Disabled and job seeking – what is it like?

We all know how hard it is to find work these days, but what is it like for disabled jobseekers?

I’ll tell you.

I graduated from my post-graduate journalism degree at the end of 2015, and like most graduates I was told how hard it is to find work. You have to do a bunch of unpaid work in the hopes of exposure, which I did throughout university – a privilege not everyone can afford. Or you need a crazy amount of experience for an entry-level role.

Job-hunting is daunting as it is, but being in a wheelchair adds that extra anxiety factor when you’re wheeling yourself into that interview room.

My very first job interview was towards the end of university for a casual position at a major news agency in New Zealand. I was hired on the spot.

Then I had to bring up the access issue, so I could do the job they obviously thought my brain was perfectly capable of doing. Obviously. Because he ‘hired’ me straight away. That’s when things got weird.

All I needed was a portable track pad instead of a mouse. I had one at home that connects to a computer via Bluetooth. Literally all I had to do was bring it in. And even if I didn’t, there is funding available for equipment and modifications to help disabled people into the workforce. The company doesn’t have to fork out a cent.

He said he would have to talk to the IT department and get back to me as soon as possible. The next day I got an email saying they gave the position to someone else. After that my job seeking momentum fell immediately. Is this going to happen every time?

I find it quite hard to believe a track pad is not compatible with their computers.

According to the 2013 Disability Survey, 39% of New Zealand’s disabled population under the age of 65 are unemployed.

From that, 74% said they would work if a job became available. That is roughly 320,000 people who are capable of work but are likely not being given the chance.

I’m still unsure why they were willing to hire me as a wheelchair user but were not ok with one tiny equipment alternative. But I do know that if I hadn’t needed it, I would’ve been employed before I graduated.

I’m making this my first post because I think it’s important for people to know that things aren’t sweet for disabled people just because you see more ramps and guide dogs about than before. Total equality doesn’t come until we’re at least given a chance.


9 thoughts on “Disabled and job seeking – what is it like?

  1. My disability is ” invisible” and my issues may seem minor but with so many.
    …..I can’t answer a phone due to hearing issue so that’s out, mobility is a no go….so straight off the start line I’m incompatible. And I don’t receive a benefit due to partners income. Most of us would love to work …

  2. I agree with Azmat about the lip service. My disability is also hidden. I haven’t been hired for several jobs because I need different items which the company didn’t have to get for me, but they would rather have someone “whole” .

  3. What’s worse being told you cannot get any funding for an accessible wheelchair and transport if you work, or not being able to work without them? Frankly it makes complete sense not to work. You can at least move around the house, community, get access to go to the doctor, and supermarket plus get an accessible place to live. If you do work those on the ground with a concussion events will just keep on rolling, unlike the body, when eventually one fall takes too much. It is much harder when you have to pay 2000 times what others have trouble budgeting for on even a living wage. Yes both paths lead to poverty but the route without work has a higher chance of allowing independence.

  4. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and struggles that you’ve been through.
    May almighty Allah will make things easy for you in every single way.
    BEST OF LUCK. looking forward to read more useful stuffs like this in future 🙂

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