nTIDE June 2024 Deeper Dive: Employment Trends for People with Disabilities Highlight Continued Gains for Those with Vision Impairments

Latest nTIDE Report Shows Employment Growth in Vision-Impaired Population Amidst Broader Disability Employment Trends

East Hanover, NJ – June 25, 2024 – The employment-to-population ratio for individuals with vision impairments continues to show marked improvement, according to data shared during the according to last Friday’s National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Deeper Dive Lunch & Learn Webinar. nTIDE is a joint effort by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). 

Director of Research Arielle Silverman, PhD, and Research Specialist Sarahelizabeth Baghun, PhD, from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) contributed their expertise to this edition of nTIDE, focusing on the unique challenges and opportunities in the labor market faced by people who are blind or have low vision. 

Andrew Houtenville
nTIDE expert Andrew Houtenville, PhD, economics professor and research director at University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability.  

“The employment of people with vision impairment is improving, which may be due to advancements in remote work and improvements in IT technology, making it easier for visually impaired individuals to be even more and more productive,” said nTIDE expert Andrew Houtenville, PhD, economics professor and research director at UNH-IOD. 

Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation agreed, adding, “The continued improvement in employment rates for individuals with vision impairments is a testament to the positive impact of accessible technologies and workplace accommodations.” 

The data indicates a strong recovery in employment for individuals with vision impairments following the pandemic. “While the first year post-lockdown saw a slower employment recovery, the subsequent periods have shown consistent increases,” said Dr. Houtenville. In the most recent 12-month period (spanning April 2023 to March 2024), the employment-to-population ratio was 63.9% for those who reported vision difficulties only, compared to individuals who reported general vision difficulties (42.2%) and individuals reporting any disability at 37.3%. In contrast, employment rates for those with hearing impairments have leveled off, and those with ambulatory difficulties have tapered, recounted Dr. Houtenville.

On the other end of the scale, the employment-to-population ratio of individuals who reported vision difficulties with activity limitations was 14.1%. “This data point highlights the importance of considering activity limitations alongside vision impairments and a more comprehensive understanding of the employment landscape for individuals who are blind or have low vision,” explained Dr. Houtenville. 

In their presentation, Drs. Silverman and Baghun mentioned AFB’s Workplace Technology Study, which identified common friction points in the workplace of workers who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind.

These individuals frequently faced accessibility challenges during hiring and onboarding, with about 25% unable to fully access required job trainings, impacting their productivity and sense of inclusion. They also encountered issues with mainstream technology tools, especially with video conferencing, instant messaging, and improperly formatted documents from sighted colleagues.

AFB’s latest study will uncover the biggest trends, risks, and opportunities with how artificial intelligence is changing the workplace should be available at end of calendar year. AFB is also collaborating with UNH-IOD on a section in the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium focusing on the population of people experiencing vision loss, a first in studying a co-curated section with disability type. 

Note on Data Collection and Language: When presenting information about disabilities, nTIDE employs the terminology found in the survey that serves as the basis for BLS data, known as the Current Population Survey (CPS). nTIDE data is self-report data based on the CPS, and relevant to data for people with disabilities. nTIDE is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR; 90RTGE0005) and Kessler Foundation.

Live Webinar on Disability and Employment
nTIDE is presented by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). In conjunction with each nTIDE report, experts host a 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (ET) Lunch & Learn Webinar via Zoom featuring in-depth analyses, guest speakers, and news updates from the field. Webinars include invited panelists who discuss current disability-related findings and events. 

Register for our next Deeper Dive Lunch & Learn Webinar on July 19, 2024, at ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE where you can also access the archives for this Deeper Dive and previous nTIDE webinars.


About nTIDE Updates
National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) is a joint project of Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability. The nTIDE team closely monitors the job numbers, issuing semi-monthly reports that track the impact of economic shifts on employment for people with and without disabilities. As the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wane and inflation persistently rises, the nTIDE team has superseded its mid-month COVID Update to a “Deeper Dive” into the BLS data for people with disabilities. The statistics in the nTIDE are based on BLS numbers but are not identical. They are customized by UNH to combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16- 64). nTIDE is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR; 90RTGE0005) and Kessler Foundation. Each nTIDE release is followed by an nTIDE Lunch & Learn online webinar. This live broadcast, hosted via Zoom Webinar, offers attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provides news, updates from the field, and features invited panelists who discuss current disability-related findings and events.

About the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire
The Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire was established in 1987 to provide a university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the Intitute’s NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC), visit ResearchOnDisability.org.

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research. Our scientists seek to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes, including employment, for adults and children with neurological and developmental disabilities of the brain and spinal cord including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and autism. Kessler Foundation also leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. KesslerFoundation.org.

For more information, contact:
Deb Hauss, [email protected]

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