EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 788 - June 23, 2004     2 of 10

Disabled Workers Find a Home on eBay

By Mark O'Neill

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I have just heard the best eBay excuse ever. A girl is trying to get out of a 10 Euro ($12) eBay bill. Her excuse: she is convinced her guinea pig is clinically depressed and she needs all her money to take her precious little pet to the vet.

Joking aside, I can identify with clinical depression since I suffer from it. That coupled with bad epilepsy doesnít make it easy for me to build a career. Since leaving school 11 years ago, I have had about 50 jobs due to bosses firing me whenever I got ill. Writing my resume gets harder every time! So eBay is a good way for me to work for myself and to carve my niche in life. I can also work from home so I donít have to worry about bad vending machine tea.

I have frequently noticed that many disabled people are working from home on eBay. I am in frequent contact with three disabled eBayers, two in Germany and one in the U.S. It isnít just clinically depressed people who are using eBay as their source of livelihood. Physically disabled people are also opening eBay stores and becoming top quality eBay sellers.

Speaking from experience, I can say that if you are disabled, you are not keen to leave your home when you are feeling bad. If you can buy and sell on the Internet then you can choose when you want to go out and when you want to hide under the blankets in your bed. You also donít have to worry about meetings, bosses, deadlines, performance reviews, sexual harassment from your secretary, constantly being invited to "do lunch" and the multitude of other things that make up a hectic career. Instead you can concentrate on things such as having a long lie in bed, a leisurely breakfast, how many things you will list on eBay today,Ö The only deadline you have to worry about is when the last post leaves the post office that day.

Of course there are downsides to having an eBay business if you have depression like I do. Emails can pile up and packages can be sitting around waiting to be sealed and posted. I can remember back in 2002 when I was going through the worst of my depression, sitting up in the early hours of the morning crying like a baby from the depression and addressing envelopes to eBay customers at the same time. Even though I wanted to hide in bed, something inside kept me going. To this day, I truly believe that having eBay in my life occupied my mind, kept me busy and stopped me from giving up. Having to walk to the post office with the packages gave me fresh air and exercise and that too helped enormously. Thereís no better way to get out of a depressive episode than carry packages to the post office with the wind blowing in your face! Having to go out and find inventory also got me out and about and it gave me an excuse to get up in the morning.

Disabled people want to work. But narrow-minded employers just look at the disabilities and form very negative views based on the personís shortcomings. It doesn't matter how qualified the disabled applicant is, if they are disabled, many doors are closed to them. Again I speak from experience. Grand mal epilepsy closes a lot of doors.

Ecommerce as a whole offers opportunities to disabled people and gives them chances that were not available before the Internet. Owning an online business gives a disabled person a sense of purpose, of direction, and a meaning to their life. I was told by my last employer that by being chronically ill, I would amount to nothing and I would be a nobody. By having eBay, I built an independent source of income and proved everyone wrong.

If you know anyone who is disabled, encourage them to start an online business, such as eBay or Amazon. Have them contact the Disabled Online Users Association (DOUA). Their one-on-one mentoring program is the best in the world for teaching people with disabilities how to become online sellers. They even have programs in place to help with obtaining inventory and other special needs items. The benefits are enormous, the possibilities limitless and the outlook for the future brighter. You can visit their web site at http://www.doua.info or contact the founder directly at marjie@doua.info.

Note: The DOUA is exhibiting at the eBay Live conference this week in New Orleans, Louisiana at booth #1022.


About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, MakeUseOf.com. He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'Neill.org.


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