Students With Disabilities: Your Guide To Landing A Job

Many students think that finding a good well-paid job is the real challenge and it is indeed true considering a 37% unemployment rate among the civilian noninstitutional population of 16 years and older. However, students with disabilities are the ones who face even more obstacles as barely 20% of them mentioned that they are employed, according to the 2018 annual survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though all these numbers should show to students is that there are multiple opportunities that are not yet used for their benefit and this article intends to reveal some of them.

Problems that students with disabilities face in search of a career

Firstly, they often are afraid of disclosing the fact that they have a disability due to the fear of the immediate harsh rejection. Secondly, they might face instances of discrimination from employers’ side which impede students from even attempts to give it a try. Thirdly, they might not understand that a job seeker has numerous rights and it does not matter whether he or she has any disabilities.

Another problem that forms the background for the above-mentioned ones is the lack of resources and available options. It might be the lack of specific career counseling services or centers for people with disabilities in both the college or the entire city. Local employers might have limited options available for students with disabilities.

Problems that are the consequences of all stated issues include the absence of required experience and skills: lack of specific job-related skills, limited teamwork ability, and lack of communication skills. All these aspects result in an insufficient resume that, consequently, makes a student even more afraid of seeking new opportunities than before. That is why it is crucial to realize all the negative effects of this vicious circle and do not be afraid of making small steps towards the goal, even if they do not appear to be effective at first sight.

What rights do they have to protect themselves?

Just think, if there is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that intends to secure an appropriate education for all children with disabilities, why shouldn’t there be a law that protects students with disabilities who are looking for a job? Indeed, there are multiple rights and students must be aware of them prior to starting looking for a job.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the first legislation to review for anyone who wants to feel completely confident and protected. Just a few insights that can reassure anyone that he or she is expected and welcomed to search for employment:

  • The ADA ensures equal opportunities for all people not only in public accommodations and various services supported by governmental agencies but in employment as well.
  • Discrimination of workers due to their disabilities is prohibited.
  • Employers are requested to support their employees with all needed accommodation and devices, for instance, telecommunication devices designed for the deaf people’s comfortable work.
  • It is allowed neither to request specific information about workers’ disabilities and force them to complete medical examinations nor disclose any medical records the employer may hold.

Opportunities while studying

It is always better not to wait until graduation to start looking for a job. Ground for future successful employment should be built as early as possible and it is relevant for all students including ones with disabilities.

There are multiple ways to improve one’s resume and feel more confident upon graduation. Some of the opportunities include the following:

  • Internships: It does not matter whether it is paid or unpaid as students seek for a few months of work for a potential employer mainly to obtain real working experience and useful skills.
  • Independent study: This opportunity should be especially interesting for students with disabilities as it usually presupposes distant learning, allowing them to avoid stressful effects of the traditional academic environment, at the same time reinforcing motivation, time-management, and research skills.
  • Cooperative work experience: Suggested by educational specialists from Rogue Community College, this program implies involving students in the real working environment in return for college credits. This way is useful to obtain practical skills rather than purely theoretical knowledge.
  • Service-learning: Similar to the previous opportunity, this one implies the application of what has been learned in class to real community service. However, it is closer to volunteerism as it usually does not presuppose some financial compensation or additional academic credits.
  • Job shadowing: This is the type of onboarding training where a student, being a potential employee, observes how another experienced employee proceeds with work duties. Following all the nuances of the trained worker’s actions is very effective for understanding what is expected in this particular position.

What internships can students with disabilities benefit from?

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

Students who are residents of the USA with disabilities of any type can apply to several summer internship programs that include housing, stipend, and transportation. These high-level programs are available for 17 years already. Former intents received offers of careers in various non-profit, private, and governmental organizations.

Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)

This recruitment program focuses on creating opportunities for students with disabilities and is managed by the U.S. Department of Labor. WRP offers temporary and then permanent employment in the federal sector as well as in private one.

The Emerging Leaders Internship Program

This program at The Viscardi Center is coordinated by the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) and suggests nationwide internships for students with disabilities. Numerous businesses across the country are partners of this program.

Build Opportunities for Leadership & Development (BOLD) Internship Program

Underrepresented in the technology industry students, including not only minorities but students with disabilities as well, can enjoy the opportunity to apply for a summer internship at Google. Interns are distributed among various teams and all of them can be considered for full-time employment in this huge company.

Which jobs are better for people with different disabilities?

Despite the fact that people with disabilities have more opportunities nowadays thanks to modern technologies and protective legislation, some jobs are still a better fit for these people. Their special needs will not change the workload and career progression.

What to do in case of discrimination?

Despite all positive changes and the presence of legislation that protects disabled students, they still can face cases of discrimination. For instance, an employer may refuse to promote a worker with a disability simply referring to insufficient qualification while it is obviously not true, refuse to provide a required reasonable accommodation, or simply behaving hostile and not tolerant.

Those who faced these or similar cases should contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They should note that the time limit for the submission is 180 days after the act of discrimination. The investigation will result in an appropriate remedy in case the discrimination is confirmed.

Tips on advancing career

  • Explore all the open possibilities. Start from checking available governmental jobs as they are willingly looking for people with disabilities and hire them. Asking career counselors would be a good decision.
  • Prepare for the interview as you need to be confident and know how to properly inform a potential employer about the disability and what you will need in terms of accommodations.
  • Pay more attention to developing a neat and perfected resume along with the cover letter.

Additional resources for disabled students

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

Employees with disabilities can seek confidential assistance in terms of workplace accommodations, consultation regarding legislation, and various issues related to disability employment.

Vocational Rehabilitation Programs

Students with disabilities may ask for assistance and development of the Individual Plan for Employment through various VR programs and services across the country.

This platform which offers job search opportunity for people with disabilities and assists inclusive employers to find skilled workers.

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If you need some more free time to prepare for an interview, your independent study, or internship, it might be useful to get professional writers for hire for less important subjects.


Any type of disability could be neutralized, whether it will be the application of special technologies and accommodations or choosing the correct career path. All people have equal rights to have a decent job and enjoy all earned benefits.

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