How Technology Can Advance Workers with Disabilities

For individuals living with disabilities, technology has completely revolutionized accessibility, especially when it comes to professional development.
Guest posting by Kelli Brewer of Visit Philantech3 for more content and resources on the latest tech innovations, like the following article.

Whether you’re a person with a disability in the middle of a job hunt, preparing for an interview, or navigating the everyday challenges of the workplace, new technology can help you on your road to professional success.

Evaluating Your Professional Skills

Each disability is different and no one person is the same, so finding a job that matches your unique strengths is key to landing a satisfying job. In order to find your ideal job, you must first have a firm grasp of your skills and interests. If you find yourself struggling to identify your professional strengths, a career test can help you better understand your profile. Developing an acute awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, and passions will enable you to confidently pursue the jobs that are best suited to your abilities.

Finding the Right Job

Once you have a better idea of your ideal career, it’s time to start job hunting. With a reliable smartphone and computer, you can access many job search apps and websites tailored specifically to individuals with disabilities, and quickly connect with potential employers.

abilityJOBS, the largest career site for people living with disabilities, not only provides the option to search for jobs straight from your smartphone but also invites users to participate in its online career fair, which includes remote video interviews with recruiters. Furthermore, you can use abilityJOBS and more to tailor your search to jobs that fit your unique abilities and required workplace accommodations. Some job search apps like FlexJobs and We Work Remotely even cater to individuals with disabilities who might prefer to work remotely from home.

Looking for a job can itself be a full-time job, so you’ll want to make sure you stay on top of your correspondence. Your smartphone should be up to the task of using more dynamic apps, such as dictation software. In addition to having enough data, this makes it easy for you to stay in touch with recruiters and potential employers.

You’ll be on your phone a lot, so consider purchasing an inexpensive PopSocket, an extendable disk that attaches to the back of your phone. PopSockets offer users a firmer grip, reducing drops, as well as acting as a kickstand for your phone on a flat surface — perfect for Zoom meetings with potential employers.

Tips for Successful Interviewing

The AARP offers great advice for individuals with disabilities seeking employment, especially with regard to interview preparation. According to the AARP, one of the best things you can do to prepare for an interview is to practice beforehand. Before going to an interview, practice with family members or friends. Encourage them to pose genuinely tough questions so that you can figure out how best to answer them ahead of time. When it’s time for the real interview, it will probably seem a lot easier by comparison. Of course, remember to always confirm that your interview is being conducted in an accessible location. If you use a wheelchair, apps like Wheelmap make it easy to find and mark wheelchair-accessible places.

Navigating the Workplace

Congratulations, you got the job! Now what? First of all, be sure to advocate for your needs. Acquaint yourself with any potential challenges unique to your disability, so that you can brainstorm appropriate workarounds to create a supportive work environment. If you’re going to need any special accommodations like a wheelchair-friendly desk, a parking space close to your worksite entrance, or speech recognition software, be sure to clearly explain these needs to your employer.

As you work to advance your career, new technology can optimize your work performance. For example, apps like Dot Watch translate every message sent to its linked smartphone to Braille, so that visually impaired people can tactilely process information instantly. For individuals with autism, apps like Miracle Modus help decrease sensory overload, which may help for a smoother adjustment to uncontrollable environments, like loud offices and noisy conference rooms.

Across the world, there are many professional opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Advancements in technology provide cutting-edge resources to empower disabled people to advance their careers. In today’s digital landscape, there truly is an app or assistive technology for everything, so take advantage of all that your smartphone can provide in advancing your career.

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