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Disability Empowerment

How COVID-19 Is Changing the Way We Work

Tana Zwart

National Ambassador, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)

In the last few months, the general population has had to step into the adaptive shoes of the disabled community (whether they realized it or not) because many large aspects of their lives have become just that: dis-abled. A circumstance outside of anyone’s control has disrupted our lives, forcing each of us to get creative and reevaluate how to navigate the day-to-day.

While this historically defining time will see hard losses, and possibly mark radical reshaping of our society, I think some necessary realizations and pivotal, positive changes will surface as well. Particularly in terms of how we go to work and the flexibility more employers acquire in terms of working from home. 

So what exactly will all this amount to? Hopefully, a more inclusive job front.

Working from anywhere

The concept of working from home is far from novel. Technology has allowed remote working to become an extremely feasible option over the last two decades, especially for people with disabilities. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act identified remote work as a reasonable accommodation in 2002. Despite that, only 3.6 percent of the U.S. workforce works at home half-time or more, according to Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2018 American Community Service. 

Sometimes the viability of an idea is not fully realized until necessity forces it. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many employers to quickly figure out how to keep “business as usual” as close as possible to usual, by using creativity and a more open-minded approach to how work gets done. 

Meetings and conferences have become virtual. Employers are figuring out how to hold their workers accountable, keep projects moving, and gauge progress using nothing but the internet and cellphones. 


There’s been a huge shift away from the traditional workspace, and the fears and hesitations that have kept many businesses away from the idea of telecommuting in the first place are being faced and untangled. Positives and potentials are being realized. As someone with a disability who needs to work remotely part of the time, it’s promising to see. 

Opening up that job pool would give us the ability to find positions better tailored to our own unique skill sets and passions, instead of having to settle for what is available or even no job at all, due to narrow offerings and high demand. 

It could mean a whole new horizon of opportunity for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses – talented, highly skilled people who just simply need the flexibility to work from their own living space. Not only that, it could mean a whole, virtually untapped group of valuable, hard-working, dependable employees for employers. It’s a win-win. 

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