You have a unique set of skills and talents.
If you’re living with disability, you’ve probably also developed additional skills while navigating a world that isn’t always designed for or accessible to you.
You may have felt like your challenges are a barrier to finding fulfilling work.
But the truth is, the skills and abilities you’ve gained through your lived experience with disability can make you an asset to the workplace.
Don’t believe us? Here are some examples.
1. A unique perspective
Many of your experiences in life are probably very different from the people you work with. This means you can bring a unique perspective to the workplace. You probably have ideas and opinions that others in your team will never have thought of.
Workplaces that have a variety of perspectives are healthier. They’re also better at looking after their customers. After all, customers have a wide range of life experiences too.
2. Empathy for others
When you’ve gone through struggles and frustrations yourself, you’re better at showing care and understanding when others are facing challenges. Empathy is a great life skill to have, it’s also really important for the workplace.
Workplaces which have a culture of empathy tend to be more productive. That’s because teams who care for and support each other work better together.
Knowing how to step into someone else’s shoes is great for customer service too. If you can be aware of your customer’s needs, they’ll walk away happier.
3. Creativity and problem solving
Most people with a disability face barriers in their daily lives which require them to regularly use their problem solving skills. That means you have to find an alternative solution.
For example, a person with a spinal disorder who can’t sit down for long periods might use a suspended laptop while lying down to do their work.
A person with dyslexia might use speech-to-text dictation software to write articles or compose emails.
Everytime you find an alternative way of doing something, you’re flexing your creativity and problem solving muscles. Creative thinkers are highly valuable in any workplace because they can meet challenges, adapt and create new solutions.
4. Persistence and resilience
If you’ve ever had to work at a problem until you find a solution, you know what persistence is. People with disabilities are often highly resilient when challenges arise.
Resilience and persistence are really valuable in the workplace. After all, challenges pop up everywhere. If you can push through and find solutions when others would give up, you’ll be a valuable asset to the whole team.
5. Quicker with assistive technology
Did you know that people with disability can access reasonable adjustments to help them perform well in the job? This could include braille machines and printers for a person who is blind or a Text Telephone for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing.
In some cases, assistive technology could make someone faster at their job than a non-disabled colleague. For example, using dictation software is often quicker than typing and it won’t make any spelling mistakes!
6. Different abilities
Your unique abilities could be an advantage in particular types of jobs.
For example, some employers specifically look for people living with autism because these people are often skilled at paying attention to details and spotting patterns.
Someone living with anxiety may be particularly good at gathering information and spotting risks. These are valuable skills in roles such as a research assistant, investigator or data analyst.
7. You can advocate for inclusivity
We need more diverse workplaces in Australia because the Australian population is very diverse. When a workforce reflects the community better it’s more likely to provide the community with more inclusive services.
Your experience as a person with disability can pave the way for more inclusivity and accessibility. Your insights and ideas could make a positive impact on the lives of many others.
8. Employers who are looking for diversity
In the past you may have had employers misunderstand or overlook you because you live with disability.
Today, there are other employers out there who want you because you’re the best candidate for the job. They understand the value of having a diverse workplace.
To them, your unique strengths, skills and perspective make you an essential member of the team.
Sometimes it takes a little help to find a supportive workplace where you can thrive.
If you’ve struggled to find work because you live with disability, you’re not alone.
At APM, we help people like you living with injury, illness and disability find and keep a job where they can use their unique skills and perspective.
We’ve seen how work can have a positive impact on people with disability and the workplaces they’re part of.
We’re Australia’s largest provider of the Disability Employment Services
(DES) program, a government funded initiative which can provide you with support searching for work
If you’re having trouble managing in the workplace, support from the program can enable you to find solutions so you can thrive in your job.
Find out if you're eligible for the Disability Employment Services program by contacting APM today.