AIDS/HIV: Regular medication regimen Contagiousness/risk to coworkers Potential for extended sick leaves
Using assistive devices (braces, cane, wheelchair): Stationary can't get around to do what needs to be done exorbitant workplace modification costs
Asperger's Syndrome: Impaired nonverbal communication Difficulty in adapting to change
Asthma: Allergies to workplace Stamina
Attention deficit disorder Difficulty in paying attention to detail: Need to modify workplace to provide distraction free environment
Cerebral palsy: Difficulty in interpreting speech Assistive technology costs Workplace modifications
Chemical sensitivity Workplace modifications Change in cleaning contract Change in ventilation system: Guidelines regarding coworkers' use of soaps, lotions, and fragrances
Chronic fatigue syndrome Alterations to standard schedule Extended use of sick time
Chronic illness Extended use of sick time Contagiousness: Regular medication regimen Alterations to standard schedule
Depth perception: Safety issues on plant floor
Issues regarding transportation or operating equipment (forklift, automobile, etc.)
Diabetes: Regular medication regimen Alterations to standard schedule
Disfigurement: Impact on coworkers, customers
Hearing: Use of volume control handset on telephone Use of TTY at workspace and elsewhere Modification of loudspeaker system Installation of visual safety alarms
Learning disability: Enabling spell checking software on word processor, modifying other software to include spell checking
Installing assistive technology, scanner/reader, speech card in computer
Submitting directions in written form if the employee has a cognitive processing difficulty
Leniency on time requirements for duties that require a great deal of reading
Missing digit Workplace safety issues: Modified keyboard or other equipment
Missing limb Workplace safety issues Equipment modification Impact on coworkers, customers
Psychological/emotional: Regular medication regimen Potential for extended leave
Speech: Use of e mail for most communication Impact on coworkers, customers
Tourette's syndrome: Impact on coworkers, customers
Traumatic brain injury: Need for directions to be given in written form Impact on coworkers, customers
Vision: Use of guide dog
Use of screen reading program with speech card
Printing memos and other material in alternative formats, such as large print or Braille
Audible signals in elevator
In addition to the above possible issues, most disabilities that are visible or have visible effects will require training to educate coworkers. Many disability related organizations have published materials to help people understand disabilities, including recommended etiquette for interacting with a person who has a disability.
You should also make a list of the issues you may need to address regarding your disability and possible accommodations you may need. It may be helpful to speak with a rehabilitation counselor or one of the people at the Job Accommodation Network, and check your assumptions against their experience. They may even have suggestions for how you might address these issues.
When you have finished this section, you can move on to the next section, an assessment of your traits and characteristics.
Determine Your Traits and Characteristics
How would you describe yourself? How would others describe you? Sometimes, our personality traits and characteristics can give us great insight into the types of careers in which we can be happy. While I have met some joke telling, backslapping accountants, there are a few more people like that in the field of sales. Some career counselors, like John Holland, who developed the "The Self Directed Search" assessment device, believe that people with certain personality types are more often found in certain career fields. Take a look at the following traits and characteristics, and circle the ones that seem to describe your best.
Once again, the value of this exercise will be far greater if you can ask one or two people to look over your list. You may even want to make photocopies of the sheet and ask them to critique you independently and anonymously. Compare yourself perceptions to the perceptions held by others. Sometimes you will see conflicts, but other times you may find near universal agreement. When you have finished this exercise, you can move on to the next section on values.
Identify Your Values
Just as it is important for you to think about whom you are and what you have to offer, it is also important that you spend some time thinking about what you are looking for. A big part of this involves deciding what you value. To complete this exercise, write each of the following values down on index cards. Then pick up two cards and decide: "Which of these two things is more important to me?" Take the card that finished in second place and start a pile. Pick up another card and "run it against" the first card. Continue to do this until you have one card that "beats" all of the others. Then continue this for second place, etc.
You now have a better picture of who you are. You have reminded yourself as well as recorded your past triumphs and challenges. You have painted a picture of yourself that includes those experiences, as well as the strengths and weaknesses you possess. You have given thought to your values, and to what you really need and want from a job. You have also given some thought as to how your disability may impact your career choice.
Hopefully, these self evaluation exercises have helped to illustrate a point: Your disability is but one stone in the mosaic of who you are. How many of your weaknesses are direct results of your disability? Probably not many, most people have myriad strengths and weaknesses. They may excel at certain types of tasks, yet they may struggle with others. This fact is true regardless of whether or not they have a disability For most people, the key is to know what those strengths and weaknesses are, and then to apply for jobs that require the skills that they have, and to avoid applying for jobs that require skills that they do not possess.
Career Assessment Instruments
Your own assessment of your skills and your personality is quite likely to be accurate; however, your objectivity cannot be assured. Having a friend look over the preceding exercises will help increase the reliability of the information. The problem is that even your friends will have a difficult time being truly objective. It may be worth your while, then, to undergo a more formal career assessment with the assistance of a vocational counselor. The following is a list of career assessment instruments, along with a brief description of what they measure and how you might find them.
Aptitude and Achievement Assessment
Most of the following assessment tests can be taken with the help of a qualified career counselor. Check with your local vocational rehabilitation office, or look in the Yellow Pages, for a college career center or vocational counseling agency. Some assessments involve a fee, but some are free via your public library or the Internet. It is recommended, however, that you use these instruments only in cooperation with a career counselor. It's easy to misread the results of them, and the results of misreading them can be significant in terms of money and, more importantly, time.