Mobility Aids & Employment: Five Practical Strategies to Find a Job

Written by Eliott Hamilton

Kentucky is an employment first state. That means competitive integrated employment should be considered the first and primary option for people with disabilities of working age who want to work. In the video below, people with disabilities and employers share what Employment First means to them.

Despite policies and protections like this and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), finding suitable employment can still feel like navigating a maze. Job seeking can be daunting for anyone, but for people using mobility aids, there are unique considerations and challenges to address. With strategic planning and a proactive approach, finding fulfilling employment is possible. Here are five practical strategies to navigate the job market while using a mobility aid.

1 – Embrace Your Strengths

Navigating life with a disability demands resourcefulness and adaptability – qualities that are highly valued in the professional world. With the rising use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, employers are increasingly valuing soft skills. Many highly sought-after skills, like problem-solving and time management, are frequently utilized in everyday life by people who use mobility aids. Highlighting these experiences enables you to seek opportunities that align with your distinct skill set, paving the way for a career that is both sustainable and fulfilling.

  • Tip: You can highlight skills gained from having a disability on a job application without disclosing your disability. By including these skills on your resume, you not only capture the attention of employers but also create an opportunity to expand on them during an interview. This approach allows you to demonstrate your qualifications while maintaining control over how you choose to discuss your experiences.

2 – Focus on What Works for You

When deciding which jobs to pursue, it’s essential to thoroughly review the job responsibilities to ensure they align with your skills, strengths, and career objectives. Reflect on what tasks and environments best suit your abilities and accommodate your mobility aid comfortably. 

Consider if a commute is feasible for you, and if so, how often. Remote or hybrid work can be a great option for mobility aid users as it eliminates the challenges associated with commuting and allows you to conserve the energy that would be used to navigate physical barriers in public spaces. Ultimately, by prioritizing roles that align with your needs, you can build a career path that aligns with your abilities and aspirations. 

3 – Researching Prospective Employers

Before applying to a company, research its commitment to workplace accessibility and inclusivity. Beyond the physical accessibility features in the workplace, benefits offered and company policies significantly impact the sustainability of a job. Visit the company’s website to review policies related to workplace accommodations, flexibility in work arrangements, disability leave (e.g., FMLA), and health insurance benefits before deciding if you would like to pursue the opportunity. 

Company culture can be a make-or-break factor for many people when job searching. Seek out employers who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and accommodation of people with disabilities. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in an interview to ensure it’s a good fit. A supportive work culture is critical to preserving your well-being and can improve your overall experience and job satisfaction.

  • Tip: look for indicators such as participation in disability-focused initiatives or events, which can signal a supportive and inclusive work culture. 

4 – Understand Your Rights

Understanding your rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and other relevant legislation is crucial for advocating for yourself during a job search and throughout your career. The ADA drastically changed the job market 34 years ago and remains as important to this day. When searching for a new job, refresh yourself on the details of the ADA to ensure you are ready to advocate for necessary accommodations and access to employment opportunities. 

5 – Advocating for Yourself

Throughout your job search, effective communication and preparation are key to advocating for your needs. Clearly communicate your accommodation requirements during the interview process and seek clarification on any concerns regarding accessibility. Be proactive in discussing how your skills and experience align with the job requirements, emphasizing the ways your disability prepares you to be an incredible team member. 

Navigating the job market with a mobility aid requires careful consideration, research, and advocacy. By leveraging your strengths, understanding your rights, and exploring accessible work environments, you can overcome barriers and find fulfilling employment opportunities. 

For additional support, consider reaching out to local resources, such as vocational rehabilitation services or disability advocacy organizations. These organizations often offer expertise in job placement, accommodations, and legal rights, ensuring you have the necessary tools to succeed on your career path.

While the journey may involve challenges, with determination and informed decision-making, you can achieve your career goals and thrive in a fulfilling and meaningful career. 

Additional Resources:

Human Development Institute Employment

Other Sphere [Work] Blog Posts

Disability Friendly LV

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

Kentucky Vocational Rehabilitation Resources

Cardon, P., Fleischmann, C., Logemann, M., Heidewald, J., Aritz, J., & Swartz, S. (2024). Competencies Needed by Business Professionals in the AI Age: Character and Communication Lead the Way. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 87(2), 223-246.