Changing the message: Employment as a means out of poverty

Kelly Nye-Lengerman PhD, Derek Nord

Changing the message: Employment as a means out of poverty


Poverty is deep-rooted issue that has challenged society throughout history. It is a complex and multilayered problem that requires a reflexive look at inequity across social, cultural, economic, and political spectrums. Poverty does not affect individuals or groups equally. Individuals with disabilities experience poverty at disproportionally higher rates compared to individuals without disabilities. Employment can be an avenue out of poverty for many individuals, yet many individuals with disabilities are not currently employed. Objective: This paper seeks to highlight this problem by continuing a dialogue that draws attention to the significant gaps in poverty rates for individuals with disabilities. Conclusion: Employment is an essential variable to this conversation as the ability to earn a living wage is a central tenant of economic wellbeing and self-sufficiency. It also suggests, we as professionals, use reflexive practices to critically examine personal and professional biases to ensure we are facilitating individuals with disabilities in their pursuit of a working life.

Suggested Citation

Changing the message: Employment as a means out of poverty. (2016). Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 44(3), 243–247.


Peer-reviewed article 
Volume 44, Number 3
Kelly Nye-Lengerman PhD
Institute on Community Integration


  • Community life
    • Person-centered planning and practices
      • Social inclusion
      • Employment and postsecondary education
        • Employment and workforce development