Are you a motivated jobseeker ready to break accessibility barriers (particularly in terms of available transportation and accessible technology) you may face in your effort to gain employment that is meaningful and rewarding?
By being nimble in effectively resolving major on-the-job accessibility issues, you are proving to prospective employers that you:
- Take personal responsibility for resolving your own transportation issues.
- Prefer to be as independent as possible in gaining workable accommodations.
- Realize it's up to you to become technologically savvy.
- Know how to resolve or manage problems in a variety of settings -- at work and at home.
- Are willing to set priorities and work toward long-term goals.
As you gain experience in volunteer and part-time jobs while in school, you’ll soon realize that you have already accumulated some valuable attitudes and attributes that you can transfer to concrete business situations. Those are accomplishments you can highlight on your resume. That’s a mark of maturity.
I believe there’s no better way to show your maturity at this point in your career than to tackle one of the biggest issues you face as you make the transition from school to work. . That issue is gaining acceptable accommodations so you can carry your own weight while on the job.
Here are some comments from individuals with a disability who are working in the mainstream job market. I believe they have succeeded in working around disability employment barriers largely because they have demonstrated their maturity in tackling the on-the-job accessibility issues they each face.
Note their advice:
"People are hired because they can get the job done. If we can't do that, for any reason, then we can't be hired and retained as valuable business assets …
"… With my employer, I was simply moved to a project that features the accessible technologies I need …
"I am considering myself very lucky that I have an employer who sees the value I add to the company and does not simply throw me away because of my technology inaccessibility problems …
"...I am very rarely late to work and, on the few occasions when it has happened, it hasn't been repeated in a very long time. I believe the reasons for the good service I receive on paratransit have a lot to do with my proactive advocacy efforts. I simply refuse to accept rudeness and unprofessionalism, and I always insist on prompt resolution of all issues, escalating through the chain of command until proper action is ultimately taken.
"… When you take the initiative and act for yourself, you show the world that you have what it takes to effectively perform the duties of that job you seek!"
"… I have had several jobs and have done well in most. In some cases, I got along with minimal accommodation, but more recently I did receive the basic tools I needed. Still, I have preferred what I was able to choose for myself (the impact on my family's credit cards notwithstanding). I feel the independence has been well worth it …
"What I have done about needing transportation for my business is simply gone entirely online. I train via the phone. All meetings are via chat or messenger. I have a knack for making this not look like a disadvantage but rather a distinction. …"
"… We all know that we have to use whatever is at our disposal to be viable in today's job market. Knowing as much technology as you can is a real plus."
"... I am living in an apartment with a former neighbor who is also visually challenged. This is part of an agency which works with people who have disabilities so that they can live independently. For me and for my family this was a very positive accomplishment …"
"… I'm always amused when I look back at the situations I resolved at work -- issues my co-workers without disabilities didn't have to think about …
"I do know that getting a job and developing my career was the key to everything else I wanted to accomplish …"
Some adjectives come to mind as I review these snippets: realistic, savvy, grateful, proactive, assertive, creative, independent, and accomplished.
Aren't those some of the personal attributes you want to show prospective employers? They are the mark of maturity -- an attribute on-campus recruiters seek in the job candidates they interview.
You can demonstrate them all by being savvy about the on-the-job accommodations you need.
To do so, follow these three steps toward becoming “assistive technology” independent:
- Become familiar and stay up-to-date with the resources on the Job Accommodations Network (JAN) that applies to your situation.
- Form a rotating, informal team of “experts” from your local area who can keep you up-to-date and advise you on a routine basis about which cutting-edge technologies can work best for you at a cost that is not prohibitive.
- Work with your state vocational rehabilitation office to see what funding you can obtain to pay for the assistive technology you need.
In the end, being “assistive technology” independent can be a concrete personal asset. You’ll prove to be helpful to your hiring manager because he or she won’t feel alone in having to deal with often unfamiliar accessibility issues.
Remember, the extra cost and work in obtaining accommodations are factors employers sometimes cite as a drawback to hiring someone with disability. Through your foresight and personal preparation, you can take that “objection” off the table.
It can be your first on-the-job accomplishment – a “win” you can rack up even before your first day of work.
Copyright © 2014. Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jim Hasse (www.jimhasse.com), Global Career Development Facilitator, has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both jobseekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (www.perfectlyable.com/), a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. He’s the founder of www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com, a comprehensive career coaching guide for parents of youngsters with cerebral palsy, and owner of Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC, which develops win-win direct mail fundraisers for champions of disability employment.