In this guest post, Patrick Young of Able USA discusses how people with disabilities can use technology to build a thriving remote career.
People with disabilities face considerable challenges finding work. By nature, many jobs just aren’t accommodating to people with physical or mental disabilities. But technology is changing everything. With the help of automation tools, accessibility software, assistive devices, smartphone apps, virtual learning opportunities, and remote job search services like Virtual Vocations, it’s easier than ever for people with disabilities to find a career where they can truly thrive. Here are some tips to help you land a job and advance your career.
Expand Your Skills with Remote Learning
Pursuing professional development is the best way to advance your career or make a switch to a new industry. Continuing your education can also help you earn more money and build valuable professional connections that open up even more doors and opportunities. With the help of remote learning, people with disabilities can get the training they need to excel in any field. For example, if you want to work in IT, you could attend a virtual school like Western Governors University (WGU) and earn an online degree in information technology. Some other great degree options to consider include:
- Business management
- Data analytics
Take some time to research your options and pick a program that best aligns with your career goals.
Discover Remote Employment Opportunities
Remote work opportunities are beneficial for many. But people with disabilities might have the most to gain by pursuing a work from home lifestyle. Working from home eliminates the daily commute, which can be a serious obstacle if you have a disability that affects your mobility. Taking public transit can be especially challenging for people with invisible disabilities like chronic pain, brain injuries, or cognitive dysfunctions because these individuals can feel uncomfortable asking someone for a seat. Working from home means avoiding the whole mess altogether.
Beyond skipping the commute, finding a remote job will give you confidence that you can get your work done without the common barriers that exist in a traditional office. At home, you will have access to all the tech you need to work as efficiently as possible. Remote work often also means flexible hours. So, you can work around therapy appointments or periods when you just need to rest.
Remote positions have exploded in popularity over the past few years. People with disabilities have countless work from home jobs to choose from — many of which didn’t even exist a couple of decades ago. Jobs in the IT industry, like programming, web design, and data processing, are particularly accommodating of remote positions. There’s also:
- Virtual Assistant
- Customer Service
- Data Entry
- Video Editing
Don’t be afraid to try a few different remote roles until you find one that fits best with your natural skills.
Use Tech to Ace Your Interview
Technology is an invaluable tool for jobseeking and landing an interview. For example, online resume-building tools, cover letter writing guides, and social media platforms like LinkedIn will help you craft a successful remote job search strategy. Other tools can benefit you during the interview process. Virtual reality and augmented reality, for example, can help people recovering from a traumatic brain injury practice the social skills they need for a successful job interview.
Before your interview, make sure you understand your rights. You don’t need to disclose your disability to your interviewer or your prospective employer. According to Chron, Federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against people with disabilities. As long as you can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations, your potential employer must consider your application. Keep this in mind as you look for work.
Launch a Home-Based Business
Being your own boss is the ultimate form of professional freedom. If you have a disability, launching a business is a great way to achieve maximum flexibility in your career. You can start a business doing almost anything. If you have mobility limitations, an online business may be the most accessible option. You could:
- Buy products in bulk and sell them online
- Make your own products by hand
- Start a dropshipping store
- Teach online classes
- Launch a subscription box service
- Monetize a blog
Pick a business model that speaks to you!
You could even use your experiences as a person with a disability to formulate a unique product or service that solves a problem you encounter in everyday life. Think about tasks that are challenging to you and see if you can come up with a solution that would help others who are also dealing with this issue. The best business ideas are born out of fulfilling an unmet need.
Take Advantage of Assistive Technologies
Assistive technologies can help you tackle many of the barriers to work and employment. Certain devices make it easier for people with disabilities to interact with technology. Typically, this is done through voice commands, foot pedals, and even eye movements. Modern speech recognition technology has become incredibly advanced, allowing you to input text if typing or texting is a challenge.
Improved ergonomics in keyboard and mouse design can benefit people with chronic pain when working long hours. Also, most computer operating systems include accessibility settings. These enable you to adjust things like text size and display contrast without downloading additional apps. There’s a good chance you can find applications and tech devices to help you overcome many workplace obstacles.
Find the Perfect Job With Virtual Vocations
Don’t let your disability get in the way of your dream career. Today, people with disabilities can work in nearly any industry, regardless of the barriers or limitations that may exist in the workplace. Take advantage of the tech tools that are available to you. As a result, you will truly thrive in your professional role. And if you’re looking for a fulfilling remote job that you can do from home, Virtual Vocations can help you find the perfect fit for your skills and abilities. Start your job search today!
Patrick Young created Able USA to offer resources and advice to others with disabilities in an effort to help them navigate the various aspects of life as a person with a disability. An educator and activist, he believes people with disabilities must live within a unique set of circumstances. The outside world often either underestimates them or ignores their needs altogether.
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