March23,2016

The CEED Project: The Potential of Entrepreneurship

Kate Caldwell, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago

By Guest Blogger Kate Caldwell, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago

What’s the difference between self-employment and entrepreneurship? It’s alright if you don’t know. Our research has found that there is a lot of misinformation about what exactly entrepreneurship is and how it differs from self-employment!

Entrepreneurship has such great potential as an employment strategy for people with disabilities. Indeed, entrepreneurship and self-employment are often used interchangeably in the disability context. We at The CEED Project created an infographic that is easy to share about some of the basics of disability-entrepreneurship.

Essentially, self-employment refers to creating a job for an individual with the goal of becoming financially self-sufficient.  In the business literature, it is meant as an alternative to salaried or wage employment. Entrepreneurship is meant to create a business that is profit- and growth-oriented. In this way, entrepreneurship results in both business and job creation not just for that individual, but with the possibility of hiring others in the future. While both self-employment and entrepreneurship are viable employment strategies, entrepreneurship is also an anti-poverty strategy. This is what gives entrepreneurship so much potential in addressing the problems of unemployment and underemployment facing people with disabilities. It also has the potential to shift our way of thinking about people with disabilities in employment: from seeing them not only as employees and passive recipients of services, but recognizing them as active participants, job creators, and possible employers. One of the most persistent barriers that people with disabilities encounter in employment is hiring discrimination. Consider the impact of entrepreneurship on how we think about inclusivity and workplace culture when people making the hiring decisions have a disability themselves!

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March21,2016

Tea Cures Captchas: Accessible Online Job Applications are More Than a Best Practice

Blogger Sassy Outwater

Editor’s note: This blog has been cross-posted from the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

When I applied for my first job, I was handed a print application. As a blind freshman in college, I decided to brazen it out and not ask for help filling out private information in a waiting room full of strangers who were probably there wanting the same job. I scanned the application into my computer, and brought it back neatly typed. I never got called in for an interview though, perhaps because my typed application didn’t look like the handwritten ones.

Years later, I was at my favorite café, facing another job application. This time, however, the job had an online application. Most businesses had shifted to online applications, but I found that the majority of online applications were partially or completely inaccessible.

I spent 90 minutes and two large green jasmine teas filling out that application. I vacillated between disclosing my disability in my cover letter, or just waiting until I showed up for the interview to tell the employer I was blind. Finally, decisively, I put my blindness and the talents it had helped me cultivate into the skills column. After all, being blind means I have to be resourceful, innovative, diplomatic, adaptable, organized… and that’s just to get through filling out an online job application.

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February22,2016

Career Connection Series: I Am Getting Social Security Disability Benefits and Want to Work. How Do I Get Started?

The cover of the Social Security Administration's 2016 Red Book

By Guest Blogger Marsha V. Robinson-Vaden, Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support, Social Security Administration

If you are getting disability benefits and want to work, we have good news for you! Social Security’s work incentives and Ticket to Work programs can help you get started.

Special rules make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. And, if you cannot continue to work because of your medical condition, your benefits can start again – you may not even have to file a new application.

Work incentives include:

  • Continued cash benefits for a period of time while you work;
  • Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work; and
  • Help with education, training and rehabilitation to start a new line of work.

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January25,2016

Working from Home: An Inside Perspective

Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

It is no secret that work-at-home jobs offer unique opportunities for job seekers with disabilities and other challenges. After all, it is an “accommodation-ready” environment with no travel or fashion costs.

That being said, it is still working at home and that can seem daunting. We asked two of our long-term work-at-home clients, Qiana from New York and Mary from Colorado, to answer a few important questions to get an insider’s perspective.

How did you handle the transition of going back to work and it being at home?

“The transition to work-at-home was a smooth one. It was actually the route that I wanted to take for a long time. I already had a home office set up. I just had to get a few items depending on the qualifications for different jobs.” (Qiana)

“I handled the transition very well. I had an office in my home already that I shared with my husband so it was perfect to make that mostly my own. I had always worked part-time in the past, so telling family and friends was not a big deal. They were all happy that I was working again.” (Mary)

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January19,2016

Downton Abbey: A Disability-Inclusive Workplace?

Mrs. Patmore, the cook, experiences vision loss. Image credit: PBS

Editor’s Note: The following has been cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog.

Like many people, I’m currently relishing escaping to Downton Abbey for an hour each Sunday night.  For those who haven’t succumbed to this show’s lure, it follows the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants on an English country estate during the early 20th century – a time of dramatic social change.

I’m well aware that on one level, the show is a soap opera in (very) fancy clothing. Downton’s “upstairs” residents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time dressing for and eating dinner, but that’s easy to accept because the costumes and conversations are such a treat.

Visual feast aside, though, the show has some serious subthemes. Most of these relate to changing social mores and are fairly transparent. But others are more nuanced, and one I’ve observed with interest over the years is the show’s depiction of disability-inclusive workplace practices.

As head of the estate and thus employer of many servants, the family patriarch, Lord Grantham, has on several occasions acted wisely when it comes to supporting employees with disabilities. While his character typically longs for the past, on this issue he’s very forward thinking − and I believe today’s employers can learn from his actions.

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