Talent Knows No Limits
woman with man in wheelchair
"The best way to help someone with a disability is first to ask if they need assistance."

Resources to get you thinking

 

 

 

Connections in the Land of Disability is a thought-provoking and passionate book that will change how you think about disabilities and the people who have them.

The book, Able!, by Nancy Henderson, is a true story that chronicles the joys and challenges of managing a business where three of every four workers have a disability.
See a book review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Facts and Myths

Myth: When I first meet a potential employer, they will focus only on my disability and not on my abilities

Fact: Well, maybe. But here are a few tips to quickly change the focus from your disability to the real reason that you are there.

  1. Make eye contact. Nothing draws a person to another person better than looking them in the eye.
    (Ok, we hear you visually-impaired folks snickering - go to tips 2 - 4)
  2. Get down to business. You're there for a reason and it's not to dwell on your disability, it's to highlight your abilities. Since you've done your homework about the company (you have, haven't you?) share some small reason why you're "excited to be here today".
  3. Smile! You're happy to be there, so show it. Smiles diffuse discomfort for both you and the person across the table.
  4. Lighten up. Your attitude and skills are what you want to highlight, so use humor to diffuse any awkward moments that may arise. You'll be surprised at how well this puts both you and them at ease.

The above tips above are all designed to do one thing... quickly reveal the confident, focused and "able" person that you are. I've had many people later tell me how they forgot about my disability half way into our meeting.

Myth: I should be up front about my disability and let them know before the interview

Fact: No you shouldn't. Think about it.
Would the interviewer tell you up front that there's no 401k savings plan? Or that you'll be working from a small cube in the basement? Of course not! They will first want to tell you about this great position! You, in turn, will want to first and foremost, tell them about your skills and abilities.

Sell them on why you are a great fit for the job. Only after they're sold, should you consider discussing potential challenges - AND ONLY if these are challenges that you identify. They may see none.

Myth: There's nothing one person can do to help eliminate the barriers confronting people with disabilities

Fact: Everyone can contribute to change. You as an individual can help remove barriers by advocating a barrier-free environment. Speak up when negative words or phrases are used in connection with disability. Write producers and editors a note of support when they portray people with disabilities as they do others in the media. Accept people with disabilities as individual human beings with the same needs and feelings you have. Hire qualified disabled persons whenever possible. Encourage people with disabilities to participate in community activities by making sure that meeting and event sites are accessible.