Report on Employment Survey Physically Disabled Students' Residence Program
February, 1987

In late 1986, the Physically Disabled Students' Residence Program conducted a survey to determine the employment status of participants in the Program from its inception in 1962.

The survey describes an unusual, perhaps unique, sampling of disabled persons: (1) all are severely disabled (wheelchair users, most with some form of quadraplegia, most employing assistance for personal care); (2) all had an opportunity for an education at a ranking university (University of California-Berkeley); and (3) all had the advantages of the services of the Residence Program, funded by a grant from the California Department of Rehabilitation. This combination, in addition to the 25-year period of existence of the Program, creates an unusual opportunity to show longer term development of employment history. An earlier survey, in 1981, indicated a high degree of independent living for almost all participants (see attachment). A survey in 1985 reported that 34% of respondents had continued on to a master's, law, or doctor's degree.

A total of 155 students have participated in the Residence Program since 1962.

A total of 98 participants comprise the statistics that follow. Eighty-one percent are either employed or still students. Of the 98 respondents, 41 (42.2%) are employed, 38 (39.1%) are still students, and 19 (19.5%) are not employed. This compares dramatically with the national unemployment rate of 66% among all disabled Americans between the ages of 16 and 64, as reported by a Harris poll in 1986.

Annual salaries range from $350 to over $65,000. Of those employed full-time and reporting their salary, the average annual salary is $32,224 per year. Average annual salary for less than 40 hours per week is $10,019. Overall average salary for all employed participants is $26,494, an increase of almost $5,000 in average annual salary reported in a similar survey in 1984.

The career fields of employed participants encompass law, architecture, psychotherapy and counseling, management, programming and systems analysis, marketing and accounting, engineering, travel, education, real estate, drama, and writing.

Fifty-four percent work in the private sector for such firms as Kaiser Aluminum, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Shield Health Center, Wells Fargo Bank, Pacific Lighting Corporation, Chevron Corporation, and Hurd Real Estate. Seventeen percent work in government, including the states of California and Nevada; the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, and Berkeley; and the federal government. Twelve percent are employed by educational institutions (10% by the University of California-Berkeley), and 15% are self-employed.

Most employed respondents have settled in northern California. Ten percent are in southern California or out of state.

The Residence Program provides 24-hour support services in the residence halls while students are new to the University and learning skills for independent living. Students use the Program as a one-year bridge between living at home with parents and living independently in an apartment or their own homes. Experienced UC staff provide help with personal care, meals, and other support services. They also help students learn to hire and manage their own team of attendants, feeders, notetakers, etc. Typically, students streamline their management of personal care to a few hours per day, hire their own attendants, and, after a year, move from the Unit II complex to the student co-ops or private apartments.

When asked to comment on the impact of the Residence Program on their lives, former participants were enthusiastic in their praise:

"It saved me from being institutionalized."

"It was very valuable. You might say the Residence Program is what allowed me to live."

"It allowed me to develop independently from my family...which led to working, home ownership, and a more fulfilling life."

"I believe at the time, 1970, it was the most important single factor in changing my life to a more productive and meaningful one."

"Profound. I learned to handle scheduling school and attendant care appropriately, thereby giving me adequate skills to live independently. The former residents were instrumental in teaching me independent living skills. The help and friendships I developed will always be an integral part of my life."

"The Residence Program was very important to my gaining independence. My mother had done everything for me. I had never done anything on my own. I probably would still be living at home and not working if the Program had not existed."

"Without it I would be dead."

"Got me back into college and the mainstream of life so that I could feel useful by working and be self-supporting."