Working with a disability can present many different physical and mental challenges. These tips can help you adapt to new circumstances, overcome workplace obstacles, and enjoy a fulfilling career.
Challenges in the workplace if you have a disability
Disabilities can range from physical conditions that affect mobility to sensory impairments and neurodevelopmental disorders. Whether you were born with a disability or your condition is a recent development, you might be frustrated to find that the workplace is not always willing to accommodate your unique needs.
People with disabilities tend to have a harder time finding jobs than their peers. For example, in the Jordan, only about 2 percent of Jordanians with a disability were employed in 2021-2022. This low percentage is due to the barriers that people with disabilities often face in the workplace, including:
Anxiety or lack of confidence. Self-doubt may keep you from pursuing new opportunities or returning to a familiar job.
Difficulty adapting to new limitations. A new disability may slow you down as you learn new ways to handle tasks. For instance, you might need time to learn how to use assistive technology, such as speech-to-text devices.
Difficulty finding new job opportunities. You might have a hard time finding inclusive workplaces or a job that aligns with your strengths.
Physical barriers. You might encounter environments that aren’t suited to your physical needs, such as a building with inadequate wheelchair accessibility.
Inflexible work patterns. Strict work hours or policies about taking breaks can make it difficult for you to focus on your physical or mental needs while on the job.
Attitudes of employers and coworkers. Social stigmas surrounding your disability can be discouraging. Employers and coworkers might underestimate your abilities, misunderstand you, or discriminate against you.
Some of these barriers may seem so daunting that you consider giving up on the idea of employment altogether. However, for many people, work offers a sense of daily purpose and an opportunity for social interaction. A regular job can help give your days structure and provide you a greater sense of financial dependence. Without those benefits, you might experience a decline in physical and emotional well-being.
Whatever your disability, there are various strategies that can make it easier for you to find and maintain a fulfilling job that’s right for you. Self-knowledge, patience, and a willingness to advocate for yourself are keys to finding satisfaction in the workplace.