Career and Job Search Guide

Disability Policy Worker

Although the passage of the American with Disabilities Act has created more opportunities for disabled individuals, some still experience discrimination. Disability policy workers are responsible for being advocates for people experiencing discrimination resulting from their disabilities.

The way in which disability policy workers promote the rights of disabled individuals is through lobbying legislative bodies. They also frequently prepare articles for widely read publications or participate in public awareness campaigns.

Disability policy workers are employed by companies providing services for the disabled, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Whether they work with municipal and state governments or the federal government is usually determined by the type of organization they work for. Many disability policy workers are employed in-house by organizations, such as hospitals or businesses, to assist disabled employees.

Many policy workers are employed by non-profit disabled rights groups or organizations that promote civil liberties. These groups usually litigate on behalf of people who have experienced discrimination. For example, if a state government building is not outfitted with facilities providing building access for disabled individuals, then a civil rights group could sue the state. When actions like this are taken, efforts to avoid discrimination are often taken by other governments and organizations to avoid litigation.

Disability policy workers assisting disabled individuals in small communities work closely with local leaders to enhance opportunities for the disabled. They may also encourage local city councils to pass laws designed to safeguard protections for the disabled. Common laws promoted by these policy workers include establishing or enhancing special education programs at local school districts.

Disability policy workers employed in-house with organizations are responsible for developing an organization's policies regarding disabled employees. They also meet with disabled employees complaining about workplace discrimination. They also periodically review an organization's facilities to make sure they are sufficient to accommodate disabled employees.

Policy workers are often responsible for spearheading important changes to city, state, and federal laws, but they must be patient since changing laws and attitudes usually takes a long time. Therefore, people looking for careers where they can influence short-term changes are probably not well suited for disability policy careers.

Those who are interested in improving opportunities and conditions for disabled individuals should consider working as disability policy workers. It is recommended for people interested in this career to complete a bachelor's or graduate program, preferably in social work or public policy.