in the workforce. Its implementation has led to an increase in the number of persons with disabilities completing post-secondary education and enriched the nation's workforce, however, disparities persist.

“The institute recognizes that full inclusion of the every person’s talents and brainpower is essential to the future of Illinois,” Baker said. “What this survey does is get input directly from those affected by currently disability policy as well seeking their input on how to improve the policy.”

The survey is available on the institute’s Web site at http://disabilitysurvey.paulsimoninstitute.org/. It will also be linked to the Web sites of educational organizations, disability advocates, state agencies and others. The list includes the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services.

For more information, contact Linda Renee Baker at 217/553-6660 or the institute at 618/ 453-4009.