A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Finding a Job

Searching for a job these days is difficult for anyone, especially for the disabled. Only 20.9% of working-age wheelchair users have jobs in US according to the statistics from Cornell University. Competition and a struggling job market can easily deter you from searching for the job that is right for you. Don’t feel discouraged, use the following information to help you on your way to finding the perfect fit for you with our wheelchair user's guide to finding a job.


Below are some estimated statistics from Cornell University and American Community Survey (ACS) on the state of the job market in 2012 in the U.S. for working-age individuals with disabilities. 

  • 20.9 percent employed full-time/full-year
  • 10.8 percent not working or actively looking for work
  • 52.7 percent with a BA degree or higher were employed
  • 30.6 percent with a high school diploma or equivalent were employed
  • 20.6 percent with less than a high school education were employed
  • $36,400 is the median annual earnings for individuals ages 21-64 years with disability who were working full-time/full-year in 2012 

Sources: Disability Statistics from the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute (EDI). Retrieved Jun 27, 2015 from www.disabilitystatistics.org

Prepare Your Resume

First you will want to prepare a professional resume listing your contact information, education, skills and experience. There are a few ways you can make your resume stand out. Try using a specific font, add a professional picture in the top corner next to your personal contact details, offer references upon request and print it out on colored paper for interviews.

Federal and State Programs that Help Find Jobs

There are a variety of programs that will help you find a job that is best suited to your skills and experience. Contact the following offices for assistance.

  • Your state vocational rehabilitation agency
  • The Federal government selective placement program
  • The Social Security Administration’s Ticket-to-Work program

Disability Related Job Banks

You can also try searching for a job using the following disability related job banks:

Top Companies that Hire Disabled Employees

While most companies will hire disabled employees, there are top companies that are step above the rest. These companies are exceptional because each one offers specific perks such as providing a disabled-friendly workplace, disability awareness training for all employees, alternative career tracks, onsite physical therapists, pharmacies, health centers and massage services. According to DiversityInc’s list, the following companies are considered top options for disabled employees.

  1. EY
  2. Prudential Financial
  3. Procter & Gamble
  4. IBM
  5. KPMG
  6. Merck & Co.
  7. AT&T
  8. Sodexo
  9. Kaiser Permanente
  10. Comcast NBC Universal

Source: DiversityInc The 2015 DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities

Disability Discrimination at Work

Disability discrimination happens when an employer or entity that is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act treats a qualified individual employee with a disability unfavorably due to his or her disability. Law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a job applicant or employee with a disability, unless it causes undue hardship to the employer.

Know Your Rights

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are not required to answer questions related to your disability until you are officially offered the job. If potential employers ask questions regarding your disability, kindly change the conversation to focus on your skills and other abilities that qualifies you for the job. Or, you can simply say “we can discuss that once I have been hired for the job.”

Tips and Advice

At this point chances are you will be setting up interviews with potential employers. Being prepared for the interview process takes a combination of things to come together to present your best self. The following tips will help you be prepared and confident for your job interviews.

  • Bring a copy of your Resume
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your prior work experience
  • Dress for success
  • Ask questions during the interview
  • Have references contact information available
  • Bring any necessary paperwork with you including your portfolio
  • Ask for a tour after the interview to assure it is a wheelchair-friendly work environment
  • Keep a positive attitude throughout the interview
  • Express your interest in working for the company
  • Follow up with a phone call if you have not heard anything within five business days after your interview
  • Start an internship with a company to prove you can do the job which may turn into a full time position

Searching for a job can feel overwhelming, but take your time, follow the tips offered above and present the best of yourself to potential employers. Feel confident in your work abilities and discuss them during your interview. Always know you have rights under the Americans with Disability Act that employers are required to adhere to. Soon you will find a job that gets you on track to fulfilling your career goals. Good luck. 

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