Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Alan Foley


Critical Disability Theory, Disability, Entrepreneurship, Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Self-employment

Subject Categories



This dissertation explored the experiences of entrepreneurs with disabilities who participated in entrepreneurship programs that were developed for people with disabilities. The study uncovered ableist barriers and challenges that entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs face regularly. The case study (n=5) and survey (n=188) recorded, analyzed, and summarized the respondents’ lived experiences. The summary of the researched data provides insights into how entrepreneurs with disabilities navigate challenges and barriers through the aid of the customized entrepreneurship training that was developed for them and with them within entrepreneurship programs for people with disabilities. The two programs for people with disabilities were the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) and Start-Up NY (later known as Inclusive Entrepreneurship Program).

Overall, the findings show that entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with disabilities have less business knowledge and are less aware of resources available to them as they relate to both disability and entrepreneurship. The study suggests that people with disabilities need customized entrepreneurship training that focuses on developing and expanding their human capital. Furthermore, the study suggests that disability service providers need to be more aware about entrepreneurship and small business resources available to people with disabilities, while small business services providers need to be more aware of accommodations and benefits that people with disabilities have. Due to lack of awareness, these services often become sites of injustice toward entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with disabilities.

The study supports the previous research that entrepreneurship is a viable employment option for people with disabilities. This study finds a need for wider awareness and use of customized entrepreneurship training for people with disabilities, where access to accommodations and resources are embedded in the training itself. The study supports and indicates that “one-size-fits-all” types of training programs for entrepreneurs do not cater to the specific needs of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with disabilities. The emphasis, regarding people with disabilities, should be on customized entrepreneurship training. Thus, the study indicates the need for professional development and training of disability and small services provides related to inclusive entrepreneurship.


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