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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


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

1 comment

Is there anyone out there that’s similar to my age (I’m 26) that plays and RPs on World of Warcraft?

Hey, everyone. I hope you’re all as well as you can be and staying safe.

I was just curious... Is there anyone on here that plays World of Warcraft and RPs? I’ve just never met anyone that has a chronic illness and plays WoW. I’d like to make some new friends (or perhaps more if we click) that are geeks like me. 😊

I also do written RP on Discord. And sometimes just the odd little bit here and there in general. I’m forever putting stuff like *grumbles incoherently,* in messages or on Facebook. I mainly prefer paragraphs to one liners, but that’s because I’m a writer and RPing helps to shift the awful Writer’s Block.

Please feel free to comment or message me. And my Discord tag is SilentStorm#0150

Thank you all in advance!

#chronicillnesswarrior #ChronicPain #POTS #EDS #NAFLD #BPD #InterstitialCystitis #Diabetes #Migraines #WorldOfWarcraft #WOW #Roleplay #RP #geeks #Discord #Chat #Newfriends #social #Makingfriends

1 comment