Cornell University

October 8 2012

Writing the Book

Partnership between ILR institutes produces volume on disability and work

Drawing on the resources and expertise of two ILR institutes, Susanne Bruyère and Linda Barrington have authored "Employment and Work," one of eight volumes in the SAGE Reference Series on Disability.

Bruyère, who is associate dean of outreach, professor of disability studies and director of the Employment and Disability Institute, writes from the disabilities perspective; Barrington, who is managing director of the Institute for Compensation Studies, provides the labor economics view.

The book, published in September, explores both challenges and opportunities for people with disabilities in employment and the work environment. Like other volumes in the series, it is designed for students and teachers in the area of disability studies, service providers in the rehabilitation and disability fields, and people with disabilities and their families.

The first two chapters cover background, history and current issues, while succeeding chapters provide a wealth of resources—a chronology of critical events, biographies of key contributors to the field, data and statistics, and lists of organizations and associations and print and electronic resources.

"Meaningful work, where we are fairly compensated and valued as a contributing member of a work unit and of society more broadly, not only contributes to the American economy, but contributes to our sense of self and self-worth," Bruyère and Barrington write.

"Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to be an active part of the American workforce. This volume is about how we can make that dream a reality for people with disabilities in America and around the world."

Barrington notes that the topic is both timely and important, "given the issues of wounded warriors, the aging population and our expanding knowledge base on disabilities."

"We feel so strongly that disability is just a part of the human condition, and yet concerns for people with disabilities don’t get airtime in the public discourse," Bruyère says. "It is our hope that this book will impact people’s thinking, the services and employment available and, over time, public policy."

The authors say the work resulted from a great partnership, and they credit the ILR School with making it possible.

"ILR provides the kind of environment that puts people like Linda and me—from different disciplinary backgrounds, working in different units—together in a way that we can have this synergistic scholarly success that wouldn’t be possible otherwise," Bruyère says.

"It also gave us a chance to think about outreach and collaboration," Barrington says. "What we were trying to do is the definition of outreach — to take what is known in the academy and get it out there to impact practices in the world of work."

Support for the authors' time was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.