Finding a job in today’s world is difficult in itself after graduating with any degree. You have to gain connections, write a million different cover letters, and prove yourself in interviews that your past experiences and skills are useful for one’s organization. But when you are disabled this process can be a little more complicated. First of all you have to narrow down what jobs fall within your limitations. I have Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy, meaning that my arms and my legs are very weak so I have to worry about every physical requirement even typing! I recently had a job interview for a data entry job and I had to complete a typing test. I’m naturally very slow at typing so as soon as I clicked “begin,” I struggled to get my hands back on the keyboard, typed three words and then time was up. Obviously I failed yet I excelled at the interview so they did ask me what else they can do to help me. I suggested using Dragon, voice to text software, but they’re system couldn’t accommodate it. I did not get the job but I at least appreciated them asking what accommodations I required.
This experience had me wondering what does the Equal Opportunity Employer law stipulate exactly. This law protects against discrimination in the workplace based on age, gender, and race for example but also protects the disabled from being discriminated by an employer. In my case, this employer was compliant for the most part except the accommodation clause. This clause states, “A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.” I could only suggest the one accommodation but I feel like I could have done the job if they would let me perform at a slower rate to accommodate my slow typing speed. However, I am not upset with the company but at the system. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) should be more involved in the hiring process and intervene to help both sides come up with a reasonable accommodation. That way a lawsuit could be avoided entirely instead of suing a company for violating a law.
Another problem many disabled individuals have is building up experience on a resume. During high school/college many get a part time job at food markets or retail stores and gain customer service skills. People in my situation, however, cannot do this because they can’t either simply reach a cash register or the pace is too fast. This is a great disadvantage because once you try to apply for a full time job, a company is skeptical of hiring you when you have no job experience. Employers need to realize that there is more to a person than their previous experiences and a disabled individual can offer much more than what their resume states. In today’s world this realization is very difficult to get through to employers.
Personally, I have only an internship at a non-profit and a volunteer job at a museum listed on my resume. It’s not much but I have gained a lot of writing and research experience as a result. I really wanted to work at a museum but I learned that I needed more than a bachelor’s degree in history. I needed a Masters in museum studies which would be too expensive. Right now I’m looking for any type of job I’m qualified for which is far and few. I’m using a variety of job searching sites like indeed yet many jobs require at least 3 years of experience. However, when I do find a job I am confident I will thrive with skills I have gained. All the accommodations that I’ll need is a keyboard that can reach my lap and a nurse’s aide to help me with other physical tasks of the job. I am at the point now that I just need somebody to give me a chance so that I can show them how much I can really offer their organization.