Disabilities in IT

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Dear Techie,

I walk with two crutches and cannot find any information in regard to this issue as it relates to having a career in IT. In the U. K., disabled people find it difficult to find information on IT careers, as there is no inclination as to which areas are suited for what situation (in my case, mobility).

– Mitesh

Ken Wagner:

Reading your question, it sounds as if you’re asking about three issues:

1. You’re worried your mobility problem will stop you from getting an IT job.

2. What career(s) in IT would actually suit you in your position?

3. What certifications or credentials will assist you in getting a successful job?

First of all, employers in the United Kingdom are governed by various laws and regulations, including the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 and 2005. Provided you are able to do the job, companies cannot discriminate against you when it comes to interviews and/or hiring. But I must emphasize, “provided you are able to do the job.”

If you do not have the skills or experience to fill a vacancy, then those laws and regulations will not apply. Choosing which route to follow is a personal thing. You shouldn’t decide your path just because someone said it’s a good idea.

But there are some IT careers that you can go for without worrying if your mobility will hold you back, such as IT help desk, programming/software engineering, database administration, project management, Web development, etc.

Now, as for what certifications or credentials to take, this really does depend on what job you end up with and in what field of IT. One thing to stress is that no certification, qualification or credential guarantees a successful job — ending up with a rewarding, high-paying career depends on experience, knowledge, qualifications and a lot of time.

Getting your first job in IT is hard. Although it might take a minority of people a couple of weeks to get their first job, many more have to wait months to years to get their foot in the door. It took me about five years to get my first IT job.

Wayne Anderson:

Ken really is on the spot here. Although you are apparently in a position to be challenged by impairments that require you to seek accessibility-enabled work places, I would stress that this does not have to affect your IT career. As I understand it, U.K. law should protect you from discrimination based on your disability.

Those in the United States in a similar situation might want to familiarize themselves with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You can learn more about the ADA and how it can assist you with avoiding discrimination at http://www.ada.gov.

Unfortunately, early in most IT careers, it is difficult to put yourself in a position to avoid an impact from impairment, as telecommuting jobs are difficult to come by in general, particularly at the entry level.

Instead, I would focus on building your experience and certification to target a high-percentage telecommuting position later on. Even entry-level certifications such as the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) might be the edge you need to be competitive with other candidates.

If you find it difficult to obtain that first position, you might need to reassess your standards. Do not be afraid to take contract work, limited-term engagements or internships if the opportunities arise.

Often, although these jobs do not immediately provide benefits or long-term security, they can be the experience-building resume listings that will help you secure a more stable position for the long term.

Wayne Anderson is a highly certified system engineer course developer for Avanade, a global Microsoft consultancy. Ken Wagner is an IT network manager and part-time IT lecturer in the United Kingdom. He has lived in the United States, Asia and Europe. To pose a question to Ken and Wayne, send an e-mail to DearTechie@certmag.com

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Wayne Anderson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Anderson (@NoCo_Architect) is a Service Management Architect with Avanade, a company that helps customers realize results in a digital world through business technology solutions and managed services that combine insight, innovation and expertise focused on Microsoft® technologies. He holds the Certified IT Architect – Professional credential from IASA and has completed more than 30 Microsoft certifications in his career alongside credentials from CompTIA and other industry vendors.

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