Finding a job in a down job market is difficult. For Americans with disabilities it can be even more challenging. There are certain industries however, that lend themselves to careers for those with disabilities.
People with disabilities have the right to work with dignity, freedom and equality of opportunity. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA), levels the playing field for people with any kind of disability. To be considered a person with disability you must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of your major life activities. However, when it comes to employment, everyone should have the same opportunity available to them if they have the skills to carry out a job function successfully. So, what kind of jobs can a person with a disability hope to acquire?
GOVERNMENT OR GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZED JOBS:
The federal government recognizes that individuals with disabilities have a right to full and fair considerations for any job for which they apply. Since the 1980s, total disabled federal employment has remained constant at 7%. Federal agents fill jobs in two ways; competitively and non-competitively. Competitive jobs are open to both able-bodied and disabled candidates and follow a regular job-acquiring format. A non-competitive job is open only to people with mental retardation, severe physical disabilities, a psychiatric disability requiring documentation from a licensed medical professional. Most US government agencies have a special recruiter for disabled people. For information about job availability in a particular agency, you can find the recruiter via a directory called the Selective Placement Program Coordinator Directory.
If you are an American receiving Social Security, you may be eligible to apply for Ticket to Work, a government funded program for providing jobs to people with disabilities either within the government or in a private setting.
Are you blind or severely disabled? Ability One, community based nonprofit organizations hire disabled people to offer products and services to the US government.
If you are a wheelchair user with a good personality, you can contact companies that sell wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories. Since you have personal experience with wheelchairs your input is valuable.
Or, you can contact hotels to advise them on improving accessibility. Many hotels need this kind of feedback. Accessibility can be physical or technical. There are jobs to be done at home in the accessibility industry like document formatting, transcription, captioning, and so forth.
You can also think about getting a degree that will enable you to mentor, teach or give therapy to disabled people. As a wheelchair user with a degree in rehabilitation counseling, you would be a prime candidate for a position as a counselor for newly injured patients in a rehabilitation clinic. However, remember you do not need to limit yourself to disability related jobs.
This is the answer to many people with disabilities. All you need is a computer and telephone. Contact the National Telecommuting Institute, a government subsidized agency.
COLLABORATE WITH FOREIGN PARTNERS
Many small foreign companies would like to penetrate the US market. You may be able to obtain rights for their products and launch them regionally or nationally. Representing a small company will help you develop business skills and a sales network. How do you find a foreign partner? Contact companies directly. Internet searches and disability discussion forums will get you information on products available in foreign markets not available in your market. Have a solid business plan in place so you can be convincing when you talk. Also, most embassies offer their businesses help in finding partner companies or representatives very often at no charge to either party. Pick a target country or countries which is/are attractive to you. Perhaps you speak a foreign language or travel frequently to a country. Contact their local embassy and find out how you can register with their trade department. Additionally, the US Government offers business information for entrepreneurs who are disabled.
You can be a “virtual assistant” This usually entails administrative support, often for small companies. However, these candidates usually have prior real office experience. Visit the Virtual Assistant Forum for more information.
WORK FOR YOURSELF
Be an independent representative or a freelancer. If you have hobbies or special interests, develop them to a point where you can use these skills to make money. You can be a freelance photographer, writer, event planner, CPA, sports analyzer, translator, transcriber; basically you can turn any hobby into an earning potential with the right strategies. Working for yourself also gives you more flexibility and control.
Apart from the above tips here are the names of some industries that are known to hire people with disabilities:
- The food service industry: Cinnabon, Burger King, Boston market, Friendly’s, Taco Bell, Applebee’s McDonald’s.
- Healthcare industry
- Retail industry: Stop and Shop, Macy’s, Gap, Target, Old Navy, Sears, Kohl’s, Radio Shack, Bed Bath and Beyond, Toys r Us.
- Motor industry like Honda
Below are some specific jobs that people with disabilities can do:
- Accountant, Administrative Assistant, Animal Caretaker, Assembler, Assistant Cook, Automobile Detailer, Bagger, Baker Assistant, Bus Driver, Bus Monitor, Cafeteria Attendant.
If you are not registered with us, register today and apply to jobs in our Disability Exchange, where employers are seeking candidates rich in talent, just like you.