3 Facts About Social Workers and Disabilities

By Sam Engel

To be in social work is to be in the profession of helping others. Not to say that those with disabilities cannot help themselves, but those with disabilities, both mental and physical, are at a disadvantage in society, especially given the variety of stigmas surrounding disabilities. Here’s three facts about disabilities in social work!

  1. People with disabilities don’t have a strong base of public support. This is much different from other minorities that are discriminated against, such as the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, this leads to open, accepted public discrimination and people become desensitized to the horrors of dehumanization. This lack of grassroots support makes it even more difficult to pass comprehensive legislation that protects the disabled from discrimination in public and in the workplace.
  2. Fortunately, there’s already a law that aims to end discrimination against the disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was created mainly to combat discrimination in the workplace and access to facilities and services. While the act has vastly decreased said discrimination, people with disabilities still have extremely high rates of unemployment, causing an inability to necessary services and health care.
  3. More laws that prevent discrimination against the disabled are difficult to create. This is due to the nature of the laws, and the systemic discrimination in the government systems that crease said laws. Drafting and creating anti-discrimination laws takes time and money, and the funding for the programs in a new law that protects one subsection of the disabled often comes from the funding of law that protects from the subsection of another disabled group.


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.