People often wonder if you can work when you have a disability. The short answer to that question is “yes,” you can work when you have a disability. There are certain laws that protect a disabled person from discrimination while in the workplace. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, supports several initiatives that help employers interested in hiring individuals with disabilities. These initiatives include but are not limited to:
- The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion which is a free, nationwide service that educates employers about the effective strategies for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities. EARN also maintains a list of job posting websites geared toward job seekers with disabilities and a collection of success stories about employers that have made a commitment to disability inclusion.
- The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities is also a free resource that connects private businesses and federal agencies nationwide with qualified job candidates for temporary or permanent positions in a variety of fields. Applicants are highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workforce. Through WRP jobs private employers interested in gaining access to these individuals can post permanent and temporary positions. WRP participants can then search and apply for these positions using an employer’s standard application process.
- The Job Accommodation Network is also a place that provides free, expert advice on workplace accommodations that may be necessary to assist qualified individuals with disabilities apply for a job and maximize their productivity once onboard.
- Although not a resource for hiring per se, the Campaign for Disability Employment offers a variety of media assets, including video public service announcements, all designed to encourage employers and others to recognize the value and talent people with disabilities add to America’s workplaces and economy. Employers can use these resources in the workplace to help spark conversations about disability issues.
ODEP also offers several fact sheets and other resources to educate employers about effective recruitment and hiring strategies, as well as laws such as Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilties Act, which protects the employment rights of people with disabilities. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the employment provisions of the ADA under Title 1.
Under Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process. These modifications enable an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity not only to get a job, but successfully perform their job tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities. Accommodations are sometimes referred to as “productivity enhancers”. Reasonable accommodations should not be viewed as “special treatment” and they often benefit all employees. Many job accommodations cost very little and often involve minor changes to a work environment, schedule or work-related technologies:
- Physical Changes such as installing a ramp or modifying a rest room and also modifying the layout of a workplace.
- Accessible and assistive technologies which include ensuring computer software is accessible, providing screen reader software, and using videophones to facilitate communications wit colleagues who are deaf.
- Accessible communications which is providing sign language interpreters or closed captioning at meetings and events and also making materials in Braille or large print.
- Lastly, policy enhancements which are modifying a policy to allow a service animal in a business setting and adjusting work schedules so employees with chronic medical conditions can go to medical appointments and complete their work at alternate times or locations.
So a person with a disability can indeed work, you just have to know the laws, know how to work around the proper accommodations in order to make things work. Under the ADA laws a person with a disability cannot be denied work no matter what. Employers need to learn how to accommodate the person they are hiring. I, myself have a disability and have learned what is right and wrong in the workforce. Even if a person with a disability has a medical issue a place of employment cannot legally fire the person who has a medical issue. If an employer fires someone who has a disability due to medical reasons then you are risking a lawsuit to happen.
I have lived with a disability for 31 years. I have learned over the years how to handle employment issues while living with a disability. Employers aren’t always educated on the ADA laws and any of the other laws that help protect a person with a disability from being discriminated at a place of work. I’ve had people interview me and then not hire me but most of the time I have a felling it’s because they don’t want to accommodate me in the workplace.
As you can see there are so much that can protect a person with a disability in the workplace. No matter what you have to be protected in the workforce if you have a disability. I have learned that people can be so discrimitive when hiring a person with a disability. Sometimes you honestly can’t tell what they are doing until it’s too late though. Learn how to know the signs of discrimination and see what you can prevent while at a workplace or an interview. Sometimes, people don’t realize what they are doing until you call them out on it.