Supporting the Transition into Employment: A Study of Canadian Young Adults Living with Disabilities


Objective To examine the job accommodation and benefit needs of young adults with disabilities as they transition into employment, and their perceived barriers to meeting support needs. Methods An online survey was conducted of 155 Canadian young adults with disabilities (mean age = 25.8 years). Respondents were either employed or seeking employment, and were asked about their need for health benefits, and soft (e.g., flexible scheduling) and hard accommodations (e.g., ergonomic interventions), and perceived accommodation barriers. Disability characteristics (e.g., disability type), demographic details and work context information were collected. Multivariable logistic analyses were conducted to examine the factors associated with a greater need for health benefits and hard and soft accommodations. Result Participants reported having a physical (79%), psychological (79%) or cognitive/learning disability (77%); 68% had > 1 disability. Over half (55%) were employed. Health benefits and soft accommodations were most needed by participants. Also, an average of six perceived accommodation barriers were indicated; difficulty with disability disclosure was most frequently reported. More perceived accommodation barriers were associated with a greater need for health benefits (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04–1.31) and soft accommodations (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.01–1.27). A psychological disability was a associated with a greater need for health benefits (OR 2.91, 95% CI 1.09–7.43) and soft accommodations (OR 3.83, 95% CI 1.41–10.42). Discussion Employers can support the employment of young adults with disabilities through provision of extended health benefits and soft accommodations. Addressing accommodation barriers could minimize unmet workplace need, and improve employment outcomes for young adults with disabilities as they begin their career and across the life course.

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We would like to acknowledge A. Morgan Lay at the Institute for Work & Health for her analytical support.


This study is funded by a Seed Grant awarded to AJ by the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy ( The Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP) is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Grant (#895-2012-1017).

Author information




AJ conceived of the study, led the development of the study design, analysis procedure and manuscript preparation; JB coordinated participant recruitment and participated in the design and interpretation of the data; AF participated in the development of the study design and data analysis procedures and contributed to manuscript development; FS participated in the design of the study and participant recruitment procedures; CB participated in the design and coordination of the study and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Arif Jetha.

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Conflict of interest

AF is both a collaborator in the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy and a private consultant who provides statistical support for community based organizations. AF did not receive financial compensation for her involvement. FS is the Director of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS). NEADS is a non-governmental organization that supports access to education and employment for post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities. Neither FS nor his organization received any financial compensation for their involvement in the study.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Jetha, A., Bowring, J., Furrie, A. et al. Supporting the Transition into Employment: A Study of Canadian Young Adults Living with Disabilities. J Occup Rehabil 29, 140–149 (2019).

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  • Disability
  • Young adult
  • Accommodation
  • Work
  • School-to-work transition
  • Health benefits