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For entrepreneurs with disabilities, there are a number of government and private resources that provide mentorship, training, networking opportunities, and financing. — Getty Images/AnnaStills

Becoming an entrepreneur is an often overlooked and important financial option for disabled adults who do not, or cannot, work full time. According to the National Disability Institute (NDI), as of April 2022, 74% of disabled adults in the United States work outside the traditional labor force, and roughly 1.8 million disabled adults are business owners.

Per the NDI, these 1.8 million business owners with disabilities face barriers to gainful self-employment that their nondisabled counterparts do not. To help eliminate these barriers, several resources are available to entrepreneurs with disabilities.

Office of Disability Employment Policy

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) promotes a number of initiatives to assist would-be disabled business owners and professionals in accessing institutions and communities that will support their professional goals:

Plan to Achieve Self-Support Program

In addition to the initiatives supported by the ODEP, the U.S. Social Security Administration (USSA) operates a program called the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), which helps people with disabilities tailor the structure and frequency of any Social Security payments they may receive to support their job search, entrepreneurial goals, and other professional projects.

In order to qualify for the PASS program, you must present a work goal or business plan to the Social Security Administration. You may also need to work with a vocational rehabilitation counselor or benefits specialists and protection and advocacy organizations to flesh out and quantify those goals so USSA staff can measure them to maintain your eligibility.

[Read More: Writing a Business Plan? Here's How to Do It, Step by Step]

The United States Disability Chamber of Commerce operates programs to support disabled entrepreneurs and professionals.

2Gether International

As an alternative to government agencies, the nonprofit 2Gether International works to advance disabled entrepreneurs by connecting them to other disabled business owners, supportive groups and organizations, and the broader world of professional networking.

2Gether International helps to maintain the Disability Startup Network, which hosts networking events for disabled entrepreneurs and professionals to support their goals and help them advocate for themselves in the workplace. The organization also offers spring and fall cohort programs, which help promote disabled persons and their careers; Venture Labs, which supports new disabled startup founders; and the 2GI Startup Meetup, which supports disabled startup entrepreneurs at various stages in their careers.

Assistive technology business loans

Not only do organizations exist to support disabled entrepreneurs’ careers, but technological and therapeutic techniques continue to be developed to allow disabled entrepreneurs to take a more active and involved role in their businesses. While these interventions may be expensive, organizations like the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, the Bellows Fellows, the Brighter Tomorrow Grant, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association National Equipment Program exist to help disabled entrepreneurs access biotechnical and therapeutic support.

SBA Resource Partners for entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also operates several resource programs to assist not only disabled entrepreneurs but entrepreneurs in general. Some of the options provided by the SBA include:

[Read More: 17 Free Resources for Small Businesses to Leverage Year-Round]

The United States Disability Chamber of Commerce

The United States Disability Chamber of Commerce (USDCC) helps collate resources, both for disabled entrepreneurs and professionals and for organizations that may be interested in working with them. The USDCC operates programs to support disabled entrepreneurs and professionals and offers certificates to help entrepreneurs and professionals brush up on and vouch for their skills. Finally, the USDCC offers membership programs to assist disabled entrepreneurs and professionals in networking, raising awareness for their businesses, and reaching their career goals.

[Read More: 5 Benefits of Joining Your Local Chamber of Commerce]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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