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Finding a job you love is tough. Even tougher: finding a job that is rewarding and accommodates your disability. While all companies are legally required to make reasonable workplace accommodations for people with disabilities as per the Americans With Disabilities Act, being forced to adapt isn’t the same as embracing an inclusive workplace.

To help people with disabilities identify inclusive companies, the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) created the Disability Equality Index (DEI). Over the past three years, the DEI has ranked corporations from 0 to 100, with 100 being the most inclusive.

Companies opting in on the survey are ranked based on hiring goals, company leadership, accessibility, benefits, recruitment, accommodations, community engagement and support services.

This year, the DEI surveyed 110 large companies, awarding its top score to 68 companies including CVS Health, Delta Airlines, General Motors, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Starbucks, Sprint, Walmart, Wells Fargo and Verizon.

Other notable companies include Deloitte, Metlife, Royal Carribean Cruises, Southwest Airlines and UPS.

Of the companies scoring above 80 percent, several — such as Aetna and Nielsen — offer remote positions ideal for people living with chronic conditions. (You can find more companies hiring for remote jobs here.)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 17.5 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed, about four times more than the national unemployment rate.

While 95 percent of companies surveyed said they have recruitment programs in place geared towards hiring disabled people, only 39 percent of companies communicate accommodations available for interviews, and half audit their external websites to make sure they are accessible to applicants with disabilities.

As important as accessibility and accommodations in the workplace are for making sure people with disabilities are included, another big barrier — often overlooked by employers — is health insurance. Many people with disabilities need attendant services and specialized care not often covered under company insurance policies. This makes even the most accessible jobs impractical for those who need certain health services to survive.

You can view DEI’s full list of best place to work here.

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On Sunday July 23, 2017 I flew from Belfast to Ibiza for a much needed four-night break. On landing at Ibiza airport, the special assistance ground crew advised me that my wheelchair was damaged during the flight. I was in complete shock as when disembarking and reunited with my chair, I discovered it was completely wrecked. The whole frame of the chair had been completely bent with the front wheels touching the back wheels.

With great difficulty, the ground crew tried to pull the frame back into place, which gave me the ability to partially use the chair, but I could barely put the front wheels on the ground. The chair was shuddering and I was being pushed forward, creating a huge risk of being thrown out of the chair. If this happens, it would be catastrophic as I have brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta) and any impact or trauma such as being thrown from my chair could be life-threatening.

I reported it to the desk and spoke to a Jet2 representative at the airport, who told me she could only help if I was booked on a Jet2 Holiday, whereas I was flight only. I reported the matter and left my contact details. I managed with difficulty to get to my hotel, where I had to spend most of my holiday and many of the activities I had planned were abandoned due to the damage done to my wheelchair. I emailed Jet2 immediately. It took two days for me to receive a call from them when in Ibiza. They left me stranded with no assistance or acknowledgement of the challenges I was facing.

Since arriving back in Belfast, I have spoken to Jet2 and they are only offering me £100 over their statutory obligation of £1200 which is the maximum payout their insurers will provide under “The Montreal Convention” all airlines signed up to for baggage claims. They are unprepared to look at the individual circumstances of this case and the risk they are now putting me in by using my severely damaged chair. I can’t use a standard wheelchair, as due to my disability the chair is completely custom-made for my needs.

I need a new chair and it will take over two months to get, however I need to find the money first to pay for it, which Jet2 is unwilling to provide. They have offered an apology and only £1207 in compensation towards the £4000 of a replacement wheelchair, which in itself I cannot afford to pay. Furthermore, they have offered absolutely nothing towards the holiday that was ruined due to their negligence and have shown a complete lack of ethics in handling the matter appropriately.

Has your wheelchair been broken during air travel? What did you do?

Follow this ongoing situation at Chris’ Facebook page.

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Photo by contributor.


I am disabled. I write about disabled characters, and my biggest goal is to spread awareness about chronic illness. There are roughly 1 billion disabled people in this world; that is about 1/7 of all people. Today I want to address the problems of how literature portrays disabled people.

The first problem that comes to mind is the lack of diverse disabilities. I have never read or heard about a book with a character that has invisible chronic illness. Most characters are blind, deaf, use a wheelchair, or some other form of visible disability. And the ones that are not visible are almost always mental illnesses. Many disabilities are invisible, and there are tons of non-mental invisible illnesses, but these are rarely portrayed.

The second problem is the genres disabled characters appear in. Very rarely are they in action-adventure, fantasy, mystery, thriller, superhero fiction, etc… And even when they do appear, they are rarely the hero, but we will get back to that in a moment. Most of the time they appear in romance, drama, basically real life non-action genres. And I know you might be thinking “But how can they be in action books when they are disabled?” We still have lives and can do amazing things you wouldn’t expect. I am disabled myself and I can still dance, take fighting classes, hike, rock climb, and tons of other things. Now remember not all disabilities are the same; even though I can do something doesn’t mean everyone can. But in fantasy and science fiction, there are unlimited possibilities.

Now here is the third problem. Most disabled characters are just stereotypes. Like the friend who is disabled and always looks on the bright side, and they also serve as a way to remind the main character that it could always be worse. The person who uses their visible disability to get things. The teenager who is depressed, but really they only need friends. The side character who gets picked on so the main character can protect them. The disabled vet who just needs love to stop having PTSD. And the list goes on.

My fourth problem is disabled characters are rarely the hero. I don’t think this needs much explaining.

So if you want to add a disabled character to your story, here re a few tips.

1. Try talking to a disabled person and ask them what they would like disabled character to be like.

2. Remember disabled characters can be the hero.

3. Read true stories about people who live with disabilities.

4. I suggest visiting The Mighty.

5. Don’t just pick a well-known disability without specific experience or knowledge about that disability.

6. Remember disabled characters can be in any genre.

7. Actually do research.

What is a disabled character stereotype you want to stop being used? Comment below.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Moodboard.


For people with disabilities, making our homes accessible is key to promoting independence and having the freedom to live as we choose. In recent years, creating a truly accessible home has become easier thanks to smart home technology. Gone are the days of needing to purchase a disability-specific, specialized device just to perform one simple task. Today the Internet of Things and a smart phone give us access to tools that can transform our environments. These conveniences for non-disabled people can be life-changing for us.

As with many new technologies, smart home devices can be on the pricey side. But the good news is with integrated systems like Amazon Alexa, you can expand your smart home capabilities a bit at a time, starting with what you need most.

I have cerebral palsy and use a power wheelchair. When I moved across the country a couple of years ago, I decided I would start using smart devices in my new home to increase my safety and independence. They have made a tremendous difference in my life, even more than I expected.

So I decided to ask our Disability on the Mighty Facebook community which smart home devices they use and recommend.

If you have a disability or chronic illness and you’ve been considering turning your home into a smart home, this list should help you get started!

Just so you know, we’ve selected these links to make shopping easier for you. We do not receive any funds from purchases you make.

1. Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo allows people with disabilities such as limited hand coordination to control devices in their home.

The Amazon Echo is an ideal starting point for any smart home setup. The Echo and its smaller companion Echo Dot allow you to control devices in your house using your voice. Of course, you can also download the Amazon Alexa app for your smart phone, and use it to control your devices when you’re not home.

Mighty community member Suswati says the hands-free aspect of Alexa is particularly appealing. She uses it to “set timers, reminders, alarms, shopping lists and do Internet searches to avoid using [her] hands too much.”

Buy the Amazon Echo above for $99.99 on Amazon.

2. Smart Lock

The August smart lock gives a person with a disability more control over personal care assistants and other support workers who have access to their home.

Do you need to give personal care attendants, nurses, therapists or a housekeeper access to your home? If so, a smart lock is a much safer option than a keypad. Keypad locks don’t tell you if, when or by whom they’ve been used, and it can be difficult to change the combination. The combination can easily be given away to someone with harmful intentions. By contrast, the August smart lock uses each user’s smart phone as a key. You can give users admin, guest, or temporary access, or even limit the days and times they can enter your home. The app keeps a log of who has entered your home and when, so you can confirm your kids or home health aide arrived on time. Don’t want someone coming over anymore? You can remove their access in seconds.

Buy the August smart lock above for $181.24 on Amazon.

3. Smart Doorbell

The Ring smart doorbell lets you see who's at the door via your smart phone, even if you're sick in bed due to a chronic illness.

If you spend a lot of time in bed due to a disability or chronic illness, or can’t see out your front windows from your wheelchair, a smart doorbell can help. The Ring smart doorbell has a motion-sensor camera and will show you who’s at the door, so you can decide whether to answer or not.

Buy the Ring doorbell above for $177.00 on Amazon.

4. Smart Thermostat

The Nest thermostat gives people with disabilities complete control over their home temperature via a smart phone app.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night feeling boiling hot or freezing cold, but getting out of bed would be physically impossible or painful? This used to happen to me all the time until I got my smart thermostat. Now my thermostat keeps my house at the exact temperature I want (78 degrees; many of us folks with cerebral palsy like to keep our houses really warm) — but if I happen to need to change it to something else, I can do so from my phone anywhere in my house, or even when I’m out. I can turn down the heat to save energy when I leave and turn it back on as I start to head home, so it’s nice and comfy when I arrive.

Mighty community member Codi recommends the Ecobee thermostat, and I use the Nest Learning Thermostat. Honeywell is another popular option. Whichever you choose, it will give you increased control over the comfort of your environment, day and night.

Buy the Nest Thermostat above for $249.00 on Amazon.

5. Smart Lighting and Outlets

A Philips Hue starter kit can make lights accessible if you have a disability.

Smart lighting is one of the best tools for increasing access and visibility in your home. Gone are the days of having to remodel a house just to lower a light switch for access. One smart plug or light bulb can make even the most inaccessible fixture simple to use with a tap to your smart phone screen.

Smart light bulbs like the Philips Hue give you more options than just “on” and “off.” They’re dimmable, and some bulbs can even change colors. So if you need to dim lights to reduce sensory overload, or see more effectively in a certain color light, you now have options.

Although individual plugs and bulbs aren’t terribly expensive, they add up quickly. This is where building your home’s network gradually comes in. You can use a Philips Hue starter kit to get your most frequently used or currently least accessible room set up first, then expand to more areas as money allows. Another money-saving tip: where possible, buy a smart power strip and then plug in multiple devices.

Buy the Philips Hue starter kit above for $69.99 on Amazon.

6. Smart Curtains, Shades or Blinds

 

Smart curtains and blinds solve one of the more difficult challenges for disabled people and are a useful smart home device.

Curtains and shades can be very difficult for people with mobility disabilities to operate. Smart window coverings solve this problem. Some options include Slide for curtains, Soma for shades, and My Smart Blinds.

Buy the My Smart Blinds above for $99.00 on Amazon.

7. Smart Garage Door Opener

A smart garage door opener makes it easy for people with disabilities to open their garage from anywhere.

It’s easy to lose garage door openers, and the buttons can be hard to press if you have limited hand strength. With a smart garage door opener, you can open your garage from anywhere. Be sure to check the brand of your existing garage door opener to choose a compatible smart add-on — several major brands have them, including Chamberlain and LiftMaster. NexxGarage works with many of the systems that don’t have their own branded smart add-on.

Buy Chamberlain Smart Add-On above for $70.85 on Amazon.

Smart homes can empower people with disabilities to live more independently, giving us control over our environment and freedom to make choices able-bodied people may take for granted. As smart home technology becomes more widespread and affordable to those who need it most, our world will continue to become a more accessible place.

What smart home technology do you use? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll update this list!


It’s expected Congress will continue getting negative feedback about the president’s proposed $64 billion in cuts to the Social Security disability program from constituents. Trump’s cruel and unusual budget affects those who can least afford it… America’s underrepresented disabled population.

Every member of Congress regularly gets complaints about their constituent’s obvious disability claims being denied by the Social Security agency and stuck in appeal. I believe it doesn’t have to be this way — the approval of legitimate disability claims without up to three years of appeals, the extra burden of tens of thousands of unnecessary cases on the federal judiciary, overworked agency physicians who add further delays, and finally, an antiquated medical record sharing process that’s unusable for the poor.

The current agency strategy of hoping that disability applicants will move abroad, die or somehow “magically disappear” before granting benefits has proven distasteful, ineffective and detrimental to both the economy and our moral standards as a civilized democracy. The agency’s own statistics cite that disability beneficiaries are more than three times as likely to die in a year as other people the same age. No other democratic country remotely approaching the U.S.’ prosperity allows their disabled to become bankrupt, homeless and lose their independence — all through no fault of their own.

The situation has become so hopelessly broken that it’s not sarcasm to explore whether the disability program itself could still be effective and continue with Trump’s budget and these existing issues. In a March 2017 report by Social Security’s oversight body, the suggestion was made to re-assess the (currently 85 percent) goal for denials to determine whether it should be further increased! The agency and the president aren’t the only who share disdain for America’s disabled, otherwise, this tragedy would’ve been fixed decades ago by one of the two subcommittees (one in the House and one in the Senate) tasked with oversight of Social Security in Congress.

Having 800,000 to 1.2 million disabled Americans each year (on average) waiting on unnecessary disability appeals declaring bankruptcy and losing their homes adversely affects the economy. If the agency didn’t have a management directive to deny so many disability applications, the problem could be solved almost overnight. The National Agree Rate is the cryptic name the agency uses for the denial focus area. Even if one is indifferent towards the disabled community, I believe it’s financially in the nation’s best interest to ensure they don’t wait three years to receive benefits they’ve contributed towards throughout their working careers.

Did you know 1 in 6 men (and 1 in 7 women) tragically die on average within 5 years of claiming disability benefits? Since many are working longer and are 55 (or over) when they apply but not eligible for retirement, Trump’s budget cuts are especially cruel. Nobody in America should have to worry about bankruptcy or becoming homeless because they couldn’t work and applied for disability benefits.

Congress should tell the president that cuts to disability aren’t acceptable; that being disabled is a bipartisan and human issue — one which cannot accept any further tragedies without total collapse. Next, passing the Eastman Disability Reform Act of 2017 would allow for a drastic reduction in disability appeals and wait times. Regardless of partisan divisions regarding the funding of Social Security itself, a bipartisan resolution for an issue affecting so many is difficult to ignore.

Fixing the disability approval process would also salvage an otherwise lackluster year for Congress and instead make it historically significant. The meltdown of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, coupled with Trump’s unprecedented planned cuts for funding the disability program have set the stage, at long last, for ending the disdain the Social Security Agency has for the disabled.

I believe fixing the “disability impossibility” is the most important Social Security reform opportunity in its history, eclipsing even the much needed 1984 expansion of access to the program. It shouldn’t be easier to get asylum or citizenship in a foreign country than Social Security disability is in America. We must ensure our future generations don’t simply accept this decades-old calamity as part of being disabled in America.

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Thinkstock photo by Zimmy TWS.


I’m going to tell you a little story. When I was around the age of 5, I sat down to watch a movie. The title? “Mary Poppins.” I was completely enthralled by the adventures that were playing out in front of me. The magical tidying up game, the horse race that took place in a chalk drawing, the tea party on the ceiling. Sure, the two young children and the dancing chimney sweep were great, but there was someone else who particularly stood out to me.

A little while later, my mom sat me down and to watch another film. This was one was slightly more serious than “Mary Poppins,” but she was there again. The person who had stood out to me before. Apparently her name was Julie Andrews, and boy was I smitten.

I became totally obsessed with “The Sound of Music” and would often sit in front of the television watching the singalong version and reenacting the scenes. Later on, when I found out that the musical was actually a play first, I dreamed of being a Von Trapp child. On the West End, on Broadway, in an amateur dramatics performance, anywhere.

However, deep down, I knew that this would be very unlikely, if not impossible. I’m not talking about the audition process, I’m talking about the fact that I have spastic diplegia cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. So for the past 12 years or so, I’ve had to be content with just singing the songs at home.

Julie Andrews has always been a star in my eyes, but recently she and her daughter Emma did something gargantuan in terms of making the arts more accessible for the disabled. “Julie’s Greenroom” premiered on Netflix on 17th March. The show is aimed at preschool children and in each episode Andrews enlists a celebrity to help teach her Greenies (who are puppets built by The Jim Henson Company) about various areas of the performing arts. One of the Greenies, Hank, is a very talented pianist and happens to be a paraplegic. He therefore uses a wheelchair. It is also important to note that another of the Greenies is gender-fluid, and one is Latino.

When I first heard about the show, I immediately thought back to the little girl in leg braces. My parents have always taught me that my disability should not dictate my life, and that I can be whatever I want to be. Of course, I have always been terribly comforted by these sage words, but nothing can compare to seeing someone like you being represented in the wider media. Although I may be 17 now, seeing Hank on screen filled me with a joy that is usually only reserved for “my favorite things.”

Anyone who is remotely close to me knows that one of my biggest passions in life is making people aware that the theater needs to be accessible for all, and I don’t just mean via accessible seating arrangements within the auditorium. The arts give a voice to the voiceless, and allow them to feel as though they are being heard. Not only this, but I believe the arts are a great outlet in times of strife. Whenever the seemingly endless amount of medical appointments is beginning to get me down, I turn on a Original Cast Recording. If one of my down days (there really are not that many) happens to coincide with a show I have tickets to, I relish those two or so hours in which I can escape to another world.

In creating “Julie’s Greenroom,” Julie and Emma have done something that may end up saving lives. If any of the children watching the show are also wheelchair users, they will be able to see that the world of performing arts is a completely viable outlet for some of the frustrations they will inevitably encounter in their everyday lives. I am in no way implying that every disabled person will experience suicidal thoughts, but it is vital for these children to realize that they can channel their anger in a positive way. The introduction of the show may also make theater companies and playwrights (both amateur and professional) realize that in order for disabled people to get the most out of the arts, they need to make their work more universally accessible. A few more plays that feature characters who are wheelchair users would be a great start.

Another winning element of “Julie’s Greenroom” I have yet to mention is that Andrews sings. Yes, you heard me, sings. After a failed surgery quite some time ago, Julie has turned her attention to expressing her love for the arts in other ways, such as writing. In my opinion, the fact that she sings a little bit in the show helps demonstrate to the young audience that you shouldn’t let adversity stand in the way of what you love to do. I would understand and be happy without hearing Julie Andrews sing again. She has often expressed how much joy she finds in writing, and how the loss of her voice has allowed her to peruse other hobbies. But something inside me flips when she does treat us to the odd few notes. I am immediately back in my living room, as a 5-year-old girl whose ears are being gently caressed by the voice of an angel.

I don’t think I will ever be able to repay Julie and Emma for all they have done. Although I may no longer be part of the show’s target audience, I will always have a special place in my heart for “Julie’s Greenroom.” I am completely aware that Julie will probably never read this, but I just felt the need to say thank you. Not just for this new Netflix show, but for the profound impact she has had on my life. You may think I am exaggerating when I say this, but I cannot imagine what my life would be like without influence from the great Dame Julie Andrews. She is a constant that has connected three generations of women within my family, and for that I will always be grateful.

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Photo via “Julie’s Greenroom” Facebook page.

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