University Graduates with a Disability: The Transition to the Workforce

Jennifer Gillies


Critical disability theory asserts that persons with disabilities ought to have equal access to all aspects of social life and key sites of power, including education and employment. Although provincial and federal laws have resulted in increased numbers of persons with disabilities attending university, many of these students will not obtain the jobs they desire upon graduation, nor feel truly accepted and included within the workforce. This exclusion limits their ability to fully participate in society and adds to the perceived ‘burden’ of disability. This study, which involves interviews with 10 university graduates with disabilities as they made the transition from university to employment, examines: (a) their search for meaningful employment, (b) their experience of discrimination, (c) their concerns about disclosing a disability, and (d) how the transition influenced the construction of their identity. Findings suggest that the state of the employment market does not meet the tenets of the critical disability movement.


Key Words: Disability; Persons with disabilities; school to work transition; post-secondary education; employment; critical disability theory

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Copyright (c) 2012 Jennifer Gillies

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ISSN: 2159-8371