Rethinking work inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities

For a long time, a so-called disability gap has existed in employment and the position of people with intellectual disabilities has been especially difficult in this regard. People with intellectual disabilities have often been excluded from regular employment - with employment rates as low as 25 percent - and this also holds true for the Nordic countries, despite political intentions and diverse labour market measures. In addition, most people with intellectual disabilities work with adapted measures in segregated settings such as sheltered workshops. In other words, people with intellectual disabilities have experienced exclusion from work and employment and are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to enjoying the right to work as stipulated by the UN-CRPD.

Research about work within disability studies has focused on different factors that may act as barriers to employment of disabled people. While this research project is positioned within that field, it innovates by placing strong emphasis on inclusive practices as an opportunity for change. This includes rethinking existing labour market measures, social innovation and social entrepreneurship from the perspective of people with intellectual disabilities themselves. Thus the project aims to support the development of new approaches to meet challenges concerning work inclusion for people with intellectual disability.
The research project is funded by the Research Council of Norway for the period 2018-2020 and lead by Hege Gjertsen at UiT, Norway. Researchers from Norway and Iceland collaborate on the study, aiming to expand existing knowledge and support social innovation. The main research question that guides the project is "how can work inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities be improved?".

The Icelandic part of the project is lead by Stefan C. Hardonk and focuses on two work packages, i.e. one about the way in which people with intellectual disabilities give meaning to work and employment and one about the views of employers on how inclusive work settings can be created. Also working on the project is Árdís Kristín Ingvarsdóttir who conducts research activities such as interviews with people with intellectual disabilities and data analysis.

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