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. 

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Questions Every Woman Should Ask Before Accepting a Higher-Paying Job Offer

Promotions, salary increases, and new jobs usually have a positive impact on our lives. However, switching jobs can bring many hidden expenses. Before you make a significant life decision, consider the unexpected costs, like taxes, health insurance, benefits, retirement, relocation, bonuses, raises, and lifestyle changes. Luckily, with careful planning, you can save your bank account from unnecessary expenses or poor financial choices.

Are you trying to determine whether accepting that new job offer will be a financially-savvy decision? Here are some questions to consider:

Will you be a salaried employee or an hourly contractor?

Salaried workers only get paid for 40 hours per week. Even when they work more hours, there’s no overtime pay.

However, if your job includes extra benefits, raises, and annual bonuses, those perks might make up for extended shifts. Although contractors are paid for every hour worked, they’re responsible for paying their own taxes each quarter, rather than filing annually. If you forget to file taxes frequently enough or fail to put back enough money to pay the IRS, you can expect to owe a large sum come tax season.

Will your tax bracket change?

Higher-paying jobs can increase your tax bracket, meaning the government keeps more of your income. According to finance writer, Dan Caplinger, “self-employment tax is usually roughly twice what you’d see if you were an employee.” To determine whether that’s worth it, consider your unique financial situation and remember that tax laws frequently change. This year, a new tax law decreased tax refunds for most American workers, especially freelancers and contractors. If you’re unsure of local regulations, ask an accountant before accepting any job offers. That way, you’ll feel more confident about your decision.

What will your net pay be?

Job descriptions, interviews, and paperwork typically report salaries as gross income, the amount you make before taxes. Your take-home pay after taxes, or your net income, will be less. Net pay depends on factors like your location and tax bracket. That shiny gross income amount may not be worthwhile if you ultimately make less money than you currently make. Before accepting the job, save yourself some headaches by asking an accountant.

Is the pay transparent?

These days, many companies are moving toward transparent payscale policies. However, transparency eliminates your ability to negotiate salaries, limits future raises, and can even reduce morale. Ensure your new pay is high enough to compensate for any downsides.

What’s the dress code?

Whether you’re changing industries or moving into a higher-level management position, you may need to budget for a new wardrobe. Luckily, there are many budget-friendly options when it comes to work attire. Rather than buying expensive, trendy items, opt for simple, timeless pieces that can be easily paired together without going out of style. Popular clothing stores like Ann Taylor Loft or New York & Company have great prices on business wear and frequently have sales; you can even combine sale items with online coupons to increase your savings.

With some savvy shopping, you can bump up your wardrobe without blowing your new paycheck.

Will you be happier?

Keep in mind your career isn’t just about the money. If that higher-paying job will stress you to the point of becoming ill, it might end up costing you more than your new salary is worth. Besides, extra benefits like free childcare, college tuition reimbursements, flexible schedules, hefty bonuses, and the ability to work from home can make up for lower salaries.

It’s okay to ask for a few days to think about a job offer. Any decent company will give you time to consider your options rather than rushing you into a decision. Sites like InHerSight or Fairygodboss let women compare company benefits and work environments at a glance. By comparing the pros and cons of your new job versus your current one, you’ll feel confident you’ve made the best possible decision for yourself, your bank account, and your long-term future.