How To Use Technology To Make Work More Accessible If You Have A Disability

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How To Use Technology To Make Work
More Accessible If You Have A Disability

Guest Post by Patrick Young of AbleUSA.info

No one should feel discouraged or held back when planning their career. Today’s job market accommodates people with a wide range of skills and abilities, so anyone can find success and fulfillment at work. With the help of tech devices, software, and online apps, people with disabilities are gaining access to all kinds of empowering work opportunities that can give them greater independence and control over their lives. Custom Career Coach explains some ways technology can help you in your search for the perfect career.

Looking for A Job

Job hunting is one area where technology is helping people with disabilities get ahead. 

  • Start a business online or search for remote work without leaving the house. These remote work opportunities can help people with mobility impairments participate in work and earn an income, even if commuting to an office every day is unrealistic. 
  • Look for freelance opportunities. There are numerous online resources for people who want to pursue freelance work. For example, staffing firms can help you find job opportunities that are a perfect fit for your skills and talents, whether you’re looking for work in web development, marketing, sales, customer service, or other fields.
  • Search and apply for positions online. Some websites even cater to employers who are specifically looking to hire people with disabilities. You can also reach out to local employers over email or social media to inquire about potential job openings and share your interest. 
  • Network. Networking online is an excellent way to discover unique career opportunities. Business News Daily specifically recommends LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for finding potential jobs and portraying yourself as a professional and passionate candidate.
  • Hire a professional resume writer. In addition to helping people find careers that meet their interests, Custom Career Coach can transform your resume and help you highlight your strengths and goals so you can stand out from the crowd.

Stay Connected

Staying connected to clients, customers, employers, and coworkers is important for all job seekers these days, and especially for anyone working in a remote position. Various tech tools can help you with this. 

  • A reliable smartphone will allow you to contact people on your team or manage work-related matters when you’re away from the computer. Tameday recommends free communication apps like Slack and Google Hangouts for staying in the loop when working from home. 
  • Video conferencing. Websites like Go-To Meeting and Skype can help you stay in touch when a face-to-face conversation is prefered. 

Access Support

The internet is a bottomless resource for career support and educational opportunities that can help people with disabilities obtain the skills they need to join the workforce. 

  • Use available resources. Online advocacy groups and organizations can be great for finding employment guides, training, and assistive technology services.  
  • Receive skills training and job coaching. Using online education portals like Lynda and Coursera can give you access to new skills, which can help you enjoy long-term success in the workplace.
  • Earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree online. Online degrees can be completed from home, and you can work at your own pace. For example, if you wanted to start your own business, an MBA degree will focus on business skills, management, and strategy.

Overcome Barriers

When it comes to getting work done, assistive devices can help you overcome any barriers you may be facing. 

  • Look for the right tools. There are products out there to accommodate nearly any disability imaginable. As an example, people who aren’t able to control a computer mouse can use speech recognition software, face tracking, and eye gaze systems for hands-free computing. Vision and hearing-impaired individuals have access to all kinds of built-in computer accessibility features like text-to-speech, on-screen keyboards, high-contrast themes, closed captions, and text magnification. 
  • Learn how to manage. There are also programs specifically designed to help people with learning disabilities to write and communicate on computers.

Don’t let your disability stop you from getting the job you want. The evolution of technology has opened up some amazing career paths for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Take advantage of the tech tools available to you so you can produce your best possible work, show employers that you have the skills they want, and ultimately thrive in your career. There are no barriers to success that you can’t overcome.

Ready to find the perfect job that matches your passions and interests? Turn to Custom Career Coach for professional support in pursuing the right career track and having a polished, eye-catching resume. 

How do I get a job without experience?

It can be challenging to find a job that doesn’t require you to have prior experience. The US Department of Labor reported in 2016 that 47.8% of all civilian jobs posted required experience. So how do you get your first job?

There are several steps I recommend for my clients in this situation. First, read the job description with an eye toward your current activities. See if you might be able to build a bridge between unpaid work you are doing and the skills that potential employers want to see from job candidates.

For example, if you want to work in construction, you could fill a resume with projects you’ve completed for yourself and others. Include a Habitat for Humanity service project you worked on with your church group. Renovations and major repairs you’ve made on your own home are also relevant. Other activities can show your strengths as well. If you mowed lawns in the summer then you learned many skills related to construction — make sure potential employers are aware of them! You could not have kept a lawn-mowing job without a basic understanding of customer service, ability to follow through on commitments, and knack for using tools.

Your cover letter gives you a chance to explain why you would be an asset to your potential employer. Do not dwell on your lack of paid experience in this letter, but do acknowledge it. A statement like, “While I do not have paid experience in this field, I have acquired a great deal of practical experience through my work on… “, can help you achieve this.

Finally, if you are a student or recent grad you can include information about particular classes and experiences you have had at school. You wouldn’t want to list them all, but you could certainly bring some highlights into your resume or cover letter.

The bottom line is this: Future employers want to know that you have the skills you need. Use your career documents to show them that you are ready, willing, and able to take on the job.

What other experiences can you draw from as you create your first resume?

How do I find a good job?

We spend about 30% of our lives at work. This makes decisions about the type of work that we pursue very important to our overall happiness.   This is a complicated question, and we will break down the answer over a series of posts.

Step 1: Figure out what a “good job” means to you.

Some of the factors below will be very important to you as you consider your options.  Some will play a role in your decision but not be deal-breakers, while others will not matter to you at all.

  • What type of work do you like? What do you actually want to do all day?
  • What type of environment do you prefer to work in? Are you comfortable in an office, school, hospital, warehouse, the great outdoors, or a variety of settings?
  • How do you feel about work travel?
  • What type of training are you prepared to undertake for your work? How much time can you reasonably put in to this?
  • What financial commitment are you willing or able to make to your career?
  • What other commitments do you need to consider?
  • What hours would you like to work?
  • How do you prefer to be compensated? Do you prefer to be paid based on your time, effort, skills, or results?
  • Are you willing/able to relocate for your work? How does the commute factor in to your decision?
  • What geographic location is appealing to you? Is it important to you to live near a certain place, or in a certain size city / town?
  • Do you prefer to collaborate with a team as you do most of your work, or would you rather take full responsibility for part of a project and take care of it independently?
  • How do you feel about social interaction at work?
  • How do you feel about making decisions?
  • How much supervision do you need to feel comfortable at work? How do you feel about leading others?
  • How do you measure success?
  • What are 3-5 things you enjoy doing? What are 3-5 things that really bother you?
  • What are 3-5 things you take pride in? What are 3-5 things you wish you would prefer not to be judged on?
  • What are 3-5 things you look forward to doing? What are 3-5 things you dread?
  • Describe the best day you’ve ever had at work (or volunteer placement or school).
  • Describe the worst day you’ve ever had at work (or volunteer placement or school).

Follow up questions are important, so don’t get bogged down in these specific prompts as you think about your ideal job.   Reply below and let us know what other factors are important to you as you consider your happiness with work.