by Karen Kodzik

A National Health Interview Survey showed that more than half of the non-working adults with disabilities studied wanted to work, but encountered employment difficulties. If you face barriers to paid work because of your disability, self-employment may be a good option for you.


Self-employment is an important source of paid work for persons with disabilities:


  • The U.S. Department of Census reports that 14% of those with disabilities, those who are working, are self employed.


  • Those with disabilities are twice as likely to start a business as non-disabled individuals.



Self-employment offers flexibility in schedules and work environments.  Many medical conditions make it difficult for people with disabilities to stick to a rigid work schedule. Self-employed individuals have the freedom to work at their own pace in an environment that accommodates their special needs.



Self-employment can also help prevent social exclusion, and narrow the gap in employment rates between those with disabilities and the rest of the population. It provides an alternative to a sometimes competitive and discriminatory labor market.



If you are interested in being your own boss, there is assistance available for persons with disabilities.  Common roadblocks to self-employment include start-up capital, interaction with the benefit system, and accessing training and advice. You may be confused about taxation or have fears about the day-to-day operations of a small business.



Another great resource is the Small Business Administration.  They offer assistance and have developed programs for those with disabilities. You may also qualify for free training from state vocational rehabilitation agencies provided to qualified individuals with disabilities. The Internet offers those interested in self-employment support, the ability to market themselves, do business, and network with others. Access to Work helps entrepreneurs get the equipment they need to work with their disability.



Consider hiring yourself. Self-employment is an excellent choice for those with disabilities that have a marketable skill, product, or service. Visit the ISEEK section on self-employment for additional information.