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Analyze That: Including Disability in the Career Development Equation

by Denise Feltham


Many vocational assessments have been developed to identify aptitudes, interests, values, work-related attitudes, and even barriers to employment.  These vary in focus, complexity and cost, and selecting appropriate assessments for clients can be a challenging task.  Choice can be circumscribed by agency mandate, funding, and the academic as well as developmental level of the participant.


Disability Impact on Career and Employment

As a person with a disability, and in my previous professional role as an employment counsellor, I became aware of the gap created between vocational assessment and job placement when the impact of a person’s disability on their career options and work performance is not taken into account, and when the significance of necessary workplace accommodations is not understood.


As a result, I developed a self-assessment tool called Disability Impact on Career/Employment (D.I.C.E.). This tool factors disability issues into the job placement equation so that a more realistic employment goal can be developed, thereby improving the odds for workplace success.


D.I.C.E. is available to people with disabilities of all types. Through a process of reflection and self discovery, it helps the participant to clarify a number of issues:


  • the nature of the disability and its physical/psychological effects;
  • abilities, skills and qualities;
  • types of jobs in which the disability may affect work performance;
  • types of jobs in which the participant’s aptitudes and strengths minimize the impact of the disability;
  • occupational preferences and preferred working style based on the National Occupational Classification System; and
  • appropriate accommodations that would enable effective task performance.


This self assessment tool, which can be accessed online, is designed using a multiple choice format to gather, pertinent information in a relatively short period of time.  It takes approximately 2 to 4 hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the situation and stamina of the participant.  I then synthesize and analyze the raw data to produce a personalized report based on the participant’s unique situation.


The premise of D.I.C.E.  is that the participant is the best judge of the impact of  his/her condition.  This is different from the medical model in which the clinician is presumed to know more than the patient.


The accuracy of a D.I.C.E. assessment will therefore be influenced by the following factors:



  • honesty:  it is important for participants to respond truthfully rather than what  they consider to be socially acceptable answers;
  • self awareness:  getting in touch with their thoughts, feelings and behaviours helps them identify their needs and develop problem solving skills;
  • effort:  self reflection requires mental and emotional energy — the more effort participants put into the D.I.C.E. assessment, the more reliable and meaningful the results will be; and
  • attitude: a sense of hope and a belief in their potential for change will create a balanced D.I.C.E. assessment free from the distortion seen through the lens of negativity


The Interplay of Career Exploration Components


Successful career exploration takes into account the interplay among aptitudes, interests, values, personality and employment barriers.  Selection of appropriate vocational assessments will depend on which pieces of this puzzle are missing.  This information can then be compared with the employability dimensions — career choice, skill competencies, job search, and job maintenance — that are preventing the client from career fulfillment.


Vocational assessment tools are just that — tools.  They are descriptive rather than prescriptive.  The results have to fit right with the client, and in the end, only the client can decide on his/her best career path.


Denise Feltham has a Bachelor of Social Work degree, Career and Work Counsellor Diploma and Life Skills Coach Certificate.  From her experience as a person with a disability, she developed the D.I.C.E. (Disability Impact on Career/Employment) assessment tool and is now owner of D.I.C.E. Assessment & Employment Counselling Services.  


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