by Dr. Josie Badger
As an individual with a significant physical disability—requiring the use of a ventilator, power wheelchair, and 24-hour care—it was difficult to identify a career where I could maintain my physical health while being employed full time.
In relatively recent history, individuals with more significant physical disabilities are surviving and thriving. Although many of us will need a substantial amount of care and support throughout our lives, we are able to be employed and successful. The only barrier to our success is many of the outdated policies that did not account for this new, potentially successful population.
In order to find employment that allowed me to earn enough for survival and be able to work from home when necessary, I decided I needed to obtain my doctorate. After completing my doctoral program, I founded “J Badger Consulting Inc.” of which I am now president. By having my own business, I am able to be contacted by multiple organizations, work from home, pay for any accommodations that I might need, work when I am feeling healthy enough to do so, and manage my salary in order to continue receiving medical assistance for workers with disabilities (Medicaid buy-in under the Ticket-to-Work program).
My company provides disability and transition consulting services in the state of Pennsylvania and nationally. Because I am the president of this corporation, my job varies greatly day to day and provides me with the opportunity to present throughout the world, develop materials, lead trainings, write curriculums, and develop employment political campaigns.
Anybody who wants to work should be able to work.
For me, the most difficult part of my job is not the actual work, but figuring out how to work without losing my life-sustaining services. Obtaining and maintaining services can take as much time as a part-time or full-time job. Between the paperwork, research, doctors’ appointments, phone calls, and research, it can be quite daunting to pursue employment.
Through my business I am able to purchase the accommodations that I need: a laptop computer, speech-to-text software, a tape recorder, and a microphone for the computer. But the real accommodations are built into the structure of my work, such as: flexible hours and working from home. These building accommodations do not cost any money but allow me to do all of my work during the time that I am strong enough to do it. I can use my disability supports at home, and I do not need to worry about finding transportation to my job.
Before pursuing competitive employment, consider what accommodations you might need and what barriers may occur that would prevent you from doing your best work. Also understand your current benefits and talk to a benefits counselor who can help you employment incentives and ways to protect your life-sustaining benefits.
Dr. Josie Badger DHCE, CRC
331 Mt Vernon Dr.
Ellwood City, PA 16117
Cell: (724) 944-0429
Dr. Josie Badger received her Bachelor’s degree in Disability Law and Advocacy from Geneva College, a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Doctorate in Healthcare Ethics from Duquesne University. In 2014, Josie founded “J Badger Consulting Inc.” where she provides youth development and disability consulting services for organizations on transition and leadership development. She is the Co-Director of the national RSA-Parent Training and Information Center technical assistance center (RAISE). She is also the Campaign Manager of the #IWantToWork Campaign, to improve the employment of people with disabilities and is a Field Organizer for Denny Civic Solutions for a bill supporting paid family leave. She serves as a board member of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, The Woodlands Foundation, and FISA. In 2012, Dr. Badger was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America.