Students with Disabilities
People with disabilities are a valued part of the workforce.
Employers consistently report that hiring employees from diverse backgrounds and experiences promotes an organizational environment replete with high performers and creative, progressive thinkers. In fact, many business leaders state that people from the same training and demographic background make the same mistakes; therefore, reducing the export of innovation in their companies. People with disabilities invariably contribute to a strong and diverse workforce through their unique problem solving skills, intelligence, negotiation skills, and creativity.
Employers Who Hire Individuals with Disabilities
The Center for Workforce Preparation states that statistics persistently reveal that people with disabilities are an untapped economic resource in the work world. On average, the performance and retention rate for people with disabilities is generally higher than the average employee. Many companies actively recruit competitive talent from the disabled population. This list includes but is not limited to:
|Blue Cross Blue Shield
|Dana Farber Cancer Institute
||Proctor and Gamble|
||Sun Trust Bank|
In the last five years, several extremely successful entrepreneurs and leaders have credited their business acumen and long track record of achievements to their ability to overcome and compensate for a potentially disabling condition. These successful business leaders have learned outside the traditional and mainstream educational lines and transferred those experiences to the business world. A feature article in the May 12, 2002 edition of Fortune magazine has showcased these men and women. More recently, the October 2005 cover story for the Atlantic Monthly described the gloom and insight experienced by one of our former presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Some of these other leaders include:
- Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s, Inc.
- Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Records
- John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems
- Charles Schwab, founder of Charles Schwab Corporation
- Diane Swonk, chief economist of Bank One
- Donald Winkler, former CEO of Ford Financial
- Tommy Hilfiger, international fashion designer
- Ingvar Kamprad, founder of the IKEA Furniture Chain
- Ted Turner, a media tycoon
- David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways
- Raymond Kurzweil, Kurzweil Educational Systems
Considerations for the Job Search
Career services and counseling are available to all Babson students. The Undergraduate Center for Career Development (CCD) provides assistance with resume writing, interviewing, internships, graduate school, and the job search.
The CCD staff recognizes that students with disabilities may have questions about their rights and self disclosure. Our experience is that depending on the type of disability and fundamental requirements of the job, it may not be necessary to self disclose. Either way, it is helpful for students with disabilities to review their questions about if, when, and how to disclose a disability.
The Office of Academic and Career Services staff helps students become knowledgeable about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and their rights. Because selling your talent to potential employers is invaluable during all phases of the job search, the Academic and Career Services staff works with students one-on-one to polish their comfort level for discussing strengths and abilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, termination, training, pay, promotion, benefits, and leave. The ADA defines an individual with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as hearing, seeing, speaking, thinking, walking, breathing, or performing manual tasks. To be protected by ADA in an employment setting, a person with a disability must satisfy the basic prerequisites for the job and must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations.
During the interview process, employers may not inquire about a disability or deny requested accommodations. Some common types of accommodations include the following:
- Creating physical changes, e.g. installing a ramp or modifying a workspace.
- Providing a quieter workspace.
- Providing training and other written materials in an accessible format.
- Negotiating a flexible work schedule.
- Installing adaptive technology onto a computer.
It is your responsibility to request the accommodation from your employer. You may request a reasonable accommodation at any time during the application process or any time before or after you start working.
The first step in this decision making process is to understand your rights as a person with a disability and to research the essential job functions via a job description, personal contact, or Web site. You must learn if you can perform the job functions with or without accommodations. After this decision is made, you have many options for disclosure. Of importance is that the disclosure of a disability occurs only if it benefits you. If you do not need accommodations, it may not be necessary to self disclose. Depending upon particular circumstances, a disability may be disclosed during the application or interview process, or after an offer of employment has been made. If you need wheelchair access or a sign language interpreter, self disclosure is necessary to facilitate the interview process.
When disclosing a disability, you should be prepared to offer suggestions about accommodations. This demonstrates your problem solving and negotiating skills to an employer. In addition, you convey an ability to take the initiative and dedication to being successful in the position.
Deciding if, when, and how to disclose a disability does not have to be stressful. You may find it helpful to consult with or to meet with a career advisor in CCD. To schedule an appointment, please call (781)239-4215.
Several Web resources are available to assist you in your search:
National Organization on Disability
The mission of the National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) is to expand the participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. They also have a CEO Council to promote competitive employment.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to search for a job, post a resume, or search for a community employment program that provides job placement and training services.
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD)
Consortium composed of large and small universities, well-known national employers and US government agencies focused on the career employment of college graduates with disabilities.
Information about your employment rights and access to job bank sites provided by the US Government.
The DO-IT Program (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology )
DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers. It promotes the use of computer and networking technologies to increase independence, productivity, and participation in education and employment.
ENTRY POINT! is a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offering Outstanding Internship Opportunities for Students with Disabilities in Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science, and some fields of Business.
Job Accommodation Network
Facilitate the employment and retention of workers with disabilities by providing employers, employment providers, people with disabilities and other interested parties with information on job accommodation, job searches, legal issues, self-employment and small business opportunities and related subjects.
Search for employment opportunities, post resumes, and participate in online job fairs. Just One Break www.justonebreak.com Find competitive employment for people with disabilities through partnerships with companies in all industries. The organization helps place people with disabilities in full-time jobs and internships.
Massachusetts Business Leadership Network
Employer-led network that offers participating employers resources for recruiting candidates with disabilities, information on disability employment issues, best disability employment practices, and exposure to various services.
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC)
MRC provides resources to citizens with disabilities in Massachusetts, including information on advocacy, intervention, disability determination services, job placement and training, and more. The vision of MRC is to promote equality, empowerment, and productive independence of individuals with disabilities.
National Business & Disabilities Council
Leading resource for employers seeking to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace. The site offers job and internship listings and information about career events.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Federal Employment of Persons with Disabilities
Pprocess of applying for Federal government jobs and how reasonable accommodations are made. This site also includes resources than can help you with a wide range of issues that pertain to the Federal employment of adults with disabilities. Links to other organizations that provide employment assistance to persons with disabilities are also provided.
Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities
Connects public and private sector employers nationwide with highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workforce.
Some information is adapted from the Amercians with Disabilities Act home page (www.ada.gov), Fordham University’s “Resources for Students with Disabilities” and Wheelock College’s “Employment Considerations for People with Disabilities.”