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.*  

The 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.  

Bibliometric Literature Review on Disability and Employment

The PROUD Project researchers are conducting 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).

Broadcastability: A Podcast by, for and about Disabled Workers

In this venture, “Broadcastability,” 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. We are seeking funding to allow us to participate in knowledge translation of The PROUD Project’s research and the Easter Seals initiative to share with the broader public via a 10-12 episode podcast and webinar series. Easter Seals has strong networks in almost all provinces and has established ties to indigenous communities as well. By joining together, we intend to publish 10-12 Broadcastability shows which will have approximately 7 anglophone, 3 francophone and 1-2 indigenous language podcasts, highlighting employed disabled people in Canada. We wish to quite literally “broadcast” their “ability” to the public at large. 


  • 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.