First Advisor

Fried, Juliet

Document Type


Date Created



A great deal of work has been done over the past 40 years to make the built environment more accessible. Public awareness activities have been conducted to begin to change society's attitudes toward people with disabilities. Changes in government benefits now allow individuals to retain benefits while working. However, people with disabilities are still woefully unemployed. This study examined internal barriers to work that some people with disabilities on government benefits may experience. Using qualitative methods, the researcher uncovered internal barriers to work among people with disabilities on government disability benefits. Data were collected through telephone interviews with six individuals with hidden disabilities, the majority of whom had acquired their disability as an adult. Using Anthony's (1994) suggestion to examine individuals with disabilities' willingness to change using the characteristics of self-efficacy, self-awareness, and current situation (quality of life), the researcher examined outside influences about disability (e.g., family, doctors, and society), whether they viewed themselves as a person with a disability, any thoughts and fears about going to work, and asked them to state their dream job. Each case was coded, analyzed, and a case study was written about each individual's experiences, thoughts, and fears about work and his or her quality of life. Negative thoughts about disabilities were noted as were his or her expectations about work and possible jobs. Individual and cross case analysis were conducted through the lens of Bandura's (1986) thoughts about self-efficacy within social learning theory and the Ellis and Grieger (1977) rational emotive behavior therapy. Results from the data suggest that this cohort of people with hidden and adult onset of disabilities need assistance in recognizing they have a disability, appropriately integrating their disability into their self-concept, information about their disability and career options, as well as role models for how to "be" with their disability and deal with society's lowered expectations. Practice talking about their disabilities and negotiating for reasonable accommodations was also suggested. Implications and suggestions are offered for people with disabilities, rehabilitation counselors, independent living center personnel, and for systemic change. Directions for future research are also suggested.

Abstract Format



Government Disability Benefits; People with Disabilities; Internal Barriers to Work; Disabled Workers


244 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by author.