Could Your Disability Make You A Better Employee?

I have a hearing loss. I work as a communications associate, spending my days developing social media and digital content strategies that are focused on communicating important information to our target consumers. Our target consumers are people with hearing loss, aka people like me!

While many could view my hearing loss as an inhibitor to employee performance, that’s not actually the case. In the case of my company specifically, because my disability matches those of our target consumers, it enables me to easily jump into the consumer mindset while drafting social media and digital content campaigns.

I know what consumers want, how they search for the information, the emotions they feel at each stage along the consumer buying journey, and I know what makes consumers worry, happy, etc. How? Because I have lived through the emotions. I’ve done the searching. I’ve felt the worry, the happiness, the endless array of emotions that comes with living with hearing loss.

I may be a newbie marketer, but I am experienced in living with hearing loss.

But what about other disabilities? What about other companies? Is my disability a valuable asset outside the hearing industry, or is my disability isolated to one track? I thought about the value a disability in general can bring to a company this morning and decided that, in the end, a disability can actually make you a stronger hire or employee.

Here’s how having a disability can be your strength:

  1. You can empathize and connect with anyone. When others experience problems, whether it’s professional, personal, physical or emotional, you can easily connect. Your disability has made you more sympathetic and aware of people’s feelings, because chances are, your disability has presented a string of issues in your own life.
  2. You are comfortable asking for help. Unlike some employees who may resist asking for help from coworkers or management, you’re comfortable with your own limits and with asking for help. Help=team effort. Help=better results.
  3. You’re not afraid of hard work. Sometimes having a disability means working just a little bit harder than everyone else. With hearing loss, it means I sometimes have to work twice as hard to hear in meetings, clearly understand a speaker in an auditorium or even deciphering my voicemail. Your disability has given you a strong work ethic.
  4. You bring a different view and opinion. Having a disability can give you a new outlook on the world around you, including places of business and products sold. That unique outlook can also lend a fresh, creative touch to a company’s existing campaign and help refresh or create strategy that broadens your brand’s consumer reach.
  5. Your life experience could be valuable. Depending on your disability and your job, your life itself could bring exceptional value to the company. For example, I have hearing loss and hearing aids and write for people who have hearing loss and who either have, or are considering, hearing aids. I’m still fresh in the world of marketing compared to many of  my colleagues, but my 13+ years of life experience in living with hearing loss and hearing aids is something nobody can learn from an office desk. Nobody can learn or 100 percent understand your disability unless they have it.

Having a disability shouldn’t hold you back in your career or in an interview. It shouldn’t be something you feel the need to hide or reveal later on. And while I count myself lucky in finding a company that not only understands my hearing loss but offers me the ability to help others with hearing loss, I know that my disability should never serve as an obstacle to what I want personally or professionally.

If you have a disability and want to share how it’s made you stronger at what you love to do and in your life, I’d love to hear about it! Share your own story in the comments below!

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