Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Bill Lee




Employment is highly valued in our society and is an important determinant for mental and physical health, and ultimately, self-determination, however acquired brain injury survivors (ABI) experience significant employment barriers.

Current Federal and Provincial government disability and mental health policies and programs promote the full social inclusion of disabled persons in Canadian society however, they do not address the disability-specific employment needs of many ABI survivors, particularly those with more serious disabilities. A non-government employment initiative that started within the mental health disability community and that has demonstrated notable success in assisting with the disability-specific employment needs of members of this group is the consumer/survivor community economic development approach (CED).

This study explored the gaps in our current disability and mental health employment policies and programs in meeting the employment goals of ABI survivors, and examined the viability of the consumers/survivors CED approach for members of this group. This study was consistent with critical social science methodology and was based on a qualitative study of 4 ABI/mental health service providers, 6 consumers/survivors, and 10 ABI survivors.

The interviews with these three groups combined with the literature reviewed in this paper, reveals the systemic, societal, and structural barriers that maintain the exclusion of people with disabilities. Conversely, an examination of the consumer/survivor CED approach reveals principles and a value proposition that facilitate the social inclusion of people with disabilities.

This exploratory study is intended to serve as a catalyst for the advocacy of government support for a CED designed for, with, and by ABI survivors. Correspondingly, this thesis argues that disability policy-makers must acknowledge the need for changes to our capitalist system of labour, and in our country's understanding of citizenship, because both are responsible for the continued restricted citizenship or non-citizenship of non-working marginalized groups.

McMaster University Library

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