Launch of New Disability Interest Area

By Julia Elliott

Today's unemployment rate has reached an all time high for American workers, 9.5 percent in June 2009 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMPLOYMENT SITUATIONS: 2009 news release on Thursday, July 2, 2009. There is another group of American workers who seem to be getting hit even harder.  According to the same news release, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities was at 14.3 percent during June 2009, and the employment ratio for persons with a disability was at 19.4 percent, compared to those without a disability who are at 65.0 percent.  During this time of slow economic growth career development practitioners could see an increase in the number of clients with physical or mental disabilities seeking assistance in the job search process.  For that reason it is important for career development professionals to have immediate access to resources they can utilize when assisting their clients/students with disabilities in searching for employment. 

New Interest Area on NCDA Website

The newest section on the NCDA website under Interest Areas does just that.  This new Disabilities section is the outcome of my 2008-2009 Leadership Academy Project.  As a former university career counselor and now a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of Colorado, I wanted to provide a helpful resource list for NCDA members who work with or may find themselves working with individuals who have a barrier to employment such as Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, Bi-polar, PTSD, etc.  As a career counselor, I recall not knowing much about working with students with disabilities or even knowing where to begin looking for resources.  This information wasn't taught in my career counseling class.  Now as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, I think back to all of the ways I could have been a better career counselor had I only known that these kinds of resources existed.  

Providing Assistance to the Disabled

Assisting an individual with a disability in the job search process is very similar to assisting a non-disabled person in the job search process.  However, it is helpful for the practitioner to understand the limitations that someone's disability may present, the appropriate time to disclose ones disability to a potential employer, and the kinds of accommodations available to assist individuals in the work place. Many individuals with disabilities want to return to work or need help in maintaining their current employment, but also need assistance from us in finding the right resources that will assist them in doing so.

The new "Disabilities" list in the Interest Areas is set up similar to the other areas, with the following categories of links:

While lengthy, it is certainly not an all inclusive list, but it is a start.  I encourage anyone who may have additional career resources for individuals with disabilities that are not included in this list to please forward them to me so I can make sure they get added to the list.


United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The employment situation: 2009[Data file].

Retrieved from



Julia Elliott, MA, LPC, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of Colorado, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  She currently serves as the treasure for the Colorado Career Development Association, board member of the local Community Center Board for the Developmentally Disabled, and is a member of the Vocational Rehabilitation Disability Awareness Training committee that developed a Disability Awareness Training that is designed to be used with employers and vendors throughout the state of Colorado.  She also recently completed the National Career Development Leadership Academy, and served as the counselor for an after school Life Skills program for high school students.  In addition, she was employed in Higher Education for over ten years, and with six years of it as a Career Counselor. To contact Julia: julia.elliott@state.co.us


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