Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Second Advisor

Dr. Ellen Page-Robin

Third Advisor

Dr. Lyke Thompson


The intent of this research was to analyze the employment barriers and to identify possible policy strategies for the unique employment problems faced by persons with handicaps. The study surveyed barriers to employment and proposed employment solutions for the handicapped as perceived by private- and public-sector employers and employment agencies. The handicapped and six disability groups were compared with women, blacks, and Hispanics on the same barriers and solutions. It was hypothesized that: (1) the handicapped as a protected group faced more and different employment barriers than did women, blacks, or Hispanics, and therefore (2) the handicapped needed more and different employment solutions than women, blacks, and Hispanics. The two subhypotheses were (1a) that some disability groups faced more and different employment barriers than did others, and therefore (2a) more and different employment solutions were needed for some disability groups than others.

The hypotheses were substantiated by the research findings. Four out of 13 potential barriers were identified for the handicapped. Conversely, women, blacks, and Hispanics were perceived to face fewer and different employment barriers. The mentally retarded were perceived to face 10 of 13 barriers, more than the mentally ill, persons with hidden disabilities, the deaf, the blind, and the physically disabled. Four employment solutions--tax credits and financial incentives, government subsidy, increased employer awareness, and job training--were supported as effective for the handicapped, whereas only one--job training--was perceived as effective for each of the other protected groups. Among the disability groups the most solutions were supported for the physically disabled, blind, and mentally retarded. Job training was the only employment solution of the six proposed which was rated as effective for all groups.

It was concluded that more and different employment strategies are needed for the handicapped and certain disability groups which are related to the unique employment barriers that they face. Considering both the number of barriers faced and the number of solutions rated as effective, the mentally retarded were determined to be most disadvantaged in employment.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access