Leading Edge Resources: Real Work
Despite successes like those demonstrated through Iowa's EWD Program, individuals with disabilities continue to experience attitudinal and systemic barriers to business development. The 1999 Entrepreneurship Committee of the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities identified lack of supportive expertise as a significant barrier to successful self-employment for people with disabilities:
Support to Microenterprises. The Abilities Fund currently manages a national demonstration program in nine states which links microenterprise development organizations with their state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies. The Capital Access Program (CAP) is a Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) funded initiative designed to provide comprehensive assessment, training, technical assistance and ongoing monitoring for clients of VR that are interested in self employment. Additionally, CAP funds are used to create credit enhancement products for microlenders that will allow VR clients to self finance a greater portion of their business, thus reducing their need for VR funding. These credit enhancements exist in the form of loan guarantees and specialized loan loss reserve grants to micro lending organizations. http://www.abilitiesfund.org/index.php
Outsourcing – Threat and Opportunity. In his book The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman (2005, page 384) says, "India can have the smarted high-tech vanguard in the world, but if it does not find a way to bring along more of those who are unable, disabled, undereducated, and underserved, it will be like a rocket that takes off but quickly falls back to earth for lack of sustained thrust." The same can be said for the United States. If more and more jobs are outsourced outside of America, there will be less and less work for people to do here.
For instance, the Harvard Crimson wanted to digitalize its back issues so alumni could have access on the web. The contract went to a firm located in Cambodia where typists keyed in all the articles. Now the original copies of the Crimson were converted from microfilm to digital images in the United States before being sent to Cambodia. This might have been a job for people with disabilities.