Future of Work Program
SourceAmerica defines the future of work as the intersection of social, legislative, economic, and technological trends impacting how, when, and where people work. Our program combines research, advocacy support, and social innovation projects to draw people into the discussion of how to create a more inclusive labor market. The resulting reports, pilot programs, and policy recommendations benefit the entire disability community as we strive for a more inclusive future.
Current Future of Work projects include:
User Experience Testing
User Experience Testing is a demonstration project with the goal of exploring entry points for people with disabilities to work in the technology industry and to influence products and services design. This is a strategy for increasing employment while directly addressing accessibility barriers and usability issues experienced by millions of people with disabilities.
Earning micro-credentials, similar to certifications, demonstrates the mastery of a specific skill or set of skills and opens the door for new opportunities. Currently, these programs typically do not include people with disabilities. SourceAmerica is exploring the demand and development of fully accessible micro-credentialing programs in career fields that will be relevant well into the future.
Extended Reality (XR) and Telepresence in Employment
SourceAmerica is exploring how emerging technologies and changes to typical work environments can bring about opportunities for people with disabilities. This includes testing the application of XR in current operational settings to empower workers with on-demand access to information and modernized delivery of support services. Findings would be used to promote employee access to new career fields.
Future of Work Resources
Take a look at these in-depth reports and white papers about the Future of Work and the disability community:
How COVID-19 is Reshaping the Future of Work for Persons with Disabilities
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the concept of the "future of work." Although this is just the beginning, we are already seeing the impact it is having on the economy. Historically, persons with disabilities experience a higher level of employment disruption during an economic crisis. The implications on the future of work must no longer consider only the role of technology, but also the consequences of a global health crisis and the resulting fallout of a possible recession. This report explores the new issues raised by COVID-19.
An Inclusive Future of Work: A Systems Approach
The future of work is often associated with the replacement of human labor by robotics, algorithm-driven decision making and growing concerns about how workers will fare in a dynamic global economy. Only recently has the discussion on the future of work been expanded to take into account the likelihood of growing economic and social inequalities between groups. Unfortunately, as is all too common with diversity-based conversations, the focus is frequently limited to race, gender and geography. Disability is often omitted from consideration altogether. As a result, the policies and programs developed out of growing concern for the future of workers may further marginalize persons with disabilities. Not willing to accept this outcome, a diverse group of representatives from the public, private and social sectors assembled in 2019 to map the present conditions contributing to the exclusion of persons with disabilities and recommend strategies to positively shape the future.
The Future of Work and the Disability Community
The nature of work is changing worldwide. Technology, globalization and urbanization are contributing to a shifting employment landscape. Uncertainty about the future is fueling ongoing debate regarding potential outcomes for the labor force. This narrative is commonly referred to as "the future of work." Despite a growing body of knowledge on this topic, little to no attention is paid to historically marginalized populations such as people with disabilities. This report draws attention to how universal trends may impact the future employment of people with disabilities in the United States. Read the full summary.
Social Enterprises of the Future: A Collective Response
Social Enterprises of the Future: A Collective Response outlines our methodology and the path forward. Social Enterprises of the Future is rooted in design thinking principles. Therefore, success is dependent on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the design of interventions that meet their aspirations for the future. We must strive to develop testable prototypes that maximize learning and incorporate feedback into the innovation process. As the initiative evolves, it will be essential to include the diverse perspectives of representatives across the public, private and social sectors to guide the design process. The framework we developed during the original phase of this initiative and our first set of outputs reflect an evolution within the disability community. Read the full summary.
Social Enterprises of the Future: Practices for Sustained Social Impact
Social Enterprises of the Future: Practices for Sustained Social Impact is intended to supplement SourceAmerica's publications: The Future of Work and the Disability Community and Social Enterprises of the Future: A Collective Response. This report examines select operational issues affecting disability service organizations nationwide, including strategic planning, fundraising, succession planning, social impact measurement and advocacy impact. Research for this report was conducted internally by SourceAmerica staff and informed by trends observed in the field.
This report starts by looking at factors that contribute to the success of high-performing organizations and continues with the examination of concepts and tools social enterprises may consider during strategic planning efforts. The remainder of the report reviews the literature on select operational challenges the field is facing and highlights best practices of high-impact organizations. It also provides case studies of social enterprises that have implemented relevant and sustainable business practices and self-advocates who participated in the Social Enterprises of the Future initiative.
The Future of Work and Inclusion of People with Disabilities
In conjunction with the release of The Future of Work and the Disability Community and Social Enterprises of the Future: A Collective Response, SourceAmerica invited a panel of experts to share their perspectives on the global state of disability employment and societal inclusion. The panel event took place on May 8th at the 2018 SourceAmerica National Training and Achievement Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. The panel members outlined a variety of challenges and opportunities and offered strategies for meeting the shared goal of a future of inclusion, with employment as a key indicator of success. This report represents the perspectives of a diverse panel on matters of global and domestic policy, human rights, and private sector engagement—and offers a summary of the key takeaways to inform subsequent discussion and action.
Employment Policy for People with Disabilities: Current and Future Direction
This white paper provides an overview of research sponsored by SourceAmerica and conducted by TechnoMetrica in the fall of 2017.