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My RSI has gotten pretty bad now. I'm still in school and thought about applying for a grant based on disability.

Is this a bad idea in terms of it being seen as incapable of doing a job after I graduate? Will people see "oh, you have RSI.. and a permanent disability app.. I don't want to hire that poo-poo head."

students with permanent disabilities

I know it is possible to recover, but the fact is if you're a programmer, you're going to fight it your whole life.

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What is RSI, exactly? –  JohnFx Jul 2 '11 at 15:04
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@JohnFx, I think that is the acronym for Repetitive Strain Injury. –  Tyanna Jul 2 '11 at 15:11
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What country do you live in? You do know it is illegal in the US to discriminate when hiring someone based on disability. –  JohnFx Jul 2 '11 at 15:12
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Have you looked into physiotherapy, as well as using different keyboard and mouse? I use to have mild RSI-like issues, but since I bought a Kinesis Freestyle keyboard (I had a MS Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 before that) and an Evoluent Vertical Mouse 4, I haven't had any problems, which leads me to think that they can probably help even those with more serious problems than I have. –  MetalMikester Jul 2 '11 at 15:18
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@JohnFx It doesn't matter if its illegal or not. It matters what actually happens. –  bobobobo Jul 2 '11 at 16:04
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closed as off topic by GrandmasterB, Mark Trapp Dec 31 '11 at 0:14

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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As you linked to the Canadian government site, I'm going to assume you're in Canada. I can tell you from my personal experience that getting a government grant for a disability will not and can not affect your career after school. Unless you tell them you got that grant an employer has no way of knowing how you funded your education.

I have multiple learning disabilities and received OSAP grants for this as well as various government grants to help me finish school. I have never gone without a job since graduating.

From the RSI front, I have just been diagnosed with a RSI in my arm. I informed the HR department at my work, and my work space was accommodated to help me work.

If worse comes to worse in the future, you might need to buy your own keyboard/mouse to use at work. You might even be able to expense if you let the company that hired you know.

Hope that helps.

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It does; thank you. –  bobobobo Jul 2 '11 at 16:02
    
Can you elaborate a bit more on your grant? Are you Canadian too? The Canadian government helped pay your tuition?? What school was that? high school or university level? –  Ziv Jul 2 '11 at 18:33
    
@Ziv - Yes, I'm Canadian. It was for university level. I needed to get my disabilities documented before I could apply. I got the same grant that @bobobobo linked to in his question. I got a up to $2000/term to help pay for tuition, as well as up to $10k/year for equipment and software to help me do my studies. –  Tyanna Jul 2 '11 at 19:25
    
@Tyanna You've got to love Canada! It doesn't get more social than this :D –  Ziv Jul 3 '11 at 8:34
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@Ziv - once you jump through all the hoops, it's fairly nice. Jumping through those hoops on the other hand....not so pleasant. –  Tyanna Jul 3 '11 at 15:57
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you're still in school, therefore it's not yet too late to change your vocation to one that doesn't require regular keyboard use.
There are programs in many countries to help companies offset the cost of hiring disabled people (and sometimes subsidies for doing so that are higher than the cost involved) but many will still be wary to hire you as you're a high risk to them (more time off for sickleave, doctors' visits, etc.).
Best thing to do is to stop using computers for a long period of time. Not talking a few days or weeks here, but months. And that includes your game consoles, the controllers of which are usually little better than a mouse. Let it heal well, get physical therapy, don't let yourself get talked into surgery unless everything else has been tried.
After that, invest in specialised hardware like a GoldTouch split keyboard and a Wacom tablet, make sure your desk and chair are properly adjusted for optimal arm and wrist position.

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Please focus on answering the question (leave out RSI advice.. I haven't provided enough history information for you to detect the situation) –  bobobobo Jul 2 '11 at 15:08
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In the United States the courts don't recognize it as a valid disability, ruling against the plaintiffs every time stating that it is not a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Kind of an old article below but there are more recent cases too.

http://articles.latimes.com/2001/aug/16/business/fi-34719

If you really enjoy computers though and don't want this to dominate your life then some of the large touchscreen computers you might find easier to use.

http://www.google.com/search?q=hp+touchsmart&hl=en&tbs=shop%3A1&aq=f

They come with a mouse and keyboard but there is a lot of accessibility programs to allow you to use Windows without peripherals. The on-screen keyboard is one of the easiest I have used and there is even a stylus writer that will use OCR to determine the text you are writing. Because the screen is vertical I find it easier to use when my carpal tunnel acts up.

Sure it slows you down a bit but you can still be a valuable and productive member of any team.

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I had a RSI about 12 years ago and I completely recovered from it within a few months. After that, I had to change the way in which I was typing and that helped a lot because the problem never came back any more. So if you have it treated properly and later try to improve the way in which you work (use of keyboard and mouse, how you sit, taking breaks) it could well be that the problem won't come back; it won't chase you all your life.

A colleague of mine had the same problem but it was more severe: he could not use a keyboard for about one year. However, he continued to work using some voice recognition software. I imagine this kind of software has greatly improved since then so this could be a short-term solution for you as well.

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