Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Ketan Shankardass

Advisor Role

Research Supervisor


Employment is a critical component of health and well-being as it has been shown to increase income, reduce poverty, establish social networks, and provide a greater sense of purpose and value within society. People with disabilities have higher rates of unemployment as compared to non-disabled people and experience many barriers to employment, including stigma, attitudes towards disabilities, and perceived costs of accommodation. There is limited research that looks at what has helped to facilitate employment, particularly retained employment, for this population. Therefore, understanding factors that have served to facilitate retained employment for those with disabilities is critical in understanding how people have overcome these barriers and how they can be addressed going forward. The current study was conducted using a scientific realism ontology and semi-structured in-depth interviews with nine participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities that had retained paid employment at a single company for at least one year and five parents of the aforementioned participants to develop a comprehensive understanding of how, why and under what circumstances retained employment outcomes were facilitated. Findings highlighted that vocationally oriented objectives in school, co-op and volunteer experiences, effective job coach and social service support, workplace accommodations, supportive employers and co-workers, being valued as an employee, strong job-to-person fit, and relevant skills development (e.g., teamwork, communication, confidence) facilitate getting and retaining employment. The study also found notable barriers to getting and retaining employment, including perceived attitudes towards disabilities, ineffective employment services and support, and lack of accommodations.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season