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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Don't Lose Your Next Great Hire!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This is one of the most important months of the year for us in the disability community. Though I advocate year-round for employers of all sizes to hire from within the disability community, having a spotlight shined on the cause is critical.

As someone who has worked as an entrepreneur, a government contractor and now as both a workforce development program manager and accessibility expert, I am the embodiment of what NDEAM is all about.

Despite being ready for work, there are far too many disabled professionals on the sidelines. With the rise of remote/hybrid work, a plethora of assistive technologies, and more emphasis than ever on the value of a diverse workforce – companies should be moving faster than ever to hire across the disability spectrum.

My particular experience focuses on blind and low-vision individuals, but what I see across the board is that many companies overthink what it takes to hire a disabled person. I tell my corporate clients: a simple conversation consisting of what that person needs to be successful in their role is usually all it takes to figure out the best setup for that individual. Disabled people are often reluctant to share their disability, due to fear it will impact their candidacy. But the truth is – disabled people, just like the able-bodied, apply for jobs that they believe they can do! By simply opening the door to the question of how, we find that more often than not, the answers are quite simple.

My advice to disabled candidates is equally easy: go for it! Apply for the jobs you know you can succeed in. Be honest with potential employers about accessibility needs and explain how you will use these tools to fulfill the requirements of the role. Only through this transparency and conversation will we effect change.

October is a great month to reset in general, but I encourage everyone – use the momentum of this month to take stock of your employment base. Ask yourself if you are truly looking at the widest candidate group possible. Use organizations like the one I work for, NSITE, to help you – we know what to do and can help get things moving quickly.

The only thing you have to lose is your next best hire. #Disability #Blindness #RP #Blind #dei #disabilityatwork

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How Blindness Led Me to My Life’s Work

When I was 18 years old, I started to lose by vision. As an athlete, the signs, at first, were small – missed passes from my teammates on the basketball court. Losing a fly ball in the air at my baseball games. Not following my golf ball’s trajectory on the course. I went to see a doctor thinking that it was something perhaps with my brain and was shocked to eventually learn I had Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) – a rare, degenerative eye disease that makes cells in the eye breakdown over time – eventually causing vision loss. I have one of the most severe cases of RP that one can have – and by age 30 I was completely blind.

For years, as I worked through a range of emotions, I always knew one thing - I was determined to not let RP define who I am or what success I find in my life. Up until the point of my diagnosis, I had planned on being a doctor – and while that course was, and remains, unavailable, higher education and career fulfillment is absolutely not. Through a lot of tenacity, problem-solving, failure and entrepreneurship, two years ago I found myself starting a new job at NSITE just outside Washington, DC. Here, I have found my deepest purpose – helping blind and low vision individuals find jobs, while also helping companies and products make their tools more accessible to everyone. In my spare time – I’m entering my fourth year as a goalie for the U.S. National Blind Hockey Team because being blind has never dimmed my love of sports!

The journey to this role and this life was not a straight line. I hope as part of this community I can share a bit about my path in the hopes it shows other blind and low vision individuals how they can find fulfilling personal and professional lives, even in the wake of the unexpected.

I’m always happy to talk to anyone who has lost vision at any stage of life, to help them understand what steps they can take to come to terms with their diagnosis, and when ready, start to think about what is next.

I look forward to learning more from you all, too.

#Blindness #RP #Blind

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High Myopia and Prosopagnosia

Hi Mighties,

My atypical hEDS goes together with High Myopia. I have like minus 7 dioptria left, minus 5.75 on my right eye. So I wear those glasses with quite thick glass.

My problem in society is that I can't recognise people by seeing their face.
So I might spend an evening chatting and talking and having fun with a couple of people I just met.
Next day- really embarassing🙈- I dont recognise the person any more.
This makes me look arrogant.

I have read in media, that Brad Pitt seems to have the same problem, but he does not know anybody else with this problem called Prosopagnosia- the inability to recognise people by their face.

At least I am not alone with this problem. My Dad and my Uncle, both with even higher Myopia than me (-15 or so), also have Prosopagnosia. We recognise people by their gaith. So when somebody stands or sits down, it is impossible to recognize this person 🙈

Does anybody out there also have Prosopagnosia? #eds #Depression #myopia #visual impairment #brad Pitt #bendy #SocialAnxiety #Blindness #Blind

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Trust your body

Listen to your body when you feel that something is off. Don’t ignore how you feel. Trust your gut.

For the past few weeks I’ve been experiencing flashing lights in my right eye. I got an emergency appointment with my retina specialist today and he found an Operculated Retinal Hole. He did a laser procedure on it, along with some of my abnormal vasculature of my retina. It was so painful and I’m struggling with a lot of pain in my eye and head all around the area. It will take a few weeks to heal and hopefully seal the hole. Hopefully after the hole is sealed the flashing lights should subside. I have an appointment in two weeks to get re-scanned. I have to rest and take it easy now.

I was going to wait it out and ignore my symptoms because if everything looked “okay” I didn’t want to waste my doctors time. Ultimately, after my mom and my neurologist persuading me to go, I made an appointment and I’m so glad I did. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and in this case, I was experiencing vision symptoms of an emergency that could and probably would’ve turned much worse had I not gone to the doctor.

#trustyourbody #LegallyBlind #Blind #Blindness #blindnessisaspectrum #blindnessawareness #VisionLoss #VisuallyImpaired #vision #retina

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haven't really ever felt like this... but lately just feeling super depressed sad lonely... etc. seeing how well everyone else gets along with people. Im still in school and seeing how my classmates get along so well with eachother and then im just here...the lonely #Blind and crippled person, i dont have anyone and i dont feel like i can trust anyone, sure i do have a few people i occasionally talk to but i dont have anyone who i can talk to all the time, talk about my issues, hug or cry on when i need. i want that, I just hate how im feeling right now. Lonely and helpless.

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Mighty NOT accessible to the visually impaired

My partner is visually impaired. He tried registering/login on Mighty but failed, there were errors with the app. The app kept crashing when he opened the app with Voiceover. The app is not compatible with Voiceover at all. Mighty community is really an exciting initiative, why are the visually impaired not included? #Disability #Blind #VisuallyImpaired #Accessibility #Voiceover #App #mighty

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How to handle a blind person?

I struggle with how so many people bypass a blind person. My Mom is blind and I don't like being the one others look to for the answers she has. I have started a Facebook page for those who have grow up around a blind person. I just need to know other people get tired of always being asked what "she needs" or how is "she doing today?" I want to say yes shes blind and has a hearing loss, but she can answer her own questions. #Blindness #childrenraisedaroundtheblind #Blind