How Do You Find A Job as a Wheelchair User?

Jan 26, 2019

Anonymous asks, quote:

Do you know any companies that hire someone in a wheelchair? Most say you have to be able to stand so long.

end quote.

The short answer is “yes” because I am both in a wheelchair and employed. The longer answer is a bit more complicated.

On paper, companies are not allowed to explicitly discriminate against disabled people: we’re what’s called a “protected class”.

That being said, there are ways that companies still find ways to discriminate against disabled folks without running afoul of the law. For example, a job that does not require you to drive still states “must have valid drivers license” in the job description. Or a job that doesn’t actually require any heavy lifting says applicants “must be able to lift at least 50 pounds”.

Believe it or not, the “must be able to stand for long periods of time” requirement you mentioned is actually one that wheelchair users can get around. The requirement isn’t that you can literally stand. The requirement is that you are comfortable “not resting” for long periods of time. From the able‐bodied view, this means “standing”, but from your perspective it just means “not resting”. They’re saying they won’t give you a chair to sit in. But if you already come with a chair (wink), well, they can’t take it away from you, now can they?

All joking aside, I would encourage you to apply for any job you feel comfortable doing, know your rights and know exactly what accommodations you might need up front to do the job properly.

Second—and I know I’m speaking from a position of privilege here—invest in a skillset that allows you to work without selling your physical labor. Improve your typing skills and technical literacy. There are a lot of decent paying administrative jobs out there if you have the basic skills and know where to look. You’d be surprised how far “knows how to type and use Excel” will get you.