Speech Disorders in the Workplace

My primary focus as a social worker is working with individuals living with disabilities teaching a variety of independent living skills including employment. Through my career I have seen the progress of people living with disabilities in the workforce who at first had very low self-confidence and communication skills. Many knew what they wanted but did not know how to ask for it or did not have the courage to ask for it.

It is important for employers and co-workers to understand that someone with a disability can be just as capable in the workforce as anyone else, but this understanding must begin with the individual living with the disability. I have a very obvious disability because I use a wheelchair, but I also have a few hidden disabilities as well, including learning disabilities. In my experience as a social worker and job coach, people living with hidden conditions like learning disabilities and who are entering the workforce after some time away, may need to work on their self-confidence, without which they may hang back from sharing with others. On a personal level, I had a hard time talking about one of my challenges—severe epilepsy which at one time affected my ability to concentrate. Through time I have learned how to work with my hidden disabilities so I can ask for appropriate job accommodations, while at the same time helping my clients find the accommodations they needed in order to be effective workers.

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