View Full Version : Employment
08-05-2001, 02:33 PM
I need advice. I am a C5/6 quad, two years post injury. I want to work! I want to earn money, even a little bit! Problem is, I have NO use of either hand. I used to be a computer technician, and I want to stay in the field. I am proficient with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I hope to get training through vocational rehab, but they want me to tell them where I could find a job, but I don't know. I do know that I don't want to waste time training for something and then not be able to find work.
What have others done in my situation? Web design, database design, application training, programming, etc.? Work at home, at the office? I am proficient with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Is there work out there for me?
08-05-2001, 03:26 PM
I think that you are on the right path in emphasizing computers and becoming proficient with DragonNaturallySpeaking. The dot com industry is coming out of its dip and there will be a great need for people who can design web sites, administer sites, and deal with internet systems. Most of the work can be done over the Net from a computer at home.
For example, as this site gains grows, I hope that it can be run by people in the community.
You may want to "bone up" on computer adaptations for people with disabilities. While many OTs do this, there is also a need for people from the computer/info technology side to know this. You could work as a consultant for businesses or schools who need to make "reasonable accomodations" under the ADA for their employees or students with disabilities, as well as individual consultation to clients and even to smaller rehab centers which have no staff of their own who are proficient at this. You would need to learn modifications for all disabilities...hearing impaired, visually impaired, etc., not just paralysis, and have a marketing plan.
I know a guy locally who teaches special computer classes at a community college for PWD. He is a C-5 tetraplegic, and carved out this job for himself in a similar way.
You would not be able to work exclusively from home, but it could be done from a home office.
The new Microsoft Office XP upgrade includes voice recognition software. Its accuracy is about 85 to 90 percent when I dictate directly into Microsoft Word.
This is important to me because I have no use of my hands either and I am a freelance technical writer. I work at home for a variety of companies. All assignments are turned in via electronic mail. I think that finding work as a freelance programmer would be similar. Finding a full-time employer is much more difficult if you did not keep your job after your injury.
08-05-2001, 06:19 PM
Megan here's a link to online programming tutorials http://www.programmingtutorials.com/main.asp it might be of some interest
08-05-2001, 07:03 PM
i'm building a catalog site in exchang for a rugby chair and some wheels. maybe you can do stuff for community or local sci recreational dept. hell, i may need help soon. i'm also c5-6 complete
08-05-2001, 07:20 PM
altgough, i too wish i could go back to my old job at the shop, which i was offered, but i cant take because its too damn hot. i miss the socialization of work. hopefully soon
. . . might be a good option. It would allow you to leverage your experience as a tech if you could more easily distinguish between software/hardware problems. There's a gazillion jobs out there for this. I'm a programmer. That's also a great option if you can get the training. Go for it, whatever you decide. Employment helps a lot.
08-06-2001, 07:26 AM
My best advice would be to get a few different certifications for "proof" that you know what you say you know. I am going through the certification process right now since it seems every job now requires a certificate or acronym after your name.
Good luck and keep us informed...
08-06-2001, 07:56 AM
I agree with Steven. There is a tremendous demand for people who are certified in database systems and it will allow you to get jobs that you can't get otherwise. For example, most of the major commercial sites to be driven by Oracle databases. A person who is certified to working with such databases can charge consulting fees of $100-$200 per hour. Wise.
08-06-2001, 09:08 AM
I was looking at the various Microsoft certifications available vs the potential job market: a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) is required to take 7 exams while a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) only has to take 4. There are fewer MCDBAs out there so database jobs have a higher salary. :-)
08-06-2001, 10:22 AM
Steven have you taken any online courses? If so, how were they?
08-06-2001, 12:05 PM
Unfortunately I have not taken any computer related courses online so I cannot rate them. I read a lot of books online to prepare myself and use my contacts online so that I can play with new web technologies.
An outstanding resource for me has been http://www.informit.com/free_library/ as they offer the full text of many programming books online for free. Let me know which area of study you are interested in and I can probably give you more specific references.
08-06-2001, 04:48 PM
I taught myself web design back in 1995. Voc Rehab paid for my college (most anyway) for a degree in Art Education, and I also got a degree in Fine Arts. I graduated in August 1996, and I could have gotten a job as a teacher right away but decided to try freelance work. In May 1998, I took a job as web designer for Wizard Entertainment in New York and moved up here, leaving my comfort zone in Tampa, Florida.
Our website, which was run by me and my boss, was spun off into it's own company of over 40 employees last year. But due to many reasons, I was no longer happy with my job. I also saw the new company wasn't going to last, but no one wanted to listen to me. On June 8, I resigned to go freelance. I found out that Friday, most of the people at the company were laid off, and the rest will be let go by next month. They shoulda listened to me! http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif
Anyway, freelance is great for a gimp (if you can get enough work), because I can schedule my own hours. But I did the 9-5 thing for over 3 years, so it can be done. I've been busy doing web design and coloring comicbooks recently. A recent web job I did is www.ShadowReavers.com (http://www.ShadowReavers.com) and http://www.actorcomicfund.org/mockup.html is taking shape now. www.RusWooton.com (http://www.RusWooton.com) is my portfolio site, but it needs work.
I'm going to Wizard World 2001 next weekend, and I hope to drum up more web design and comicbook coloring work there. It's a huge Comic/Entertainment convention with over 35,000 attendees each year.
[This message was edited by Scorpion on August 06, 2001 at 07:58 PM.]
[This message was edited by Scorpion on August 07, 2001 at 01:20 AM.]
Rybread, if the only reason you did not go back to the same employer was the temperature of the environment, installation of air conditioning would be a reasonable accomodation that would be appropriate for anyone with a high level SCI (medically necessary), esp. someone who lives in AZ!!! Was this explored?
08-06-2001, 05:07 PM
Could you email me privately? I am interested in your art work as displayed on the sites you linked up.
08-06-2001, 05:38 PM
i cant hold my tools well enough, cant feel problems in my seat on test drives, its pretty much an open shop so ac is pretty useless w/ 25 foot cielings, and i dont want to go back unless i'm working on cars. it gets up to 105 degrees in the shop so i cant even advise. pretty tough situation, thats what i grew up doing and i was very good at it.
Since you live in California, you may want to contact the Department of Rehabilitation. You would qualify for the PASS Program, which will pay up to $10,000 for you to matriculate back into the work force. The Department of Rehab. will also pay for college courses or a degree that you may need from a university. Feel free to e-mail me and we can discuss the issues regarding computers, Dragon voice recognition, etc. What part of California do you live in?
08-07-2001, 12:42 PM
Steven - I just was wondering if you had done any courses, I've played around with html and found it interesting looked at c++ and other types of programming and tought it might be worthwhile to take a course. I know a local college here offers some courses but to what extent I don't know. It might help pass the time.
08-07-2001, 01:44 PM
I have been thinking of setting up the Carecure site so that people can put their own web pages up. Many people don't have the familiarity with html or web page design to put up their sites. They will need help to do so.
Perhaps we can help pay more knowledgeable members of the community to help others design web sites that can be hosted here. This will of course require that this site get a source of income but I think that we should be able to get funding from sponsors and foundations for this purpose.
If there is interest, I would appreciate getting suggestions concerning the best way to do this. Thanks.
08-07-2001, 02:15 PM
I did a psycology course online a few years back but I did not enjoy it or find it useful. I need a structured classroom environment.
08-07-2001, 02:26 PM
There are various scripts currently out there that help in building web sites -- similar to the systems at GeoCities and Angelfire. However, the available scripts are somewhat limited by the amount of users they can handle simultaneously. Your best bet would probably be to have one made that uses server side Java.
Technically, though, it would not be difficult to make -- unless you would like to provide email for each account. That would be slightly more difficult, but not by much.
Would the servers you currently have be able to handle the traffic?
08-07-2001, 04:26 PM
You've given me a lot to think about. Database design does seem to be the way to go. I'm looking into building databases using Microsoft Access. The only problem that I see is: how good is Dragon NaturallySpeaking with Microsoft Access? I have Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional Solutions, and I find it works great with Microsoft Word. However, it is terrible with Microsoft Excel.
Scorpion: Are you able to do web design without the use of your hands? I looked into it a little, but graphics are next to impossible with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I can't even move clip art across a page.
Jeremy and Steven: Thanks for the websites. I'll check them out as soon as possible. Do you program using voice activation software? If so, is one programming language easier than another or doesn't it matter?
08-07-2001, 05:32 PM
I don't use voice recognition software simply because it's slower than typing for me, though if I took the time to train the software, it'd probably work great.
As for graphics and not using your hands, it's more about what's in your head and how you go about solving the problem. I got my first PC in 1993 when a cousin's boyfriend built me one from spare parts. At first I used the mouse with both hands, but I quickly realized this method sucked. I turned the mouse to the left so I could push the button with the heel of my palm. I had to retrain my brain so that left was up, up was right, right was down, and down was left. Weird, but it works.
Check my profile for a drawing I did--started in pencil, then I inked it in, scanned it into the computer and colored it in Photoshop.
I type by wedging a Sharpie marker in my right hand and hitting shift with my left thumb. I knew how to type before my accident, so I knew where the keys were. I probably type about 25-30 words a minute now.
I've learned that we gimps need to think outside the box when problem solving. If something doesn't work, figure out what will. One of my best friends is a C-4 quad and is getting his Masters degree in architecture. He does all his designs on the computer using a mouthstick and a track-ball instead of a mouse. He's very good, but it didn't happen over night. As an example of his problem solving skills, once he was home alone and opened a package of peanut butter/cheese crackers and ate them. He used books amd his mouthstick to move the package and tear it open then move crackers to where he could reacvh them with his mouth.
[This message was edited by Scorpion on August 07, 2001 at 08:40 PM.]
08-07-2001, 05:48 PM
I have an elevated desk I roll under and use my mouthstick to type with. It's too noisy here at home for any voice recognition software to be effective.
Can you program macros in Naturally Speaking? It would really help a lot if you can. I will give examples of why later on.
Choosing a programming language really depends on what you plan on doing. If you plan on doing database work you should learn ANSI [read: standard] Structured Query Language (SQL). Each type of database will have its own quirks, but ANSI SQL usually works across most databases. Once you learn SQL you will usually have to learn a programming language that will allow you to make a good interface with the database.
If you want to program for the Windows platform you have a few options to choose from... the most popular choices being Visual C++ and Visual Basic. Visual Basic uses actual english to program with -- not many odd symbols or anything. Visual C++, or any C-based language, uses weird commands to work.
to print out "Hello World!" in a Basic oriented language, the command is:
print "Hello World!"
in a C oriented language:
Many people will argue to the death the advantages and disadvantages of each language. Basically, it all boils down to how efficiently you can solve problems.
[takes a breath]
Your options are slightly different if you plan on programming for the web, depending on the operating system of the server you use. There are Windows based servers that will let you use straight HTML, or a combination of HTML and a Visual Basic type language called VBScript in Active Server Pages (ASPs).
Linux based servers let you use CGI scripts to perform actions and be interactive; CGI scripts are written in Perl or C, usually. CGI is... well, it is a good choice for sites that don't get heavy traffic.
You can also use a Mac based web server [OS X like at Rutgers] which have their own types of languages -- which I have very little experience with.
Now we're near the end... Java is a language that works across multiple platforms. Windows? Yes. Linux? Yup. Mac? You bet! Java is slower than other traditional languages, but it works well on the web. The old canDo site used Java on its backend and I would bet InfoPop uses the same.
If you have any questions, let me know. :-p
08-07-2001, 05:59 PM
I'm not sure about this version of InfoPop's message board, but the version I installed at www.ShadowReavers.com (http://www.ShadowReavers.com) is a CGI Script. It wasn't too difficult to set up, just time consuming. I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of Web design, especially when 'a plan comes together,' but I'd rather just be an artist. http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif
08-07-2001, 06:08 PM
I knew I forgot something. Thanks Scorpion!
Most of the web based languages can be used on any platform with the proper plugins. I am a big fan of JSPs (Java Server Pages) and PHP (http://www.php.net/), but not many web site hosting companies allow JSPs to be used unless you choose a pricey hosting plan.
08-07-2001, 06:16 PM
cann you use your arms at all? we share injury level, but i use trackball and type with corner of pinky(no finger movement). i use voice rec for longer docs, but have hard time setting up mic on head. how does all your stuff work?
Stephen, the C language is complicated as hell, but not quite as complicated as you made out. You don't need the *\n* to do the exact same thing as you do with VB http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/images/smilies/wink.gif You added the newline character, you probably didn't even realize it.
Megan, learn Oracle. No other database even comes close in reliability and speed. With 9i they take advantage of java and even xml. To be Oracle certified takes 5 exams, and if you visit the Oracle website, they have all kinds of good info about education, and even some sample questions like those on their exams. Good luck http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif
08-07-2001, 09:27 PM
I like your idea. I believe that if most of the pages that were hosted were to be from people from this community, it would also show how much can be done by any disabled person. Many people here seem to be knowledgeable about this and I am sure it would be really great to have their knowledge taught to the rest of us.
Scorpion, Cill, and all those who have sites, including myself, will most likely feel honored to be hosted here.
Way to go, Dr. Young. Also, I do want to thank you for keeping up this site for us all. There is a saying in spanish, "No hay mal que por bien no venga." Which means that out of bad things that happen good can come out too. (Speaking of CanDo merger) I am sure this site will do better than before.
08-07-2001, 10:17 PM
What a great discussion you have started, Megan. Let me try to describe what we have and where I think we can go and perhaps we can start from there.
Bulletin Board. This bulletin board site is hosted by infopop who makes a great bulletin software called the Ultimate Bulletin Board. I was enquiring about setting up UBB to replace the Cando forums when I found out that they provide a service called OpenTopics which is based on an Oracle database serving XML onto XSL stylesheet pages. They charge $1000 per month for 500,000 page views, $2000 for a million page views per month. They host and take care of the site. We are currently averaging about 5000 page views per day. I called them and this bulletin board was set up in 30 minutes. I am impressed by their cheerful efficiency and reasonable pricing. The appearance of this web site can be infinitely changed using XSL stylesheets. Infopop does everything including daily backups, statistics, and email digest service.
The current CareCure server. I have been using an old Mac G3 server running Appleshare 6.1 that I have been using as the laboratory community web site for Quest and other community purposes. The CareCure site http://carecure.rutgers.edu is connected at 100 Mbit/sec to Internet. It is "free" in the sense that Rutgers University is supporting the community. We are currently getting 2000-4000 connections per day on that server and it can handle up to 50,000 connections per day. I used Adobe GoLive to set up flat html pages. It is a laborious but straightforward.
Planned SCIWire. We will be directing traffic from SCIWire.net and SCIWire.org to http://carecure.atinfopop.com and http://carecure.rutgers.edu respectively. My plan is to tranfer carecure.rutgers.edu to an Apple G4 dual processor 700 MHz equipped with an unlimited OSX license, Apache, WebObjects, and an Oracle database (Rutgers has an unlimited license of Oracle). WebObjects is now certified platinum (the highest compatability) with Oracle. It has many tools that are designed to move data from Oracle directly to and from a web site. It can handle over a million connections per day.
Community Pages. I am planning to put the entire SCIWire.org site on an Oracle database. The contents will be XML delivered to XSL stylesheets. We will be working closely with Sam Maddox to solicit, edit, and publish articles by the community for the community.
We are planning to offer individuals free web pages in which they choose any of several dozen styles, place text or images in different parts of stylesheets. They can change the styles (or contribute their own stylesheets) whenever they want by using their registration password.
Scientific Community. We are setting up a consortium of laboratories studying spinal cord injury therapies. Called SCICure Consortium, this consortium of perhaps 100 laboratories will share their data on database-driven web site that would contain all the data generated with our IMPACTOR rat spinal cord injury model (over 100 laboratories currently use the model and we trained 50 of them in the past year alone). This database will be linked with another one called NGEL which will contain the gene expression data from gene chips that we will provide the laboratories at cost. Together, this will represent the first comprehensive laboratory spinal cord injury database that scientists can mine to compare their work with others. I am planning to set up bulletin boards for the scientists to discuss their findings with each other, using Infopop.
Clinical Community. At the same time, we are planning to set up a database for clinicians who take care of spinal cord injury. This will be a place where they can come to find out all the latest information on treatment of spinal cord injury, discuss clinical trial data, as well as care issues. I have been experimenting with the Trial Forum (here) as a format. Of course, the goal is to get all three communities, the people, the scientists, and the clinicians to talk to each other.
I would love to be able to get this community to participate in the creation of this enterprise, get grants to pay people for designing stylesheets, contribute content, and help organize the site. Finally, we are planning to hold one annual meeting per year where everybody who participates in these sites could meet face to face.
[This message was edited by Wise Young on August 08, 2001 at 01:45 AM.]
You've received lots of good advice so far and I'd like to add a little.
Learning to use Access is a good introduction to Databases. As many have stated, Oracle is probably the most robust and widely used by companies, and therefore presents the most employment possibilities. Another widely used database is SQL Server from Microsoft. It's a logical extension of Access, but is designed to run on a Network rather than an individual PC.
An EXCELLENT source of self instruction books can be found at http://www.murach.com The site was down the last time I checked because of the Code Red Worm virus, but it'll be back soon. Checkout the book on Access and one on Visual Basic 6.0
Of course large companies still have a need for older languages such as COBOL. That'll probably give some people a laugh, but there's good money out there for experience or training in the older languages. Someone mentioned CGI scripts and correctly stated that most are written in C or Perl, but I'm writing CGI scripts right now in COBOL. Imagine that?
If you learn anything about database administration and gain a little experience you can almost always find a job if you're also willing to relocate.
Good luck on your training and your job search and please feel free to contact me by the email address in my profile.
08-08-2001, 11:39 AM
I use IBM Via Voice software. The biggest help was getting a microphone that did not require someone putting a headset on me all the time. You might try this microphone, it will work if you are within 4 feet. You can find it at
You also might look at the 2 handed mouse that is made by uppertone. I am planning on getting one myself soon. They seem to work well from what I have been told. You can find them at www.uppertone.com. (http://www.uppertone.com.) They also have an adjustable hieght desk, but it is expensive.
Office XP has its own speech recognition function. It works in all the Office applications, including Access and Excel. I have used it in Word and Excel.
08-09-2001, 11:58 AM
Thank you to everyone for all the detailed information. It's really given me a lot to think about, and it's much better than anything I was able to obtain through rehab and local colleges.
Dr. Young: I am astounded by everything you are working on. Thank you so much for all the information you have given.
Rybread: I think I'm pretty much at your level. And I do have a trackball that I use more and more. I have the same problem you do regarding the microphone, so I use a Telex USB desktop microphone. With it, I can roll up to my desk and start dictating whenever I want to and it works very well when you're in a quiet environment. Unfortunately, I have 2 children so I spend more time telling Dragon to "Go To Sleep" than I do creating quality dictation. Oh well, Summer's halfway over!