Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

Transition to Employment


Disabilities can dramatically affect employment
prospects. People with disabilities are employed at a
rate of only 18%, while for people without disabilities, it’s 66%. There are a lot of reasons that contribute
to this discrepancy, including matching skills to open positions, a lack of work experience,
low expectations for employment, or limited transportation. Now, image a language barrier. Spanish-speaking families with a member with
a disability report additional challenges related directly to their ethnicity that make
accessing employment even more difficult. From 2013 to 2016, researchers at the Beach
Center on Disability at the University of Kansas conducted a series of interviews with
12 Hispanic mothers of young adults with a disability. They described being left out of their young
adult’s transition planning and uninformed about services available to their young adult
after high school. The mothers we spoke to indicated that language
differences became a major barrier to their participation in transition planning, because
interpreters and translations of letters and forms were few and far between. They also reported ethnic discrimination from
school and service agency professionals, which served as an additional barrier to post-school
success for their young adults with disabilities. Educators and service providers can change
this narrative by partnering with Hispanic and Latino families. Specifically: 1. Establish trust by communicating openly with
families. Trust takes time. Communicate with the family about their concerns
and expectations for their family member, and ask about past positive and negative experiences. Avoid discussing citizenship. Ask about family well-being, share information
about your life, and celebrate life events— both theirs and yours. Consistency is important when working with
families, so trust may be established. 2. Maintaining knowledge, current resources,
and eligibility requirements for various types of services is important. Branch outside of your professional silo and
collaborate with other professionals to stay informed and share accurate information with
families. 3. Addressing a person’s needs is much more
difficult when English is not their native language. Although it’s not perfect, you can use Google
Translate or other apps to start translations if you are unable to secure a translator. Find an interpreter, someone the family trusts
if possible, through your school, or organization, local community organizations, like state
Parent Training and Information Centers, or community centers. Let siblings be siblings, not interpreters. 4. Recognize and honor values by asking families
questions, such as: “What are your expectations for…?” “Do you feel comfortable with…?” Also, recognize and communicate your own values. Finally, encourage families to lead, and you
add your expertise through active listening and offering suggestions:
“What I’m hearing you say is…” “I think I can contribute to this goal
by…” “What do you think about that?” For more information on this research or on
supporting families and their young adults with disabilities, visit us online or email
Dr. Judith Gross at [email protected]

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