Living with a disability involves a certain amount of creative problem-solving. Add a career to the mix, and the need to problem-solve increases exponentially. Fortunately, today’s technologies are evolving quickly to help those with disabilities negotiate work-based difficulties. While employers can and should do what they can to make your workplace accessible, these technologies will help you perform your job to the utmost, develop your professional networks, and advance your career.
Let’s dive into the best ways to get a jump-start on your career by using the latest that technology has to offer.
Connect With Your Smartphone
Arguably the most fundamental piece of technology for people with disabilities in the workforce is a good smartphone. Staying in close contact with coworkers and clients via email or messaging apps is vital for most professions these days, especially if your job involves traveling and you’re not going to be available to talk in person. Contemporary phones come with built-in accessibility features, like dictation and text-to-speech. Furthermore, many assistive technologies for people with disabilities come in app form, and require a fast connection and the latest operating systems to work their best.
You may also want to consider upgrading your phone to utilize features like a professional-quality camera and powerful processor. If you’re concerned about cost, you can save money by scoping out deals on newer models. For example, you can trade in your old phone for a discount, or get an unlimited plan to save even more.
With a well-chosen phone in your arsenal, you can also consider small accessories that pack a punch. For example, Popsockets can make it easier to hold your phone while in use, and they come in all sorts of designs to mesh with your professional and personal brand. Similarly, you also might want to consider a mount for your wheelchair or car for hands-free use, or a carrying case for keeping it at your side when you’re out and about. There are cases that loop around your neck or clip to your waistband; think about what will make it easy for you to maintain communications when you’re on the go.
Find the Right Tech for Your Needs
Assistive technology for people with disabilities is improving at a rapid rate. Depending on your disability, there are a wide number of different types of technology that could help you out in the workplace, but it can be hard to know where to start. Many associations have lists of recommended technology for people with a particular disability; for example, the OrCam is a useful assistive tech tool that can help visually impaired individuals interpret text and products. You can also check reviews to find out which assistive technology products consumers actually found helpful. The most important thing is to find technology that actually addresses your needs.
There’s an App for That
And speaking of needs…never hesitate to check if there’s an app with the tool you’re looking for. Many assistive technologies these days are available in app form, such as live closed-captioning of conversations for the hearing impaired. In addition, mobile connection gives you the ability to network, job search, and develop professional skills through apps like ZipRecruiter and Monster. Digital networking is the future of career development, so keeping your social networks up to date is also crucial. Apps, and a good smartphone to support them, can be your best friends as you work on advancing your career.
Upgrade Your Workspace
Even if your job involves travel, having a workspace for your job is essential. Technology can help you modify your workspace to make it more comfortable and accessible. This will allow you to concentrate on performing your job to the best of your ability. If your employer will allow it, or if you’re self-employed, working from home can be a great option for people with disabilities. As a result of the larger remote work trend, there are now a plethora of technologies to facilitate remote working.
With the help of digital messaging, file sharing, and task management services, even the most collaborative work can be done remotely. If you have a job that doesn’t allow you to work remotely, or if you prefer to work in an office space, try consulting with your manager to make sure that your work space is fully accessible to you. If you work for a smaller company, there are even grants that can help subsidize the cost of assistive technology.
Managing your professional life with a disability can be challenging, but technology can make it easier. From a good smartphone and handy apps to assistive technologies and an accessible workspace, technology can free you up to focus on what’s actually important to you — your career. After that, the only limit is what you can dream.
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