Workplace Negotiation, Disability, and Access

Most workplaces are becoming more inclusive, hiring increasing numbers of people with disabilities in order to increase creativity and productivity. However, many employers are still stumped on how to best hire and retain employees with disabilities, as well as how to negotiate their work contracts. The following are a few aspects of negotiation that people with disabilities need to master in order to reach the best possible solution for themselves and their employer.

1. Find potential employers: A person with a disability may have better chances at employment if they apply with a company with a history of customized employment. Talk to employed disabled persons in your area and find out which companies may be more open to hiring disabled persons than other companies.

2. Find out the employer’s needs: The best way to get any job is to convince the employer that you fit a need they have. If you can identify a need that the employer was unaware of and demonstrate the importance fixing it, you will gain the employer’s attention and potentially a job. Do research on a desired company and find out their job openings as well as information regarding their expenses and revenues. If you can find a way to save a company money, you are a potentially valuable asset.

3. Get a foot in the door: Set up interviews or meetings to learn more about the company, and introduce yourself to the employer if possible. This interest will usually impress your potential employer, and if you can provide them with an idea to improve their company, they will be very interested. If you show that you are the most qualified person for the position, they will often be willing to make accommodations to hire you.

4. Understand the employer’s concerns. An employer has lots of responsibility to his or her customers, other employees, and investors. Hiring any new employee is a risk, and a disabled employee often represents a larger risk in an employer’s eyes. If you can predict all of the employer’s arguments against your employment, you will be able to dismantle or refute those arguments before they are ever brought up. This in itself will impress your employer, showing that you are able to look at a situation from multiple points of view.

A few of the obvious concerns shared by most employers are the costs of making accommodations for your disability in the workplace, the risk of your impairment affecting your efficiency and production, and the expectation of your wanting preferential treatment due to your disability. After addressing all of your potential employer’s concerns, try to convince him or her of your worthiness for the position. Do not result to bullying or threatening lawsuits for discrimination; that will only cause resentment.

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