WORKING AT HOME IS REGARDED BY MOST AS EITHER a perk or lifestyle choice, but for workers with disabilities, it’s often the only way to earn a living. The number of disabled Americans who are unemployed–75 percent–nearly equals the number who wish they were working–72 percent–according to the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Those numbers are discouraging, but they’re poised to make a remarkable turnaround. Three trends are working in concert to launch disabled people into the workforce: A record-high demand for skilled labor; advances in adaptive technologies–hardware devices and software programs that let the disabled perform common business tasks like searching the Web or using the telephone; and perhaps most important, an ever-increasing awareness and acceptance of workstyles such as telecommuting and flextime that let workers train for and perform full-fledged careers from home.
“It’s created a mass number of real small business opportunities for disabled workers,” says Gene Eddington of small business opportunity generator Launchscore.com. “The change has helped a lot more people than most experts expected.”
Admittedly, adaptive gear such as wheelchair ramps and text-enlarging software utilities have helped small numbers of disabled workers compete for jobs over the years, but the need to commute to a traditional office has arguably kept three-quarters of America’s disabled workers on the sidelines. Continue reading