New Report From Computerworld Uncovers Discrimination in Technology Hiring for the Mentally Disabled

FRAMINGHAM, MA – May 1, 2000 – Despite the shortage of skilled workers, many individuals with intellectual disabilities such as autism and schizophrenia and who have a unique aptitude as IT professionals are rejected for IT jobs, according to a Computerworld report, The Invisible Workforce.

In the midst of an extreme shortage of skilled Information Technology workers, IT managers often overlook this virtually untapped pool of job applicants. Socially odd mannerisms, poor communications skills, and the general stigma are what drive many IT managers to pass over these applicants. Yet, because of the nature of the activity, many people with mental disabilities are perfectly suited for IT jobs such as programming and web design.

As a result of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, experts say, discrimination has decreased against the disabled, and employers generally are willing to provide the special accommodations needed by employees with physical impairments.

However, significantly less progress has been made by those with mental, or intellectual, disabilities. Studies found that of the nearly 6 million adult Americans who are mentally retarded or who have psychiatric illnesses such a schizophrenia or neurological disorders such as autism, 60% of them are not working.

"It is important that we shine a light on these staggering statistics," said David Weldon, IT Careers editor for Computerworld. "Potential employers need to be educated about the benefits of utilizing this capable group in the workforce and the right way to transition them into their organizations."

From database administration to graphic design, computers allow many mentally disabled people to exhibit a wealth of previously untapped talent. Many mentally disabled individuals are drawn to the structure of IT-related careers, which allow them to become valued employees although they may have trouble concentrating or communicating with other people.

So what are the solutions? There are a number of organizations that help employers to transition disabled people into the workplace. For instance, "supported-employment" programs, which are run by non-profit organizations, sponsor disabled employees and provide on-the-job coaches for them. The on-the-job coaches cost the employer nothing and can relieve supervisors from having to provide the time-consuming training that disabled employees may require.

The Invisible Workforce report can be found in the May 1st issue of Computerworld and online at www.computerworld.com.

A unit of International Data Group, Computerworld, Inc. is a complete information services company for the IT Leader community, providing print and online publications, books, conferences and research services. The company's flagship weekly newspaper for IT Leaders has been recognized numerous times by Folio: Magazine and the Computer Press Association as the best computer newspaper. Computerworld, with a circulation of 250,000, is read by more senior-level managers than any other IT Newsweekly, according to IntelliQuest CIMS v.6.0. News and resources for the IT Leader community are available through Computerworld's Web site at www.computerworld.com. Computerworld is based in Framingham, MA, with a significant Silicon Valley presence in San Mateo, CA.

Computerworld is a business unit of IDG, the world's leading IT media, research and exposition company. IDG publishes more than 290 computer magazines and newspapers and 4,000 book titles and offers online users the largest network of technology-specific sites around the world through IDG.net (http://www.idg.net), which comprises more than 250 targeted Web sites in 55 countries. IDG is also a leading producer of 168 computer-related expositions worldwide, and provides IT market analysis through 49 offices in 42 countries worldwide. Company information is available at http://www.idg.com.