Seattle, Washington (206)744-3576 or 1-800-374-3267

The Vocational Services Job Club

The unemployment rate for those with epilepsy has been estimated at two to three times the national average, and almost fifty percent of those with active seizures experience unemployment. The Neurology Vocational Services Unit (NVSU) was created to help clients with neurological disabilities find employment, whether they are seeking full-time jobs or part-time work to supplement their Social Security subsidies.

Finding the Strengths in Disabilities

Join the Job Club

Orientation sessions:

Tuesday mornings

Job Club Meetings:

9:00 AM Monday and Wednesday

(206) 744-9130

Services are free to any person who has been diagnosed with a neurological disability.

Every Monday and Wednesday morning, the Vocational Services Job Club hums with strategies to get people back to work. With individual guidance and group support, the Job Club gets people to:
  • analyze their strengths
  • find hope in abilities they may have overlooked
  • examine personal and ethical issues which may affect their success in the job market
Vocational Services counselors help people find answers to questions such as:
  • How much should I tell a prospective employer?
  • Should I say I have seizures?
  • Should I tell the interviewer I had a head injury?
  • Should I let them know I can't remember as many things as I used to?
  • Will they want me to tell them I can't work as fast as I used to?
  • Will they think I'm weird because I haven't had a job for a few years?

Self-identity and Self-esteem

Most of us get a big part of our self-identity and self-esteem from the jobs we do. But when disability strikes, it brings special problems. All of us are only "temporarily able-bodied." If we become injured, get epilepsy, or have an accident, our self-esteem can plummet so far that it becomes hard to go out and face the world. We feel inadequate. We question our worth. We wonder if anyone wants us now.

Depressed and overwhelmed, we forget about what we can do. We can forget that we have many skills. We have to rediscover our strengths.

Setting Strategies

Job Club members learn to
  • honestly assess what they can and cannot do
  • face internal and external barriers to getting hired
To be successful in the job search, people need to determine the right job for their skills and abilities. If they haven't been able to last more than a few days in temporary jobs, they may not be ready for full-time, competitive employment.

To become more competitive in the marketplace, Job Club members are encouraged to do volunteer work for a while and then take temporary positions to gain confidence and recent work history.

Getting Accommodations for Disabilities

Under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees with disabilities may ask for and obtain certain accommodations so that they can work safely and effectively.

How should you present your request for accommodations to a potential employer? According to Dr. Bob Fraser, Director of Vocational Services, the most effective strategy is to:

Present your epilepsy in functional terms. Talk about how it affects you on the job. If you have an aura and can move to a safe and quiet place when you feel a seizure coming on, that can be reassuring to an employer. If you have complex partial seizures that occur several times a week and are short, like daydreams, make that clear. You are telling an employer that you know how to take care of yourself and that safety will not be an issue.

Hiring Incentives

Employers can make use of hiring incentives when they hire Job Club members. These incentives stem from the Project with Industry grant that helps fund Vocational Services programs. There are three main incentives:
  • A tax credit for employers who hire disabled workers
  • A free job trial period which reduces the employer's hiring risk and pays for the employee's industrial insurance during the trial period
  • Payment to employers for the cost of on-the-job training for up to three months
Hiring people with disabilities can be a win-win situation.

If you are having trouble finding or keeping a job, our vocational counselors can help.

Call (206) 744-9130

Orientation Sessions: Tuesday mornings

Job Club Meetings: Monday and Wednesday, 9:00 AM

Services are free to any person who has been diagnosed with a neurological disability.

For more information, see Dr. Fraser's introduction to the program or visit the Neurology Vocational Services Unit Website.