Consulting while disabled: are there opportunities for all of us?

I thought I’d start off this blog with a nice, light topic. Okay, perhaps not. The issue of matching people who have disabilities with effective contract opportunities matters a lot to me. Let me explain why.

walkerWhile I acknowledge that more and more companies in this country are striving to have solid accessibility policies to accommodate people with various disabilities and challenges, I personally have received the fuzzy end of the lollipop as a consultant. For about six years the only contract opportunities that have been presented to me have included the requirements: at the client site, five days a week. Whenever I would ask for part-time or telework contracts, I would invariably receive this response, “Oh yes, we do get those. We will update your file and contact you.” Well, frankly, it’s a good thing I didn’t hold my breath.

The core setback of my disability includes chronic leg neuropathy and fatigue.  It’s a challenge to force my pain levels into submission. I do have access to ParaTranspo, but often the long ride in would result in my being too exhausted and sore to even begin the workday. I live in one end of the city and often there are two other people to pick up and drop off before I can get to the downtown core. In the winter, sometimes it has taken me over two hours, one way. When I arrive at a destination in that much discomfort, it affects my brain function. I simply cannot concentrate when my pain levels are at seven or eight out of ten.

In my home office, everything is configured for me ergonomically. I also have a walker to help me move around inside the home. My bathroom is a step or two from my desk. When I work from home, I can manage my pain so that I be efficient and effective as a consultant. And if I need to switch from my chair to a couch to improve my comfort, I grab a laptop and do so. I know my home space and get a ton of work done, with excellent quality, chez moi.

This year I gave up on pursuing consulting through an agency. It was futile to think I’d get a few crumbs tossed my way. I divorced myself from that path and decided to go freelance. That’s when doors began to open for me. I’ve had the pleasure of editing manuscripts for two terrific authors, and have recently taken on two more authors as clients. I’ve even some web design projects, too. I’m so glad to see that after thinking I needed to close my business, there is still a way to do the work I enjoy.

I love meeting with my clients and working hard to make them happy. My hope is that word of mouth will spread with each new reference, and I’ll cheerfully continue my career as an editor and web designer. (And a shout-out to my wonderful clients who might be reading this. You are the best! Thanks for hiring me!)

What about you? What have been your experiences working as a consultant who manages a disability or condition? I’d love to hear your stories.



Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc., author of Life in the ’Cosm, and editor of the Spoonie Authors NetworkShe likes giving websites facelifts and arranging the alphabet into readable paragraphs.


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