The job market is becoming extremely competitive as a lot of professions are dying out while new professions are emerging each year. As a result, people who are looking for a job need to be able to acquire new skills quickly to adapt to this changing market and move forward in their careers.

But how does this change affect people with disabilities? How will they stay relevant in this uncertain job market? And how can career counsellors support their clients with disabilities as they are searching for employment? Below, I will talk about the approach that you can take while working with people with disabilities, what kind of support that your clients will need along the way, and which are the most important aspects to focus on during your career counselling sessions to give them the best chance of finding a job that they love.

Types of Disabilities

Before you even start structuring the career counseling session when working with a client, you must have an assessment of the disability of your client from a licensed professional or healthcare practitioner. So, taking into consideration the type of disability, you can start planning your first session. Common disabilities include

● Deaf or hard of hearing people

● People with vision impairment

● People with intellectual disabilities

● People with physical disabilities

● People with an autism spectrum disorder

Working With Deaf or Hard of Hearing People

This includes people with hearing impairments that can range from mild to more serious. They may use several strategies, such as lip-reading, hearing aids, writing notes, and sign language interpreters, to help them communicate daily. Youwill need to determine the proper method of communication before you start your career counselling session. Working

With People with Vision Impairment

People with vision impairment have partial vision or are completely blind. If they are completely blind, they generally use the Braille alphabet to read and write. Apart from that, you can proceed with your standard career counselling sessions.

Working With People with Intellectual Disabilities

People with intellectual disabilities may have some limitations when it comes to communication, social skills, the ability to work certain jobs, and other difficulties depending on the type and seriousness of the intellectual disability. Before starting the career counselling sessions, you willneed to get information from a licensed professional about the seriousness of their condition to be able to determine the right strategy for the counselling sessions.

Working With People with Physical Disability

People with physical disabilities may have an impairment in their physical functioning, such as potential problems with mobility, dexterity, stamina, and so on. This disability can be temporary or permanent. People with physical disabilities will know the impact of their disability, so you can consult them and get an insight into what they can do during the career counselling sessions.

Working With People with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

The term "autism" is used to encompass autistic disorder, Asperger's syndrome, and atypical autism, which are conditions that affect how information is stored in a person’s brain. Therefore, people with an autism spectrum disorder may have difficulty with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, sensory sensitivities, and even some repetitive behaviours or reduced interest in certain activities. Depending on their condition, you will need to work with a licensed professional to create a tailor-made strategy for your career counselling sessions.

Creating a Career Counselling Plan for People with Disabilities

In this section, I will discuss the essential steps when creating a career counselling plan for people with disabilities.

Knowing the Extent of the Disability

Learning more about your client is crucial for every career counselling session, especially if you are working with a person with a disability. During your first session, you may want to discuss with them or get information from a licensed healthcare professional to learn what the extent of their disability is. As a result, you will have more information when the client starts talking about potential careers or job opportunities at a later point during the career counselling sessions.

Support System

An integral part of the career counselling journey is for the person to have a support system from family, friends, or professionals to hold them accountable or help them along the way. While the individual motivation of the client is of vital importance, having someone to have their back is also very beneficial in terms of increasing self-confidence and self-esteem as well as empowering your client.

Determine Expectations

As with any other career counselling session, the first thing you will need to do is establish trust with your client and discuss what they expect from the sessions.

Create a Personal Profile

During your first or second session, you may want to start working on creating a personal profile so your client can assess their needs and wants and remember that they may need some help to figure out what some of their strengths are. Some of the information that you may want to include in the profile are:

● Interests and personal values

● Information about their background and education

● List of skills and areas of competence

● List of goals

● The challenges they are facing

● Whatever else they think they should include

Create a Tailor-Made Plan

Each person has specific needs that they need to work on while on their career counselling journey. Some clients may want to work on their social skills, some will want to practice doing interviews, and some will have difficulty determining what they are good at. To be successful during your session, make sure that you create a tailor-made plan for each client. If they are working with other professionals, make sure that you consult them and discuss the plan of action with them as well.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, I have included the most important skills needed for doing career counselling sessions with people with disabilities.

● Have patience (remember that the whole process is a marathon, not a short sprint).

● Have empathy (Your clients are doing their best and they need to be able to rely on you to empathize with their feelings and concerns).

● Listen (Active listening is just as important as all the other tips we have already mentioned, if not the most important. Make sure that you pay attention to every piece of information that your client shares with you, because this small piece of information may hold the key to you figuring out exactly what type of help your client needs.)

I wish you luck in all your future career counseling endeavors!

Career Counseling People With Disabilities
  • Author / Originator: Izabela Hristovska, M.A. - Euroguidance Ambassador - North Macedonia
  • Country of origin North Macedonia
  • Main focus Career Development
  • Context People with disabilities
  • Type Intervention
  • Target group Career Guidance Practitioners
  • This practice developed through Erasmus+ No