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Webinar: Focusing on 'Can'ts' Limits Future Employment Potential for People with Disabilities: How You Can Change the Rhetoric

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Since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the needle for employment has moved very little for people with disabilities. The underlying barriers preventing forward momentum are ableism and attitudinal barriers, beginning with how we message to youth with disabilities. While most people grow up being told ‘you can do anything if you work hard enough,’ the message for youth with disabilities is that they can’t do what other children can. This message is reinforced in school systems, in the home, and in the community and is compounded by horrific experiences of being bullied. The idea of ‘can’t’ becomes internalized rhetoric that prevents young people with disabilities from engaging in vocational and transitional services, seeking additional education, applying for career opportunities and promotions, and setting life goals. For return-to-work professionals who have gained a disability later in life, they are brought into the disability community from a medical model perspective. The focus is on the limitations introduced by a medical diagnosis, and how that impacts career and lifestyle, as opposed to a focus on exploring innovative accommodations options and making connections to the Disability Community as a societal group. For those with a diagnosis of a non-apparent disability, an additional component is added where stigma and ableism must be addressed that both prevents them from disclosing their disability as well as seeking out services they may believe are available and appropriate for those with apparent disabilities, such as vocational services, corporate return-to-work programming and accommodations interactive processes.


  1. Identify examples of ableism in the school, home, and community that become barriers to potential such as pity, exclusion, inspiration, and patronization.
  2. Explain why a critical success factor of transitional services is to raise the bar for youth with disabilities.
  3. Explain the attitudinal barriers for individuals with disabilities transitioning into the workforce and return-to-work professionals, both from the employer perspective and the individual with a disability.

Credits: 1.0 CEs of the following credits have been applied: ABVE, CCMC, CDMS, CLCP-MSCC, CRCC, CVE-CWA-CCAA (Pending Approval)


  • Joyce Bender

    Joyce Bender continues as an international leader in the area of disability employment through her role as CEO at Bender Consulting Services. A person living with disabilities, epilepsy and a hearing loss, Joyce founded Bender Consulting Services, Inc. in 1995 after immersing herself in the disability community after a life-threatening accident due to a seizure. Prior to founding Bender Consulting Services, Joyce worked in the executive search industry where she ran her own search firm, Bender and Associates. Joyce is the host of Disability Matters, the longest running podcast on Voice America. In 2018, Joyce founded Bender Leadership Academy, a nonprofit focused on preparing youth with disabilities to be successful in the workplace. She speaks across the United States and internationally representing the State Department on informational exchanges related to disability employment best practices. She has represented the State Department in programming with Panama, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan and Tunisia. Joyce is the current Vice Chair and Past Chair of the Board of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), is on the Board of Trustees for the Bazelon Center, and a current member of Disability Rights Pennsylvania and the Epilepsy Association of Western/Central Pennsylvania.

February 22, 2023
Wed 11:00 AM CST

Duration 1H 0M

This live web event has ended.

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IARP webinars are recorded and will be available to view on-demand after the event, unless stated otherwise in the event description.