The Problem

Young man at radio station
At a radio station, a young man in a wheelchair and wearing headphones sits in front of a boom microphone with a pop filter. In the background are computer monitors, microphones and other equipment.

Many jurisdictions have human rights and employment equity statutes that seek to include qualified disabled adults in the workforce. However, these individuals continue to struggle in securing and maintaining employment. According to a 2017 Statistics Canada, 59% of the 16 million Canadians with disabilities aged 25 – 64 are employed compared with 80% of Canadians without a disability.*  

Ongoing Projects

Phenomenological Analysis of Disability and Employment in Five Countries

As researchers, we want to know how individuals and organizations manage to hire and integrate individuals with physical disabilities successfully.  We want to learn from these success stories.  We want to interview physically disabled employees; employers who hire people with physical disabilities; and co-workers who work with disabled colleagues so that we can more fully understand the conditions which foster the integration of qualified adults in the workplace.  

The scope of this project covers five different countries:  Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France and Belgium.  Taking a multi-country approach  will allow us to understand the experiences of disabled employees under different policy environments and cultures.  The research will compare these experiences and suggest best practices for organizations.  Finally, the rich data that we gather from many different participants will allow us to contribute to government policy discussions regarding inclusiveness, equity, and diversity for persons with disabilities in the workforce. 

Interviews have been completed in Belgium, Canada, France, and the USA. Chloë Atkins and Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon are currently finishing interviews in the UK, analyzing the data, and drafting articles based on the research conclusions.

Broadcastability Season 2 (Summer 2023)

Broadcastability,” is a podcast by, for, and about disabled workers. Season 2 is hosted by Chloë Atkins and Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon, and consists of interviews with disabled employees and entrepreneurs from France, Belgium, the US, and the UK.

Other Ongoing Projects

  • Articles: Anti-ableism and health equity research – Chloe Atkins and Sunit Das
  • Monograph: Disability and Vulnerability: A Historical Memoir of Vulnerability and Disability in Canadian (French, English & Indigenous) Families since 1600 – Chloe Atkins
  • PhD Dissertation: “Embodying Invaliditet: Living (with) Disability in Habsburg-Administered Bosnia-Herzegovina and Independent Serbia, 1878-1914” –  Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon

Past Projects

Bibliometric Literature Review on Disability and Employment

Chloë Atkins, Andrea Whiteley, and Brenna Leslie conducted a quantitative literature review to understand the publishing landscape in the area of disability and employment. Using the Web of Science, Google Scholar and qualitative ways of understanding the literature, the research team is analyzing more than 1500 publications. Preliminary analysis has confirmed that current bibliometric tools, such as Web of Science, are not sufficient, given that a good deal of research in this area is published in books rather than journals (Martin-Martin et al., 2018).

Disability Policy Country Reports

Chloë Atkins, Caroline Casinelli, Rachel Desborough, and Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon created reports on the current disability policies in five countries: Canada, the USA, the UK, France, and Belgium.

Broadcastability Season 1 (Sept. 2021-Aug. 2022)

Broadcastability,” is a podcast by, for, and about disabled workers. Season 1 is hosted by Chloë Atkins and Andrea Whiteley. Through this 8-episode podcast season, we want to share the “hands-on” experience of people with disabilities in the workplace. Their knowledge of how different types of attitudes, behaviours and policies encourage their participation in the workforce and make their ongoing remunerative employment possible. In doing so, we are partnering with Easter Seals of Canada under their “Reimagine Employability Initiative” which offers multiple resources to employers to encourage the hiring of individuals with disabilities. The program also seeks to act as a link between scholarly research efforts in the area of disability and employment and the community of employers and job-seekers.


  • Making an accessible Canada for persons with disabilities
  • Maroto, M. and Pettinicchio, D. (2020), Barriers to Economic Security: Disability, Employment, and Asset Disparities in Canada. Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie, 57: 53-79. doi:10.1111/cars.12268
  • Wall, K. 2017. Low Income among Persons with a Disability in Canada—Insights on Canadian Society, Catalogue No. 75‐006‐X. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.