Building a Career in Business: Tips for People With Disabilities

The following is a very informative article written by guest contributor, Ed Carter. Ed is a retired financial planner, who has his own site full of great information. Be sure to check out his website for more financial tips (ablefutures.)

Choosing a career path is always a bit of a struggle, but when you have a disability, there are several things to consider. Can you find a position that accommodates your disability? Can you access the education or training you need? And, most importantly, which career will bring you the most success and happiness in the long run? Having a disability shouldn’t stop you from thriving in the career of your dreams.

If you’re not quite sure which direction to take your professional life, consider a career in business! Want to learn more? Here are some great tips to help you enjoy success in the business world.

Why Consider a Career in Business?

A business career is an excellent option for people with disabilities. People with business credentials are always in high demand across a range of industries from media to healthcare, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding a business job that aligns with your needs and abilities. If you’re looking for a secure and stable job that will offer the flexibility you need, it doesn’t get much better than a career in business. Plus, you should be able to find work in almost any geographic location, switching between jobs is easy, and you will enjoy incredible opportunities for advancement! 

Pursue an Education

Before you can secure your position in the business world, you will need to earn your credentials. Earning a business degree is an obvious choice, but it’s not your only option! You could also pursue a degree in something similar, like accounting or information technology. It’s easy to earn your degree online and skip the hassle of commuting to college or navigating a classroom with a disability. 

If you want that traditional college experience, take advantage of tools that will make your education as accessible as possible. You will want to spend some time planning solutions for anticipated challenges, especially if you will live on campus. Self.com recommends finding out which support services are available to you through your school’s disability office and learning how to access mental health services on your campus. Self-care is key! 

Choose Your Professional Path

As mentioned earlier, there are many diverse work opportunities for people with degrees in business or IT. You can work in a variety of environments and industries. But how do you choose? The best advice we can give you is to go after a career that falls somewhere between your talents and interests. This could mean pursuing a challenging job with a high earning potential, a computer job you can do from home, a position that lets you hone your interpersonal skills in a social environment, or something else entirely!

The best path for you will depend on your unique needs and wants, so spend some time thinking about your strengths and what makes you feel happiest. For example, if you love working with people, a role in human resources or consulting might be perfect. If you have a creative flair, a job in marketing may suit you better. Have a knack for technology? Working in cybersecurity, IT consulting, data science, web development, network administration, QA services, or computer support might appeal to you. All of these jobs are incredibly accommodating for people with disabilities, and you can find work through online freelance platforms.

Get Your Foot in the Door

So you’ve chosen a career path and an education program. But how do you find your first job? And will your disability hurt your chances of landing that entry-level role or internship? First and foremost, make sure you understand your rights as you hunt for your first job. You are entitled to the same opportunities as people without disabilities and employers cannot discriminate against you for any reason. In fact, your employer is required to make any reasonable accommodations that will help you do your job!

Navigating the job hunt can present a number of hurdles for people with disabilities. Facing mobility issues when interviewing is a common one. If you require special accommodations for the interview, be sure to discuss this with the hiring manager before the big day. Alternatively, you may be able to persuade them to hold the interview over video chat! 

Launch Your Own Business

If finding the perfect job is proving difficult, consider creating a job for yourself by launching your own business. Self-employment is a very popular choice among people with disabilities. By running your own business, you get to work in a role that perfectly fits your interests and personal capabilities — and it offers you full control of your financial future!

Often, the hardest part about starting a business is coming up with a business idea. Keep it simple and stick to your talents! For example, if you enjoy IT or business management, consider becoming a professional consultant and helping other entrepreneurs run their businesses more effectively. If you like marketing, launch a marketing agency or sell your services on a freelance basis. Your options are endless! Don’t be afraid to play around with different business models until you find one that feels right for you.

Your disability should not hold you back from the career of your dreams. If your goal is to work in business, you have countless options and opportunities to consider! You could go after a corporate job, seek a remote role, become a freelancer, or launch your own business. Not sure where to start? Going to school online is a great place to discover your skills and interests so you can better map out your professional goals.

Whether you’re heading to university or you’re ready to start your dream job, make sure you have the accessibility tools you need to thrive.

Six Weeks

Yesterday was my last dose of antibiotics. This was cause for celebration. It has been a long six weeks of medication, home nursing visits, doctor’s appointments, and sleepless nights. There were times it seemed like it would never end.

However, my body has healed. My PICC line has been removed, and life is slowly getting back to normal. Now it is time to once again build up my strength. My body has become very weak, as I have been quite inactive. Working from home has not helped this situation. Despite this, I am thankful to have a good job. Likewise, I am thankful that my body has healed.

I am curious to see what the next few months will bring as we head into autumn. There is a lot to look forward to, especially with Baby Boy here. For instance, Halloween should be fun with a little one. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be extra special as well. Hopefully, 2021 will be a better year for us all. I know I am ready to say goodbye to 2020!

My parasitic PICC line. It felt like a worm slithering through my vein as it was removed from my arm.

Progress?

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation gave equal rights to those with disabilities with respect to employment, transportation, public accommodations, government services, and telecommunications. I was 13 years old when the ADA became law. At that time I was too young to understand the importance of its passage.

I’m not a political activist. In fact, I shy away from politics as much as I can. Especially, today when there is so much that divides us as a nation. Likewise, I have always been a person that has adapted to my environment quite well. Therefore, when I was younger I did not feel impacted too much by having limited access to places and things.

I guess you could say I was used to living in a world that wasn’t made for a person like me. Moreover, for many years I felt I was too “normal” to fit within the disabled world, while being just disabled enough that I could never be totally accepted as “normal.”

As I have gotten older my mobility has decreased somewhat. With this I have come to realize just how important the ADA is for people with disabilities. Looking back it seems odd that a law like this was even necessary. Furthermore, the fact that it was passed just 30 years ago today is baffling. There are still far too many places that are inaccesible to those with disabilities. Likewise, according to recent data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with disabilities are still much less likely to be employed than those who are not disabled.

Working in social services I speak with many who are too disabled to work. Access to services for these individuals is often quite limited. I believe that those with disabilities are still often marginalized. Are those who are able-bodied fearful of those who are different? I believe many are, but I think there is more to the story as well.

People with disabilities need to advocate for themselves. For too long many of us have been silent. I include myself in this group. Relying on “big government” to cure what ails society is not the answer. We live in a time when a majority of politicians are more worried about mudslinging than they are in representing those who elected them. Yes, you can make your voice heard at the ballot box. However, you can also make your voice heard through social media, getting involved with an advocacy group, or work to educate those around you about the daily struggles those with disabilities face.

Living with a disability often means you feel as if you don’t belong. The world was made for those who can walk and talk without any difficulties. Barriers exist in everyday life that don’t exist for those who are “normal.” I wonder where we will be 30 years ago from now?

Strange Days

If you are anything like me you might be asking yourself, “where have the last three months of my life gone?” Did we enter a time warp? It seems like just yesterday it was March, and today it is June. I think one thing that has seemed to speed up time is that we have lost a lot of the things that generally mark the months of the year for us. For instance, the whole world seemed to come to a halt on March 13, 2020, which was my birthday. Likewise, the professional baseball season has yet to get underway.

This is the time of year where teams either begin to go on a hot streak, or they begin to cool down after a lightning fast start in April and May. I miss turning on the radio and hearing the sounds of a Cubs game coming through the speakers. Baseball is a way to make sense of the world for me. Without it, every day just seems like a repeat of the previous one. I think it is that way with many things in life. We have our rituals and routines that help us structure our lives.

I must admit, it has been difficult to find new ways to bring a sense of order to life. I rarely have been behind the wheel of a car since I started to work from home in late March. In fact, I have not purchased a tank of gas for my car since February. The low fuel light is bound to come on one of these days, but who knows when. It has become sort of a game to me now. Likewise, I’ve not really worn a real pair of pants for at least two months. That might not be so much of a fun game when I do have to put on a pair of dress pants again.

I did visit my office this past Wednesday, but I felt very disconnected to the place while I was there. At this point, I think I’d rather just keep working from home. Why drive to work when you can be just as productive at home, if not more so? Plus, it cuts my commute time down from 9 minutes to around 2 minutes.

Not having attended church since March feels odd as well. Amanda and I do stream our weekly service through Facebook, but it just isn’t the same as meeting together in person. However, it is nice to stay in my pajamas and watch from the couch. Nonetheless, I do feel that I need the structure of actually physically going to church. Again, let’s just hope the pants fit once it is time to head back in person!

Richard Scarry

Ever since I was a little boy I have loved Richard Scarry books. Thankfully, I have been able to revisit a few of my favorite Richard Scarry books since Baby Boy has become a part of our family. In addition, I have found a few with which I am not familiar. For instance there is one called the “The Bunny Book.” If you have never read this one, it is about a baby bunny whose family all have different hopes and dreams for their baby bunny once he grows up and becomes an adult.

As I have read this several times now, I have begun to question some of the aspirations Baby Bunny’s family has for him. For instance, Daddy Bunny wants him to be a circus clown? Really, who wishes this for their child? The Grandaddy Bunny wants Baby Bunny to be a lion tamer? Again, I am not sure this is great line of work for anyone. Finally, Aunt Bunny wants Baby Bunny to be a lifeguard. Low-paying, seasonal work is kind of an odd choice, at least in my opinion.

It seems the only sensible people in this story are Baby Bunny’s siblings and cousins. For example, Little Bunny Cousin wants Baby Bunny to be an entrepreneur who owns his own candy store. Likewise, Little Girl Cousin wants Baby Bunny to be a doctor. Moreover, Little Sister Bunny wants Baby Bunny to be a pilot.

This Bunny Family needs to sit down and have a frank discussion about Baby Bunny’s future. However, Baby Bunny does have his priorities in the right place, as he wants to be a Daddy Bunny.

Let’s get this bunny a good guidance counselor and/or mentor who can steer him into a profitable profession. Because, if he is going to raise a big family, he is going to need to bring home the carrots.

Richard Scarry, I love your books. However, I’d like a follow up to the “The Bunny Book.” Does Baby Bunny become a lifeguard on the beaches of Malibu, or does he become a heart surgeon with a thriving practice in Scarsdale? Please tell me he is not working in Vegas as a lion tamer. That would just be disappointing. Let’s just hope whatever he is doing now is fulfilling. Richard, I will be waiting to see what happens.

No one writes them like Richard Scarry.

Observations From the Inside

Tomorrow will be two weeks that I have been working from home. In that time I have made some observations. First, my dream of working from home is not as fantastic as I thought it would be. I’ve always been an introvert, so I thought being home alone all day would be great! However, it can be dreadfully boring. I think the only thing that has saved my sanity is the ability to listen to podcasts while I am working.

Another thing I have noticed is that we have some needy cats! Our cat Dot insists on being held at least 4 times a day. It doesn’t matter if I am on the phone, or typing away at the keyboard. When Dot wants to be held, you will hold her, no questions asked!

Our other cat who we have not really ever named anything other than Cat likes to walk around the house meowing. However, she doesn’t like to be held. Although, she does love a good belly rub. She will also just stop on occasion and stare deep into my soul, as you can see below.

Last week as I began to work from home I thought, “yes now I don’t have to shave!” That only lasted through Saturday when I could no longer stand the whiskers itching my face. Now I am down to one shave a week, which helps me feel normal.

As week two of my seclusion ends and I look to begin week three, I might start putting on real pants. Wearing sweatpants all of the time is lulling me into a false sense of security. I feel like I am not gaining any weight, but I am sure if I put some work pants on, I’d be in for a rude awakening. Maybe I’ll be surprised. I’ll keep you posted.

It is strange when work and home life collide. Until now, I have always been able to leave work at work. However, that is no longer possible. I guess it is nice that I have been able to cut my commute time from 8 minutes, to nearly 2 minutes. That allows for a little bit more sleep, which is always a bonus.

I am beginning to wonder when this exile will come to an end. I’m guessing that it will be at least another month. By then I might not want to go back to the office. I’m wondering if the cats will grow tired of me at some point. I guess only time will tell.

Today I went outside for the first time in a few days. It is beginning to feel like spring. Hopefully, with the life that is beginning to awaken outdoors, it will give us all a fresh perspective. To quote a line from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I am glad life has slowed down a bit, it has helped me to see things in new ways. I am greatful for that opportunity.

Dot and Cat posing for their “Glamour Shot”

Gimme Shelter

I have not left my house in 5 days. I started working from home on Monday, which has been sort of a surreal experience. Getting up and getting ready for work when you don’t have to leave the house is actually more difficult. It feels like there is less motivation to get out of bed knowing that the office is just down the stairs. I can say it is an experience that I have not enjoyed all that much.

It is more difficult to get things done, as I cannot print documents at home due to the nature of my work. Having to look up information and then minimize windows on the computer to go back and forth from one screen to the other is tedious. I am working with dual monitors. However, it still slows things down when you have to drag something from one monitor to the other.

I always kind of dreamed about working from home, but now it just seems to be more of a nightmare. Despite these rather minor inconveniences, I feel quite fortunate to still be employed. It seems as if the world is becoming more chaotic by the day. It is nice to know that I have a shelter from the storm.

I am thankful to have a home where I am able to work. Likewise, I feel fortunate that my family has remained healthy through this time. It has actually been a blessing in disguise that I have been able to be home, as my back has been bothering me for over a week now. Working from home gives me the flexibility to move around and get into a position to where the pain is not so bad.

I don’t know when I’ll actually emerge from my hermit-like state. Perhaps it will be this weekend. Maybe it will not be for another few weeks. We are stocked up on food and other supplies. It has been nice that the pace of life has slowed a little. There is definitely more time to spend with family.

The silence here was almost deafening today. That is one of the greatest gifts that this situation has bestowed upon the world. Things around us seem to be more quiet. That makes it easier to focus on the spiritual aspects of life. Plus, it is just nice to be able to step away from daily routines.

If you are stuck at home send me a message and let me know what kinds of things you are doing to pass the time. I know that I have readers from other countries. If you live outside the United States let me know what life is like where you are. I’d really like to hear what you all have to say.

Not So Happy Little Accidents…

I hesitated at first to write about this experience because I feel as if it may be outside the boundaries of what is appropriate to share about myself. However, my intentions when I first started this blog were to provide a humorous perspective on what it means to be disabled. Some of the more challenging situations in life can also produce the most amusing, at least in hindsight. I tend to be a person that can find my way into some of the most absurd predicaments. These usually occur at the most inopportune times. Often it is my own body that creates events that make me want to run and hide. For instance, let me share with you what happened to me at work yesterday.

As I have noted before in this blog, controlling my bowels can be an issue for me. This is a common problem for those with spina bifida. I believe I might also have irritable bowel syndrome (I love to self-diagnose). These two conditions when combined can result in embarrassing situations. One minute I can be sitting down enjoying a conversation with someone and the next my bowels can go on high alert. If I do not hurry to the bathroom I can wind up having an accident, as I did yesterday at work.

I had just settled back down in my cubicle after eating lunch when I felt that unmistakable rumble in my gut. I knew there was little time to spare before I needed to head to the restroom. Fortunately, my cubicle is just a few feet from the restroom. However, that would not save me this time. When I sat down I realized I was going to need a change of clothing. This was going to be a problem. I usually keep a spare of pants in the backpack that I take with me to work. However, my backpack was in my cubicle and there was no way I could go and retrieve it. What was I going to do? My first thought was to scream “FIRE,” run out to my car, and speed home where I’d hide out until the apocalypse occurred. Then I came to my senses and did what anyone would do in this situation. I reached for my cellphone, which was tucked away in my pocket, and called my boss. Yes, I know what you are thinking, no one would actually call their boss in this situation!

I have a very understanding and caring boss who I knew would understand my situation, as she has a son who has special needs. Thankfully, I was able to explain my situation in a calm manner. I requested that she have a male co-worker bring me my backpack, which he graciously did. However, to my horror there were no spare pants in my bag! I then called Amanda, and being the loving wife that that she is, she left work to bring me a change of clothing.

I tell you this story for a few reasons. One, life can be a challenge when your body does not work properly. It is these times that you can choose to feel sorry for yourself, or you can rise above your circumstances and learn from them. Second, I want everyone who reads this to find the humor in it. Don’t feel sorry for me. Laugh with me and enjoy the absurdity that life can bring. Finally, I tell you this story to let you know that I am fortunate to work with such great people. When I go to work next week, I am gonna to ask my boss if she has ever had an employee call her from the restroom. I bet that she hasn’t. I will also bet that she will smile and we will have a good laugh. Life is far too short to take yourself so seriously. Learn to see the humor even in the worst of times. At the very least you’ll have a good story to tell.

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