Resources for Students with Disabilities
The Office of Career and Professional Development at Washington and Lee University has not vetted any of the internship and volunteer opportunity listings on this page and makes no representations or guarantees regarding any of the listed opportunities. It is the responsibility of students and alumni to do their own due diligence when applying for and accepting any of these opportunities.
General Career Advice
- Understand your protections against discrimination: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex which includes sexual/romantic orientation and gender identity/expression. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy. Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on genetic information.
- Know your rights: Understand the questions employers can and cannot ask you as you proceed through the hiring process. Review a sample of allowable and prohibited questions here. Focus the conversation on your skills and abilities and what you bring to the workplace.
- Research the company's culture and stance on disabilities: Connect with an employee or visit the company to check out the accommodations they provide for employees.
- Prepare for an interview: Disclose your disability if you need an accommodation for an interview or meeting. You may need to provide documentation of the disability and need for accommodations pursuant to the company's policies.
- Disclose as you feel necessary and appropriate: Decide how you would like to disclose your disability and how much you want to explain. This decision often depends on if it is a visible or invisible disability. If requesting accommodations, you will generally need to provide reasonable documentation of the disability and need for accommodations as part of the interactive process pursuant to the company's policies.
- Stay informed and negotiate: Learn about wage discrimination and visit CPD's resource library in Handshake to read about how to negotiate a good starting salary or raise. This information can also come from networking with other employees. Payscale, Salary.com, Glassdoor, and Robert Half are online resource for different salary comparisons and negotiation scenarios.
What are reasonable accommodations?
- According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a reasonable accommodation is "a modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions" (EEOC). While the employer is required to meet your needs in order for employee to work successfully, the employer is NOT required to adopt an employee's preferred or requested accommodation. The employer may instead offer alternate accommodations as long as they would be effective. Moreover, an employer would also not need to provide an accommodation, even if needed, if it would alter essential job duties.
When is an appropriate time to disclose a disability?
- If you need accommodations for the interview, let the employer know well in advance. If disability does not affect your work life, you have no obligation to disclose. Review this informational handout for tips on how to disclose.
How should I prepare to disclose a disability?
- Be ready to explain to the employer exactly what you need in order to do your work. Do research beforehand to analyze the costs; consider drafting your statement and practicing your delivery. To prepare for the request, determine what documentation will be needed and gather that information from your medical provider. Remember to highlight your skills and how you can contribute to the workplace and do not focus entirely on your disability.
How can I confirm an employer is supportive and accommodating?
- Read their equal employment policies to understand their position on supporting people with disabilities. When you apply, see if the application asks if the applicant has special needs or talks about the duty of the employer to create accommodations. Determine whether the employer has advertised on-the-job resources for people with disabilities and provides different ways to turn in the application (this may vary depending on the job).
What kinds of accommodations can be provided?
- Accommodations will be very specific to the position and impairment at issue. It may include having a building that is easily accessible in terms of infrastructure, flexible work schedules, and modifications for job training and work policies. Depending on the job, the employer is able to modify equipment for people with disabilities.
- American Association for Access Equity and Diversity - Association of professionals managing affirmative action, equal opportunity, diversity and other human resource programs
- American Foundation for the Blind - Working to increase possibilities and advocate for blind Americans
- Association for Higher Education and Disability - Association for individuals committed to equity for persons with disabilities in higher education
- BestColleges.com Guide to College Planning for Students with Disabilities - Free source of information breaking down the transition process, accommodations, scholarships, and more that students should be prepared with. They also provide planning that focuses on specific disabilities
- Campus Resource Guide for Students with Autism - The Autism Spectrum Committee at USC has compiled a list of campus resources ranging from student organizations to centers on campus for USC students with ASD
- Career Guide for Students with Disabilities - Best Colleges' guide to landing a job for students with disabilities
- Disability & The Workplace 2020: USC Disability Services and Programs (DSP) - University of Southern California 's Disability Services and Programs homepage
- DREAM: Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring - National organization for college students with disabilities
- Entry Point - Opportunities for internships in STEM industries
- Equal Opportunity Publications - Online job board for diverse candidates
- Lime Connect - Prepares and connects students to job opportunities in major corporations
- Mobility International USA - Resource base for internships, research, or teaching opportunities
- MoneyGeek's Guide for Job Seekers & Workers with a Disability - Guide to understand rights and accomodations under ADA
- National Business & Disability Council - Comprehensive resource for disability employment practices; also a job search database
- National Center for College Students with Disabilities - Federally-funded national center in the U.S. for college and graduate students with any type of disability
- National Leadership Fellowship (RespectAbility) - Program for those committed to disability issues and plan to go into careers in public policy, advocacy, communications, diversity, equity and inclusion, fundraising, nonprofit management or faith-based inclusion
- National Organization on Disability - Organization for increasing employment for Americans with disabilities
- Disability In - Empowering business to acheive disability inclusion and equality
- Workforce Recruitment Program - Connects students with disabilities to internships and full-time jobs
- American Association for Access Equity and Diversity - Career center and job resources
- Americans with Disabilities Act: A Guide for People with Disabilities Seeking Employment - Guide to FAQs on the ADA
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Titles I and V - Specific information on employment discrimination laws
- JAN (Job Accommodation Network) - Disability employment issues and guide for workplace accommodations
- US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy - Programs
- US Department of Labor Office of Diasbility Employment Policy - Youth, Disclosure, and the Workplace
- Zippia's Guide for Job Seekers with Disabilities - From how to find a job to perfecting your resume and how to prepare for an interview
- Zippia's Disability Resource Guide - Learning about laws that protect you, how to interview, finding accommodating companies
- Make an appointment with a Career Advisor on Handshake to discuss your career plans
- Opt in to CPD emails and select your communication preferences to receive notifications about industry-specific jobs and internships, career-related events and diverse opportunities
- The Class of 1994 Office of Inclusion and Engagement - Creating and maintaining a safe and supportive atmosphere as students integrate into the educational, cultural and social environment of the University
- Colonnade Connections and LinkedIn - Network with alumni
- WLUnite - Student club focused on educating, advocating, & raising awareness about disabilities and accessibility at W&L
- Lauren Kozak, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources