Willing and Able—Why you should hire people with disabilities

LinkedIn
Willing and Able

By Sarah Ryther Francom

Temple Grandin, renowned autism spokesperson, is known for saying, “The world needs all kinds of minds.” This is also true for the business world. Hiring individuals with disabilities not only benefits the individual hired, but also benefits your business, employees, customers, and the community at large.

Leah Lobato, director of the Governor’s Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities, part of the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, has seen countless lives changed when companies recruit and hire workers with disabilities. She says that one in five Americans has a disability, and 30 percent of families have a family member with a disability, with numbers anticipated to increase.

A win-win hire
Hiring individuals with disabilities isn’t just a feel-good idea—it can have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Individuals with disabilities often bring a diverse range of skills and attributes to the workplace and can enhance the team dynamic.

“Individuals with disabilities have had to problem-solve a lot of different situations in their life due to their condition, so they bring a unique perspective,” Lobato said. “The diversity of people with disabilities and what they bring to a company is really broad.”

Beyond bringing diverse skills to the workplace, individuals with disabilities often have a strong sense of loyalty to their employers, Lobato has found.

Kristy Chambers, CEO of Columbus Community Center, a nonprofit organization serving adults and teens with disabilities, says individuals with disabilities often fit seamlessly into a company. “When you find that right fit, they become a part of the work culture, and they truly can be an inspiration to their coworkers, customers, and stakeholders,” she says.

Lobato and Chambers agree that having a diverse workforce that includes individuals with disabilities is an attribute that resonates with customers.

“When a customer sees a diverse workforce, it raises their comfort in your business,” Lobato says.

Overcoming common fears
Lobato says it’s normal for a business owner or manager to fear the potential consequences of hiring an individual with disabilities but that misinformation is often the real culprit. “One of the most common issues I run into with businesses I talk to is fear. Fear of disability. Fear of how to communicate with people who have disabilities. Fear of the legal things that might come up when hiring them.”

Lobato acknowledges that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be overwhelming. She advises companies to seek guidance from her office or a nonprofit, like Columbus Community Center, when beginning to actively recruit individuals with disabilities.

“The ADA provides a clear definition of what a disability is and provides a clear understanding of what the hiring guidelines are,” she says. “It provides support and protections for a person with disabilities, but it also clearly outlines what a business can and cannot do.”

How to provide reasonable accommodations is one of the most common questions employers have asked ADA compliance, says Kevin Keyes, chief program officer at Columbus.

“There’s greater fear than what should be there about providing reasonable accommodations,” he says. “Studies have shown that the cost of providing accommodations is overestimated.”

“A lot of the folks that come into employment with disabilities already have supports in place,” Keyes adds. “That’s what [organizations like Columbus] do. We’re not only there to support the individual, but also the employer.”

Companies with questions about how to create reasonable accommodations can seek guidance from the state, Lobato says. She points to a woodshop created for the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired as an example of what the state can help with.

Beyond state assistance, businesses that actively recruit and hire individuals with disabilities can receive financial aid to help cover associated costs, including work opportunity tax credits, small business tax credits, and grants to establish workplace accommodations and vocational training.

The biggest piece of advice Lobato offers all employers is to treat individuals with disabilities just as you would any other employee.

Everyone benefits
Stephanie Mackay, chief innovation officer at Columbus, says employers should view hiring individuals with disabilities as an opportunity to strengthen their workforce.

Chambers points out that communities are the greatest beneficiaries when individuals with disabilities land and keep good jobs. “Employers who get it and understand the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities realize that they are contributing to the community by hiring somebody who may be more challenged on gaining that employment. This allows individuals to not be a burden on the community, because without employment they become an individual who relies on entitlements. Those who participate on the employer end realize that there’s an economic benefit to everyone—the employee, company and the community at large.”

Source: utahbusiness.com

ADA Guidelines for Employers:
Employers covered by the ADA have to make sure that people with disabilities:

  • have an equal opportunity to apply for jobs and to work in jobs for which they are qualified
  • have an equal opportunity to be promoted once they are working
  • have equal access to benefits and privileges of employment that are offered to other employees, such as employer-provided health insurance or training
  • are not harassed because of their disability

Source: EEOC

Basic ADA hiring rules:
•The ADA does not allow you to ask questions about disability or use medical examinations until after you make someone a conditional job offer.

  • The ADA strictly limits the circumstances under which you may ask questions about disability or require medical examinations of employees.
  • The ADA requires you to consider whether any reasonable accommodation(s) would enable the individual to perform the job’s essential functions and/or would reduce any safety risk the individual might pose.
  • Once a person with a disability has started working, actual performance, and not the employee’s disability, is the best indication of the employee’s ability to do the job.
  • With limited exceptions, you must keep confidential any medical information you learn about an applicant or employee.

Source: EEOC

SUNRISE MEDICAL QUICKIE® Xenon2 – New Ultra Lightweight, High- Performance, Folding Wheelchair Series

LinkedIn

Today, Sunrise Medical announced the launch of its latest high-performance ultra lightweight folding manual wheelchair. The QUICKIE Xenon2 offers all the benefits of QUICKIE’s high-end rigid chairs, now in a folding version. This series brings a sleek look to the portfolio and delivers the ride of a rigid wheelchair with the convenience of folding.

At the core of the Xenon2 is a unique cross-brace that gives the chair a minimalistic, open frame that you would usually associate with a rigid wheelchair. A more forward axle provides greater responsiveness, and a more rearward axle provides greater stability. The combination of the cross-brace and axle provide the stiff, stable driving performance feel of a rigid frame but with all the portability of a folding one. The Xenon2 allows for a custom fit with adjustability to the center of gravity, backrest angle, rear seat height, along with other key areas.

“We are excited to follow up on the successful introduction of 7000 series aluminum and ShapeLoc technology offered in our rigid portfolio by extending the same benefits into our family of folding wheelchairs,” said Jesus Ibarra, Sunrise Medical Associate Product Manager, Manual. “After years of success across Europe, we’re bringing the same proven technology to our North American markets and manufacturing them in our Fresno, California facility.”

Available in three unique frame styles – Fixed Front, Hybrid (Dual Tube), and Swing- Away – this lightweight, high-performance folding series is designed to be adaptable to the changing needs of the user. With its clean and streamlined design, the Fixed Front model is the lightest with a transit weight weighing less than 20 lbs. The Hybrid model is the strongest of the three, and its reinforced fixed front frame allows a maximum user weight capacity of 300 lbs. Its dual tube design reduces flex, giving the chair a more rigid ride and greater push efficiency. The Swing-Away model is designed with a reinforced frame with removable swing-away hangers for easy transfers and has the most compact folded dimensions for easy portability.

For videos, images and additional information on the QUICKIE Xenon2, please visit http://www.sunrisemedical.com.

About Sunrise Medical: A world leader in the development, design, manufacture and distribution of manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, motorized scooters and both standard and customized seating and positioning systems, Sunrise Medical manufactures products in their own facilities in the United States, Mexico, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, China, Holland, Poland, Norway and Canada. Sunrise Medical’s key products, marketed under the QUICKIE, Sopur, Zippie, Breezy, Sterling, Jay, Whitmyer and Switch It proprietary brands, are sold through a network of homecare medical product dealers or distributors in more than 130 countries. The company is headquartered in Malsch, Germany, with North American headquarters in Fresno, Calif., and employs more than 2,180 associates worldwide.

For additional information, please contact Karen Gallik; Karen.Gallik @ sunmed.com

This New Prosthetic Limb Transmits Sensations Directly To The Nervous System

LinkedIn

Even with the most advanced prosthetics, amputees cannot feel the ground when they walk on a synthetic leg, or know if someone is touching a mechanical arm. This new MIT tech hopes to change that.

In 1992, Hugh Herr, now head of the Biomechatronics Group at MIT Media Lab, had both of his legs amputated below the knees after sustaining frostbite during a mountain climbing accident. “I”m basically a bunch of nuts and bolts from the knees down,” Herr says, demonstrating his prosthetic legs on the stage at TED 2018 in Vancouver, “but I can skip, dance, and run.”

Herr’s team at MIT focuses on building prosthetic limbs that respond to neural commands with the flexibility and speed of regular limbs. Around 24 sensors and six microprocessors pick up neural signals from Herr’s central nervous system when he thinks about moving his legs. They transmit those signals to the prosthetics, which move accordingly. But despite this remarkable connectivity between man and machine, it’s not a complete fusion. “When I touch my synthetic limbs, I don’t experience normal touch and movement sensations,” Herr says. In order to know his neural commands worked, he has to look and actually see his foot hit the ground–he can’t feel it.

Reproducing the sensations of having a real limb in prosthetics is, Herr believes, the last remaining hurdle to creating truly effective synthetic limbs. “If I were a cyborg and could feel my legs, they’d become a part of myself,” Herr says. But for now, they still feel separate.

His team, however, is working on a new type of limb that would receive not only commands, but sensations, from the central nervous system. This principle, which Herr calls neuro-embodied design, involves extending the human nervous system into synthetic body parts.

Since the Civil War, when limbs are amputated, doctors have generally truncated the tendons and nerve endings, which minimizes sensation and often leads to the “phantom limb” feeling experienced by many amputees. But in a new process Herr’s team pioneered at MIT, doctors leave the tendons and nerve endings intact so they can continue to feed sensations down past where the human leg ends and the prosthetic begins.

Last year, a fellow mountain climber and old friend of Herr’s, Jim Ewing, became the first patient to undergo the new amputation process and get fitted with a cyborg-like synthetic limb.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

The Power of Neurodiversity

LinkedIn

Strategic integration of people with neurological disabilities can produce exceptional results

By Susanne M. Bruyère

Neurodiversity. It’s a term that’s increasingly familiar to those in the workforce diversity and inclusion sphere, and for good reason. It’s about the strategic integration of people with neurological disabilities into all workplaces, and its practice can yield exceptional results for both employers and employees, including those on the autism spectrum.

As someone who’s spent most of my career researching effective workplace practices for people with disabilities, I find embracing neurodiversity to be an exciting paradigm shift. Years ago, employers often hired people with disabilities for altruistic, charitable reasons, believing it was “the right thing to do.” Later, when the D&I movement emerged, employers began to appreciate bottom line benefits from embracing disability as diversity. Today’s increased focus on neurodiversity indicates even further progress on the part of employers—and refreshingly, it’s all about skills.

That’s right. Numerous businesses that already have a good foundation in disability inclusion are beginning to plan recruiting and onboarding activities that target people in similar professional networks to meet their business needs. These companies are recognizing and proactively recruiting the skills and talents that people with unique neurological characteristics, including those on the autism spectrum, can offer. It’s a concept that’s gaining steam in many industry sectors, such as manufacturing, telecommunications, finance and information technology. In fact, an article on neurodiversity in the current issue of Harvard Business Review takes an in-depth look at this alignment of skills to workforce needs. One of the companies featured in the article, enterprise software developer SAP, emphasizes hiring people on the autism spectrum for their skills and abilities—and the results speak for themselves.

Launched in 2013, SAP’s groundbreaking Autism at Work program set a corporate goal of employing 650 employees on the autism spectrum by 2020 across a wide range of job categories. One of the first steps has been changing the way the company interviews people with autism, offering something more akin to a trial work period rather than just structured interviews.

“Out of a hundred resumes I would send, I would only get one response back. And when I did apply, because I was a bit monotone or stiff during the interview, they overlooked me,” says Patrick, a current SAP employee on the autism spectrum whose life was changed by the Autism at Work program. Today, Patrick works as an IT project associate, having joined SAP through the successful program that has employed nearly 120 colleagues in nine countries.

SAP is not alone. Earlier this month, the company jointly hosted an event with the support of the Olitsky Family Foundation, the Stanford University Autism Research Center and my organization, Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. The Autism at Work Summit showcased how companies have implemented programs to harness the power of the untapped talent pool of adults on the autism spectrum, such as through initiatives at Microsoft, EY and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. In fact, the ILR School’s K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability has proudly partnered with HPE to facilitate the distribution of materials to help interested employers globally develop initiatives to provide skilled employment opportunities for job seekers on the autism spectrum.

We were also very pleased to be joined at the summit by colleagues from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, because these companies’ experiences have broader implications, providing meaningful insight into workplace policies and practices that facilitate success for all employees, including those with disabilities. One clear example was a reaffirmation that matching job candidates’ skillsets to open jobs leads to better business outcomes.

But of course, facilitating employment success for people on the autism spectrum extends beyond hiring, just as it does for all workers, to career advancement and skill enhancement up the full corporate ladder. Summit participants with whom I spoke emphasized the importance of workplace supports to help employees thrive and integrate successfully into workplace cultures, such as job coaches, mentors, and social and recreational events.

After all, the long-term success of talent acquisition requires not just hiring—but keeping—the best employees. More and more employers are discovering this means advancing a broad range of employment opportunities for people who come from neurodiverse backgrounds, including those on the autism spectrum.

About the Author
Dr. Susanne M. Bruyère is Professor of Disability Studies and the Director of the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell University’s ILR School.

Source: blog.dol.gov

What you can expect from this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month

LinkedIn

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is led every October by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), and it’s not too early to start thinking ahead to NDEAM 2018! From simple displays of support, such as putting up a poster, to comprehensive initiatives, such as implementing a disability education program, there are many ways to take part.

The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) encourages organizations of all sizes and in all industries to participate in NDEAM, because all efforts play an important part in fostering a more inclusive workforce, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities—every day of every month.

What can you expect for the 2018 celebration?
Individuals and organizations hosting events and activities to celebrate the important contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

Ideas include:

  • Review policies — NDEAM is an opportune time to review your company’s policies to ensure they convey a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture. For assistance in doing so, read Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion (see in particular the first section, “Lead the Way: Inclusive Business Culture”).
  • Establish an ERG — NDEAM is a perfect time to launch a disability Employee Resource Group (ERG). Sometimes referred to as Employee Networks or Affinity Groups, ERGs offer employees an opportunity to connect and receive support from others with similar backgrounds or interests. For more information, see A Toolkit for Establishing and Maintaining Successful Employee Resource Groups. If your company already has a disability ERG, consider using NDEAM to remind employees about it through displays, information tables or other communication channels.
  • Create a display — NDEAM is a great time to freshen up bulletin boards in break areas or other locations that employees frequent by posting positive messages about your company’s commitment to a disability inclusive workforce. Start by putting up this year’s NDEAM poster, which is available in both English and Spanish. Additional display materials include the “What Can YOU Do?” poster series.
  • Train supervisors — Supervisors are the individuals closest to an organization’s workforce. As part of NDEAM, consider conducting training to ensure they understand their role in fostering an inclusive workplace culture. Such training may include a review of relevant policies, including the process for providing reasonable accommodations. One easy way to provide such training is to make use of available “turn-key” training modules and available materials, such as the Building an Inclusive Workforce tabletop desk guide.
  • Educate employees — It is critical that companies committed to disability inclusion effectively and regularly reinforce that commitment to employees. NDEAM offers an opportunity to do this through disability training or informal educational events such as brownbag lunch discussions. Several ready-to-use resources can assist in facilitating such activities, such as disability etiquette materials and the “I Can” public service announcement and accompanying workplace discussion guide. Another option is to contact local disability organizations to see if they offer workplace training programs.
  • Publish articles — NDEAM offers timely and fresh content for an employee newsletter or internal website. Articles could address a range of topics, such as general information about the company’s commitment to an inclusive workplace, the process for requesting reasonable accommodations, or perhaps recognizing the contributions of employees with disabilities — either in general or on an individual level. Alternatively, or in addition, your company’s top executive could issue a message to all employees recognizing NDEAM.
  • Feature NDEAM in social media activities — Likewise, NDEAM provides an interesting hook for social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. For the latter, organizations are encouraged to include the hashtag #NDEAM. Sample postings and tweets are available to assist in incorporating NDEAM into social media activities.
  • Issue an NDEAM press release — Employers can also issue a press release to local media to announce their involvement in NDEAM. To assist, a “fill-in-the-blank” template is available that organizations can quickly customize and pitch to their local media.
  • Participate in Disability Mentoring Day — Disability Mentoring Day promotes career development for youth with disabilities through hands-on programs, job shadowing and ongoing mentoring. The nationwide observance is the third Wednesday of each October, but companies may choose to host their own events on any day of the month (or year for that matter). The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) offers information to assist in implementing a Disability Mentoring Day event.

For more NDEAM ideas, visit dol.gov/ndeam.

VMI Launches the Most Spacious Accessible SUV on the Market

LinkedIn

Consumers, able-bodied or not, prefer SUVs to minivans at a rate of more than 6:1 based on annual automotive sales reported in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Tim Barone, CEO of Vantage Mobility International (VMI), said “One of VMI’s core values is to never forget the challenges faced by our customers. When we started to explore the possibility of converting an SUV, our core value remained the focal point of our mission as we spoke with wheelchair users and their families to understand their wants and needs.” Barone continued, “We started with people who wanted an accessible SUV, but couldn’t find one that met their needs. During our research, we consistently received feedback that an SUV meant more than style. It meant normalcy. We learned that an SUV itself isn’t enough. The right SUV must have the physical design and practical space to meet our consumers’ specific demands.”

“The introduction of the VMI Honda Pilot Northstar E™ accessible SUV with its innovative manual in-floor ramp offers the perfect combination of simplicity, space and style at a great price,” Barone said. Customers looking for a caregiver vehicle that offers accessibility and sweet style will find this vehicle delivers exceptional wheelchair maneuverability and room for the family. It’s equipped with practical features that put the “utility” in an SUV, such as a ramp that’s easily stowed out of the way, a removable front passenger seat for greater seating flexibility, and plenty of usable storage.

Built into this new SUV from VMI is its exclusive Access360® which sets a new standard for generous wheelchair space and maneuverability. “VMI’s Honda Pilot Northstar E™ SUV boasts more space for large power chairs to enter the vehicle and maneuver comfortably, more flexibility with a removable front seat and confidence that it will deliver a superior experience,” said Barone. VMI’s stated unique features of the product include:

  • Expansive door opening width (33.5 in.) and door height (55.5 in.) to make entry and exit easy.
  • An in-floor ramp which is stowed within the vehicle floor with no squeaking or rattling—keeping dirt and debris out of the vehicle cabin.
  • A wide (32 in.) durable ramp to accommodate large power wheelchairs.
  • Flexible seating lets the wheelchair user sit in the front passenger position or the spacious mid row.
  • An obstruction-free doorway for safe entry and exit without having to deploy the ramp for able-bodied passengers.
  • Overhead, and added floor and door lighting making wheelchair securement easier in lowlight conditions.
  • A rear bench footrest that’s easy to use and offers additional comfort for passengers seated on the rear bench.
  • An extra cargo storage area conveniently incorporated below the rear bench seat.
  • 100% crash tested to all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards governed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration

For more information or to test drive the all-new Honda Pilot Northstar E™ SUV available from VMI, call 855-864-8267 or visit www.myvmisuv.com.

About VMI

Vantage Mobility International (VMI) is a leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles built on Toyota, Honda, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) chassis. The company has advanced the mobility industry for 30 years with a robust portfolio of minivan and SUV conversions as well as platform lifts. VMI, based in Phoenix, Arizona, has been awarded the prestigious Toyota Gold Certificate for Quality and its manufacturing facility utilizes Six Sigma techniques to employ continuous process improvements and deliver high quality products for personal use and commercial applications.

What It’s Like To Be A Blind Software Engineer At Amazon

LinkedIn
blind person working on computer

By Lydia Dishman

Michael Forzano has worked at Seattle’s e-commerce giant for nearly six years, using a regular laptop with a screen he’s never seen.

Everyone’s dream job is different. For some, it may be working with a bold leader, while want to have a hand in world-changing innovation. But Michael Forzano’s a dream job was rooted in a more the practical concern: making shopping more accessible.

Forzano isn’t some shopaholic racking up credit-card debt from his couch, though. He’s a 26-year-old engineer who’s been blind since birth due to a genetic condition called Norrie disease. When it comes to buying basic necessities, Amazon has been a huge help. “Instead of having someone walk me around a store and help me find what I’m searching for, I can just order it from Amazon,” Forzano explains. “I have access to all of the information about the product. It enables me to be much more independent.”

Forzano has always been comfortable around computers, playing audio-based games as a kid and later teaching himself to code in high school. While earning an engineering degree at Binghamton University, he interned for the summer at Amazon in Seattle. It turned into a job offer after Forzano graduated, in 2013, and he’s been working with the e-commerce giant ever since.

Forzano is among a small population of fully blind people to be employed, much less as software engineers. According to disability statistics from the American Community Survey (ACS) for working-age adults reporting significant vision loss, only 42% were employed in 2015 (the most recent year with data). And of the 64,000 software developers Stack Overflow polled last year, 1% are blind. Amazon doesn’t require its employees to disclose that information, so there’s no hard data on how many of the company’s staffers are blind or visually impaired. Still, Forzano says he’s the only person on his immediate team with Norrie disease and full blindness.

At a time when most of us–software developers or not–spend hours each day staring at screens, it’s hard to imagine not using our eyes to work. In a recent email exchange with Fast Company (lightly condensed and edited for clarity), Forzano shared how he’s handled the traditional whiteboard coding challenge during his job interview and many of the other obstacles he’s confronted since as an engineer at a highly competitive tech company.

LANDING THE JOB

At the time [I applied to work there], Amazon recruited directly from Binghamton. They posted the position on our school job-board and a friend encouraged me to apply. I thought, “Why not?” Being a shopper at Amazon, I thought it was really awesome that I could be a part of the technology that creates the experience for so many customers.

[Even so,] I thought I had no chance to work at one of the big companies like Amazon. Being blind, people may be focused on how you’re going to do the job–without even seeing the results you produce. I view blindness as just another characteristic, it’s not something that defines me. My process may be different, but I deliver results.

I walked into the room [on campus where Amazon recruiters were meeting students], and they saw that I was blind. I asked them if I could use my computer (instead of a whiteboard). They said sure and I did my interview [on a standard laptop with screen-reader software, which translates every aspect of using a computer into audio cues.] In software engineering you can see someone doing their job; there was no doubt I was writing the code. I just answered their coding questions in two 45-minute interviews. Ultimately, they must have been impressed because I got the job and have been here ever since. I’m pretty glad I took the chance now!

“DIFFICULT BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE”

When I first started my internship [in summer 2012], I was assigned to a project I wasn’t super interested in, and there was a lot of UI development involved. It would be difficult but not impossible for a blind person to do front-end development. You’re dealing with the visual layout of the web page–colors, styles, how the elements are positioned on the page. So my manager switched me to a back-end project for the summer that didn’t require me asking my coworkers about what the user experience looked like. I didn’t even have to ask; he wanted me to be successful and enjoy my project. So instead I helped develop a service that would send out email reminders for the people who rented out textbooks. It was really exciting working on a launch for something that hadn’t been provided to customers before.

When I came back as a full-time employee, I came to work on the trade-in team. That’s a team that works on when you have an old product, you trade it in and Amazon gives you a gift card. In July 2016, I came to my current team where we build tools that enable other teams to ensure that the retail site features are accessible.

I faced a lot of the same challenges as any new hire out of college: new technology at work, transitioning to a working schedule, moving across the country, living on my own, making new friends. Any time you have a 22-year-old straight out of college, people probably have doubts [about how that new hire will perform]. As for my blindness, I can’t read their minds. It seems like people are pretty open-minded here. When I interact with people over email, they have no idea I’m blind. Let’s say I’m at a meeting with someone I’ve never met in person, my blindness has yet to come up in conversation.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Tommy Hilfiger’s Spring 2018 Adaptive Collection Is Here

LinkedIn

For individuals with disabilities, getting dressed in the morning can pose a significant challenge. Fastening buttons, pulling a shirt over one’s head, and shimmying into tight-fitting garments can be next to impossible—and for the most part, no mainstream clothing retailers do anything to help.

In the spring of 2016, Tommy Hilfiger launched a collection of clothes for kids specifically designed for those with disabilities. Instead of buttons, there were clever hidden magnet closures. Necklines expanded with touch fastener closures along the seams. And then in fall of last year, the collection expanded to include pieces for adults.

The spring 2018 Adaptive Collection launches today, with a campaign that features notable figures from the disabled community. There’s Paralympian gold medal track star Jeremy Campbell, motivational speaker Mama Caxx, paraplegic dancer Chelsie Hill and 18-year-old autistic chef Jeremiah Josey.

With learnings from the first collection, this season’s Adaptive Collection has made improvements: Double plackets at the waistline make it easier for those in wheelchairs, bungee cord closure systems replace unwieldy zippers and the Velcro closures got a little better.

Continue onto Elle to read the complete article.

Six Simple Tips for Smooth Travel With a Disability

LinkedIn

Times have changed for travelers who use wheelchairs, are visually or hearing-impaired or have another disability, says Jayne Bliss, a travel adviser with Tzell, who has more than 30 years of experience in planning trips for those with special needs.

“No place is off limits, and hotels, museums and cultural institutions offer more accessibility than ever before,” Ms. Bliss said. Here are some of her tips to travel smoothly with a disability:

Ask Your Airline for Help

Asking your airline for assistance, either at the time of booking or a few days before your trip, will make your time at the airport much easier. Many airlines will designate an employee to meet you curbside when you arrive or at check-in with a wheelchair (if you need one) and guide you through security. You can also request assistance when you land at your destination.

There is usually no charge for this service, but policies vary by airline and may depend on available staff and your disability, so be sure to clarify with your carrier before you fly. Also, many carriers allow guide dogs on board free of charge for passengers who are visually-impaired (as long as you make a reservation for your guide dog at least 48 hours in advance of your flight).

Plan With Your Hotel in Advance

Most hotels in all price ranges welcome travelers with disabilities, according to Ms. Bliss. However, it’s key to give them a heads up about what your needs are if there’s anything specific. If you’re in a wheelchair, for example, get measurements for the front, guest and bathroom doors in advance of your stay. Most hotel concierges will be happy to provide you this information, any many list it online. Ms. Bliss said that some her clients’ wheelchairs are too large for many properties, even if they claim to have accessible rooms and facilities. Also, if you’re visually impaired and find buffet breakfasts or continental breakfast bars challenging, ask your hotel’s concierge to fill your in-room fridge with breakfast items, or deliver them to your room instead.

Work With a Travel Agent

An agent who specializes in working with disabled travelers can arrange every aspect of your trip including booking your airline tickets, tours and restaurants. They can make sure to get the measurements you need, verify the hotels, resorts, or restaurants you’re interested in are accessible, and provide other services to make sure you have a smooth trip and a comfortable stay.

Some of these agents, including Ms. Bliss, don’t charge trip planning fees, and instead make money by booking you with hotels and resorts that are hungry for your business (and ideally, accessible). To find other specialists, consider agencies that have experts on-staff that specialize in accessible travel, like the ones at Travel LeadersNew Directions Travelor Disabled Travelers, among others.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

8 Best Work-from-Home Jobs

LinkedIn
Work-From-Home Jobs

If you’re on disability and in need of some supplementary income, you should feel at ease knowing that they are plenty of work-from-home jobs available, perfect for people with disabilities. Each of the jobs listed in this article can supply you with the side income you’re looking for.

1. Freelance Writer

Upwork.com/Freelancer.com

If you enjoy writing, you might try your hand at freelancing with companies like Upwork and Freelancer.

Most likely, it’ll take a while to get the ball rolling on these sites, but once you get a few gigs under your belt and start to build a reputation, you’ll have an easier time landing gigs and charging higher rates. Here are a few pointers to get started.

First, you’ll need a portfolio to catch the eye of prospective clients. If you don’t have one already, offer to write a few articles for free until you do. Your portfolio should also cover a variety of subjects to show you’re versatile.

Second, make sure to personalize each application letter just like you would with a resume. Cookie-cutter, cut/paste applications won’t get noticed.

Third, request that the client leave you a good review when completing a gig (super important!)

Fourth, apply to recently posted jobs before others do!

Hubpages.com/eHow.com

Hubpages and eHow are websites made up of user-generated content wherein you get paid by the number of views your article gets. As you might suspect, you need a LOT of traffic to get a nice payout!

Textbroker.com/iWriter.com

You can also write for content writing services like Textbroker, iWriter, and HireWriters. While pay rates aren’t great, you’ll probably have an easier time making consistent money than freelancing on Upwork (at least initially).

2. Customer Service Representative

Are you outgoing and energetic? Are you a good listener and problem-solver? Can you multi-task and think on your feet? If you exhibit these qualities, customer service may be right for you. As a customer service representative, you’ll help answer customers’ products and billing-related questions, take reservations, supply technical support and other services over the phone or via internet chat. And if you’re bilingual, even more opportunities will be available to you.

They are several companies that offer customer service jobs for people with disabilities including Convergys, Arise Virtual Solutions, LiveOps, and government-sponsored My Employment Options, and NTI (National Telecommuting Institute).

3. Medical Transcriber

Medical transcription is a popular home-based job that involves converting a doctor’s voice recordings into text format. But unlike other jobs mentioned in this article, medical transcription requires extensive training, sometimes up to two years depending on the country. But at this point, it’s debatable whether it’s worth your time and money as the profession is slowly being phased out as more doctors now use voice-recognition software instead.

Still, there are plenty of non-medical transcription jobs available which you could pursue (without needing much training), such as becoming a law transcriber for an online service like SpeakWrite.

4. Translator

Can you speak AND write fluently in at least one other language besides English? If so, you might try your hand at translation. And if you have expertise in a field like law, you’ll likely find even more jobs. The more specialized the subject matter, the more work opportunities. Check out Proz and Translators Cafe to get started.

5. Online Tutor

If you have at least a bachelor’s degree and good communication skills, online tutoring may be a good fit for you. Depending on the company, you’ll probably be asked to take a screening exam to test your writing ability and knowledge of the subject you’d like to teach. Keep in mind, some subjects are in more demand than others, especially math, finance and science. Here are few companies to look into: Tutor, e-Tutor, and eduboard.

6. Etsy/eBay Seller

Do you like making crafts with your hands? Things like jewelry, pottery, or teddy bears? Why not try selling your work online through platforms like Etsy or eBay? Once you buy supplies and create your products, you can make them available for sale online! But be forewarned—it can take a fair amount of work to build up residual income from your efforts.

Whatever you do, don’t get involved with work-from-home craft “assembly” jobs, where companies require you to buy materials through them to assemble and send back in exchange for payment. Often, these companies reject the work you submit. Why? Because they set unrealistic quotas and deadlines that no one could possibly meet, and you’ll likely wait forever for a check that doesn’t arrive. If you still want to make money assembling items, stick with a reputable company like TaskRabbit instead.

7. Survey Taker

Every year, billions of dollars are spent on market research to understand consumers in every area of life, from food and travel to cars and gadgets. One way these companies gather data is by conducting surveys and that’s where you company. You get paid for simply completing surveys online!

But here’s the truth … while it may be fun in the beginning, the monotony of survey-taking may test your patience after a while. And you’ll need to complete a TON to make anything more than pocket change. Still, it’s a viable option; just make sure not to fall for the dozens of survey scams out there. A few trustworthy ones worth checking out include Cash Crate, Global Test Market, Panda Research, and Toluna.

8. Affiliate Marketer

As an affiliate marketer, you get paid commission for selling a company’s product through a website. In time and with enough effort, you can build a business that even pays you while you’re sleeping!

You won’t have the stress of dealing with unfriendly customers like you might in a customer service job.

You won’t have to look for the next gig as soon as one has ended like you would as a freelance writer, transcriber or translator.

You won’t have to contend with inventory, packaging, and customer returns like you would as an Etsy/eBay seller.

You won’t have to suffer from boredom after completing the umpteenth survey as a professional survey taker.

Instead, you can build a side business around something you actually enjoy.

Of course, they’re other work-from-home jobs for the disabled but the ones listed in this article provide more opportunities than most for homebound individuals. So why not give one or more of these jobs a try!

Source: confinedtosuccess.com

About the Author
Stephan Zev
Stephan Zev is the owner of ConfinedToSuccess.com. He created confinedtosuccess.com to help people with disabilities and chronically ill individuals take better control of their lives physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even financially.