I have neurodiversity and so much happens to me in the online experience, which is nonverbal. I am a highly verbal person, so sometimes context gets confusing in a nonverbal atmosphere, such as social media. When we are looking for options or opportunities, there is no set place, with the exception of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), and it is with a lot of explanation and advocacy for they to realize that entrepreneurship is a path for people with disabilities.

I did it.

Starting a Business as a Person with a Disability

The MRC helped me pay for my massage license and certification in 2015. Since then, it has been very difficult to navigate social media and business life. I have hired numerous people to assist me, and through nonverbal communication, it has not benefited me. They take my money and don’t get the job done. I have had to interview, research, and ask for virtual or in-person meetings. Things get scrambled in communication. It is sometimes very much a frustrating experience.

My first photographer made me look disabled in her photos. You could see my uneven legs and how my clothes didn’t fit me. I very much looked like a person with intellectual disabilities, not that it is a bad thing. In branding photos, I wanted to look beautiful and like an intelligent businesswoman. We did a redo and there was a tiny bit of improvement. I never liked any of them. We communicated nonverbally and it always winds up challenging.

Ask a person with disabilities how they want to communicate and be represented. Never assume anything. They can be communicated with just like anyone else.

There is a lack of support and resources in the field. We must be able to have more resources and access to business resources for people with disabilities. What an empowering option it would be if more people with disabilities shared that they are disabled, or we could get the actual numbers from the state and federal. I am a person with a learning disability, leg discrepancy, brain injury, long COVID, diabetes, and pelvic floor disorder.

I am highly intelligent and well-trained in various modalities of manual and massage therapies. I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in early childhood education. I spent most of my career advocating and assisting people with disabilities in resources and employment. Now I am a supportive resource in alternative health care and assessing general population bodies to be more moveable and comfortable.

Entrepreneurship Resources for People with Disabilities

Here is a small but mighty list of resources:

We need to be mindful because more people are speaking out on their challenges, mental health concerns, chronic health conditions, and a whole lot more. I will speak with and advocate for anyone who wants to find more or create resources on this topic. Reach out via our Contact Us page.

This article originally was posted on the Massachusetts Business Network.