Tag Archives: advice

Job Seeking for the Disabled 101

When I first started making noises about wanting to be a career woman I don’t think many people thought it would be a possibility (and I was far less disabled then than I am now).

 

I was told by those who humoured me, “You should go and work for the Government. They have to hire people with disabilities, it’s the law.” Or “I think there are special factories that will hire you.” This was not what I had in mind.  

 

I did get a job working for the state government and I loathed it.

 

Other people wondered why I felt the need to bother, “surely you’d qualify for a pension.” They’d tell me.

 

 

It has always been my intention to work, so in later high school I did many administration/computer courses and as much work experience as I could talk my way into.

 

My resume` looked good and I got a lot of interviews for office jobs but I never managed to snag one so I swallowed my pride and signed to a disability recruitment agency.

 

It worked and they quickly found me a job. But they insisted on not only coming to work with me but sitting right by my side all day long.

 

Apparently this is what they do for everyone as some people can’t work without them. This was not me.

 

I saw it as intrusive and embarrassing. It also meant that I had to work harder to get my colleagues to trust that I could do things. So we parted ways.

 

13 years on and I am still working for the same organisation in the private sector and loving it.

 

I am not in the same job though. I managed to move around and get positions in other areas through my own merit (that comes with confidence and experience), and at one stage  I had two directors fighting over me. That was nice.

 

Here are my favourite tips to help my fellow disabled jobseekers:  

1.      Be realistic: I am all for having a dream, but if you would like someone to pay you to do a job, it needs to be a job that you can actually do. For example, someone who is vision impaired would not make a very good air traffic controller and, if you can’t use your arms or legs then building and construction is probably not your forte either. That’s not to say that you should just do whatever. Just recognise your skills and limitations when choosing a career path.

 

2.   Be honest: you don’t have to discuss your disability with your potential employer if you do not think it is relevant. However, it might be a good idea to let them know of any possible hick ups that you might encounter. For example, are you likely to need a few extra days off? It is possible that this may limit your job opportunity, but on the other hand it may give your new employer a chance to plan ahead and will avoid awkward conversations later on.

 

3.   Your contribution has worth: I have heard of many people with a disability (myself included, who have been offered an unpaid work trial by an employer who liked them, but wasn’t sure if they were suitable. I always said no to this. If they want you to work for them then they can pay you! I wonder, does this happen in the able-bodied workforce too?

 

Note: I am not talking about actual work experience or doing a “prac,” in these cases you get something out of it too and you know where you stand.

 

4.   Take the help that is offered to you: there are recruitment agencies that specialise in finding jobs for people who have a disability. These can be helpful to get you a foot in the door. Beware though, if you decide you don’t need them any more they can be difficult to shake off.

When you find your dream job there are organisations such as Job Access (if you live in Western Australia) who can help you with overcoming accessibility issues, or in gaining aids such as screen readers if you need them, with little or no cost to your employer. This is done through grants though so conditions do apply.

 

5.   Have faith in yourself: Take it from me, everyone is in business to generate a profit. You got the job because the employer thinks you were the best candidate. You didn’t get the job as an act of charity so do your best and see where it takes you.

 

 

Working has given me a sense of purpose, given me a chance to learn new skills and grow as a person, provided me with an extra social outlet and given me the chance to be financially independent.

 

I hope that if it is what you want, having a job can do this for you too.

 

Good luck.

 

XOXO 

5 Dating Tips for the Divinely Disabled

couple

 

Like millions of women the world over, I got my fair share of advice from others on what kind of man I needed when I finally started dating. I was told he needed to be as clever as me or I’ll get bored, a dormouse so that he didn’t mind that I did all the talking and I was even told that I needed a fella who worshipped me as much as my old dog Napoleon did. But perhaps the most unhelpful suggestion I got was that I needed, above all else, a man with a disability. coz you know, we’re in the same league.

Damion does not have a disability, but I don’t hold that against him. He is in fact the only person I’ve been out with (more than once) who does not, and he’s awesome! The only other “serious relationship” (if you could call it that) that I have ever had was with a gorgeous guy that did happen to have one. The relationship lasted for less than a year but I suspect that that had more to do with my incredibly low self-esteem, ( resulting in my constant need for reassurance) not our disabilities. Constant crying is never an attractive quality for anyone.  It is almost as unattractive as desperation.

 

On a side note, I mention the disability status of both of these men purely to make the point that this is not the deciding factor in my relationships. You would be surprised how many people ask me “what is his disability?” if ever I mention Damion. I will usually ignore the ignorance but if I do answer, you’d think I had said I was dating a 100-year-old (nothing wrong it that) and not someone who’s able-bodied. Such is the shocked reaction I encounter.

 

I have now seen both sides of the coin. That is, I have been the disabled dater and the disabled datee. When one or more of you have a disability, there are extra things to be considered, such as anything from; access to venues and how you’re going to get there, to how you’re going to shower at your partner’s house without your shower chair. Luckily though, with this being 2017, there is usually a way around everything if you want there to be.

 

I am no expert but since when has that ever stopped me? Here are my top tips for dating if you are divinely disabled:

 

1. Don’t hide your disability –  be upfront, honest and proud of your disability. If it’s too confronting to deal with on the first date, it’s unlikely to be any less so if you spring it on them in 2-dates-time. This is especially important if you are dating online. Trust me, the look of shock/disappointment that comes when your date sees that you are more disabled than they thought is not something that you really want to see.

 

I once went out with a guy who gave me that look. so, not wanting to seem any more disabled (as it was obviously an issue) I decided not to take my walking frame. This was a mistake, what I should have done was not go through with the date. Instead I wobbled around and eventually had to hold onto him for support which made us both uncomfortable. Needless to say, there was no second date.

2. You don’t have to take second best.

I had thought that because I am not perfect and my disability carries a lot of baggage, I should take anything that is offered to me and be grateful. That means  putting up with being made fun of,  or taking part in activities that I was not comfortable with, purely because I was afraid that nothing else would come along. Wrong! Sure, it is a possibility, but if you don’t find someone else straight away, at least you won’t have to shave your legs every day.

 

Similarly remember that you are not a curio. There is a myth out there that disability equals desperate and to use a phrase I heard a lady on BBC program “The Undatables” use; we are not here for a fascination fuck!

 

3. On the first date go somewhere you know.

It’s not always your choice, but if you can go somewhere you know well, then do. That way you can be familiar with where the easiest access points are and where you can sit down if you need to. Another perk to knowing the place is that, where applicable, you can peruse the menu beforehand. This avoids the awkwardness of having to ask your date to read it for you if you can’t. Although, their reaction to this request can be a good indicator as to how comfortable they are with your disability. Damion read the menu out for me on our first date.

4. Be happy with yourself first.

I know that everyone says this and it’s easier said than done, but it’s true. Unfortunately, unless your partner is as lacking in the self-esteem department as you (not recommended) or they have the patience of a saint, you won’t get the reassurance you’re after. You’ll get dumped! Try counselling and/or writing to overcome this. It worked for me

5, You gotta be in it to win it – put yourself out there.

This is not a movie, it’s real life. So, sadly, the person you’re looking for wont just appear on your doorstep and declare undying love for you. It’s frightening and yes, your disability might expose you to more rejection than you hope, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

 

If you’re shy, internet dating is a good option and you can do it in your pyjamas. It’s also good when, like me, your disability makes it difficult to socialise in the traditional way. You do have to go out in the big wide world eventually though.

 

There are lots of different sites out there but I had success with disabledsingles.com.au and more recently with Zoosk (it’s were I met Damion). There are people from all walks of life everywhere, so keep an open mind and just go with what your comfortable with.

 

Good luck and happy dating!

 

XOXO