Employing Persons with Challenges

May 1, 2019 | Sonalika Mehta

Persons with intellectual challenges comprise an underutilized population of potential employees. All too often, we find that persons with challenges remain outside the workforce; forced outside the usual rhythm of life.

As we discuss the employment opportunities for people with challenges, it is important to be aware of who are the intellectually challenged? People are considered to be intellectually challenged if they meet all three of the following criteria:

  • An intellectual quotient (functioning level or IQ) is below 70-75.
  • They have significant limitations in adaptive skills i.e. the basic conceptual, social and practical skills needed for everyday life.
  • Their disability began before the age of 18.

It is estimated that over 20 million people in India are suffering from some kind of challenge which equals to 2.1% of the population that was identified by the Census. Based on the above criteria, such individuals may be a bit slower than average at learning information and acquiring skills, most are capable of holding a wide variety of jobs in the community. As a result of improved educational and vocational opportunities, many of today’s young adults with intellectual challenges are hitting the job market with better preparation. Yet 9 out of 10 adults with intellectual disabilities are unemployed.

Employers assume the drawbacks that they might face by employing someone with challenges. However, the flipside to the argument is that these days, many organizations are discovering that persons with intellectual challenges are employable. In our society, disability is regarded as a form of abnormality and all the faculties of the person are questioned. People need to be educated that most often a person with a given challenge can perform many functions quite efficiently, and could be productive if placed in an appropriate job with some support from the organization. An ethical argument can be made in favour of hiring persons with such challenges, but what employers really want to know is whether it’s profitable for them to hire people with challenges. The Chicago Tribune has reported that companies hiring people with intellectual and other challenges aren’t doing it as an act of charity, but because the people they are hiring are good employees who help the company make money. With careful matches and (usually) minor accommodations in the workplace, persons with challenges can easily be integrated into the regular workforce. People with intellectual challenges are employed as office assistants, medical technicians, textile machine tenders, furniture refinishers, sales clerks, cashiers, building maintenance workers, messengers, cooks etc.

But beyond this kind of social support, what individuals with intellectual challenges need most is the chance to prove their worth. Many persons without these challenges are overwhelmed by the high expectations that their family and friends have of them. Persons with disabilities suffer from the low level of expectation placed on them; they’re not given a fair chance because people don’t expect enough of them. Each individual has a contribution to make to this world and can do so, only if given an opportunity.

About the author

The Author of this article is Sonalika Mehta. Sonalika is in class XI and identifies herself as someone with a kind heart but strong grit. She has worked as a volunteer with the Amrit Foundation of India.


  1. Veronica May 1, 2019 - 3:02 pm

    Thats wonderful to see your meaningful initiatives, i woould like to know more about Amrit Foundation. As my organization is also working for livelihood resources of person with disabilities.

  2. Poonam sharma May 1, 2019 - 5:07 pm

    Dear Sonalika
    Need a chance to prove their worth. A little change in society and the employer group would help in this direction.
    No doubt, it’s TRUE, every individual can contribute in this world, if given chance. Myself is a mother of a child with special needs. He in any other way is a special child. Loving caring kind hearted a pure soul. He is very good in sports, music.
    I m also in need of an opportunity for him where he can enjoy his time and prove himself .

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