Sara Jo Soldovieri ’18, G’19 in Conversation on Improving Education and Employment for People With Disabilities

(Creative Spirit | Sept. 8, 2022) Education is a fundamental right, not a privilege, and no one should be left behind, especially not the millions of young adults with disabilities, including intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Students with disabilities who have received equal opportunities and an inclusive, accommodated education will be better equipped for fair-wage employment post-graduation and have a significantly better chance of achieving meaningful, fulfilling careers. This was shown in a 2022 report by, which found that in 2021, “the employment rate of persons with a disability in the labor force who had a Bachelor’s degree or higher was 27.7 percent in the United States.

However, only eight percent of people with less than a high school diploma and a disability were employed in 2021.” Ensuring inclusion and breaking down barriers to education is crucial due to the 85% unemployment rate among adults with IDD. As a report by Vanderbilt University points out, “Many students with disabilities…drop out of high school before graduating, leaving them even more unprepared for and less likely to obtain a job. High schools can better engage and support these students by helping identify their strengths and interests and providing them with the skills (or a plan for gaining them) they need to succeed in the workplace.”

We believe reshaping education to destigmatize disability and emphasize a more strengths-based approach can hugely impact the future of employment for an entire generation of young adults.

One individual with expert insight into this issue is Sara Jo Soldovieri, a third-year doctoral student studying Inclusive Education and Disability Studies at Syracuse University, who also works as a graduate assistant and researcher.

Soldovieri is recognized nationally as an inclusive education scholar and advocate who has worked to create and implement more than 1,500 inclusive, individualized education plans, otherwise known as IEPs. We spoke with Soldovieri during a virtual interview to broaden our understanding of how to improve education and post-education employment for people with disabilities …

Improving Education and Employment for People With Disabilities: A Conversation With Sara Jo Soldovieri