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How to Prepare for Work if You Have a Disability

How to Prepare for Work if You Have a Disability

You’ve already aced the interview and landed the job, but you’re nervous about your first day. If you have a disability, that may add to the jitters. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 has made discrimination on the basis of disability, physical or mental, illegal, and for now, it’s an excellent jumping-off point. For persons with disabilities, though, the first day at a new job has additional challenges that come with it. The Human Resources (HR) – some organizations call it Personnel – department has paperwork that needs to be done the first day. HR also usually takes care of general orientation to the company. HR will help with how to prepare for first day at a new job.  Calling them beforehand and getting answers to some of these questions can help increase confidence and cut down on any first-day nervousness, or stage fright, that may crop up:  

Practice introductions to new coworkers

The phrase “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” has the air of a cliché, but it is true. Knowing ahead of time what to say when being introduced can help minimize any awkwardness that may arise when first hearing someone’s name. Asking that person to pronounce their name correctly for you, then repeating it not only helps fix their name in your mind but also tells the other person that their name and that getting it right matters.  

Be prepared to meet the company’s dress code

The right clothes help you fit in right from the very beginning. They don’t have to be expensive, just neat, clean, and fit reasonably well. This way, new coworkers have something visible to relate to. The right clothes give you one less thing to be concerned about.  

Get clear on how the orientation/training of your specific department and your specific job are going to work

Every company does this step differently. Some firms buddy you up with a more experienced person from the get-go, while some companies more or less throw you in at the deep end and expect you to figure it out on your own. Know ahead of time who to ask when you need help and don’t hesitate to get the help you need when you need it. Don’t suffer in silence.  

Learn the policies related to breaks and meals before your first day, including knowing whether or not to bring lunch or snacks with you

Whoever your new boss is, they will be able to tell you everything you need to know about breaks, refreshments, meals, etc. Sometimes, they even take new employees to lunch on their first day. If you need special food accommodation, it never hurts to be prepared ahead of time with a refrigerated carrier. If you don’t use it that day, you can always save it for another time.  

Have transportation to and from work arranged

If you need special transportation arrangements, for example, for a wheelchair, having it set up ahead of time takes a certain amount of logistical stress right out of the equation. Any new environment, much less a new job, creates stress to some degree. Having some advance knowledge and a little extra preparation can make a huge difference in how well the first day goes. RISE is a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to helping individuals with all aspects of their disabilities. Just some of the offered services include housing, assistance (at all levels of care) with activities of daily living (ADLs), early intervention strategies, physical and occupational therapies, job-hunting assistance, mental health services, financial management, and transportation assistance. Contact RISE at one of our 25 locations, or visit our website at for more info.