Tackling the Job Market for
People in Wheelchairs

Disability in the Workforce

Enjoying an independent lifestyle is often a top priority for people in wheelchairs – and having a stable occupation is a core asset for realizing this goal. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for individuals with a disability is twice as high when compared to those  without a disability. 

For those seeking jobs, the following information may serve as a guide in preparing for a job search and going through the interview process.

The first step in deciding to search for an employment situation is to do some internal evaluation. Ask yourself…

  • What are my abilities and strengths? In other words, what types of tasks are you able to perform?
  • What tasks does my disability prevent me from doing?
  • What professional skills do I possess that I can offer an employer? For example, do you have technical abilities, organizational skills, financial acumen, experience with writing or phone work, etc.?

From your responses, create a list of potential occupational fields that complement your own talents, capabilities, experience, and interests.

Next, develop a professional resume that features previous work experience, educational background, organizational memberships, and major achievements. You may opt to get assistance from a resume writing service to help with crafting, formatting and printing your resume.

According to a Florida personal injury lawyer at Morgan and Morgan, by law you are not required to disclose any information on your resume or during the interview unless it directly relates to completion of your essential job functions.

Yet, if you do decide to disclose any information, it is important to use proactive words when describing your actions and emphasize your adaptability, flexibility, and work ethic in light of your disability.

Also, as you prepare your resume, you will want to create a separate sheet that lists work and personal contacts for references.

As with any job-searching process, you may also want to develop a list of potential employers and related job openings. Assistance with developing a job list can be found by contacting local or governmental agencies. There are many organizations and public officers that are willing to assist people in wheelchairs and others in the disabled community find jobs, especially those in compliance with ADA regulations.

In addition, websites with job boards specializing in placement opportunities for people with disabilities, such as www.disabledperson.com or www.abilityjobs.com, represent excellent resources for finding job openings.

Once you have applied for a position and are called to come for an interview, be sure to create a list of potential questions you may be asked -- and then practice your answers.

This will build confidence for the interview and potentially enhance your ability to secure a job position with the prospective employer.

Always send a follow-up letter of thanks to the prospective employer for the opportunity to interview. You can also use this opportunity to summarize your your strengths in regard to the open position.

As computer systems and companies become more advanced, there are increasing opportunities for people in wheelchairs in fields such as IT and engineering. Many firms, such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, Merck, NOAA, and NASA, are also involved in programs such as Entry Point!. This job resource is tailored toward students with disabilities and works to train them in advanced fields.

The Denver Community College has also been training workers with a broad range of mental and physical handicaps for jobs involving programming or network administration. The program is 13 months long and consists of many small classes, and one-on-one teaching.

Part of the training uses adaptive technology such as voice-recognition software for the blind to use on PCs. The U.S. Department of Labor in partnership with the Arlington, Va.-based Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) has also distributed a $500,000 grant in order to replicate the Denver in other states to decrease unemployment rates and encourage hiring of disabled Americans.

Other popular occupational fields for the people in wheelchairs include working in production and packaging facilities. Positions typically require basic job requirements to package goods and assemble items. A production workshop may also involve printing and manufacturing, or work on an assembly line.

For more information on how to source jobs, develop your resume and reference sheet, and succeed throughout the interview process, you can find a host of resources from libraries, job-hunting websites, career counselors and job assistance organizations in your community.

This article was written by E. Laing of ForThePeople.com. 

Through AbilityJobs.com, companies who actively seek to hire individuals with disabilities post available positions and can search resumes. Resumes, which are uploaded at no cost to the jobseeker, are anonymous until the jobseeker permits the employer to contact him or her directly.

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Article: Disability in the Workforce: How to Tackle the Job Market for People in Wheelchairs.

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