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The Benefits of Inclusion: Disability and Work in the 21st Century

Special issue call for papers from Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The Benefits of Inclusion: Disability and Work in the 21st Century

  • Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health and McMaster University
  • Dan Samosh, University of Toronto and Institute for Work & Health
  • Alecia Santuzzi, Northern Illinois University

Call for Papers

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006 with 82 nation signatories (United Nations, 2019). The purpose of the convention was to elaborate upon and codify the rights of persons with disabilities while setting a path for implementation of policies and practices that ensure those rights are activated and maintained (United Nations, 2006). To date, over 160 nations have signed the convention (United Nations, 2019), indicating global interest in implementing legislation, regulations, policies, and programs on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Increased international attention on the rights of persons with disabilities is associated with a shift away from the medical model of disability, which characterizes disability as a deficit of the individual (e.g., Areheart, 2008). Historically, this model has been the focus of disability benefits programs (e.g., Withers, 2016). More inclusive approaches to disability are now being recognized, such as the social model of disability, which identifies disability as a societal rather than individual phenomenon (Oliver, 1983; 2013), and the human rights model of disability, which draws from the social model to highlight the centrality of upholding the rights and dignity of all persons in society (Office of Disability Issues, 2003). With changing perspectives comes the requirement for new approaches to framing disability in legislation, regulations, policies, programs and practices at the public policy level and workplace systems level.
Importantly, there is also an urgent need for evaluation of the impact of these new approaches, including costs, benefits, and whether policies are giving rise to their intended effects. This next step of evaluation is critical, as the implementation of disability policy does not necessitate that desired outcomes will be achieved (Acemoglu & Angrist, 2001; DeLeire, 2000; Kruse & Schur, 2003). Yet, at present, we do not have measurement frameworks for recent legislation, regulations, policies, programs and practices on accessibility and inclusion, or methods to apply frameworks across different contexts.

The impacts of legislation are especially relevant in workplace organizational processes. At the workplace systems level, there is an urgent need to improve the capacity of workers to leverage the opportunities offered by working age persons with disabilities. However, many employers remain apprehensive due to a lack of confidence, knowledge, and skills about best practices in the provision of accommodations and social integration of workers with disabilities in the workplace. Guidance is needed on how organizations can advance their human resource management systems to ensure they have the ability to recruit, onboard, retain, and promote persons with disabilities who have the requisite skill sets.

In this special issue we focus on innovative, international research that contributes to the conceptualization and application of inclusion and accessibility across several social domains, with a focus on the public policy and workplace systems levels. All contributions will be double-blind peer-reviewed before consideration for publication and we welcome submissions from a diversity of research perspectives that use different methods (e.g., conceptual, qualitative, and quantitative).

Although supporting evidence from any units of measurement will be considered (e.g., individual, dyad, team, organization, nation), the main contributions should focus on societal and/or organizational systems related to inclusion and accessibility. For instance, research on the impact of national legislation and policy on individual worker experiences fit this criterion. However, an emphasis should be placed on how those individual experiences inform evaluation of policy and legislation. Research measuring organizational processes or management systems (e.g., Karapetrovic & Willborn, 1998; Yazdani, Neumann, Imbeau, Bigelow, Pagell, & Wells, 2015) fit as well and may include data from several units of measurement to inform those systems.

Following are additional suggestions of topic areas of relevance:

  1. Conceptualizing inclusion and accessibility at the national or organizational levels;
  2. Measuring inclusion and accessibility at the national or organizational levels;
  3. Identifying mechanisms (practices or psychological processes) of inclusion and accessibility within or across different social domains (e.g., transportation, work, and healthcare, though not limited to these areas);
  4. Applying measurement frameworks for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of legislation or policy related to inclusion and accessibility;
  5. Analyzing how organizational systems (e.g., management systems) relate to inclusion and accessibility; and
  6. Evaluating policy and practice applications, including case studies.

Manuscript Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online by June 1, 2020 at and should follow the Submission Guidelines available at Please note that all submissions will be subject to the standard EDI double-blind review process.

Please select Special issue and submit under the title Inclusion and Disability. Submissions will open on March 1, 2020. For questions regarding this special issue, please contact any of the Guest Editors at the email addresses above.


  • Acemoglu, D., & Angrist, J. D. 2001. Consequences of employment protection? The case of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Journal of Political Economy, 109(5), 915-957.
  • Areheart, B. A. 2008. When disability isn't “just right”: The entrenchment of the medical model of disability and the goldilocks dilemma. Indiana Law Journal, 83(1), 181-232.
  • DeLeire, T. 2000. The wage and employment effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Journal of Human Resources, 35(4), 693-715.
  • Karapetrovic, S., & Willborn, W. 1998. Integrated audit of management systems. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 15(7), 694-711.
  • Kruse, D., & Schur, L. 2003. Employment of people with disabilities following the ADA. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 42(1), 31-66.
  • Lindsay, S., Leck, J., Shen, W., Cagliostro, E., & Stinson, J. 2019. A framework for developing employer’s disability confidence. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 38(1), 40-55.
  • Office of Disability Issues. 2003. Defining Disability: A Complex Issue. Gatineau, Quebec: Office of Disability Issues, Human Resources Development Canada.
  • Oliver, M. 1983. Social Work with Disabled People, Basingstoke: Macmillan.
  • Oliver, M. 2013. The social model of disability: Thirty years on. Disability & Society, 28(7), 1024-1026.
  • Thanem, T. 2008. Embodying disability in diversity management research, Equal Opportunities International, 27(7), 581-595.
  • United Nations. 2006. Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. New York, NY: United Nations.
  • United Nations. 2019, October. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Retrieved from
  • Withers, A. J. 2016. (Re)constructing and (re)habilitating the disabled body: World War One era disability politics and its enduring ramifications, Canadian Review of Social Policy/ Revue Canadienne de Politique Sociale, 75(1), 30-58.
  • Yazdani, A., Neumann, W. P., Imbeau, D., Bigelow, P., Pagell, M., & Wells, R. 2015. Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders within management systems: A scoping review of practices, approaches, and techniques, Applied Ergonomics, 51(1), 255-262.