Want an employee who is a natural problem solver? Hire someone with a Disability

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC
5 min readJul 3, 2019

Employers should be seeking out employees with disabilities, not avoiding them.

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Why are problem solving skills desirable in business?

The ability to troubleshoot or solve problems is really a collection of a number of other skills including:

  • Decision Making: To solve a problem, one needs to be able to make (or recommend) a decision.
  • Creativity. Problems are usually solved either intuitively or systematically. Both require creativity to think of a solution set from which the winning idea is chosen.
  • Research: Solving problems almost always requires some type of research ranging in scale from a google search or “water cooler” conversation all the way up to a formal research project.
  • Collaboration: Some problems can be solved by a single individual, but most require collaborations with other individuals either on your team or on cross-functional teams.
  • EQ: When assessing solutions, assessing the impact the problem and/or solution has on the problem’s stakeholders is important. This requires some level of emotional intelligence.
  • Risk Management: Solving problems inherently includes the need to perform risk management — both the risk of solving (as well as not solving the problem, which is also a solution or sorts) or the risk of one solution’s impact over another.

Soft skills versus Hard skills

  • The ability to use a screen reader or knowledge of how to make HTML or Swift accessible are “hard skills”. Hard skills can be more easily acquired, because they can often be learned through some type of training program or even self-taught.
  • Problem solving is considered a “soft skill”. Soft skills are much more difficult to learn. They require a substantial amount of practice involving trial and error to perfect. Because soft skills are linked to one’s personality and character, some people may never be able to acquire certain soft skills.

How does having a disability help an individual in the business setting?

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Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.