Resources for Students with Disabilities

Introduction

It is important for every engineer to understand that having a physical disability should not in any instance prevent you from pursuing your goals as a scientist and as an individual. The American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 helps to prevent discrimination that might hinder your career or job search: "Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act... prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training,and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment." In fact, the government encourages companies to hire persons with disabilities through Equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws and by offering Federal Tax incentives programs for employers.

Nevertheless, remember that you are first and foremost being judged on your capabilities as an engineer and your ability to perform your job. Though accommodations and concerns for discrimination will be a factor in your job search, you must hone your resume and make strategic choices like any other engineer in order to land the job that you want.

Information to Know about Interviewing

"You are not required to talk about your disability during an interview. An interviewer should ask you questions about your job qualifications and about how you can perform the essential functions of the job. An interviewer is prohibited from asking you questions about your disability that are not relevant to your functioning on the job"

The Office of Personnel Management website provides information on anti-discrimination laws and how to obtain a job with the government.

http://www.opm.gov/disability/

If after reviewing these resources, you are still concerned about what questions you can answer in an interview situation, please see Interviewing Strategies (PDF), courtesy of Dartmouth College Career Services.

For general resources for interviewing, see Thayer Career Services' interviewing resources.

Online Resources

ENTRY POINT! is a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offering Outstanding Internship Opportunities for Students with Disabilities in Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science, and some fields of Business.
http://ehrweb.aaas.org/entrypoint/

Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is the premiere professional association committed to full participation of persons with disabilities in postsecondary education.
http://www.ahead.org/

Institute on Community Integration Websites: A bank of websites with information on housing accommodations and the latest technological advances for persons with disabilities.
http://ici.umn.edu/index.php?projects/list/

National Rehabilitation Information Center for Independence: This site offers resources for disability advocacy, a database of organizations, agencies, and publications, and information on how to get work or even start your own business.
http://www.naric.com/

The University of Pennsylvania: Career Service's list of websites on disabilities.
http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/disability/disabilitynet.html

Job Accommodation Network: How persons with a disability can be accommodated in the laboratory or workplace.
askjan.org/

Office of Disability Employment Policy: Good reference source http://www.dol.gov/odep/

Perspectives on Disabilities in the Workplace

In Industry...

Inside AAAS The Problem Solvers: Engineers With Disabilities
AAAS project was founded in 1975 to advance people with disabilities in science, mathematics, and engineering. Ralph Hotchkiss puts perspective on being an engineer with disabilities. "People with disabilities come to the field (of engineering) better prepared because we're all used to having to sweat to get things done," he says. "We look for the optimal way of doing things, and we have to do this everyday."
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Press/aaas.html

A series of articles in which students and professionals alike show that no disability is going to interfere with their goals.
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Press/divcam.html

In Academia...

Professor Lang from the Rochester Institute of Technology gives a general address at the Working Conference on Science for Students with Disabilities and speaks about approaches in teaching science to students with disabilities. An important aspect for students in the sciences, according to Lang is that "we educators must think about the whole notion of motivation and self esteem," to ensure the best in their students.
https://web.archive.org/web/20100612022533/http://people.rit.edu/easi/easisem/langst.htm

Access to engineering education: a test of determination for students with disabilities. Factors which help optimize an engineering education for students with disabilities.
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Press/engineering.html

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