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When you have a disability, there may be physical or cognitive limits as to what you can do for work, but this in no way devalues your strengths. As such, you should be just as welcome to participate in employment, giving you greater independence and allowing you to feel a sense of achievement.
However, the reality of the situation is that disabled people may have a much more challenging time trying to find work. But it is far from being impossible. There are resources out there that give those with disabilities a much better chance of success when it comes to finding suitable employment.
Statistics Regarding Employment among the Disabled – the Shocking Truth
While there is a lot of focus on inclusion in modern times, it may surprise you to learn that the rate of disabled employees did, in fact, drop between the year 2019 and 2020. Now, you could argue that this is down to the Covis-19 pandemic, and that able-bodied employees have also suffered. This is true but there is plenty of other evidence to suggest that disabled members of the community suffer discrimination when looking for work.
As of March 2021, there is a marked difference between the unemployment rates of those without a disability, compared to those with a disability. In disabled adults up to the age of 64, as many as 11.2% are unemployed compared to just 6.1% of the abled-bodied community. According to Forbes, in 2018, there was a 40 point gap in unemployment rates between disabled and non-disabled people, with President Trump declaring that unemployment for the disabled population was at an ‘all time low.’
The painful truth behind the struggles faced by millions of disabled Americans as they search for work, is gut-wrenching. Just because of an impairment, many people are presumed to be unfit to fulfil a role. While a disabled individual may not be able to complete certain tasks, there are many jobs that they might excel in but are rarely given the chance to demonstrate their abilities. This is what we should be focusing on; ability.
However, it takes nothing more than to look at the challenges faced by most disabled people when searching for work to see that this is not the case. For example, according to one disabled woman, it may take a complete refusal to acknowledge your disability in order to ‘trick’ an employer into giving her a chance. In a world where inclusion is supposed to be at the forefront, this is utterly unacceptable.
Best Resources for Job Seekers with Disabilities
While some people with hidden disabilities may be at liberty to not disclose these when speaking with a prospective employer, for some with visible disabilities, this may not be the case. What’s more, if your disability may cause a risk of injury or accident in the workplace, you shouldn’t keep it from your employer.
The good news is that there are ways you can access work more easily without the need to cover up who you are. The resources listed below are designed to aid your job search with the potential of making employment more likely.
abilityJOBS is a website that is designed specifically for those with disabilities and is an excellent resource for finding work online. The platform allows you to upload all your relevant documentation including your resume and only features jobs from employers that comply with the guidelines set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are many useful features including the ability to filter jobs by industry and type.
According to disABLED person, the organization’s main mission is to reduce the growing unemployment rate among the disabled population. To achieve this, they have two job boards; one for disabled adults and one for disabled veterans.
The website not only features a whole host of jobs but other resources that may make your search for work more manageable including helpful blog posts and access to courses.
NIB CareersWithVision is designed specifically for those who are registered blind and their carers and provides information on job seeking, employment, and career exploration. It gives people with a vision impairment a chance to discover new and exciting careers as well as providing lots of useful tips for things like interview preparation and how to discuss your disability with a potential employer.
Circa is a website designed to bring together professionals in any specific field. The site is made up from more than 600 employers, all of whom offer diversity in the workplace. For disabled individuals, there are plenty of job opportunities and Circa will help you through every step by introducing you to employers who are actively looking to be more inclusive within their organizations.
American Job Center
There are currently almost 2,400 American Job Centers around the country and the American Job Center website has some very useful information and assistance. Here, you can get personalized help to work out what jobs would work for you according to your skills and interests. They offer job training, career counselling, and interview preparation among many other things; all of these can be invaluable to the disabled job hunter.
Hire Disability Solutions
The aim of Hire Disability Solutions is to help promote the inclusion of disabled workers into the mainstream workplace and this is achieved through training and planning, recruitment, and corporate consulting. They aim to match disabled workers to the right employers, all of whom are looking for people like you. What’s more, the website has some great accessibility features such as spoken text.
Recruit Disability is an excellent job board that features a plethora of jobs in almost every field imaginable. There is the option to perform salary research to see what you should be earning as well as the ability to search jobs by type, industry, and much more.
Enable America holds regular community connection meetings in various locations around the country. This is an excellent resource for people to share employment tips, promote jobs, and gain confidence. The website offers training and mentoring programs for those with disabilities to help boost their chances of success. As far as practical approaches are concerned, this is excellent.
AbilityLinks not only provides a lot of information around job searching for disabled individuals but also a wealth of information for employers to help them create a more inclusive and welcoming workplace for all employees.
There is a jam-packed job board as well as an area of the website to help you create and share your resume.
National Telecommuting Institute (NTI)
If you have a disability that limits how easily you could travel to a job, there may still be the option to work from home. NTI has, since 1995, been helping people with disabilities to find work from home jobs for call centers for big companies including Amazon, Sykes, John Hancock, and many more. The organization typically helps around 500-600 disabled Americans find work every year so the results could be fruitful.
Veteran Readiness and Employment VR&E
VR&E offers much more than just a job search, although you will be given assistance to find work after you are relieved of your duties. You will gain access to employment tips and training, resume development and tips for job searching as well as other practical assistance with things like accommodations in the workplace and counselling.
Getting Hired provides opportunities for disabled people to link up with inclusive employers. The service supports a range of disabilities as laid out by the ADA. There are featured jobs and employers with the chance to work with some of the most reputable companies in the world such as Capital One and UCLA
Best Resources for High School and College Students Seeking Employment with Disabilities
After completing your education or if you are looking for part time work alongside your education, it can be helpful to be given a head start. The following websites are all fantastic aids for disabled young people looking to find employment.
Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is an organization that is specifically geared towards linking disabled college students with federal or private employers. The program provides a range of job opportunities including permanent work or the option for a summer job. There is a registration process that begins on a set date each year, so you must make sure that you sign up within this timeframe.
The National Leadership Program
The National Leadership Program offers training to those who want to commit to the issues faced by disabled people in the workplace. Here, you will learn all the skills you need to make a difference to disabled people where employment and inclusion is concerned and there are three opportunities to sign up each year.
Entry Point is an excellent option to students who are working towards qualifications in science, computing, math, and engineering and aims to join them up to programs that are suited to them based on a screening process. The program seeks to find talented individuals with disabilities to give them a step up into their chosen field without discrimination.
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
If you are looking to enter into a leadership role then the AAPD summer internship program may be suitable for you. It aims to train disabled people using mentors from federal and corporal organizations across a wide range of fields.
Useful Support Groups for Job Seekers with Disabilities
Living with a disability means that you may end up feeling isolated and unable to find the correct emotional and mental support. Fortunately, there are several support groups that can provide you with information and space to freely discuss your thoughts and needs.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a piece of government legislation that lays out details on your rights surrounding employment. The website contains lots of useful information in many areas of job searching and employment.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
JAN is an excellent resource that provides reliable information on a range of topics including starting a business when you are disabled as well as information on various pieces of work related legislation. You can use the live chat feature for instant online help and there are tonnes of pieces on how to address your disability at work.
Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN)
EARN is an organization that helps employers to find qualified and reliable disabled employees while also assisting them to be more inclusive in the workplace. They provide various training and resources to help with the recruitment of disabled individuals.
National Disability Rights Network
If you are in need of legal support, the National Disability Rights Network can provide assistance in all locations around the US. The work on the basis of federal guidelines and can provide information on disability rights within employment.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The US EEOC provides assistance to a wide range of people who may have suffered discrimination in the work place, with disabilities being one. They offer mediation services, help with making a claim, and much more.
Easterseals is keen to help disabled people find work as a way of taking part in the community, but they know that this may be difficult. As such, they offer various types of training and information surrounding preparing for work, exploring different careers, and finding a job.
Ticket to Work
Ticket To Work is a program run by Social Security that aims to help disabled adults discover work and ultimately gain financial independence. The program is not mandatory for Social Security claimants but will provide free support to those who wish to take part.
The USA Gov provides a wealth of information to those with disabilities including how to find work and how to handle discrimination in the workplace. There are opportunities to develop your skills as well as a detailed job board with openings across different fields.
The Viscardi Center aims to empower disabled people through various programs and training in both education and employment. There is online information as well as a school with the capacity to educate more than 4000 disabled students at a time.
Common Questions Job Seekers with Disabilities Have
The path to employment for disabled people may be fraught with difficult questions. We answer some of the most pressing below.
Should I Disclose My Disability When Applying for Jobs?
The decision of whether to disclose your disability to your employer is solely down to you and while it is possible that you may experience discrimination, know that there are laws that protect you. However, whether or not you do disclose anything is your decision.
If you need to ask your employer for an accommodation then you will need to let them know about your medical condition. That being said, you are under no legal obligation to provide detailed information about your condition and your employer will have to accommodate you regardless. They may ask for limited information to help them understand what they need to do to accommodate your needs.
Not everyone needs to know about your disability, unless you want to share, of course. Approaching the HR department is the best way to start the process but we would advise doing this sooner rather than later as you do not want your work to suffer in the meantime. When you do talk to your employer, be clear about what accommodations you need and how your disability might affect your job role. It can also be helpful to educate yourself on your rights. While most employers will accommodate you, should you run into problems, you can defend yourself.
Can I Expect My Employer to Make Necessary Workplace Adjustments to Account for my Disability?
When you disclose your disability to your employer, you are likely going to expect them to make certain adjustments to account for your disability. While there may be some things that are not possible, your employer is expected to make reasonable accommodations in the workplace for those with disabilities.
Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace
A reasonable accommodation is an alteration within the workplace or within the recruitment process that allows a person with a disability to take part as easily as anyone else. These accommodations are considered to be those that cause no threat or undue hardship.
There are various ways that your employer may provide reasonable accommodations. For example, you may be given a different schedule for attending work to factor in medical appointments. Another example of a reasonable accommodation would be for the employer to provide you with equipment that might aid your disability such as texts written in braille or a mouth stick for use at the computer.
However, your employer is under no obligation to provide these accommodations if they have not been notified of your disability. Once you discuss this with your employer and explain what you need, they are at liberty to decide which is/are the most appropriate reasonable accommodations. It is also important to remember that your employer is not expected to lower the work standards, while disabled people should have the opportunity to become employed, they should be able to perform the tasks within the job role to the expected standard, even if this is with accommodations in place.