Combating Implicit Bias: Employment

The 2020 Disability and Change Symposium is available as a free online learning module.

Welcome and Introduction

As we enter into this unprecedented time of closures for many schools, businesses and other community entities, including the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, College of Education, we are trying to adjust to this new way of communicating, working and learning.

Of course, we do not yet know the full effects of COVID-19 and so we may struggle in the coming days, weeks and months with our new reality. We continue on with our work, even if it looks different from years past. For this reason we present the seventh annual Disability and Change Symposium 2020 as an online learning module.

We welcome you to use, explore, and share the content now or as time allows you in the near or far future. We are thankful to all of the presenters and participants that creatively adapted to this new online form to share with us their scholarship, expertise, and experiences.

We wish you and your loved ones continued good health through this crisis.

Sally Gould-Taylor, PhD
Interim Executive Director
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University College of Education


About the Theme / Objectives

Conversations about employment acknowledge that employment statistics for persons with disabilities continue to be disappointing, ~19% compared to ~66% of peers without disabilities (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). We ask ourselves, is there something beyond overt discrimination and access that perhaps we need to address? Are there also silent barriers such as those created by implicit bias?

Most of us believe that we are fair and equitable, and evaluate others based on objective facts. However, all of us, even the most egalitarian, have implicit biases—triggered automatically, in about a tenth of a second, without our conscious awareness or intention, and cause us to have attitudes about and preferences for people based on characteristics such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and religion. These implicit biases often do not reflect or align with our conscious, declared beliefs.
(American Bar Association, Commission on Disability Rights, "Implicit Bias Guide," 2019)


Course Completion Time

Course time ranges from ~3.5 hours for media content up to 8 hours for the full course including background readings and reflection.

Mini-Course Objectives

  • Understand what implicit bias means and how it may influence our decisions.
  • Learn to recognize some behaviors that may suggest bias; explore your own bias about disability.
  • Hear about the possible implications of disability bias, specifically employment implications. This includes first-person perspectives from people who have experienced this bias.
  • Encourage you to challenge yourself and others on disability biases.



Recorded Media Content (~3.5 hours)

Please note: Some listeners have experienced audio playback problems while using Safari browsers. If you experience difficulty, we recommend trying Chrome or Firefox.

Panelists: Disability, Implicit Bias, and Employment

  1. Introduction to the Online Mini-Course

    Debra Blair, Associate Professor and Co-Chair, Faculty Senate Subcommittee on Disability Concerns, Temple University. More about Debra
    Go to Debra Blair's introduction

  2. Keynote: Pre-conceptions and Navigating Careers

    Koert Wehberg, Executive Director of the Mayor's Commission on People with Disabilities, Philadelphia. More about Koert
    Go to Koert Wehberg's keynote

  3. Students and Early Career Professionals: Expectations Matter

    Jonathan Atiencia, 2019-20 Disability Resources and Services representative, Temple University Student Government's Parliament. More about Jonathan
    Go to Jonathan's interview

    Luke Hoban, MA Urban Bioethics, Temple University
    Go to Luke's interview

    Heather Kerstetter, Disability Rights Advocate, MSW College of Temple (2020)
    Go to Heather's interview

  4. An Employment Perspective: Ableism

    Shawn Garrison, Vice President, Finance and Operations at New Way Air Bearings. More about New Way's Autism in Manufacturing Program
    Go to Shawn's interview

    Dynah Haubert, Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP). More about DRP's Employment Resources
    Go to Dynah's interview

  5. Implicit Bias: Research and Critical Analysis

    Elizabeth Clay, Associate Director, Web Content Strategy, University Marketing, Temple University.
    Go to Elizabeth's interview

    Andy Karpinski, Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, College of Liberal Arts, Temple University. More about Andy
    Go to Andy's interview

Film: The Interviewer

With permission from Bus Stop Films, Inclusive Filmmaking



Additional Materials (~2 hours)

Recommended Readings


  • Able-ism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be "fixed" in one form or the other. (Center for Disability Rights, 2020)
  • Identity-first language places the disability-related word first in a phrase. People who prefer identity-first language for themselves often argue that their disability is an important part of who they are, or that they wouldn’t be the same person without their disability. For some people, identity-first language is about a shared community, culture, and identity. Identity-first language is also about thinking about disability as a type of diversity instead of something to be ashamed of. (Austistic Self Advocacy Network, Identity-First Language 2020)
  • Implicit bias is triggered automatically, in about a tenth of a second, without our conscious awareness or intention, and cause us to have attitudes about and preferences for people based on characteristics such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and religion. (American Bar Association, Implicit Bias Guide, 2019)
  • Person-first language is used to speak appropriately and respectfully about an individual with a disability. Person-first language emphasizes the individual first, not the disability. For example, when referring to a person with a disability, refer to the person first by using phrases such as: "a person who ...", "a person with ..." or, "person who has..." (CDC, 2020)



Your Turn to Reflect (~1 hour)

Questions to explore in reflection papers

  • What is implicit bias?
  • What is ableism?
  • What implicit bias(es) do I have? What biases do I have about disability?
  • How are my biases reflected in my decisions/choices?
  • When/how does bias and behavior become discrimination?
  • What can I do to create opportunities, welcome, and full participation for all?
  • What can I do to help create welcome in my workplace and/or create more employment opportunities for persons with disabilities?

We hope you will join the conversation by posting your thoughts on #DisChange20 and #EmploymentForAll.



Access Requirements

Technology Requirements
In order to use the resources listed for this virtual seminar, participants need to have access to an Internet connection, a computer or a smart phone with audio/video capabilities. No special software is required.

Accessibility Statement
The materials for this open course module meets accessibility guidelines. Note that the short file, The Interviewer has captions and audio descriptions. All interview audio files have captions and transcription. All listed references free and available to the public online.



Additional Resources


  • Career Opportunities to Students with Disabilities (COSD) – This organization uniquely serves college students with disabilities. They provide a Career Gateway system for students to search for job postings and for employers to post jobs.
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) – DOL provides a comprehensive website with not only an extensive list of employment resources, but also information regarding benefits, civil rights, community life, education, emergency preparedness, health, housing, technology and transportation for people with disabilities.




Your feedback

We hope you found this online mini-course a useful alternative to the in-place Disability and Change Symposium. We made every effort to provide meaningful content regardless of the circumstances. We would appreciate receiving your feedback.
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