Creating a Culture of Inclusion and Collaboration

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As Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Advanced Security Research & Government group, Greg Akers is focused on building technology relationships with academia and other organizations to develop technical approaches to cybersecurity problems. But as a 24-year veteran with the company, Akers is uniquely positioned to bring the right Cisco talent together to create unique solutions for business and technical challenges.

Can you tell us a bit about Cisco’s Connected Disability Awareness Network (CDAN)?
CDAN is one of our employee resource organizations (EROs) at Cisco. It provides support for employees who may have a family member with a disability, or who are differently abled themselves. My interest in the group stemmed from the fact that my daughter, who is developmentally delayed, was graduating from college and I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t think there were many career paths that were obvious for her. Out of curiosity, I reached out to the People with Disabilities group at Cisco, which is what it was called back then. Well, my curiosity turned into a 10-year stint as CDAN’s executive co-sponsor.

Over the years, I’ve become very passionate about this group, and we’ve been successful in growing the organization. We have actively expanded into APJC and EMEAR, and some years back we merged with the Cisco Parents of Children with Disabilities group. They are still a very active sub-group of CDAN, and recently sponsored a “bring your special needs child to work” day in the UK and on our Raleigh campus. In addition to their outreach and fundraising efforts, they offer parents support and provide a perspective on what they can expect in their children’s lives.

How can companies help to accommodate differently abled employees?
There are two important principles that are applied in special education these days – create the least restrictive environment possible and be as inclusive as possible. I think companies should adopt these principles as well, and these are two areas where Cisco has brought a lot of focus. To foster innovation, you must integrate people with different perspectives and life experiences – and that pertains to employees with different abilities as well. Get familiar with people who are different than you are. Don’t isolate people based on their differences, but rather look for ways to integrate them. Start a dialog, and create broad inclusion in all aspects of the business.

How is Cisco using technology solutions to accommodate disabled workers?
Cisco has a lot of collaborative technology that provides accessibility for the disabled. One innovative solution, that our CDAN ERO actually helped bring to market, is Project LifeChanger. This program makes use of retired Cisco video collaboration technology to enable people to work remotely. This is a huge benefit for people who are dealing with mobility challenges or perhaps are not comfortable working in a traditional office setting. Project LifeChanger has enabled us to bring on disabled support engineers to work in our Technical Assistance Centers for example. They can connect with customers remotely while still being able to access audio and video enhancing tools, or other assistive technologies, from their desktops. We’re currently expanding Project LifeChanger, and other companies are starting to take notice. Several are now patterning their own programs after Project LifeChanger and using Cisco technology to do it.

What advice do you have for job seekers with different abilities who want to work in the tech industry?
Get comfortable and familiar with the assistive technologies you need to be productive. Don’t wait for someone from the company to come to you – do your research and be prepared to use the solutions that enable you and to demonstrate that it’s a normal part of your work environment. This is something I’ve had to do myself as I’m considered legally blind without my glasses. I use magnification on the computer all the time. In fact, the motions I use on my Mac for magnification have almost become rote for me. This is a very big part of my daily work experience. But I also do a lot of work in government spaces where that technology is not available, and that can be very difficult for me. So I have to get creative with technology. At times, I’ll use audio replay instead of visual files. Or I might use my camera to take a picture of something and enlarge it. My advice is to experiment with technology – even if you can’t even imagine how you would use it today, because you never know when that assistive technology might benefit you. Speech-to-text solutions are also a good example of an assistive technology that, while not 100-percent reliable, can definitely benefit many disabled workers. Explore different solutions, and proactively acquire skills with those assistive technologies that can help you.

Should You Mention Your Disability in a Cover Letter or Resume?

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Always keep in mind that you are never required to disclose your disability as an applicant or employee. The general rule of thumb is that it is rarely a good idea to disclose your disability in a cover letter or resume. The exception would be if the employer is specifically hiring under a program to recruit people with disabilities.

Reasons not to discuss your disability at this stage of the application process include:

Fewer interviews. You may find you get fewer interview offers if you disclose your disability, no matter how artfully you do this.

Reason to eliminate you. While your disability should not eliminate you from consideration, the reality is that employers use job applications to weed out applicants. Show your strengths in your resume and cover letter and avoid giving the employer the reason to put your application in the rejection pile.

The law protects you. Another important reason not to disclose your disability at the application stage is that you are not required to provide this information. Even if you know you will need an accommodation, it is best to wait until your interview to discuss this—ideally, after you have talked about why you are right for the job.

Source: chwilliamslaw.com

 

Resources for Women with Disabilities Who Own Businesses

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By Michelle Herrera Mulligan

For women with disabilities, entrepreneurship offers a dynamic opportunity to break through barriers. In the corporate world, women with disabilities face a high unemployment rate and other challenges with employers who can be less than accommodating. But, as the Disability Network reports, the good news is that for the 27 million women with disabilities in the United States, being SELF MADE helps create a promising future.

For SELF MADE women, flexible schedules and custom careers are par for the course. And in the past few years, more programs have launched that offer loans, mentorship, and support. Check out our list of business resources for women with disabilities below.

Resources for Funding
What’s a great business idea without funding? Just another great idea! Don’t let your business dreams fall by the wayside for lack of funding. Below you’ll find information on funding specifically for disabled entrepreneurs. For more funding leads, please visit our “ALL WOMEN” section.

Accion
Provides small business loans to businesses that have a hard time gaining capital, such as small businesses owned by disabled persons. bit.ly/1Qx9k50

Abilities Fund
Offers business development training, referrals to funding and other financial assistance options, and more support designed to help people with disabilities succeed. abilitiesfund.org

Kaleidoscope Investments
This financial institution pledges a commitment to helping entrepreneurs with disabilities gain capital for their businesses. kaleidoscopeinvestments.com

American Association of People with Disabilities
The largest nonprofit for all people with disabilities, this organization fights for economic and political empowerment for people with disabilities. aapd.com

State Assistive Technology Loan Programs
Services vary state by state, but this organization offers a range of financial assistance including low-interest loans to buy assistive technology that helps provide access to educational, employment and independent-living opportunities. bit.ly/1Suwc7m

CouponChief.com
While this isn’t a fund-raising resource per se, it is a great way for women with disabilities to save funds. couponchief.com/guides/savings_guide_for_those_with_disability

Resources For Training
Women with disabilities face unique challenges in entrepreneurship but these challenges do not have to keep you from your startup dream. Below are more business resources for women with disabilities that specialize in training and development to help entrepreneurs with disabilities achieve their dreams of owning a business.

Community Options
Operating in 10 states, this organization helps people with disabilities find housing, employment opportunities, and other support services. comop.org

Disabled Businesspersons Associations
These groups offer entrepreneur education courses specifically for people with disabilities. disabledbusiness.org

Disability.Gov
An online database of resources and links to assistance for entrepreneurs-in-training with disabilities. disability.gov

Job Accommodation Network (Jan Network)
This network connects entrepreneurs with disabilities to other people in their field and provides technical assistance and mentoring programs for entrepreneurs with disabilities. careersbeyonddisability.com

Hadley Forsythe Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Offers free online training courses that prepare its blind and visually impaired students to become entrepreneurs.hadley.edu

Disability.biz
This group offers business plan consulting and coaching for disabled entrepreneurs. disabilitybiz.org

Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities (CREED)
Chicago-based training and development center for entrepreneurs with disabilities.ceedproject.org

WSU Online MBA
This online resource is loaded with all varieties of tools and tips for entrepreneurs with disabilities, from writing a business plan to marketing and pretty much everything in between. onlinemba.wsu.edu

Resources For Networking

When it comes to business resources for women with disabilities, finding like-minded business owners and a close network of friends is a great way to get jump-started on your journey to success. Here are business resources for women with disabilities that focus on networking.

American Association for People With Disabilities
The largest nonprofit cross-disability member organization in the United States, this organization helps people with disabilities find independence and political power in the United States. aapd.com

Global Network for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities
A networking and public advocacy group offering real life stories, resources and networking opportunities for people with disabilities. entrepreneurswithdisabilities.org

International Network of Women With Disabilities
A blog that catalogs women’s groups around the world and offers links to different organizations. inwwd.wordpress.com/network

The Mighty
A moving blog that shares inspirational stories of people with disabilities overcoming obstacles and creating new opportunities for their lives. themighty.com

National Organization on Disability
An organization that raises awareness and creates employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the community. nod.org

Source: becomingselfmade.com

For online: Becomingselfmade.com

 

What is the Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) Certification

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DOBE-Certification

The DOBE certification is granted to businesses that are at least 51% owned, operated, controlled, and managed by a person with a disability. With this certification, disability-owned businesses have increased access to contracts offered by large corporations and market advantages over competitors. As a group that is considered to be ‘disadvantaged’ in the U.S., disability-owned businesses are often more attractive to large businesses involved in national, state, and local supply chains.

Benefits of Diversity & Inclusion

Disabilities come in a variety of shapes and sizes, just like business owners. Though many people tend to view disabilities as an obstacle, these traits are unique and special, setting a disabled individual above others. For business owners with disabilities, this distinction is an asset within the corporate world. A ‘disadvantage’ can become a positive advantage, letting business owners join a diverse global supply chain where every voice can be heard and possibilities are endless.

Why Get Certified

The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) created the Disability Supplier Diversity Program to help disability-owned businesses expand through a diverse supply chain. By certifying your business, you have access to increased resources and a more level playing field than non-certified disadvantaged business owners. The USBLN offers supplier events, webinars, monthly teleconferences, better business opportunities, a scholarship program, and a Mentoring & Business Development Program to help you better your business opportunities and operations.

Large companies and corporations are becoming increasingly interested in creating diverse supply chains, which opens several opportunities for diverse businesses. Adding a certification to your business can also improve your reputation within your industry, community, and network, making your company more attractive to individuals and businesses alike. The DOBE certification opens the door to networking and matchmaking events throughout the country, allowing you to make connections and relationships with important corporate contacts.

Once your business is certified, you can join ConnXus’ database of diverse suppliers. This searchable platform makes it easy for large companies to find and select your business for their product and service needs. The next time a Fortune 2000 company is looking for a certified-diverse business, you’ll be in the best position to meet their needs.

How to Get Certified

To certify your company through the USBLN, you must meet specific requirements. Read through the questions below to see if you qualify for a DOBE certification:

  • Do you have a physical and/or mental disability that substantially impairs one or more major life activities?
  • Do you own a majority (at least 51%) of your business? Can you verify this through supporting financial and business documents?
  • Is your business independent and not significantly reliant on another business for day-to-day operations?
  • Are you involved in the day-to-day operations and management of your company, including decision making?
  • Are you able and willing to submit the business and financial information required by the USBLN? This information will be used to evaluate your eligibility for this certification and will be confidentially reviewed in a secure, permanent environment.
  • Are you interested in increasing your access to business dealings with private sector corporations who want to do business with DOBE-certified businesses?

If you are ready and interested in pursuing this certification, start the process by completing the application offered by the USBLN.

Read the complete article and more from ConnXus here.

Getty is trying to bring disability inclusion to stock photos

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man in wheelchair working on computer

Nearly one in five people have a disability, but just 2% of publicly available imagery depicts their lives. The photo company, alongside Oath and the National Disability Leadership Alliance, is working to change that.

In the stock photo world, images of people with disabilities tend to cluster at two poles. “They’re either depicted as superhuman or super pathetic,” says Rebecca Swift, Getty Images’ director of visual insights. “There doesn’t seem to be that broad range that you get with able-bodied people.”

Getty has seen searched for disability-related images spike in the past year–“wheelchair access” searches were up 371% from 2016 to 2017, and autism-related searches climbed 434%–and the issue of representation became impossible to ignore.

That also became clear to Oath, the parent company of Yahoo and Tumblr, as they were working to set up a website highlighting their work around accessibility in tech and having difficulty finding representative images. So the company, with consult from the National Disability Leadership Alliance, tapped Getty to help change the current representation paradigm from the inside out. Launched May 17, The Disability Collection, a new subcategory of Getty images, will feature people with disabilities in everyday settings.

What you notice first are people’s faces. In contrast to those common images that focus on a person’s hands gripping a wheelchair, or frame a blind person before a window to show what they can’t see–or depict the blur of a prosthetic leg as it strikes a track–the images in the new Getty collection focus on human interaction and people’s facial expressions.

Of course, there are challenges to capturing a range of disabilities. Visual media gravitates toward visual cues, but not all disabilities are necessarily visible. “That’s why the wheelchair tends to be the icon of disability,” Swift says. “This project for us as a business is about getting it all down and saying: Don’t just focus on wheelchairs. Think about the entire range, and think about how people with disabilities want to be depicted.”

For Getty, that meant building out a set of guidelines for photographers in their network to follow. They emphasize focusing on mundane moments from everyday–texting, taking selfies, grocery shopping. A lot of the guidelines come from focus groups with disability organizations that Oath hosted and shared with Getty. “We’ve taken input from a host of advocacy groups about how people in their communities want to be depicted,” Swift says.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How to build a bike-share system for people of all abilities

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group of people with all abilities riding bikes

Just ask Detroit, whose Adaptive MoGo program, featuring 13 cycles designed to work for people with disabilities, launched this month.

MoGo, Detroit’s bike-share system, launched in 2017. But a couple years before, when it was still in the planning phases, Lisa Nuszkowsi, MoGo’s founder and executive director, got a call from John Waterman, who heads up a Ypsilanti-based nonprofit initiative called Programs to Educate All Cyclists. PEAC helps people with disabilities learn to ride bikes and use cycling as a means of empowerment and self-transportation, and Waterman wanted to know how Nuszkowski planned to make bike sharing accessible to people of all abilities.

“I said: ‘That’s a great question–what are we going to do?’” Nuszkowski tells Fast Company. She proposed working with Waterman to find a solution, and the result of that collaboration–a fleet of adaptive bicycles–launched as a pilot program May 15.

The adaptive MoGo program comprises 13 specially designed bikes. There’s a tricycle that users can pedal with their hands; this option is particularly beneficial to people with limited mobility below the waist. The cargo bike contains enough space in the front attachment for a passenger with mobility impairments to sit comfortably while someone pedals behind them; it’s also workable for parents of small children or service-dog owners who want to bring them along for a ride. And there are several tandem bike options that allow riders who may have issues with vision or balance to experience the benefits of cycling while having someone help steer in the front.

For the duration of the pilot program, which runs through October, people can rent out the bikes at a local shop, Wheelhouse Detroit, which sits right along the city’s popular Riverwalk greenway path. A single day pass on one of the bikes is $12, or users can buy a season pass for $30 and get unlimited use (based on availability) during that time. Either way, users have to first reserve a bike online. “It functions more like a bike rental,” Nuszkowski says. It’s very different from the standard MoGo model, where users check out bikes independently at one of the city’s 43 docks for $8 a day. But after hosting numerous focus groups with members of the disability community, “the feedback that we heard was that many people have mobility devices that they use, whether it be a wheelchair or a cane, and having a place to store that is really useful,” she adds.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

Bosma Enterprises Launches Program To Prepare People Who Are Blind For Careers As Salesforce Administrators

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Bosma Enterprises

INDIANAPOLIS—Bosma Enterprises, an Indianapolis nonprofit dedicated to helping people with vision loss regain independence, has launched an innovative training program to prepare people who are blind or visually impaired for high-demand careers as Salesforce administrators. Called BosmaForce, the 18-week course is offered entirely online and available to anyone throughout the country.

“When faced with losing sight, one of the biggest concerns our clients have is how they will support themselves or their families financially,” said Lou Moneymaker, CEO, Bosma Enterprises. “Nationally, people who are blind or visually impaired face a 70 percent unemployment rate, so it is a real concern to ensure there are options for these people to remain independent. Through the BosmaForce program, we are helping to create pathways to high-paying, in-demand careers in which people with vision loss can be very successful.”

According to career website Indeed.com, there are more than 2,700 listings for Salesforce administrator positions throughout the U.S., with an average salary of more than $88,000. It is estimated that more than 150,000 companies utilize the popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

The BosmaForce program is being taught by veterans TJ McElroy and Richard Holleman, both of whom are among the first blind U.S. veterans to become Salesforce Certified. Having previously led a similar training program for disabled veterans, McElroy and Holleman have extensive experience using assistive technologies like Job Access With Speech (JAWS) screen readers and ZoomText magnifiers to navigate the Salesforce CRM platform.

McElroy and Holleman developed the curriculum in close partnership with Salesforce accessibility specialist Adam Rodenbeck, who is also a former Bosma Enterprises employee. The pilot class includes seven students from Indiana and Illinois, all of whom are blind or visually impaired.

The group will utilize Trailhead, Salesforce’s interactive, guided and gamified learning platform to gain knowledge on the adaptive technologies and workarounds within the Salesforce architecture. This will enable them to be successful in these careers without the use of sight. After completing the Salesforce certification exam at the end of the course, Bosma Enterprises will work to place the graduates into two-month internships with local businesses.

“It’s not about whether someone who is blind can do the job, it’s about how they do it,” said McElroy. “With such high demand for these careers, there’s absolutely no reason our students won’t be able to excel once they are given the right tools.”

About Bosma Enterprises

Bosma Enterprises is a nonprofit organization, with a history of more than 100 years, that provides training and employment for people who are blind or visually impaired. Our experienced staff (more than half of whom are blind) offers personalized programs ranging from counseling, to job placement, to training for daily living skills—helping adults gain the life skills they need to remain independent, and the job skills they need to stay self-sufficient. To learn more about how you can help our mission, or how our mission can help you, visit bosma.org.

How Xbox Adaptive Controller Will Make Gaming More Accessible

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xbox adaptive controller

On Wednesday night, Microsoft unveiled its new Xbox Adaptive Controller for the Xbox One console, aimed at making gaming more accessible for those with disabilities and mobility limitations as part of their Gaming for Everyone initiative.

The device allows for individual customization through a series of peripheral attachments that allow gamers to cater the controls to their own specific comfort.

For many, the current Xbox controller design (and those of other consoles’ controllers like Nintendo’s Switch and Sony’s Playstation 4) presents a challenge to use as it was not designed for individuals with mobility impairments. The Adaptive Controller is a foot-long rectangular unit with a d-pad, menu and home buttons, the Xbox home icon button and two additional large black buttons that can be mapped to any function.

On its back are a series of jacks for input devices and various peripheral accessories, each of which can be mapped to a specific button, trigger or function on the Xbox controller.

“Everyone knew this was a product that Microsoft should make,” Bryce Johnson, inclusive lead for product research and accessibility for Xbox, told Heat Vision.

The original inspiration for the Adaptive Controller came during 2015’s Microsoft One-Week Hackathon, an event where employees develop new ideas and tackle issues with their products. Through a partnership with Warfighter Engaged, an all‐volunteer non-profit that modifies gaming controllers for severely wounded veterans through personally adapted devices, a prototype was put together that would eventually become the Adaptive Controller.

“We had been doing our own stuff for a couple of years before that, making custom adaptive items for combat veterans, and it was kind of a challenge for even the most basic changes, requiring basically taking a controller apart,” Warfighter Engaged founder Ken Jones said. “Microsoft was thinking along the same lines. It was really just perfect timing.”

As development on the project went on, Microsoft began working with other foundations aimed at making gaming more accessible such as AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Craig Hospital, a Denver-area rehabilitation center for spinal cord and brain injuries.

While third-party manufacturers have created more accessible peripheral controllers in the past, Microsoft is the first of the major gaming publishers to make a first-party offering.

“I think we’re always open to exploring new things,” Johnson said of Microsoft developing their own peripherals for the Adaptive Controller. “Right now, I think the challenge is that there is a super large ecosystem of devices that we intentionally supported as part of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and we want people to go out and find that vast array of toggles, buttons, etc. and have those work with that device.”

Continue onto The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

Assessing and Treating Adult ADHD

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ADHD

Adults diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) say that having ADHD significantly impacts their ability to focus at work, as well as their responsibilities at home and their relationships. These findings were according to a national survey including more than 1,000 adults across the United States diagnosed with the condition.

ADHD is thought to affect about nine million adults in the United States, and research on the life span of the condition notes the disorder can impair academic, social and occupational functioning, and is often associated with academic underachievement, conduct problems, underemployment, motor vehicle safety and difficulties with personal relationships.

It is a universal condition with a strong biological and hereditary predisposition that presents itself similarly across the world. Research confirms that Latino/Hispanic children with the disorder present a neurocognitive, educational, social and clinical impairment profile similar to that reported among Anglo American children with the disorder. However, in spite of this similarity, the cultural background of a child has been shown to significantly influence the expression of ADHD, the meaning given to these behaviors, the level of tolerance toward them and the disposition to seek treatment.

Understanding the influence of culture is especially relevant for Latino/Hispanic individuals with ADHD, since there is evidence that they are not properly identified and treated.

Language

Latinos differ considerably in their proficiency of the English language. Understanding language barriers is essential to avoiding serious diagnostic and assessment errors in using ADHD rating scales, questionnaires and other tests in English.

Parents of Latino/Hispanic children with ADHD that lack English proficiency and literacy can have difficulty participating in activities such as attending parent-teacher conferences, helping with homework, seeking services for their child and participating in other orientation and educational activities.

Adult ADHD Survey Findings

In a study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of McNeil Pediatrics™, some of the key survey findings included a variety of participant perspectives, including:

  • Most adults with ADHD agree that having the condition strongly affects their performance in multiple areas of their lives, including:

—Their responsibilities at home (65 percent)

—Their relationships with family and friends (57 percent)

—Their ability to succeed at work (56 percent of those employed)

—Up to half (50 percent) of those employed worry ADHD symptoms affect opportunities for promotion, and the majority feel they have to work harder (65 percent) and/or longer (47 percent) than their co-workers to accomplish similar work.

  • Three-quarters of respondents said their ADHD symptoms strongly affect their ability to stay on task at work (75 percent), while others listed challenges such as:

—Concentrating on what others were saying (70 percent)

—Wrapping up projects (61 percent)

—Following through on tasks (61 percent)

—Sitting still in meetings (60 percent)

—Organizing projects (59 percent)

Just as their needs differ, adults with ADHD report divergent goals in managing ADHD symptoms. In selecting their top three goals for managing the condition, half cited being able to finish projects and tasks (51 percent), and getting their household more organized (51 percent). Other goals included:

  • Feeling less irritable and upset (38 percent)
  • Getting personal finances more organized (28 percent)
  • Improving personal relationships (26 percent)
  • Feeling calmer and to feel less need to always be moving (22 percent)
  • Getting along better with others in social situations (20 percent)
  • Gaining control of their ADHD symptoms (36 percent) and feeling satisfied with their ability to handle stress (58 percent)
  • Not feeling like a failure because their symptoms are not under control (54 percent)
  • Not getting depressed thinking about how hard ADHD is to deal with (37 percent)

Adults with ADHD who participated in the survey also reported utilizing a variety of techniques to help manage their symptoms. Four out of five have used visual reminders, such as post-it notes, to help manage their ADHD symptoms. Those in the survey also reported:

  • Taking prescription medication (82 percent)
  • Listening to music (75 percent)
  • Using a planner or organizer (71 percent)
  • Exercising (69 percent)

Sources: add.org; adapted and reprinted from Attention Magazine, published by CHADD, the National Resource on ADHD, help4adhd.org

This Latina Is Using Her Own Experience With Blindness To Bring About Change In The Workforce

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minorities in business

Over the course of her career, Kathy Martinez has worked with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, served under two administrations, and led Wells Fargo’s Disability and Accessibility strategy — when she was just starting her career, her counselor at the California Department of Rehabilitation believed that her career aspirations would not extend past working at a lock factory, all because she was blind.

“My counselor at the California Department of Rehabilitation had minimal expectations for people with disabilities and tended to offer low-levels jobs with no hope for growth,” explains Martinez. “Although his expectations for me were low, I had people in my life who knew I could do more, and were behind me every step of the way while I pursued my degree.”

While it took Martinez 13 years to graduate from college, the later start in her career has not prevented her from making an impact where it matters most to her — ensuring that those living with disabilities are not discounted.

“My passion is to help create a society and work environment where people with all abilities are able to obtain an education, secure a good job, buy a house, and be successful,” shares Martinez. “This includes building a society that is physically and digitally accessible, and help change attitudes about the capabilities of people with disabilities and our desire to contribute to our communities and corporations.”

Martinez’s own career has helped moved the needle forward in how those with disabilities are both treated and see themselves in the workforce. She has made it a point to both champion inclusivity within companies, while not erasing that humanity and dignity should be prevalent values in a company culture, regardless of the employee.

“My focus is on delivering an experience that recognizes disability as a natural part of the human condition and helping people with disabilities fully engage with the company to succeed financially,” shares Martinez. “With a more accessible workplace, more people with disabilities will be on the payroll rather than rely on benefits and, ultimately, increase their capacity to be productive members of their communities.”

Below Martinez shares further thoughts on how companies should be expanding their cultures to champion those with disabilities, what advice she has for Latinas, and her biggest lesson learned.

Vivian Nunez: What are your goals in changing how those with disabilities are able to access career opportunities?

Kathy Martinez: When I was growing up I never saw people with disabilities who worked at banks unless they were in entry-level jobs. Today financial institutions, like Wells Fargo, are hiring people with disabilities at all levels. I never imagined I would have the job title of senior vice president at Wells Forgo or Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. And now that I have attained those titles, I want other people, such as Latinos and people with disabilities, to know that they can achieve their professional goals, including the position of CEO.

One of my key goals is to ensure that more people with disabilities are at all levels of the career ladder. That is why was passionate in helping develop and roll out Wells Fargo’s Diverse Leaders Program for People with Diverse Abilities. This unique three-day program enables team members, who identify as individuals with a disability, understand, and embrace their strengths, overcome challenges, and learn how their differences help them add value as leaders on the Wells Fargo team.

Another goal is to get more people to serve as a mentor and mentee to others with disabilities. I serve as a mentor for people of all abilities inside and outside of the company, and continue to learn what it means to be a team member of choice so that I can share that information with the Latino and disabilities communities.

Nunez: What role did you play in the Obama administration?

Martinez: I consider disability an issue that is important to both political parties. From 2009 – 2015 I served as the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.

I also worked for President George W. Bush’s administration for seven years,    serving as a member of the National Council on Disability and as a member of the U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on Disability and Foreign Policy.

Nunez: What advice do you have for Latinas who are navigating both a disability and building lasting careers?

Martinez: Find a mentor and set high expectations and goals for yourself. I have had mentors with and without disabilities, men, women, and people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, and have learned something from every one of them.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

The Best Jobs for People in Wheelchairs

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Businessman Working In Office Sitting On Wheelchair

By Stephan Zev

If you’re like most wheelchair users, you’d like nothing more than to have a satisfying career that develops your talents to the fullest extent while making a positive contribution to the world. But as you might have guessed, it’s not always that easy. There are ways to overcome the odds and learn about the best jobs for people in wheelchairs to help steer you in the right direction.

Finding the right job is difficult under the best of circumstances, let alone for people in wheelchairs where the number of available jobs is fewer than for the general public. But with social and technological advances, the tide is starting to change, to the point where 17.4 percent of working-age wheelchair users now have jobs.

Medical Office Assistant/Pharmacy Services
This is one field where being in a wheelchair can work to your advantage. Since you likely deal with physical limitations on a daily basis, you may have more understanding and sympathy toward others undergoing medical treatment.

Moreover, medical offices and hospitals also provide state-of-the-art wheelchair accessible ramps, elevators, and bathrooms, which many other jobs don’t. And if you can’t work on-site, you may be able to telecommute for certain tasks like data entry.

The average salaries for positions in this field are:

Medical office assistant—$34,000 per year
Health information technicians—$40,430 per year
Health services managers—$106,070 per year

Each position offers a lot of opportunity for professional growth. Another option is work with pharmaceutical companies as a sales representative, but this is only viable for people with outgoing personalities and experience with certain medications.

Vocational Counselor
Many successful people in wheelchairs want to be able to share their experiences in a way that can benefit others. Vocational counseling is a great way to do this by helping people achieve their highest career potential.

Vocational counselors work in schools and non-profit organizations as well as private industry. It’s a field expected to grow, especially as more and more jobs get displaced by technology. The average salary for this career is $54,000.

Bookkeeper/Accountant
Virtually every business needs an accounting department to keep track of the bottom line. This is a field where you can either work for an accounting firm or go into business for yourself.

The average salary for bookkeepers and accounting clerks as a company employee is $38,990 per year. Certified accountants and auditors, on the other hand, earn a very comfortable living with an annual average salary of $75,280.

Computer Programming
Not only is computer programming one of the best and most lucrative jobs for people in wheelchairs (average salary: $79,530), it’s also a career expected to expand in coming years. In fact, many well-known companies, such as IBM, Lockheed Martin, and Merck participate in educational job training programs for students with disabilities such as Entry Point.

Work from Home
The number of people who work from home has risen dramatically within the last decade. In 2003, only 19 percent of people earned at least part of their income working from home, which increased to 24 percent in 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And for those who work in finance and management, the percentage is even higher, ranging from 35 percent to 38 percent.

Because the internet has made remote work possible, 68 percent of workers in the U.S. expect to work from home at least part of the time in the future. And based on the large number of reputable companies who’ve already come on board with the idea, it seems the trend is likely to continue. The fields of sales, education, training, and customer service all offer telecommuting positions.

Affiliate Marketing
As my personal favorite, the amount of money you can make in this field is only limited by your ambition. In fact, Disabled-World.com lists affiliate marketing as one of the great online career choices for people with disabilities.

Essentially, an affiliate marketer is someone who partners up with a company to promote their products and services in exchange for a percentage of sales made through a personal “affiliate link.” The way you attract visitors to click on these links and buy products is either through paid advertising or your own website using educational or entertaining content. Best of all, you’re not the one responsible for storing, packaging, shipping, and returns — the company is.

But while affiliate marketing takes very little money to get going (unlike the startup costs of most traditional businesses), it does take a lot of persistence before you start to reap the (many) rewards.

As the online job market continues to grow, more opportunities will open up for people in wheelchairs. Government, technology, and education are just a few sectors where progress is already being made. But even now, there are plenty of jobs available that offer career satisfaction and financial success so long as you take the time to look for them.

Source: confinedtosuccess.com

About Stephan Zev
Stephan Zev is the owner of ConfinedToSuccess.com. He created this website to help disabled and chronically ill individuals take better control of their lives physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even financially.