If you have a physical disability, getting ready for the world of work may seem daunting. However, once you have received training, some jobs provide excellent career opportunities. If you have the potential to excel in information communication technology (ICT), you should be able to find employment and maybe even become the next IT entrepreneur.
A person with a disability should not be excluded from participating equally in the economy. If you have the right attitude, aptitude and skill, there is no reason you should not excel in your career.
ICT skills — particularly scarce skills such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing — are in high demand due to companies increasingly relying on technology to do business.
I am passionate about empowering young people with the right skills for the future and am focused on getting more people with disabilities and black women into the ICT sector while I am at the helm of Dynamic DNA.
The level of inclusion for people who are blind, for instance, may not be where we would like, there are opportunities for you whether you have difficulty hearing, have a speech disability or a mobility impairment.
During this Disability Awareness Month I would like to share my insights on why ICT could be a great career for you if you are living with a physical disability:
- The ICT industry’s jobs are not usually physically strenuous — making it perfect for people who have mobility challenges. There are some ICT jobs, however, that do require physical strength, such as telecommunications installers and technicians, so be mindful when selecting a course to study.
- With the availability of assistive technologies, such as speech-to-text applications, if you are living with a mobility disability or are hearing impaired, you could communicate with relative ease on email, WhatsApp, and through work applications. It will just require some practice and access to these technologies.
- Suitable ICT qualifications for people with mobility impairments include programmer, systems analyst, business analyst and software engineer, and for people with a speech impairment, systems analyst and programmer.
- While hearing is important to IT jobs that require strong interpersonal and verbal communication, there are careers suitable if you have a hearing disability, as well as visual libraries giving you access to course material. The most common careers are programmer, systems analyst, systems engineer, software developer, network administrator, and website developer.
- As remote working is now becoming an increasingly accepted way of working, effectively removing the physical barrier of access to the workplace, if you have a physical disability you can work from home. Many companies provide internet access as well as voice apps which allow you to answer the phone from your mobile device.
- As you may not have access to a specialised vehicle for travel and as some workplaces are difficult to access, remote working also removes these barriers for you.
You may find yourself nervous about integrating into your work environment, however, there are organisations such as ourselves that provide learnerships with full learner management from training, hiring, and workplace mentorship to successful employment, and complete administrative management of the skills development process to ensure the company taking you on also benefits from tax credits and levy reimbursements.
While there are still some barriers for people with disabilities in the workplace, this is changing through innovative assistive technologies, the support of South African companies that are becoming more inclusive, and the opportunity created by a growing IT skills gap.