This Venture Fund Invests In Deaf-Owned And Deaf-Run Companies

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workplace meeting

The Communication Service for the Deaf’s Social Venture Fund wants to support companies that create work opportunities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

Melody Stein and her husband Russ co-own and operate Mozzeria, a wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. Since opening in late 2011, the place has become a critical darling with additional catering, delivery, and food truck services.

Also, the Steins and all of their 15 or so employees are deaf. The sad truth is that makes their operation very unique. More than 70% of deaf Americans have trouble gaining full-time employment. So in December 2017, Mozzeria secured backing from a new kind of investor to start franchising.

The company became the first of what are now three deaf-owned and deaf-run companies to earn investment and business support from the Communication Service for the Deaf’s new social venture fund–it’s called CSD SVF, for short. The CSD Social Venture Fund is a multi-million-dollar reserve that CSD will use to fund three to four companies a year, part of its effort to create more work opportunities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

CSD and Mozzeria won’t specify the exact terms of the investment because it’s more complex than a standard franchise deal. Part of the challenge is to figure out together what exactly it takes to scale these businesses.

For instance, it took the Steins two years to open their initial restaurant because they had to navigate all of the classic financial, operational, and legal hurdles that entrepreneurs who aren’t deaf face, along with the built-in communication barrier. For example, once a city health inspector showed up during a remodel without a sign-language interpreter and continued to look around for someone who could understand him. “It was a much longer road for us to arrive at opening the business because those resources just were nonexistent,” Melody Stein tells Fast Company in sign language, which is relayed through an interpreter on a video conference call.

CSD has since backed two more companies. One is DeafTax.com, an online tax preparation service that works through videophone-based sign language and email. The owners plan to expand their deaf-owned bookkeeping services and develop a mobile app to more easily reach clients, among other things. The other is reFort, a Washington, D.C.-based startup that reduces waste by reclaiming and refurbishing what college students throw out on moving days. That company then resells the wares to other kids on campus. It’s an early stage company that needs capital and counsel to refine its concept and business model.

For CSD, this is part of an evolving social mission. The nonprofit started in 1975, and may be best known for pioneering and popularizing things like TV closed captioning, as well as numerous telecommunications and video-based remote interpretation services. At the same time, as the group makes clear in a mission statement, it has continued to expand job placement and training classes, as well as adult education services, and crucial safety nets like domestic violence support.

“We recognized that communication access by itself wasn’t going to be the solution to the ultimate goal of creating a world where there are no barriers, where everything is possible for people who are deaf,” says CEO Christopher Soukup while on the same video call as Stein. “I think that the challenge for many in the community is that they don’t know what they don’t know. [That includes] the basic fundamentals of what goes into a business, and for a lot of those fundamentals there really aren’t resources out there that are accessible for the deaf community.”

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Ryan Niemiller From ‘America’s Got Talent’ Is Spreading Disability Awareness With His Comedy

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Ryan Niemiller standing on stage in front of audience at America's Got Talent

Instead of allowing his disability to inhibit him, Ryan Niemiller from America’s Got Talent capitalized on it. The comedian — who, according to his website, was born with a disability in both arms — calls himself the “Cripple Threat of Comedy” and uses his stand-up to share his unique perspective in hilarious ways.

He tours the country year-round “covering topics such as dating, trying to find employment, and attempting to find acceptance in a world not designed for him,” his website reads. He’s spreading crucial awareness for people with disabilities — but he’s also making a lot of people laugh.

Much of Niemiller’s material recounts actual experiences he’s had while navigating life with his disability — and how others tend to react to it. The bits are funny, but they also bring awareness to how people with disabilities should and shouldn’t be treated.

In a comedy world that has long been dominated by non-disabled people, Niemiller is providing much-needed representation and perspective.

His YouTube channel, although thin in inventory, features a few of his acts ranging from 2014 to 2018, and upon clicking play on any of them, his tone and purpose are clear. In his most recent upload, a set from December, he tells the story of the time a new job required him to document his fingerprints as part of a background check.

Due to his disability, Niemiller doesn’t have all five fingers on either hand, which, he said, sent the fingerprint specialist at the police station into a panic. “I should’ve called ahead,” he told the crowd. He went on to explain how he followed a woman to the backroom to take his prints, and upon taking one of his fingers, she asked, “So, which one is that?” Fingerprint cards are usually separated by index, middle, ring, pinky and thumb boxes. “I don’t know,” he told the woman. “I was hoping you could tell me.”

Niemiller said the woman then enlisted a more experienced employee who completed the job, and he left the station with a picture of his print card. “It looks like the saddest bingo card there ever was,” he joked. Everyone laughed.

Continue on to Bustle.com to read the complete article.

Honoring the Dedication of Renae Templeton—This communications specialist is irreplaceable

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Renae Templeton is sitting at work desk talking on the phone and on the computer

By 1st Lt. Tracci Dorgan

Many Soldiers have come back from their deployments and come by the Adjutant General’s headquarters building to meet her, shake her hand and thank her. The South Carolina National Guard has an employee who is the welcoming voice and face of visitors to the Adjutant General’s building in Columbia, South Carolina. Many aren’t even aware as she works behind her large desk answering calls and providing direction to guests, that she arrives to work each morning in her pink wheelchair.

“I was born with spina bifida, but that does not stop me,” said Renae Templeton, a communications specialist employee in the South Carolina Military Department. In addition to working with the security personnel and visitors, she also answers the main line to the headquarters building of the South Carolina National Guard.

“I love helping my Soldiers and Airmen,” said Templeton, who has served in this role since 2009. “I love getting the morale calls from overseas and enjoy helping to connect service members from thousands of miles away to a family member who is awaiting a phone call.”

As she travels around the three-story building, she stops to help whoever she can.

“Renae caters to everyone and never thinks twice about helping,” said Jack Kotchish, an executive assistant in the command group who has known her since she was first hired. “Everybody who comes through the front doors enjoys getting her daily greeting, witty discussions and laughter.”

“On my first day working here, I was introduced to Jack, who told me to never hesitate to call if I needed any help. Here is it eight years later, and I’m still calling for help,” she said jokingly.

Each October, the Department of Defense celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates the public about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of everyone’s skills.

Templeton shared that during her years there, many Soldiers have come back from their deployments and come by the Adjutant General’s headquarters building to meet her, shake her hand and thank her.

“I don’t know what we’d do without Renae,” added Kotchish. “On the occasions when she is out, it takes three or four of us to fill in and handle all the incoming calls. I don’t know how she does it by herself.”

Source: army.mil

National Investors Call for Workplace Disability Inclusion

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Investors representing more than $1 trillion in combined assets, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read, today called on companies they invest in to create inclusive workplaces that can benefit from employing the millions of talented people with disabilities who remain underrepresented in the workforce.

Signatories to the joint statement disability inclusion investor statement. Download PDF File included New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), and Fortune 500 asset manager Voya Financial.

“Disability inclusion provides businesses with a great opportunity to improve their bottom lines, while boosting diversity and innovation,” said Comptroller DiNapoli, Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund. “We want to know that our investment dollars are being used to maximize a company’s potential and its long-term profitability. Disability inclusion expands the pool of talent companies can hire from and creates welcoming workplaces that foster different perspectives, giving an enterprise a competitive edge.”

“Companies that embrace disability inclusion in the workplace benefit from increased innovation as well as profitability,” said Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read. “We are asking the companies we invest in to adopt policies to improve the representation of people with disabilities in their workforce and continue to identify opportunities for improvement.”

“Today’s announcement on disability equality by the nation’s leading institutional investors and pension funds marks a key turning point in the disability rights movement,” said Ted Kennedy, Jr., bone cancer survivor, amputee and Board Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). “This new, concerted focus on corporate and shareholder engagement and accountability catapults the issue of disability inclusion into the forefront of corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and corporate governance — ESG — investing. Citizens, employees and shareholders will now be watching how companies respond to this new challenge and which corporations authentically support our goal of economic independence and workforce participation of millions of Americans with disabilities.”

When companies adopt best practices for hiring people with disabilities, they outperform their peers among numerous financial metrics, according to “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage,” a report published in 2018 by Accenture, Disability:IN, and AAPD.

The report concluded that corporate America has failed to capitalize on the talents of more than 10 million people with disabilities.

In their joint statement, the investors called for companies to adopt policies for:

  • Setting goals for hiring people with disabilities and tracking progress in meeting those goals;
  • Public support from a senior executive for creating a disability-focused employee resource group that fosters a supportive network; and
  • Including people with disabilities in their corporate diversity and inclusion statements.

The investors’ statement also encouraged companies to participate in the Disability Equality Index (DEI). The DEI, an initiative of Disability:IN and AAPD, allows companies to self-report and benchmark their disability policies and practices and identify ways to build reputations as inclusive organizations. In January, Comptroller DiNapoli wrote to 49 corporations in the portfolio of New York state’s pension fund, urging them to register for the DEI. A number of companies participated as a result.

“Companies looking to get started on or advance in their disability inclusion journey should attend the Disability:IN Annual Conference on July 16-18 in Chicago and/or register for the 2020 DEI,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of Disability:IN. “These opportunities will allow companies to benchmark and network with their industry peers to advance their inclusion efforts.”

This multi-state investor group is supported by various disability organizations, including members of the National Disability Leadership Alliance, representing some of the leading disability rights organizations throughout the nation. The full list of disability organizations that support this investor initiative are below.

The full text of the investors’ statement is available here . Download PDF File .

Supporting Disability Organizations:

  • American Council of the Blind
  • ADAPT
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
  • Communication Service for the Deaf
  • Disability:IN
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • Little People of America
  • National Association of the Deaf
  • National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • National Federation of the Blind
  • National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities
  • Not Dead Yet
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Self Advocates Becoming Empowered
  • United Spinal Association

 

Online Recruitment Platform to Connect Workers with Disabilities to Rewarding Careers

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The ISABLED Virtual Career Fair platform makes it easier to connect recruiters from leading companies and high-impact professionals with disabilities. They are are a fun and easy way to connect recruiters and job seekers with disabilities. There are currently more jobs in the U.S than available workers to fill them, and companies are forced to explore more options to find talent to hire to help them grow their business.

Workers with different abilities (often referred to as workers with disabilities) are just one example of highly-skilled, but untapped segments of the population that more and more leading companies are seeking to recruit.

ISABLED, an online recruiting platform connects workers that identify as having a disability, with recruiters from leading companies who value inclusion and diversity in their workforce. The ISABLED platform allows job seekers and recruiters to connect and chat in real-time, from anywhere, and from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

” The ISABLED Virtual Career Fairs are a fun and easy way to connect recruiters and job seekers with disabilities. Instead of asking both sides to attend a job fair at a physical location, we bring the career fair to them. The ISABLED platform allows our employer partners to recruit nationwide in just a few hours, and job seekers have instant access to the very recruiters who are seeking to fill the open positions” Stated Kevin O’Brien, Managing Partner, ISABLED.

The ISABLED website will include content to connect workers with disabilities to job opportunities from a wide range of companies and industries. The website will include a job board and a virtual career fair platform. ISABLED will host 4 virtual career fairs each year, and companies can host standalone virtual career fairs for their company as often as they like.

The first ISABLED virtual career fair is set for July 25, 2019, and open now for registration.

About ISABLED:

ISABLED, a division of Astound Virtual has a laser-focus on connecting industry-leading companies with workers people with disabilities who seek employment. Through the ISABLED Recruitment Center (IRC), job seekers and recruiters meet and interact, in real-time, but from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

Meet the first openly autistic woman elected to political office

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Sarah Hernandez sitting at her desk smiling wearing a flowery green and yellow dress

By Kathleen Wroblewski, Director of Communications, Bay Path University

It’s difficult for many people to approach a stranger’s house and knock on their door. It’s quite another matter if you are knocking on doors and running for public office.

Within minutes, you need to introduce yourself and connect with the person on the other side of the threshold. We call it being face to face—a fundamental form of human communication.

When Assistant Professor Sarah Hernandez, ’14 G’15, of the occupational therapy department decided to run for the school board in her local town, the process of canvassing in the community and meeting strangers was absolutely terrifying. “At first, I had to watch how people did it. And, slowly, I learned to pick up certain cues and how to handle myself in different situations. People were very patient with me. It was a big step when I knocked on that first door.”

Sarah’s success is all the more remarkable because she is neurodiverse: she is on the autism spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a development condition defined by social and communication difficulties and repetitive, inflexible patterns of behavior.

When you first meet Sarah, a mother of three with a friendly and welcoming smile, she appears to be the opposite of society’s profile of being autistic. But appearances can be deceiving. Sarah, along with many other young girls and women, has mastered what is known as “social camouflaging,” or hiding in plain sight. In many ways, this coping technique has led to women of all ages to be misdiagnosed, or in some cases, not diagnosed with autism at all. And that gets to the heart of Sarah’s story:

“I was diagnosed in my thirties, and that is not unusual for women. I knew that I was different somehow, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. There were times that I just had to shut down and not communicate. I was lucky to learn it was a form of autism because most women fly under the radar and never find out. They live in a world of inner turmoil. It’s only recently that researchers are looking at the gender differences in autism. In fact, the criteria for diagnosing ASD are based on data gathered from the studies of boys.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disorder is 4.5 times more common in boys than girls. As awareness of autism grows, new protocols are being developed that indicate the gap may not be as wide as once thought. In the meantime, there are discernable shifts in society’s perceptions of autism.

Expanding the Definition of a Diverse Workplace

Sarah, like many others on the spectrum, has learned to live with her autism. She is a role model for her occupational therapy students, sharing her experiences to make them more sensitive to the differences and contributions of the members of her “tribe.”

“I let my students know right up front that I am autistic. And I share my knowledge of the strengths of autism—our ability to think in patterns, to visualize, and to be problem solvers,” she says.

In fact, this skill set is prompting companies and organizations to expand their definitions of a diverse workplace. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage, by Robert Austin and Gary Pisano, reports that the neurodiverse population remains a largely untapped talent pool. With a vast number of IT and IT-related positions going unfilled, HR departments are re-examining their recruitment practices and working environments to accommodate neurodiverse employees. In companies with active neurodiverse hiring programs, such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Ford, and others, they have already realized productivity gains and a high number of innovations. They have found that diversity does deliver.

Standing Shoulder to Shoulder

“I know I am incredibly lucky to be working at Bay Path,” states Sarah. “I am doing what I love, and I can be honest about who I am.”

Sarah’s generosity of spirit does not stop at Bay Path. She and her husband have one biological child, have adopted two children, and are therapeutic foster parents. When one of Sarah’s children experienced difficulties in school because she is darker in complexion, she knew she had to step forward to give voice to her daughter and others. She decided to run for the school board.

“I can hide my disability, but my daughter can’t turn her skin color off. I decided that I needed to stand shoulder to shoulder with others on the spectrum, as well as represent all those who need a spokesperson.”

So, Sarah left her comfort zone and began knocking on doors, participating in debates, and attending meetings. She never hid her autism. And she won.

But her victory wasn’t just for the schoolchildren in her town. Through social media, her election gained broad attention. NBC Hartford did a profile on her, and at a national conference on autism, she shared the stage with former Senator Tom Harkin, who introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into the Senate.

For Sarah, the attention was sometimes hard to believe: “As a person on the spectrum, I believe we live in a world that wasn’t made for us. But we have to keep participating, and we have to work to represent ourselves. I like to say, ‘We have to put our pants on in the morning.’ We just need to show up.”

Sarah certainly has.

Source: baypath.edu

Pizzability is serving up a slice of community right alongside its hand-tossed pizzas and craft beer

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Tiffany Fixter pictured with employees at the brewery in Pizzability Restaurant

Owner Tiffany Fixter’s mission for the restaurant, which opened in December, is not only to create employment opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD); she also wants to give Denver area families with special needs children or adults an inclusive restaurant option that accepts and supports people of all abilities.

After teaching special education for 11 years, Fixter knew she could do more to help an often-overlooked population gain skills training that can lead to meaningful work.

“I realized there’s an employment crisis for adults with developmental disabilities,” she says. “I wanted to try to solve that, so I started the brewery.”

In 2016, she opened Brewability Lab, Denver’s first and only brewery focused on employing and training adults with IDD for job opportunities in the beer business. Then last spring, she heard a local pizzeria was closing, so she jumped at the opportunity to grow the business.

“I just thought, (pizza) goes with beer really well,” she says. “I just see so many job applications. It can be difficult trying to fit everyone in and make sure they’re getting what they need, but the only way to solve that was to expand.”

Pizzability employees have a wide range of differing abilities. Between the brewery and the pizzeria, Fixter says many of her employees have autism spectrum disorders. She also has one who is deaf, one who is blind, and others with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

Aside from some funding from the Rocky Mountain Human Services’ mill levy program that was put toward the initial renovation of the space, Pizzability is funded entirely by customers. And at such affordable prices (during happy hour, which runs 2-5pm Tuesday through Saturday, pizza is $2 a slice and a glass of Brewability beer or wine is $5), keeping afloat is a challenge, but one Fixter believes is well worth it.

“So many people (with IDD) need jobs,” she says. “I just have to make sure we have the customer base to support it.”

Five days per week, Chef Bryce Love is in the kitchen giving employees hands-on support, making sure everyone understands everything from how to get ready for work to the importance of following processes to ensure food safety.

“It’s important to me that everyone learns the right way the first time,” Fixter explains. “We got very lucky with Chef Love.”

Recently, ESPN featured the pizzeria in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, recognizing Pizzability as one of 50 “game changers” that is changing the way the world views disability.

To continue her mission to change the game, Fixter is working on setting up delivery and catering services within Cherry Creek. She’s also looking forward to summer, as she plans to open up the restaurant’s garage door to allow guests to enjoy the outdoor seating.

“We’ll also be adding gelato and we’ll be creating a sorbet out of our beer.”

When guests step up to Pizzability’s counter, they are greeted with a visual menu, which is also available in braille. The restaurant offers mostly classic toppings like pepperoni, supreme and Hawaiian, which are also available on gluten-sensitive crust.

Fixter says they’re happy to blend the pizzas for anyone who has trouble swallowing or chewing. She also stocks adaptive utensils, cups and plates—there’s a visual menu board that includes all of these items at the counter, and guests can request whatever they need.

A sensory corner with noise-cancelling headphones, board games, and an interactive light up wall was created with help from PIMA Medical Institute students.

“It’s for anybody that needs to move and fidget,” she explains.

There’s also a quiet room in the back that allows employees to take a break away from the noise, which helps reduce any stress and anxiety that can be overwhelming for people with certain disabilities. Even the bathroom is stocked with personal care items to ensure accidents won’t disrupt a pizza party.

Continue on to Cherry Creek North to read the complete article.

7 Tips to Help Mentally Overcome an Employment Gap

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woking working on her resume attached to a clipboard

Here’s advice on overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create before they sabotage your job search, from those who’ve been there.

William Childs loves his new job. He is Marketing Director at Kitchen Magic, a growing national kitchen remodeling and cabinet refacing company. “This job is a creative person’s dream. The product, the people, the collaborative ideas we are generating, it’s totally amazing,” Childs says. “This is what I spent my 14-month employment gap searching for, and I am so glad I didn’t give up on my career goals.”

Employment gaps do not define you

According to a recent Randstad U.S. study, the average job search today takes about five months. When Childs was laid off late in 2017 from an executive-level marketing job, he did not anticipate a longer-than-average employment gap. He explained: “When my old job was eliminated, it was the first time in many years that I had no specific job to go to next. I had always benefited from people just knowing me and my work, so starting from scratch while unemployed felt pretty weird.” When a few leads at the beginning of his job search didn’t materialize, he felt a bit demoralized.

According to a 2019 Monster survey, 59 percent of Americans have had an unexpected gap in their career. For a lot of people looking for jobs with a gap on their resume, there can be internalized feelings of shame, says Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist, CEC-certified executive coach, and author of “The YOU Plan.” “Shame puts on a lot of added pressure to an already stressful time, which can lead to obsession,” Dr. Woody explains. “Don’t victimize yourself over a lost job or a failure in the past. It can be debilitating.” He advises readers to recognize their setback as just that, a setback — then deal with it and move on to better things.

Childs did keep moving forward. He designed an online portfolio and kept adding to it during his hiatus by taking on freelance work. He wrote for an online magazine and volunteered his talents to local non-profit groups. A year into his search, he took an advertising sales job as he continued to apply for positions. “The sales job was what I needed to do financially, and what I needed to do for my own piece of mind,” he reflects. “I was earning income, learning, and connecting with people. It helped me a lot.”

While he did not give up on finding an innovative executive marketing position, Childs needed ways to stay focused and positive on his continued career search. When it comes to overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create, the following advice can help keep you more focused, motivated, and confident.

1. Honesty really is the best policy

Susan is happily employed in Reno, Nevada at The Slumber Yard, a specialty online clearinghouse of reviews, comparisons, and deals for mattresses and bedding products. Prior to taking the job last year, this mattress review specialist (whose name has been changed for this piece) had left the workforce to care for her young son after he was injured in a serious accident. When she was ready to re-enter the workforce, Susan crafted a very targeted resume and cover letter that succinctly addressed her employment gap. Still, the two-year pause in her career had her a little nervous. “I wasn’t exactly sure what the job market would be like for me,” she remembers.

“Her resume had everything we were looking for, and when she told me why she had a gap in her employment history, her honesty really impressed me,” says Matthew Ross, The Slumber Yard’s Co-Founder and COO. Ross immediately called Susan in for an interview. “Her experience and knowledge of our industry are what got her the job. But, the way that she explained her employment gap really showed her character, both as a person and as a professional.”

You can explain your employment gap without oversharing, says Dick Lively, Partner and HR Consulting Director at RAI Resources in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “On a resume or in a cover letter, saying you took time to care for a family member who was ill or that you relocated across the country for your spouse’s job should be enough detail. Keep it professional but not too personal,” he says. It is also OK to exclude a gap explanation from the resume altogether, so long as you are prepared to address it during the interview if you are asked. Just don’t make something up. “At the end of the day, the truth always comes out, explains Lively. “You don’t want to face a potential employer or a new boss and try to explain why you lied.”

2. Don’t stop networking

Your first instinct may be to hide away until you have a new job, but that will not help your efforts. In fact, it might even hurt them. Keeping your name and face out there can help you get an introduction to a hiring manager. Plus, it’s great practice for interviews. “For me, I talked about the creative process and exchanged ideas; it helped me formulate how to best present myself as a job candidate,” says Childs.

Lively suggests that you don’t wait too long after your last job ends to start networking: “It is not only important to get your name out there and to hear about jobs that may be coming up through the grapevine,” he explains. “You also need to talk shop and connect with people. The longer you wait, the less confident you may feel. Interpersonal skills need to be kept sharp, just like any other skill.” That said, it is OK to take a few days or even a couple of weeks after your last job ends to regain your composure before you start networking. The last thing you want to do is get emotional about your job loss in front of your professional connections.

3. Expand your network

As valuable as your tried-and-true network of professional connections is, Dr. Woody cautions that you shouldn’t always drink from the same well when you are trying to find a new job. “Always networking with the same group of people can put blinders on your job search or create an echo chamber where you keep repeating the same steps that aren’t working anymore.”

Expanding his network definitely helped Childs. “Learning about new businesses and how they do things and connecting with new people is very inspiring,” he says. Telling new people a bit about yourself helps remind you about your talents and experience. You don’t know what else is out there if you don’t ever mix things up.

4. Own your truth

“You can, and should, use a positive spin when talking about your experiences,” says Childs. During an interview or a phone screening, don’t try to hide what caused your employment gap. Don’t complain or point fingers either. Tell your story concisely and truthfully, ending with what you learned or what you have gained since. When Childs interviewed with his new employer, he was prepared to lay his cards on the table when the question came up about his resume gap. His honest, three-sentence elevator speech consisted of:

  1. I was laid off when my department was eliminated.
  2. I am now doing advertising sales. It’s not me, but it’s a job, and I am proud of the quality of work I do.
  3. I have learned a lot about customer service through this sales experience, and I can apply that knowledge to my next marketing and creative position.

Dr. Woody believes this kind of planning is invaluable: “Preparation builds confidence. Working on your narrative reminds you that you have talent and have a lot to offer an employer. Taking time to boil it down to a concise summary instills it in your mind. This is who you are.”

5. Keep up a motivating routine

For years, Childs has emailed daily “Thought Bombs” to colleagues and friends. These are quotes he has collected on creativity, inspiration, and business integrity. Throughout his 14-month job search, he committed himself to continuing this morning ritual. “It got me up and thinking, ready for the day,” he says. “On my worst days, I would tell myself, ‘All I gotta do is get out of bed and deliver the Thought Bomb,’ and it really helped me get moving.”

“I really love this,” says Dr. Woody. “He used this routine to get himself into the right mindset each day. He had a purpose that was of value to his mailing list, and the discipline it took to do this daily task set his whole day in positive motion.” For other people, the routine could be mediation, exercise, journaling, or some other daily ritual.

6. Concentrate on the connection

Childs kept himself well-versed in the current ideas and trends in his field. His knowledge and passion for his work inevitably crept into his cover letters and interviews. “People are much more engaged with stories that are filled with excitement, passion, and personality,” says Childs. “Bragging and standard-issue talking points get stale quickly, but if you can connect with someone about what truly motivates and inspires you, they won’t forget you.”

Coming across as arrogant or whiny is a red flag for employers, notes Dr. Woody. But sharing insights and understanding about your field is a way to help them envision working with you. It also helps them put your employment gap into perspective in relation to your qualifications and talent. He explains: “People remember more about how you made them feel than about the specifics of what you said.”

Continue on to Top Resume to read the complete article.

Preparing for the Job Interview

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Woman smiling interviewing disabled candidate in an office

The best way you can prepare for job interviews is to think ahead and decide how you’re going to handle questions related to your disability.

Are there questions an interviewer should not ask?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an interviewer cannot ask about a disability or the nature or severity of a disability. An employer may ask questions about your ability to perform specific job functions and may ask you to describe or demonstrate how you would perform a specific function. They may also ask whether you can meet their attendance requirements.

How do I explain recent gaps in my work history because of my disability?

While there is not a perfect answer, this is an opportunity to talk about what you have been doing and how it may relate to the position. Have you volunteered, overcome a hardship, provided care for children or a parent, gone to school? If you disclose your disability to answer this question, focus on how you have dealt with challenges in a positive manner, are ready to move forward and are able to do the job.

Can an employer require a medical examination?

An employer cannot require you to take a medical examination before you are offered a job. Once an offer is made, they can require that you pass a medical examination, if all entering employees for the job category have to take it.

What if the interviewer asks an illegal question?

You do not have to answer it. However, how you handle it may affect the impression you make. Rather than confronting the interviewer directly, you can explain that you are not comfortable answering the question, or ask for the underlying reason for the question and address that. For example, “I understand you may be concerned about my low vision, but I am able to read screens using a device, and am able to participate fully in all activities of the job.” Recognize that an interviewer may make mistakes, but this does not necessarily have anything to do with your being hired.

Source: careeronestop.org

What It’s Like Living and Working With a Chronic Illness

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woman writing in journal about managing chronic illness and work

By Alex Haagaard

It’s 6 AM and your alarm is going off. You hit the snooze button, hoping for a few more minutes of sleep before you drag yourself out of bed. This is a morning routine most people are familiar with. But for workers with chronic illness, it can look very different.

Five years ago, I was working as a research assistant at a design school. I was also struggling with several undiagnosed illnesses, including narcolepsy, an immune condition, and a painful connective tissue disorder. Every night I’d set twelve alarms, turn the volume up, and plug my phone in on the other side of my bedroom. And every morning I’d sleep through them all. I started every day feeling like I’d already run a marathon and been hit by a truck as I crossed the finish line.

Why It’s So Hard to Work With Chronic Illness

In many cases, chronic illness limits how much you can get done in a day. You start with limited energy levels, and when you add in things like chronic pain and immune problems, everyday tasks can drain your batteries before you even get to work. (Not to mention that doctors’ appointments and endless phone calls chasing after prescriptions and referrals can take hours out of your day.)

Learning to manage your energy levels is essential when living with chronic illness. You get used to checking in with your body, assessing how much any activity will cost you, and creating a kind of energy budget to figure out exactly what you can get done without pushing your body past its breaking point. But what happens when there’s just no way to balance the budget?

This is a huge challenge in workplace cultures that place a premium on constant productivity. Chronically ill employees often end up going into energy debt trying to keep up with what’s expected of them. Pushing your limits is often seen as a way of committing to your own personal development, but it can have a serious negative impact on your personal life and health, especially if you have a chronic illness.

Caitlin has fibromyalgia and currently works from home, but she used to work in retail. “My quality of life at the time was non-existent,” she says. “I couldn’t do anything except lie in bed or on the couch when I wasn’t at work. I couldn’t even job hunt because the pain and fatigue were so severe that I couldn’t think straight. I ended up quitting with nothing lined up.”

Chronic illness is also unpredictable. It’s one thing to manage your finances when you know how much money is coming in every month, but as any freelancer will tell you, making long-term plans becomes a lot more difficult without that certainty. Similarly, when you’re working with chronic illness, you often find yourself in a position of having to create weekly or monthly energy budgets without knowing what resources you’ll have at your disposal from one day to the next.

No, We’re Not Just Lazy and Incompetent

When your illness is invisible, you often face doubt from colleagues. Laura, a middle school teacher with an immune disorder, also struggles with PTSD because of harassment she faced at her previous job.

“I was told I was being ridiculous and overdramatic, that I was ‘letting kids down and setting a bad example’ by not pushing myself,” she says. Even after leaving that job, that experience continued to impact her work relationships. “It took probably five years in my current position before I didn’t have anxiety attacks if my boss needed to speak to me or I needed to speak to my boss about something.”

When you’re chronically ill, it often feels like doubt rules your life. People doubt that you’re sick. They doubt how hard you’re trying. They doubt that you’ll follow through on your commitments. And eventually, you begin to doubt yourself.

“To be uncomfortably honest, I am probably more disappointed in myself than [others] are,” says Kristina, a designer and digital modeler who has epilepsy. Struggling with even the most basic adulting tasks can leave her riddled with self-doubt, she explains: “One day I am fully capable of a task while the next day I struggle with generally simple things like brushing my teeth or getting dressed.”

When your abilities change so dramatically from one day to the next, you can end up questioning your own grip on reality. You know none of this is your fault, but deep down you can’t help but wonder if maybe, somehow, it is.

How I’ve Made Working, Work For Me

Three years ago, I had to stop working in my chosen field so that I could begin working full-time as a patient. And it was work, even though I wasn’t getting paid for any of it. My weekdays were suddenly filled with doctors’ appointments, lab tests, and phone calls to social services. I essentially had to become an administrative assistant to the six clinics I was dealing with, a biomedical researcher, and a health justice advocate. Just like my previous jobs, I often felt like I was just barely treading water, trying not to drown.

Last spring, I finally received the diagnoses I was fighting for and this fall, I went back to work as a consultant with a disability-led design group. Although I expected to feel overjoyed about returning to paid work, I’d become so used to struggling and failing that for weeks all I felt was terror.

But I’m still there, loving the work and starting feel more confident that I can actually do this. I’m also realizing that my experiences with chronic illness can be an asset. They’ve made me conscientious about time management, connected me to an amazing community of disabled creatives, and given me insights into how public systems and services are designed—for better and for worse.

Here are three key things that have helped me succeed in my new job:

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

PEAT’s 2019 Future of Work Podcast Launch Spotlights Inclusive Apprenticeship

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The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) recently launched the 2019 season of their Future of Work podcast. This podcast is a partnership with the leading HR blog Workology.com to explore how emerging technology trends in the workplace are impacting people with disabilities.

The first episode, How to Create a Global Apprenticeship Program, features a conversation about accessible technology apprenticeship programs with Neil Milliken, Global Head of Accessibility & Inclusion for Atos. Companies worldwide are striving to make their products accessible, but face a shortage of talent due to the accessible technology skills gap. Apprenticeship programs are helping Atos to quickly bring in new and more diverse talent with these in-demand skills.

Continue on to Peatworks.org for the Podcast and the conversation.