There are a lot of reason people go out in search of telework. I sought out telecommuting online as a way of finding better balance between work and family. I get emails occasionally, though, from people who are looking for telecommuting opportunities because they really have no other choice.
If you’ve been looking for telework long, you know finding telecommuting opportunities that suit your skills can be a daunting task. And while you’re desire, abilities, and skill set is likely to help lead you to finding some good opportunities, imagine having to look for something suitable if you have a disability to also factor into your search. And for a disabled worker, it can be more than just a desire to work at home–but a necessity.
The Social Security Administration defines a disabled worker (most basically without including the entire set of conditions that have to be met to receive disabled worker’s benefits from the SSA) in the Social Security Handbook, as someone who is “unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental impairment.”
Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled workers continue to have a high rate of unemployment and remain a largely untapped workforce.
That’s where the National Telecommuting Institute comes in. The NTI, a non profit organization, was incorporated in Boston back in 1995. Initially developed by rehab professionals as a way to “help the large number of talented and motivated individuals with disabilities who strongly prefer or require home-based work” the NTI is now the primary contractor working with federal agencies like the IRS, a subcontrator providing remote agents for commercial contractors, and an important connection between commercial companies how have positions available and suitable for remote workers.
The NTI site lists current and future openings and you can apply online… but only if you have a disability. The application process requires that you sign up with your state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency either prior to or during the process. Once accepted the NTI also helps prepare you for the work you’ll be doing.
The NTI has been featured on ABC and CBS, appeared in the New York Times and mentioned on MSNBC. NTI and M.J. Willard also received the Telework Coalition Hall of Fame Award for the Development of Opportunities for the Disabled.