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Are You an Entrepreneur Living with Disability or Want to Become One?

person with visual disabilities uses a software assistant app to convert text to speech

Happy New Year! What better time to share new ideas for work opportunities. Especially since there’s plenty of research looking at entrepreneurs with disabilities that’s found the disability employment gap forces many people to make their own opportunities.

According to a research paper The Sydney Morning Herald shares statistics from, 9.2% of people without disabilities work for themselves compared to 13.1% of people with disabilities.

If you’re among the many who face discrimination in the workplace, or find it difficult to get employment with a disability, perhaps you’ve thought of becoming your own boss. Perhaps even from your own house, apartment or similar? Starting a home office is not for everyone, but it can be very rewarding.

In this article, Blue Badge Insurance looks at more of the research results and shares tips on starting your own business from home. Let’s take a look.

An entrepreneur with a disability efficiently operates a home business using a laptop in an office while seated in a wheelchair.

A new year, a new way to tackle the disability employment gap

Have you ever wanted to start you own business? Been wondering how to for some time now but haven’t quite got there yet? Even if it’s a completely new idea, perhaps you’re keen on finding out more.

Either way, you’re not alone.

A research paper from the UTS Business School and University of Technology Sydney shows there’s a bigger proportion of entrepreneurs with disabilities than without in Australia. We think there’s no better time than the start of a new year to join in.

It’s certainly been done very successfully before – think of Dylan Alcott launching Able Foods, for instance. Of course, he’s a famous example because he’s also well-known for being a wheelchair sports champ. But not all businesses need well known bosses because not all businesses do the same things.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, read about disability art in Australia and the people helping shape the space. This is a workspace that often requires self-employment and a mix of working at home as well as out of home.

One of the more well known entrepreneurs with disabilities, Dylan Alcott serves up healthy tasty meals from Able Foods.

The disability gap is a real concern

It’s well known that even in a country like Australia that has several large and small scale support systems for disability, there’s still a considerable disability employment gap. It’s not just a lack of disability employment opportunities that’s the problem – the study we mentioned earlier highlights that people with disabilities in the workplace still face prejudice.

Discrimination

Think about it; when you’re doing a job, getting it right already takes up almost all your time, focus and energy. Add a couple (or more) of hostile co-workers or higher ups and that can eat up all your efforts and go beyond.

This needs to end and for many wheelchair users there’s been no alternative but to channel their drive to work into home business ideas.

Closing the gap

In our latest article on areas the Australian Disability Strategy is measuring to see where improvement is needed, employment is a priority on the list. But in reality, it takes years for workplaces to become more inclusive and for the general person on the street to fully understand and embrace inclusivity.

The disability employment gap is real. The Sydney Morning Herald shares other research stats showing only 53.4% of people with disabilities find gainful employment compared with 84.1% of people without disabilities.

However, there is good news – the Federal Government and Australian businesses are launching a disability employment pilot scheme worth $3.3 million.

That said, maybe you’ve felt your skills and knowledge aren’t being given the right opportunities. If you’re among the many who find disability in the workplace isn’t adequately supported, perhaps finding out more about entrepreneurs with disabilities could inspire.

What work can entrepreneurs with disabilities do from home?

The possibilities are wide open – many professions that simply need a computer and internet setup can operate from home nowadays. If you have a good idea and business plan you may be able to be a one-person business as a start.

If your business has or needs staff, often you don’t need to meet in person to get things done. You can discuss work and brief in then track projects via Google Docs, Teams, Zoom, Trello and so much more.

There’s very little need to go into an office for a large range of jobs. Here are some examples:

  • Animator
  • Blogger
  • Bookkeeper
  • Business consultant
  • Content writer
  • Customer service consultant
  • Graphic designer
  • Marketing manager
  • PR consultant
  • Social media influencer
  • Transcriptionist
  • Tutor
  • Virtual assistant
  • Web developer

There really are too many options to list here. We’re sure you have some ideas of your own to add to the list and perhaps try out this new year. Read tips for starting your own business together with this government guide.

Three entrepreneurs with disabilities solve the disability employment gap by creating their own start up.

Seeking to solve the gap via different routes

Most of us are all too aware that many Australians with disabilities are forced to take the self-employment route because there simply are fewer employment opportunities. The Australian Research Council linkage project on entrepreneurs with disabilities from the UTS Business School and University of Technology Sydney is the first national study to look at this topic.

Let’s explore this a little…

Top barriers and motivators

To gain insights, researchers talked to 60 entrepreneurs with disabilities and asked 160 more about their experiences. The results were clear: there’s a lack of opportunity for people with disabilities and this can be disheartening. However, there’s also the drive to be part of the economy.

Entrepreneurs with disabilities have had to look for different routes to be part of that, like through running home businesses.

The research listed the top disability employment barriers. It also listed the top motivating factors for respondents to become entrepreneurs with disabilities. Here are the top five challenges and motivators listed:

Barriers / challengesMotivating factors
1)Budgetary limitationsHelping others
2)Future unpredictabilityBeing your own boss
3)Insufficient fundsFlexibility
4)Economic dependentsSkills development
5)Time constraintsPutting creative talents to use
Thanks to the Australian Research Council for running this linkage project and to Settlement Services International, National Disability Services and BreakThru People Solutions for funding it. After all, knowledge is power!
An entrepreneur disabilities who uses a wheelchair, gets dressed in her favourite smart attire to celebrate the one year anniversary of her home business.

Tips for joining entrepreneurs with disabilities

Now more than ever, the opportunity to work from home is becoming widely acceptable. That’s one good thing that came out of COVID! Working from home awards people with disabilities the freedom to wear comfy clothes, go to your own bathroom and (often it allows you to) pace yourself to your own schedule.

These upsides can be greatly beneficial in catering to and supporting one’s physical strength, stress levels, feeling of well-being and overall productivity.

If all this sounds like something up your avenue, read the below tips for starting your own work from home business.

The need for an accessible home

Living in an accessible home is probably something you’re already doing.

For example, moving easily between spaces both in terms of the size of your mobility equipment and adjoining areas or doorways is important. So is having ramps at all points where there are steps. It’s also important to cover cables with carpeting or rubber mats, to reduce wheelchairs and other mobility equipment from catching.

Read more on how to create an accessible home and find out about universal design in housing.

A women Google's info on a disability driving assessment

And an accessible home office

Working can be strenuous and if you work from your wheelchair it’s important to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible. Our guide to making your wheelchair more comfortable can help with seating.

For your desk space, you might want a height adjustable table. Also check out adaptive stationary and tech accessories that can make work smoother.

AT that supports entrepreneurs with disabilities

Assistive technology is designed to make achieving tasks easier and/or improve your productivity. There are several options that support a wide variety of vision, hearing, mobility and cognitive disabilities. Explore the latest innovations in assistive technology today to find out which software and hardware can be your eyes, ears and even your virtual assistant.

Also read about smartphone accessibility features. These are great because you have the technology with you when you’re out and about or working from home. Along with this, you might also want to explore five of the latest apps for people with disabilities.

Perhaps take note of Microsoft’s disability answer desk too, to help troubleshoot any technical issues you encounter along the way.

Protecting your independence and mobility

Whether you join the movement of entrepreneurs with disabilities or not, we know your mobility equipment is key to independence. That’s why we recommend protecting it for accidental damage or theft inside and outside the home. Having wheelchair insurance and mobility scooter insurance helps you pay for repairs or replacement if you need to.

As Australia’s first disability and independence insurance specialist we know your car is invaluable too. That’s why we offer up to 25% off car insurance for wheelchair accessible vehicles and disability car insurance.

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