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Why Entrepreneurship Is Popular Among People With Disabilities

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Here we are in October: Pumpkin Spice Awareness Month, right? That’s true, but it’s also Disability Awareness Month. Why is this monthly observance even more important than sweater weather and pumpkin-flavored everything?

Did you know that people with disabilities around the world are the largest minority and yet often the least talked about? Take cerebral palsy for example: worldwide, 17 million men, women and children live with this, the most commonly diagnosed group of congenital disorders, yet many people don’t know much about the condition.

People with disabilities are also one of the largest groups of people who struggle with unemployment. In 2018, the employment-population ratio — the proportion of the population that is employed — was 19.1 percent among those with a disability, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65.9 percent.

Those numbers call out an obvious disparity that needs to be remedied. How do we come together to create societal changes that welcome disability in the workplace? Firstly, I believe Corporate America’s all-business brain needs to shift to an all-embracing thought process; a mindset that celebrates disability — and all differences — as assets and equalizers rather than limitations or restrictions to opportunities, successes and health. Now isn’t that the kind of attitude and belief we should all try to adopt?

People with disabilities are incredibly creative, proficient and accomplished men and women; ignoring that fact based on physical or emotional prowess becomes a bigger issue than any workplace accommodation or adaptations will ever be.

As a 30-something year-old woman with a cerebral palsy, I know a thing or two about competing to keep my spot in the workforce. I’ve been laid off three times in the last two years. I am not alone – between the discrimination, unintentional or otherwise, and the lack of proper accommodations in the workplace, many people with disabilities struggle to hold on to long-term employment.

That’s why many people with disabilities turn to entrepreneurship in order to create their own space and make their mark on the community. Now, I have decided to take creative control of my professional prowess. Alongside my business partner, Erin Kay, we have come together to create Claiming Disability Inc. Claiming Disability Inc is more than a clever business name, it is a movement, a battle cry to strong and determined people who know that “disabled” is not a label informing limitations, but a badge of honor to be celebrated with pride.

Claiming Disability Inc provides education, emotional support, and mentorship that encourages confidence and increases professional and personal successes in the lives of people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. We are a multi-media brand producing educational and empowering media content and news-worthy campaigns about disability. Our platforms include podcasts, blogs, photo shoots, literature, clothing and accessories. We will also provide keynote speakers for high schools, colleges, universities, professional conferences, personal and development events to raise awareness of inclusivity and equality for people with disabilities.

Do you know one of the coolest things about creating this organization and this space for people with disabilities?

If you guessed that it’s being able to build a supportive and understanding community of people living with or around disabilities, and coming together to find camaraderie in the commonalities — then you know why this work is so important.

We are encouraging people to proudly claim their disabilities and share their stories. Why? Because when we share, we connect, and when we connect, we learn we aren’t alone. When we know we aren’t alone in our experiences and our feelings, it becomes easier to live more authentically and speak more freely about who we are.

Originally published: October 23, 2019
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