Starting A Small Business With A Disability: Where To Begin

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Photo via Pixabay by StartupStockPhotos

It’s not unusual for people to find they’ve hit a plateau in their careers, or that they just aren’t as happy with their chosen profession as they expected. Others might wonder whether they could make more money doing something they love. Often the answer is yes. Due to advancements in technology and accessibility, starting a small business when you have a disability is much more attainable now than it was even 10 years.

While there’s no one specific formula for having a successful business, there are several ways you can get the ball rolling in your favor, no matter what your abilities are. The key is to have a solid plan and support from the people around you, as well as the friendship of other small business owners who can help you with the details.

Consider the business

You may already have something in mind you’d like to do, but if not, it’s important to consider the type of business that’s best for you and your needs. While it should be something you enjoy doing, you’ll want to think about whether making it a career will take the joy out of it down the road. Perhaps you have a hobby that could potentially be a sustainable career; can you see yourself doing it every day for the foreseeable future? Is it something that can be taught to employees, or will the bulk of the work fall to you?

Where will you work?

You’ll also want to think about whether the business is something you can do from home, and whether that’s something you want. Working from home is the ultimate dream for many Americans, but it’s not as easy as one might think. Setting your own hours means you have to be doubly vigilant about getting things done, and you have to be careful about not letting your work time bleed into your personal time. On the flip side, it can be the perfect setup for an individual who is living with a disability, because you don’t have to worry about a commute or negotiating time off for doctor’s appointments and other responsibilities. It’s especially ideal if you have a service animal or a pet who provides comfort and assistance to help you get through the day. 

Boundaries at home

Starting a home-based business does require a workspace, so this should be part of your planning. You don’t want your kitchen table or bedroom to function as your home office — that’s a recipe for burnout and increases lack of work-life balance. Even if it’s just a small space in your home, you’ll need to carve out an area dedicated solely to your business. In this event, part of your startup costs might need to include having an office area built, which can be accomplished for not very much money by hiring a handyman. Another option is to move into a new home with more space. If buying a new home is in your budget, search for houses with a spare bedroom or basement space that could be used for a home office.  

Do your homework

It’s highly beneficial to do some research when it comes to other businesses in your area, particularly if they will be competition in any way. Check out their business model, their hours of operation, how they use sale days to drum up business, what their advertising budget is. Some of these things you can suss out on your own, but there’s no rule that says you can’t simply talk to the owner to get a feeling for how they’ve done things and what they learned. Finding allies in the community will help tremendously when it’s time to get your own business up and running – competition or not. 

Finding funding

You may have a million-dollar idea on your hands, but without  the right funding, you won’t be able to get it off the ground. Think about how you want to finance your small business. Finding investors is one way to go, but if you have a disability, you may be entitled to a grant or two. Read here for more information and look online for details according to your state.

If you decide to take the plunge and start your own business, remember to take it easy on yourself in the first few months and be patient. It will take a lot of time and effort to make any business work, but with a solid plan and the drive to succeed, you’ll be able to do great things.

6 Ways to Make Your Website Accessible for the Hearing Impaired

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Photo via Pexels 

When we think of website accessibility, we often think of visual impairments — after all, websites are a visual medium. However, doing this not only falls short of accessibility standard guidelines, but it also ignores the ever-changing nature of how we design and use websites.

Things like video and video content are increasingly common marketing tools, which can easily pose a barrier for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals when not dealt with correctly. In this article, we will explore the ways in which web designers and companies can make sure that their online content can be enjoyed by those with hearing impairments. 

Aim for All-Round Accessibility

The single easiest way to make sure that your website is accessible for deaf people is to make sure it is accessible by everyone. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative, outline the global standards to which all websites should adhere. 

Get to Know Your Captions

If your website or social media platforms feature video content, you need to make sure that it is properly captioned. First, it helps to understand the difference between closed captions and subtitles. Captions provide a description of the whole audio, including things like background music and noises; subtitles are a translation of the dialogue. When thinking of hearing-impaired accessibility, it’s closed captions you want to provide. 

You need to start with a transcript of your audio. While you can write it out yourself, this is a time-consuming task, especially for longer content. There are automated transcription services you can hire for a reasonable fee to do the job for you, and many have quick turnaround times and will provide caption files for you in minutes.

If you have content on YouTube, you may assume that their own automated captions will do the trick. However, YouTube’s captions aren’t always accurate, so you should check and edit them if needed; thankfully, Google provides documentation on how to do this.

Use Simple Language

According to Psychology Today, an aspect of deafness that is often overlooked is that, for many deaf people, English is their second language. ASL is what they primarily use to communicate, and it’s rules are completely different from any written language. When writing website content, keep things simple. Even if you’re not writing for a global audience, write as if you want to be understood by someone whose first language isn’t English. 

Offer Various Communication Channels

Many companies just list a phone number in their “Contact Us” section, which immediately prevents deaf people from contacting them. Offer a range of options, including written ones. According to Business Insider, consumers are moving away from traditional communication channels like the phone in favor of solutions such as chatbots and social media. 

Write Good Social Media Captions

Later.com outlines the keys to a good Instagram caption as a killer first line, a strong “Call to Action,” a consistent brand voice, and add-ons like hashtags, emojis, and line breaks. When it comes to any social media captions for videos, add “context” to that list. In order to be enjoyed by the hard-of-hearing, your caption should engage and entertain, but also provide information on what is actually happening in the video.  

Stay Away from Autoplay

Given the rage it generates in countless users, most companies and web designers should have phased out autoplay audio by now. In fact, major browsers even have defined policies to prevent it, such as Google Chrome blocking non-muted autoplay. However, if you need another reason to not have automatic sounds on your website, consider the deaf user who may not realize they are playing that sound in public. 

As you can see, many of the points above are actually the best practices for web design on the whole. The more accessible a website is, the easier it is to use for everyone. Take the time to make your website and social media accessible for people with hearing impairments, and you will be left with an overall better online presence. 

Starting a Business? Four Ways to Pursue Entrepreneurship as a Disabled Parent

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Image Courtesy of Pexels.com

Life is all about balance. We juggle our responsibilities and do the utmost to lead our best life. If you happen to be a parent with a disability, trying to start a business may seem daunting. Thankfully, it does not have to be, and there are ways you can bring your dream into reality.

 

Explore Options

You may already have a business in mind. However, do not discount the possibility of choosing an area of focus where there may be an opening for a startup. Home-based businesses are potentially ideal, as these can eliminate a lot of startup costs and allow you to care for your child. Depending on your disability, it may also be more practical in terms of transportation. There are a lot of options when it comes to home-based businesses.

Creative pursuits such as crafting and jewelry making can be excellent choices while consulting is another option. A home-based business can still keep you active, as the scope of your startup may still take you elsewhere. For example, you could run a dog boarding or dog walking business. This is an excellent choice, as you could approach friends and relatives, to begin with. It’s a business, too, that is adaptable to life’s commitments, and therefore advantageous for parents.

 

Create a Plan

The key to any successful business is knowing what you want from it. Without a clear idea about your needs and goals, it’s easy to get sidetracked and see a startup flounder. Your plan is the foundational structure of your business. You can consult with it whenever you are in doubt, and use it to remind yourself of progress and of accomplished milestones.

As parents, planning can be beneficial, too, as it is easy for life to get in the way. With a coherent vision, you can advance your business at a pace that you are both comfortable with. Detail your needs, ingoing and outgoing goals, time-sensitive objectives, branding, and marketing ideas. By putting in a timeline that best suits your specific necessities, you can take away some of the stresses of starting up a business, and guide your startup along a prepared, organized path.

 

Resourcing

Funding comes in many forms, from grants to loans. You may be eligible for federal assistance in starting up your business. Look to the Small Business Association and search for what sort of funding might be available. In terms of expenses, you may be eligible for assistance based on your disability. This could go a long way to freeing up some funds for your startup. Additionally, consult with disability organizations that may have advice for people starting up a small business.

Regional funding at state or local levels might also be available, and some may have a specific focus on providing support to disabled entrepreneurs. Depending on the nature of your business, you may be eligible for further funding from specific governmental departments. For instance, the US Department of Agriculture provides funding for farm-situated projects, like renewable energy and marketing.

 

Investigate Support

There are numerous resources beyond government and other funding that may help give your startup a leg up. Research if there are any business events or seminars as these may be able to provide networking opportunities and valuable information. Some may offer programs to explore various areas of business, such as marketing, outreach, and public relations. You may even be able to go through a mentorship that can provide more individualized guidance.

Organizations supporting the disabled community may themselves hold similar events. Such seminars may be particularly advantageous, as you could have the chance to speak with other disabled entrepreneurs and use their experiences to apply to your own startup. Do not hesitate to engage with local communities as your business approaches fruition. By attending events, not only could you acquire valuable strategies, but you may find it a perfect way to network with fellow entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be exciting and scary in equal measure. Give your enterprise its best chance by thoroughly researching what type of business you want, finding out what funding you are eligible for and networking as much as possible. This is your chance to fulfill your business dreams.