How To Work With Disability

Posted by Jay in Travel on May 30th, 2019

Work Flowers

Looking for your first job or trying to get back into the world of work after some time away can be a rather daunting task. Between varying working patterns, preparing for interviews and factoring in transportation and location, it is enough to make you feel tired. However, when you add in disability, everything that was already difficult before can seem almost impossible. After leaving university many years ago and starting on the job search, I realised one thing, I didn’t actually know how to do very much. I knew how to write essays, and work to rigid deadlines, while researching the topic of my dissertation. I was told that all the skills that I would learn during my degree would be transferable and allow me to thrive outside of academia. While looking back now, this was true, at the time it did not feel like it.

Jay goes from University to the ‘Real World’ of Work

The late nights, the deadlines, and the necessary (and sometimes unnecessary) socialising actually did give me a taste of what was to come after university. While it was within a sort of enclosed environment, I learned a lot during those years. The group work taught me how to work with and collaborate with others to a specific goal. Working together despite any personality differences. Compromising on individual ideas/suggestions to reach a solution with which everyone can live.

When I had finished my university degree and started looking for jobs (no, I was not one of the bright sparks that thought to do this sooner!), I had a decision to make. My disability is very visible, and because of my crutches, audible. In all the online application forms that I had to fill out with information about myself, there would always be the ‘disability question’. This is something that I always divulge, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because there was simply no way of avoiding it. The minute I turn up to the location, the cat will run out of the proverbial bag. Knocking away any well-constructed but massaged truths I may have added to the various forms.

Work Flowers

This is the difficult thing about trying to enter the job market as someone with a disability. If your disability is visible, there is no way around it, so the decision is essentially made for you. There is an upside to this as you and the potential employer can have necessary conversations about logistics early on. However, if you have an invisible disability, such as a chronic illness it may be “easier” to hide at first, but the unpredictability of your condition may mean that you are just delaying the inevitable. And you should never feel that you have to hide a part of yourself to land a position.

Employment Services

The biggest tip that I have learned along the way is to get as much information out about yourself as you feel comfortable with sharing. This gives both parties a clearer picture of what may be required. Also, ask questions about the job, and the environment you might be working in. You need to make sure that it is a good fit for you and that it won’t put extra pressure on you that could affect your disability or condition.

The disability equality charity Scope has a number of other employment tips and employment services that are sure to prove useful at any stage of job search or career change. One of my favourites is aboutjob networking. I am quite an outgoing person anyway, but networking is useful regardless of personality type. While it can be rather daunting, it is a great way of building confidence. By getting out there and talking to people with whom you may like to work. It is also a great way of making new contacts that may prove useful in the future. Additionally, it can give you an insight into what you can expect from the company and the people you may end up working with.

Reasonable Adjustments

So, what actually are reasonable adjustments? In plain terms, these are the changes that need to be made by your employer to ensure that you are able to do your job to the best of your ability. Flexible working patterns could be part of this. Ensuring that you are able to spend some days working from home. Or having the option to alter your working hours. Scope advises that it’s best to write down a list of what you would like to discuss with your line manager in terms of reasonable adjustments. This will not only allow you to gather your thoughts and make it easier to relay back to them, but it gives you a great point of reference, so that you do not forget anything important you may have wanted to mention.

Although it can sometimes seem like an impossible and arduous task, ensuring that a workplace is the right fit for you is worth the effort. And Scope has a wealth of information that would prove invaluable before, and during employment.

This post is in conjunction with the disability equality charity Scope but all thoughts are my own

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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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