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Employers' Attitudes Towards Hiring and Retaining People with Disabilities: A Review of the Literature

  • Jana Burke (a1), Jill Bezyak (a2), Robert T. Fraser (a3), Joseph Pete (a4), Nicole Ditchman (a5) and Fong Chan (a4)...


This selective review provides an overview of salient research findings related to employers' attitudes towards disability and prospective influences on employers to improve employment outcomes of people with disabilities. Research studies included for review are mainly those which investigated employer attitudes towards disability as predispositions to hiring people with disability. Selected studies were classified into three categories including hiring and accommodating employees with disabilities, work performance, and affective reactions and behavioural intentions of employers. Excluded from the review were studies that investigated other factors influencing employer attitudes toward disability. Altogether 34 research studies from the period of 1987 until 2012 were included in the review. Primary databases for the review included ProQuest, Ebscohost, Lexus Nexus, ERICK Database and the Sage Sociology Collection. This review of the demand-side employment literature suggests employers hold relatively positive attitudes regarding individuals with disabilities. However, employer affective reactions and behavioural intentions of employers towards disability in the work setting were less positive and negatively impact hiring decisions, provision of accommodations and work performance appraisals. Employer attitudes represent an important demand-side factor impacting full participation in competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. While employers report generally positive attitudes toward disability, hiring practices may still be discriminatory. Use by rehabilitation professionals of demand-side strategies with employers would likely result in higher rates of work participation by people with disabilities.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence pertaining to this article should be directed to Fong Chan, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 403 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail at


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