There are many things you have to consider when applying for office work or administrative jobs. If you are put in a position without the necessary accommodations, it can be a complete disaster.
Here is how an office job would differ between a non-disabled person and a disabled person.
A non-disabled person may not be comfortable in a tight space but they would be able to make it work that may not be the case for someone with a disability. I did an on the job training at a chiropractor’s office and space was a huge problem. It was difficult to move my wheelchair around and I couldn’t complete tasks quickly because space was an issue. That is a huge reason the job did not work out.
Handling high volume telephone calls
My sister works in a restaurant where they get a lot of phone calls so she is very comfortable using the phone. A disabled person might not be as comfortable especially if they have never been employed. I asked my friend who has less mobility than I do, and she informed me that frequently picking up a phone is difficult for her because her arms are weak. She also mentioned that some disabilities make it hard to multitask, which can be important for office jobs involving phone calls.
If you have social anxiety a job where you have to answer multiple phone lines may not be the right job for you. Companies want people who can talk to people with ease rather than people that will freeze.
When I asked my sister that question she said no, and that will be the case for most non-disabled people. It’s much different for a disabled person. Most of the time, they have to scope out the businesses they are applying to before they actually apply. Many buildings are not accessible.
Some disabled people have employment agencies help them find a job, so they don’t waste a bunch of time going to interviews they cannot accept. That is how I do it. There are a lot of businesses that are really small, don’t have an elevator to get to higher floors, and don’t have equipment or materials necessary for the job within reach for someone in a wheelchair. If you go through an employment agency, you tell them what you are looking for, and they will help you that way you can avoid these obstacles.
Using a computer
My sister doesn’t require any accommodations to use a computer. She just needs a few stretch breaks from time to time. I personally don’t have issues with typing but sometimes when I sit for long periods of time I get back pain. There are some disabilities that require talk to text software or screen readers.
My sister works full work days all the time and there are days she works twelve-hour shifts because she does not get fatigued easily. Some disabled people could not do that for a variety of reasons. Some of them are taking medication that would cause them to get tired, and they just wouldn’t have the energy to do that. My friend is weaker than most people, so she gets tired much faster. That is not the case for everyone just some of them. I know that would definitely be the case for me. My seizure medication makes me get tired easily so working a twelve-hour shift would just not be possible.
When working at the chiropractor’s office I had to clean exam rooms. It was a very challenging job. My wheelchair could barely fit in the room and I had to find a way to clean the exam table. A non-disabled person would probably not have a problem with this task but that job didn’t work for me as a disabled person. Many job listings state that cleaning a break room or reception area is a requirement, but some disabilities would make that impossible.
Currently, my sister is still working at a restaurant. She got a job through one of my other sisters, so she didn’t have a hard time getting hired. That doesn’t mean she will always have an easy time finding a job. She is still in college so she might have a hard time once she graduates. It’s hard to tell.
Disabled people have a higher unemployment rate than non-disabled people. Employers don’t want to hire the disabled for many reasons including false stereotype of disabled people and not wanting to make accommodations they fear it will be expensive or a hassle.
There are many things to consider when applying for office work while you are disabled. Many have requirements that you are unable to meet due to your disability and more often than not employers will hire someone else rather than make accommodations.
Sometimes you may get hired, but if you are truly unhappy quit if you are super stressed it puts a toll on your health. I know when I worked at the chiropractor’s office I was super stressed all the time because it wasn’t accessible. Having stress levels that high is really bad for you. Sometimes you are better off unemployed.
If you have any questions about working in an office when you have Spina Bifida please leave them in the comments below.
Life with Spina Bifida is a personal blog that is all about my life with a disability, chronic pain as well as encouraging hope and positivity for those who are suffering. You are not alone!