My experiences as a disabled nail technician
By Abi Hassan | 29 January 2024 | Feature, Tech Talk
Abi Hassan, owner of Canterbury-based salon, Hot Wheels Nails, shares her experiences as a disabled nail technician and explores the importance of advocating for accessibility in the industry…
As a disabled nail technician, I found navigating my way through the start-up of my business to be a minefield. I needed to adapt the process based on my own experience and knowledge, which has brought up a wide range of difficulties for me throughout my time in the industry.
As my health fluctuates, so does my need for adaptations to my work. I often questioned the feasibility of whether I could take up being a nail technician as a career. I have experienced the inaccessibility of the world generally and didn’t feel confident in the likelihood of my success as a professional working nail technician.
Throughout my training, I was jokingly told, “at least you don’t need to stand up to do nails“. Whilst this comment is questionable, it was enough to give me the boost to find a set-up that worked for me to do nails for myself and a couple of friends.
I was able, with the help and support of others, to use the skills I had developed managing my disability and navigating a mostly inaccessible society to my advantage. I had a nail desk on wheels, a trolley containing my products also on wheels, and found a way to keep everything in reach.
As my confidence grew, I began to use social media to promote my work, and I’m sure a lot of nail techs can relate to how exhausting that can be. I now schedule my content and allocate specific time in my diary to spend on this, as this reduces how overwhelming it can be.
I often find myself comparing my capacity to other techs I connect with, which is something that can hold me back. I have become aware of a sense of hustle culture within the beauty industry, and see other techs and beauticians working themselves beyond capacity to ‘keep up’ with what can feel like a saturated space.
I have found reprieve in connecting with fellow techs who have been honest about their experiences and what they have learned. One of my main takeaways has been that there is room for every nail technician in the industry, as we all bring something different to the table.
For me, that has given me the confidence to use my personal experience and knowledge surrounding accessibility to provide accessible and inclusive nail treatments to clients with a range of access needs.
I have become increasingly passionate about advocating for accessibility in the industry. When speaking with my clients with accessibility needs, 89% have at least once had to reconsider or cancel treatments due to lack of accessibility, and 100% reported facing difficulties accessing beauty treatments due to lack of physical accessibility, sensory difficulties and anxiety.
Disability and accessibility isn’t just the responsibility of the disabled person, but of those around them and society as a whole. In the context of the nail industry, it is the responsibility of salon owners, business owners and nail techs to reflect on accessibility within their individual workspace.
Abi will be continuing her advocacy by exploring how to create an accessible salon space and ways to support accessibility needs in later articles in Scratch.