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

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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.

Online Shopping For Consumers With Disabilities

LinkedIn
online-shopping

Online shopping eliminates many of the challenges individuals with disabilities face when shopping at physical stores. For the 56.7 million people with disabilities (19% of the U.S. population) just finding reliable transportation for shopping is a big challenge. One survey found individuals with disabilities are twice as likely to lack transportation as their non-disabled peers.

Scarcity of accessible parking, lack of elevators, and high product shelves are shopping challenges that affect the 30.6 million folks who have difficulty walking, climbing stairs, or who use a wheelchair, cane, or walker. Online shopping eliminates many of these common challenges. E-commerce also makes it easier to comparison shop the best brands at the lowest prices — an important consideration for a group that averages lower incomes, higher medical expenses, and lower employment rates. Most major e-commerce companies work with advocacy groups to ensure their websites are accessible to everyone. However, not all websites are fully compliant with accessibility standards or ADA laws, so some people are left out.

Web accessibility means integrating sites with tools like screen readers or offering choices like blocking blinking page elements so that people with disabilities can surf, shop, and ship the products and services they need. People with disabilities make up an enormous and powerful economic group that represents about 10% of total online spending. But for people with disabilities to take full advantage of online shopping, they need the right tools and resources. We’re happy to say that Wikibuy works with most of these tools, and we’re currently working on 100% compatibility.

Table of Contents

Improving Screen Readability Resources for online shoppers with low vision, colorblindness, or dyslexia that help them read what’s on their computer, tablet, or smartphone screen.

Regaining Hand Control Resources that help people with hand mobility issues more effectively use a computer input device like a keyboard or mouse.

Supporting Cognitive & Physical Limitations Resources to help people with learning disabilities get easier access to e-commerce websites using memory aids and software that removes distractions.

Supporting People Who Are Hard of Hearing Resources to help people who are hard of hearing better interact with product review videos and audio ads, by providing captioning.

Enhancing Web Experience Resources to help website owners and designers stay compliant with accessibility standards.

Improving Screen Readability

Blind/low vision

Some folks with visual impairments may have difficulty navigating the many elements of a website, which makes it tough to shop or pay for products and services. Since many ecommerce sites contain an overabundance of product images and descriptions, people with visual impairments may struggle to:

Locate a page’s menus and controls.
Track the movement of the cursor.
Adjust to changes on a page, like popup windows or scrolling ads.
Follow the constant flow of information while scrolling.
Confirm correct personal or payment information in a form field.
Although people who are legally blind or have low visual acuity may have difficulty distinguishing on-screen details, resources like screen readers, magnifiers, and text-to-talk apps help bring things into focus.

Screen readers

Screen readers are a type of computer software that translates on-screen text into an audio voice or into braille for refreshable braille displays. The voice speed is adjustable, giving users more flexibility for following along. To keep users oriented, screen readers read aloud specific graphic elements like icons, images, or sections like “payment options”. The software identifies these sections as a user highlights them with their mouse or hovers over them with their cursor. The software will also read back any text the user inputs, like their name or credit card number.

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Online Resources

ChromeVox — Text-to-talk Chrome extension
Talking Web — Text-to-talk Chrome extension
Firefox browser — Compatible screen reader
Best screen reader — web browser pairings
10 free screen readers
Screen reader simulation — Experience what it’s like to use a screen reader
Amazon’s screen reader optimized website.
Software
JAWS (Windows)
VoiceOver — Screen reader and media creation tool (Mac)
NVDA — Free screen reader (Windows)
BRLTTY — Driver for braille displays (Linux)

Screen magnifiers

Screen magnifiers are software or physical devices that enlarge text, icons, and other on-screen graphics for people with low vision. Digital magnifiers let users adjust the contrast of text, sharpen edges of images, and change the colors of webpage elements. To add more flexibility, screen magnifiers also follow along with user actions, enlarging areas of the screen as they type text or move their cursor. Physical screen magnifiers fit over a computer’s monitor or smartphone screen and enlarge the image like a magnifying glass.

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Screen magnifiers (Devices)
Flat screen and LCD magnifiers
Laptop screen magnifier
Top 5 best screen magnifiers for smartphones
Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000 — Mouse with magnifier function built in
Large-key keyboards — Easy to see, high-contrast keys
Screen magnifiers (Software)
ICONICO (Windows)
Magnifixer (Windows)
Virtual Magnifying Glass (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)
Easy Reader (Windows, iOS and Android)
SuperNova Magnifier (Windows 7, 8.1 & 10)
MagniLink IMax (Mac)
ZoomText Magnifier (Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 with Service Pack 1 (or later))
ZoomText Mac (Mac)

Colorblindness

Colorblindness affects many parts of a person’s life, from driving to shopping. Many forms of colorblindness exist, but for shoppers who have it, each one creates a major problem: confusing one color for another. Many things people without colorblindness take for granted are a challenge to those who can’t discern red from green or who lack color vision (achromatopsia) all together. Something as simple as being able to tell ripe bananas from green ones is something people with colorblindness have to consider when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.

Ecommerce websites can also be confusing spaces. Colorblindness presents challenges while shopping online for clothing, shoes, house furnishing, or anything else that needs color coordination. Those with achromatopsia can have problems identifying colored links to checkout pages or other product pages. Folks with colorblindness often enlist friends and family when making a choice, whether it’s choosing ripe fruit or the right Fruit of the Loom. Here are some resources to help:

Color Enhancer — Customizable color filter for webpages to improve color perception
Visolve — Software that transforms computer display colors into discriminable ones
ColorCompass — App that lets users identify the color of any element on a screen by clicking it (Mac)
Color Blind Pal — App that helps people who are colorblind see the colors around them
Enchroma — Eye glasses that help correct colorblindness
Colorblind Test — Test for colorblindness
Colorblind Simulator — Simulation for experiencing colorblindness

Dyslexia

People with dyslexia can find it problematic matching the letters they see on a webpage with the sounds those letters make. Dyslexia is a common disability, affecting up to 20% of people, and can restrict interaction with ecommerce websites, taking away the advantages of online shopping.

Some people with dyslexia may find product descriptions, reviews, or instructions confusing, which means they can’t compare products or evaluate them properly before purchase. Websites often contain large blocks of text or text over images. Both can negatively affect the online shopping experience of a person with dyslexia. At check out, security measures like CAPTCHA tests for bots but leaves some users with dyslexia frustrated, closing their browser with products still in their shopping cart. Here are some other website design elements that limit access to people with dyslexia:

  • Decorative, unfamiliar, or serif fonts
  • Large blocks of texts with little white space
  • High brightness contrast between the text and background colors (white on black)
  • Distracting videos, audio, and web animations
  • Sequenced lists that are inconsistent or unpredictable
  • Fortunately, people with dyslexia have many options when it comes to apps, browser extensions, and software that makes accessing ecommerce websites much easier.

Continue on to read the complete article from Wikibuy here

‘Black, queer, disabled and brilliant’: Activist hopes to make history in space

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Eddie Ndopu wasn’t expected to live past 5 years old. Now, the 27-year-old South African hopes to be the first person with a disability to travel to space.

Eddie Ndopu describes himself as “black, queer, disabled and brilliant.”

“I embody all of the identities that position me at a disadvantage in society,” he told NBC News. “But I am turning that on its head.”

By the end of the year, the 27-year-old South African hopes to become the first person with a disability to go to space.

When Ndopu was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), an incurable condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. His prognosis was devastating: His family was initially told he would not live beyond the age of 5.

But a tenacious Ndopu said it wasn’t long before he was able to “outstrip and outlive all expectations,” both academically and medically. He attributes this in part due to his mother, whom he said never gave up on him or stopped fighting for him.

Ndopu said when he was 7 years old and living in Namibia (he moved to neighboring South Africa when he was 10), his mom came home to find him sitting in front of the television staring despondently at a blank screen. “She held my head in her hands and begged me to tell her what was wrong,” Ndopu recalled.“Finally, I told her all I wanted was to go to school.”

Despite inclusive education laws, growing up disabled in southern Africa meant a mainstream education was never guaranteed. In fact, a 2017 United Nations report revealed that even today, 90 percent of disabled children in developing countries never see the inside of a classroom.

But Ndopu said his mom is a “fearless warrior” who knocked on “every door” until finally he was accepted to a small elementary school on the outskirts of his hometown.

Ndopu has so far outlived his prognosis by more than two decades, and last year he became the first African with a disability to graduate from Britain’s prestigious University of Oxford. The disability-rights activist, who admits he has a weakness for lipstick and fashion, said he is “a living manifestation of possibility.”

Now Ndopu, whose disease has left him unable to walk, has set himself a new “audacious” goal: to become the first person with a disability to go to space.

Backed by the United Nations, he hopes to deliver “the speech of [his] life,” championing disability rights from a space shuttle to the UN’s New York headquarters this December.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a South African lawmaker and the executive director of UN Women, told NBC News if Ndopu attains his goal, it would be “a powerful symbol to demonstrate that people with disabilities can break barriers.”

“By reaching space,” she added, “it clearly demonstrates that determined disabled people, in an enabling environment, can excel like anyone else.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

5 Reasons to Consider a Simple Implant to Treat Chronic Back Pain

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nurse in office

The vast majority of adults know what it’s like to experience back pain. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at some point in their life.

But for most people, that pain doesn’t last long and goes away on its own. About 20 percent of those who experience acute back pain will go on to have chronic back pain, which the NIH classifies as pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks, and even after the initial injury or underlying cause of the acute pain has been treated. The good news for those who are living with chronic low back pain is that there is an effective, simple implant procedure that is bringing people relief within only three weeks.

“We’ve helped many people to experience a greater quality of life through the implant procedure,” explains Dr. Akash Bajaj, board-certified anesthesiologist, pain interventionist and medical director at Remedy Spine & Pain Solutions in Marina Del Rey, Calif. “People are surprised at how simple the procedure is and how much relief it brought them after recovery. The only regret they have is not having it done sooner.”

Those suffering from chronic pain tend to have higher rates of depression and a lower, diminished quality of life. They are often not able to engage in the activities they would like to, because they are so burdened with the pain. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Pain Research shared the findings of research done on how chronic pain impacts people and their social environment. Researchers reported that chronic pain seriously affects the patient’s daily activities and quality of life, as well as having significant consequences for the patient’s families, and even causes deterioration in the quality of life of those close to them.

Most people with chronic pain search for solutions and try many different things in order to find some relief. Millions turn to taking opioids or other drugs, which can have harmful side effects and lead to dangerous addictions. A new implant procedure is giving people relief and helping them avoid taking drugs to help address the pain.

Here are 5 reasons why more people are considering a simple implant procedure to treat their chronic back pain:

  1. Minimally invasive.The implant surgery is minimally invasive, which means small incisions are made in order to perform the procedure. This means there is a decreased risk for complication, there’s reduced scarring, and it’s more affordable.
  2. Time invested.Most people think that having a minimally invasive surgical procedure would require a lot of time. This one takes only one hour to complete, which most people are comfortable with.
  3. Recovery time.With a recovery time of only around 24 hours, people are able to go back to their normal routines within a day. That means they won’t have to take off a lot of work or avoid engaging in their duties for long.
  4. Benefits.The full benefits of the implant surgery are realized in about three weeks. Those who have the surgery experience full back pain relief within that time, giving them the ability to engage in more activities.
  5. Improved quality of life.Once people experience the benefits that the implant surgery brings, they are able to have a better quality of life. They can enjoy more activities and are better able to enjoy relaxing.

“People see me as a pain expert and doctor, but really what I am is someone who gives people their quality of life back,” adds Dr. Bajaj. “It’s a great day to know that someone will live a better quality of life and be able to enjoy their days because of a procedure I did. That makes my own life even better.”

Dr. Bajaj has found success with a new minimally invasive technique that relieves pressure on the spine and nerves and is largely replacing the more invasive options. Unlike the older back surgery options, the new procedure doesn’t take as long to perform, doesn’t require hospitalization, and offers a quick recovery and healing time.
Dr. Akash Bajaj is an award-winning surgeon and highly regarded pain management specialist who has earned the highly coveted Super Doctors honor. In addition to helping people with back pain, he provides pain solutions for those with neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, ankle and foot pain, and more. For more information on services provided or to book an appointment, visit their site at: remedypainsolutions.com.

About Remedy Spine & Pain Solutions
Founded and run by award-winning surgeon and pain management expert Dr. Akash Bajaj, the center is located in Marina Del Rey, Calif. They provide advanced solutions for those who suffer from all types of chronic pain. They also offer a minimally invasive, highly effective implant surgery for those with chronic back pain. Remedy Spine & Pain Solutions has won numerous awards, including multiple times winning Super Doctors award and the Best of Marina Del Rey award. For more information on services provided, visit their site at: remedypainsolutions.com.

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Sources:

Journal of Pain Research. A review of chronic pain impact on patients… 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4935027/

National Institutes of Health. Low back pain fact sheet. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet

Jobless Rate for People with Disabilities Decreases

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The unemployment rate for people with a disability dropped last year, falling from 10.5 percent in 2016 to 9.2 percent in 2017, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

“This is a significant decline,” said BLS economist Janie-Lynn Kang. “The decline reflects the trend in the overall labor force, which has been recovering since the end of the Great Recession.” In fact, the overall U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in May 2018—the lowest since April 2000.

The data on the jobless rate for those who have a disability is from the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the U.S. Unemployed people are those who did not have a job, were available for work, and were actively looking for a job in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Almost one-third (32 percent) of workers with a disability were employed part-time—more so than those without a disability.

Those with a disability were more likely to work in service occupations, production, transportation and material-moving occupations than those who did not have a disability, the BLS found. A slightly higher percentage of workers with a disability also worked in government (14 percent versus 11.6 percent who did not have a disability). They also were more likely to be self-employed.

Men and women with a disability had about the same unemployment rate in 2017 (9 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively). Additionally, black individuals (13.8 percent) with a disability had a higher unemployment rate than Hispanics (10.2 percent), Asians (6.6 percent) and white people (8.5 percent). Among all people who had a disability, nearly half were age 65 or older in 2017.

More People with Disabilities Are Getting Jobs. Here’s Why.

With unemployment at a low, fewer people are looking for jobs. Many employers are having a hard time finding people qualified to fill the positions they have open. That’s left an opening for people with disabilities, a group that’s broadly defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
This demographic has always been underemployed. But Americans with disabilities have posted year-over-year gains in the job market for the past 21 consecutive months, according to an analysis by the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire.
(CNN)

Will Employment Keep Growing? Disabled Workers Offer a Clue

One workplace trend has changed direction in the past few years—people who cited health reasons for not working are returning to the labor force. The data shows that the decline has come almost entirely from the older half of the prime-age population (that is, people between 40 and 54). The drop has also been steeper among the less educated.
(The New York Times)

Hiring People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Office of Disability Employment Policy supports several initiatives that help employers interested in hiring individuals with disabilities, including the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion. The free, nationwide service educates employers about effective strategies for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities. And the Job Accommodation Network provides free advice on workplace accommodations.
(DOL)

Continue onto SHRM to read the complete article.

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

LinkedIn

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

 

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.

Assessing and Treating Adult ADHD

LinkedIn
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.