Web Board

Disability Awareness: Increasing Employers Understanding of the ADA, Accommodations and Other Supports in the Workplace

 

Welcome to the Web Board! If you have a question or a comment, please send it to the presenters using the form at the bottom of this page.

 

Post #1: My first reaction as a co-worker of someone with a disability was to shy away from that person, because my first thought was they could not communicate or they would be unfriendly. After several months I began to learn that this person was just like me in the respect that they also needed a job and had life stressors to deal with. I then made contact with this person and soon became comfortable knowing and talking to that person, but at times it was still uncomfortable, because others around would stare and I had to learn to adjust my thinking to help others understand.

Response: I think that the situation you presented is very common. Many people who have not met an individual with a disability are a bit fearful to approach the individual. But given the opportunity to get to know these individuals we find commonalitites between ourselves and realize that they are a person first and we have many things in common. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #2: My first experience with a person with a disability was when I was about 15 yrs. old. My niece has a physical disability and her movements are a bit "jerky" and awkward. My first reaction was that I felt sorry for her (I'm sorry to say!), however, as I got to know her, I realized that she was a brilliant young girl and that I just had to have patience with her when she was performing any task. In every other way she was just as able, and probably more in some ways, than I was to function in the world.

Response: Your reaction is very common. What is important is that you got to know your niece and got to know who she was and understand that she had skills and abilities. Thank you for sharing your personal experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #3: I work with 2 disabled individuals. I find as we get to know each other I am the one with the handicap. They are so much better in attitude and ability than I am. It was hard to relate at first hoowever they went the extra mile.

Response: I am glad that you have had the opportunity to get to know these individuals. I have had similar comments from other folks saying that they have met individuals with disabilities that are far more positive about life than they are - even given the challenges and barriers they face. I think we could all learn from this!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #4: I'm old. I cannot remember the first time I worked with a colleague with a visible disability. However, where I am now, there are four executives in our team of 11 that have disabilities. One with a visible disability. My first thought was, "I wonder what caused..." However, after that 10-second thought, it disappeared. No one treated this individual differently. Three years later, he is who he is, no apologies, etc. He performs his executive responsibilites like we all do and performance is what is measured. I love this company. We don't have diversity training. We have training on inclusion and how to tap into each others' talents. There are pockets of bias and ugliness, don't get me wrong. However, from the very top, the focus is on what you bring to the table. Not how you get to the table.

Response: I love what you say - inclusion training and focusing on what you bring to the table not how you get to the table! That is great! No wonder you love your company!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #5: My first expereince working with a co-worker with a disabliity was at Puna Kamalii Flowers, upon my arrival for my first day of work I was assigned to work with a person with a disablilty. I was supposed to be the supervisor but as it was my first day, my co-worker was telling me where things were, and what all of the safety rules were, and introducing me. I was surprised at his ability to do so well and remembering where the materials were as well as all of the safety rules and he was very, very helpful.

Response: Thank you for sharing your personal experience. I am glad your first experience was so positive - had it been different it may have changed your perspective about people with disabilities.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #6: My first reaction to working with a person that has a disability was kind of iffy for me. I thought it was going to be the hardest job that I would every take on. When disability came to my mind all I thought of was wheelchairs and having to accomodate their every need. But after meeting all the people that I had to work with it was just if I was working with non-disabled individuals.

Response: My husband always says "don't cross that bridge before you have to" and I think you were doing what I sometimes do - worrying about things that don't need that concern. You had a fear that was very common but once you met the individuals you realized it was not a concern at all! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #7: before my own disability I would have matched all the above reactions, however now that I am disabled I worry more about how poeple will react to my being disabled. i allways feel that i am on display and have to deliver some kind of performance in order to be accepted.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your own personal experience. It is interesting to hear how you feel from before your disability to after. Prior to your disability, did you know anyone with a disability or work with anyone with a disability?

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #8: The first time I met a new co-worker that has a disability, my first thought was how am I going to comunicate with them. Second thought was why or what caused this disability. We can comunicate just fine and work together as a team.

Response: I think your first thoughts are very common! I am glad that your communication concerns did not end up being a problem!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #9: My first experience working with People With Disabilities (PWD) was many moons ago when I was an adolescent working in a restaurant as a bus boy. Although I had personal experience with PWD on many other levels, I was surprised to see that "those people" could work and work productively. Throughout my career(s), I have worked with many PWD in many settings and have come to understand that PWD are just people, period. I now work as a Disability Program Navigator at the Mesa County Workforce Center. This job is the perfect situation for me, especially in light of my own disabilities, acquired over the years, in that I now understand the many challenges to PWD in overcoming ignorance in the business community about PWD and just what a valuable and untapped asset PWD are to their bottom line.

Response: I think that the most powerful way to change perceptions of people with disabilies is through educating the public. People with disabilities would have less challenges/barriers to overcome if more people in the community were educated in a way that would change their perceptions. Thanks for sharing with us!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #10: BEFORE HAVING A LEARNING DISABLE CHILD OF MY OWN, I FELT SORRY FOR THEM. BUT NOW I KNOW THEY ARE VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE , THAT CAN DO WELL IF GIVEN A CHANCE.

Response: Yes, our personal experiences can drastically change our perceptions and feelings. Thank you for sharing about your child.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #11: When I was 20 I worked with a young woman who had used a wheelchair her whole life. She was very smart and funny and told people quite openly if she needed them to open a door or not. We became good friends and had lots of talks about what life was like for her and her family.

Response: It sounds like you had a great friendship with this woman. I am guessing that she gave you a whole new perspective of what life is like when you have a disability. Thanks for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #12: My next door neighbor was left quadrapalegic after a swimming accident at a young age. She attended college and is a speech therapist in a rehabilitation center. She struggles everyday to do the things we take for granted however I have never seen her have a negative approach to life. She has been both a mentor and teacher to me.

Response: I have had a similar experience with an individual with a disability. He has taught me a lot and has been a wonderful friend and mentor. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #13: Since in my new position at work I have worked with a lot of people with various disabilities. With each person the experience has been the same wonderful. This job couldn't be any better. I am so lucky to work in this atmosphere with such unique and wonderful individuals that bring so much to the table. I wish that I had the same drive and ambition that my co-workers do.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience! I think that sharing like this helps people who have not had any or little interaction with individuals with disabilities!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #14: Initially I wondered why our young wheelchair-bound volunteer was placed in our department. The counters were too high, the copier was too high and none of the computer terminals seemed to accomodate her wheelchair. Over the few months she was with us, she impressed me with her driving motivation to make adjustments to overcome these hurdles. By the time she was reassigned, none of us thought of her as disabled. We had mixed feelings at her going away party - sad because we were losing a friend and a great worker, but happy because she was moving on and getting a job that she really liked doing.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I think that your intial reaction is common. What is great is that you were educated by this person (who uses a wheelchair) that they are just as capable as the other employees and should be treated just like everyone else. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #15: In my first experience with having a person with disabilities in the workplace,I was over protective with the young lady because she was in a wheel chair.Whenever there was something that needed to be done I would never allow her to do it.She couldnt even get started on a task before I would do it for her.I thought I was being helpful but what I was really doing is not giving her a chance.She finnally explained to me that though she was happy to know that I was there to help her if she needed it,she was more then capable of performing her job.Turns out that I needed her assistance in more then one task

Response: I think that many of us feel the same as you when we meet someone who faces obstacles. Many of us just want to help in whatever way possible and so we do for people without asking if they need our help. By asking people first if they need assistance we can avoid getting ourselves into a situation where we are doing more than necessary. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #16: Small workplace adaptions to allow someone with a disability to return to the workforce are good investments as they usually appreciate the opportunity to work and are reliable and loyal employees

Response: You are right! Most work place accommodations cost less than $500!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #17: I am a job developer that found a job for a supported employee at a local vet clinic. One of the long-time employees is not comfortable working with an employee with a disability. Other than just having her learn "on the job" ... are there any suggestions about how to sensitive her to the idea?

Response: I have worked with several companies that have had me do a disability awareness training prior to an employee with a disability coming on board. I am guessing that this is probably a small business and that may not be the best route. It may be helpful to sit down with the employee and talk about what their concerns and fears are related to working with someone with a disability.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #18: Are there some universal principles you abide by when seeking out a good natural support and strategies for fading? Below are some helpful hints from Katherine Inge. Do you have any others? The "trick" is for the employment specialist to provide the least amount of intervention possible for the worker with a disability to be successful while maximizing the supports of the workplace. Do the employer and coworkers want to provide the support? What is the employer's level of comfort and ability to provide the needed support? Are coworkers available to provide consistent feedback and instruction? If not, why not, and how can this change& or if it does not change& is the employer really willing to continue to employment relationship with the supported employee? Is there stability in staff scheduling so that the customer can rely on a specific coworker(s)? If not, is it wise to step in as a job coach and be a surrogate manager during the transition (turnover) time just until a specific coworker can be found?

Response: I think that Dr. Inge has hit on everything that I can think of. I don't think I have anything to add. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #19: My first experience was before I could remember it. I have been interacting with people who have a disability or barriers for my entire life. I have never felt anything but pure respect for people who are affected by a disability and hope that never changes.

Response: Thank you for sharing - I hope that more and more people will have a similar experience to you and the world becomes more educated and accepting of individuals with disabilities.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #20: My first experience with someone that had a disability was actually scary for me. I was a child and the lady that taught me piano had an elderly son that had a mental disability. I think the fact that it was never explained to me is what made me uncomfortable. This has helped me with my own children in that I try to do many things to help them feel comfortable. My son now works with people that have down syndrome, and he loves it, and he loves them.

Response: I am glad to hear that you were able to take your experience and turn it into a positive for yourself and your children. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #21: I first encounter ro experience with a person with a disability was when I was a child, no more than 9 years old. I remember comments that were made by adults that the woman was "special and touched". That didn't have any particular meaning to me, but I did understand that she wasn't like the other adults.

Response: How do you think that first interaction shaped your perception and feelings about individuals with disabilities? Thanks for sharing, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #22: My first experience with disabled people was in grade school. We had a Special Ed. dept. & altho the kids were in separate classroom from the rest we did have some interaction during recess & lunch. They were considered "different & separate" from the rest of us. The next time was in high school thru a class that required community activity. I went back to my grade school to teach MR kids to count money. I was terrified until I got there. Once I started working with them it was great. They were all really sweet kids who were not much different from other kids, perhaps a bit nicer. For the past 12 yrs. I have worked with all types of disabled people. They are much like non-disabled people. Most are nice & welcome any help but a few are demanding & nothing is enough. It is always interesting & every case is a challenge that keep my job interesting.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. Individuals with disabilites are just like everyone else. Some people are nicer than others and some are more demanding than others. It is that which makes us individuals! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #23: A friend of mine, since I had known since college, is legally blind. He always had difficulty retaining jobs. This was not due to his incompetence it was strictly a transportation issue. We lived in the suburbs where there was very little mass transit. He had to rely on friends and coworkers to actually get to the job site. He now works at a private school where he lives on campus.

Response: Transportation is a huge issue for a lot of individuals with disabilities. This is a struggle in many communities across the country and even worse in rural areas. Thanks, Jennifer McDonough

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #24: My first experience was with someone with a physical disability, paralyzed from the waist down after a motor vehicle accident. I felt sorry for him, but later saw as a fully functioning person using crutches.Recently in the workplace,after educating myself on the etiquette to follow I am more confident in approaching people with disabilities. The learning is ongoing.Every individual is different and presents with different challenges.

Response: I hope that you will share your education with others so that we touch as many people as possible to help them understand. Thanks for sharing. Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #25: I grew up with a cousin my age who had cerebral palsy. She used crutches and had a difficult time getting around. I use to feel angry when we were in public b/c people would stare at her. She was always positive and never complained.

Response: I had the same reaction when kids would make fun of other kids that had disabilities or were different. I sometimes wonder if that is what motivated me to go into the field of employment for individuals with disabilites. Thanks for sharing - Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #26: My first experience with anyone with a disability was in middle school. I had always been drawn to help people and became an Aide for the Sp. Ed dept. From Middleschool thru HighSchool I worked 1:1 with my peers that were disabled. When I graduated I started working in a residential home for 7 Adults with Disabilities. I have moved up the ladder in the field from residential, vocational, to case manager. I currently work as a Vocational Coordinator and we serve 114 persons with developmental disabilities who want to obtain and maintain employment. I have learned so much from the people I serve. They are just like anyone else that strives to be independent and enjoy life. I have a lot of great relationships with our clients and everyone cares about everyone else.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! You have really been involved with helping individuals with disabilities become independent all of your life!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #27: My first expereience working with a disabled individual was during a summer job in high school. I was a phone operator and my supervisor was confined to a wheelchair due to an auto accident. At first I felt sorry for her, but over time, I didn't even notice the wheelchair. She was a superb customer service operator who trained me always think about the client first. She definately had a positive outlook on life!

Response: I am glad that you had the opportunity to get to know someone with a disability in a work environment. I think this helps us to realize that everyone can work! Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #28: I have a cousin who was born disable. He tries his best in everything he does. He is a lawyer now. I respect him.

Response: What an excellent example of someone with a disability succeeding in the workforce! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #29: My first interaction with people/persons with a known disability was as a young child as my father was the bus driver for the local Special Education School. My exposure to the group was a positve one and still is as I currently work with a group called Hinchinbrook Employment Services Assoc. Inc (HES) who currently are contracted by the federal government to deliver the Disability Employment Network (DEN)program in my/our local community. Discrimination is somthing that all groups/individuals will be exposed to directly/indirectly at one time or another in their lifetimes. It is how you deal with discrimination as an individual that matters. I try to turn most experiences into positive ones even when things seem unattainable in my personal life. I try to reflect that same positive attitude in the workplace with my client base, co-workers, employers, and the broader community assisting with breaking down the barriers for individuals with disabilities everywhere.

Response: I agree that we all face some type of discrimination in our lives and that how we deal with it shows who we are. Your positive attitude in helping the public understand individuals with disabilities is what is needed to help people succeed in life! Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #30: I have a cousin who has Down's Syndrome. All my life I have interacted with her as I normally would. There are some instances when more attention is needed because of extensive conversational detail, but other than that, we haven't had to alter our behavior around her too much. Since I was exposed to this disability from such a young age, I have always been able to treat those with any type of disability with the knowledge that everyone is a person and deserves to be treated with patience and respect

Response: You make a great point - not only do you treat someone with a disability as you would anyone else, but you treat them with respect. Excellent point and I am glad you made that. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #31: My father-in-law lost his leg in WWII. When I first met him, I didn't notice his disability at all... He has a prosthetic leg wears shorts, moves very well and is extremely active... I have never really thought of him as handicapped.

Response: When individuals with disabilities are treated like everyone else and seen for their skills and abilities it is easy not to see the disability. Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #32: My first reaction when working with someone with a disability was nervous. Not sure what they would think of me. Since that time though, I have been more comfortable working, talking, interacting with them. They are so genuine. It just gives you an uplifting feeling. I have worked with and still continue to work with people with disabilities and as I stated, now I am comfortable working with them and realize they are not really any different than you or I.. just looking for acceptence.

Response: I am glad that you were able to work through your apprehension and have had positive experiences with individuals with disabilities. Many people find themselves nervous at their first interaction with someone with a disability. With more experience and exposure, we quickly learn that it is not the disability that we should be focusing on bur rather the person. And when we do that we are able to see the person as no different than you or me.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #33: My first experience with someone with a disability was a patient that came in for a blood draw, she was in a wheelchair and needed help getting out of the car, I assisted her and the first thought was how fustrating it must be to not be able to walk, but I learned just by watching how she managed to make her way out of the vehicle with little help from me that you can do almost anything if you try.

Response: We have done research that shows that people who have experiences like yourself truly are motivated by working with individuals with disabilities. Coworkers find that having someone with a disability on their team helps them look beyond less significant barriers in their own life and motivate them to work harder.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #34: My first experience with a person with a disability came as a child during a holiday celebration with my family. Another family came to the celebration with a child who appeared different than me. (I know now that he had mental retardation). He walked awkwardly and had difficulty communicating. Despite this he seemed very happy and wanting to engage and participate with other kids at the gathering. Music was playing and I remember he started dancing and laughing. I decided to join in what appeared to be a fun activity and was the only kid present to do so. I was thanked and praised by his family for this and remember just feeling good about it. 35 years later I find supporting individuals with diabilities to achieve independence and specifically successful employment experiences IS what I was meant to do.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing this story. I think many of us can relate to having had our first interactions with someone with a disability at a family gathering. And how interesting that years later you ate in a situation to assist individuals find employment! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #35: My first experience working with people with disabilities was with the hearing impaired. The agency I worked for employs a lot of impaired people - they are large in number and are a very tight nit group of individuals. I was really fascinated at how their lives carry on every day just like mine. I worked very close with one guy in particular and I think he sensed my fascination. He began teaching me the alphabet in sign and a few other signs for common phrases. What a joy it was to learn from him. I still remember the alphabet. I also had the pleasure a few years ago of working with a young lady who was visually impaired. She had adapted so well to the office that I didn't know she was visually impaired until I had worked there for 2 weeks! I found myself feeling sorry for her sometimes, but to see her go through her daily activities, she got around Atlanta better than I could. She was a fashion plate every day - not a hair out of place. It was amazing and I wonder to this day how she's doing.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am glad that you were inspired and educated by your coworkers! Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #36: My first experience interacting with a person with disabilities was with my aunt when I was a child. She lived near us and I visited with her quite often. She had epilepsy and had seizures frequently. This was during the sixties and although she took medication, she still had seizures. I was frightened by the seizures because I did not understand. today I am grown and work at a center that serves folks with disabilities. I believe my experience as child helped prepare theway for me. I believe I can make a difference. I work in supported employment. I think everyone should have the oppertunity to work and earn income regardless of their disbility.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sure that as a child seeing your aunt have a seizure was very scary. It is interesting how some of the experiences we have at such a young age guide our lives. I too had a similar experience when I was young and also feel (like you) that my experience led me to work with individuals with disabilities as an adult. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #37: I had a co-worker who had had spinal surgery shortly before she came to our department. I worked with our risk management group to try to get her every possible piece of equipment or change her workstation to make her workday as easy as possible for her. I was particularly interested in her case because I was also facing spinal surgery. In helping her, I prepared myself by knowing what might make my work life easier. As for how I felt around her... she always seemed to be in so much pain that I wondered if working was really worth it for her. I wondered if her pain was always real. Now I know it was, and that I am fortunate that my healing seems to have gone better than hers did. I did feel comfortable during the experience because we were both coworkers trying to get a job done and I knew her job knowledge merited my respect.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience. It is great that you were able to help her identify tools that would make her return to work easier. I hope that both of you are doing well. Thanks! Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #38: One of my principal contacts at the home office, whom I spoke with 2-3 times a week was Mike. Mike was only a couple of years younger than me and we found we had many things in commmon to talk about socially, as well as whatever we were working on at the moment. Several months after I started working with Mike, I made a trip to the home office. When I walked into Mike's work area to meet him face to face, I was surprised that he was in a wheelchair. I was surprised because in all the talking we had done about everything from work to social life, college experiences, etc., that one fact never came up in any way. Growing up, I had a cousin with muscular dystrophy and another with a moderate mental disability. Even though that was true, I spent relatively little time around other persons with disabilities. I would normally feel uncomfortable when I was, even with my cousins, mainly because I was nervous I would say or do something wrong or embarrassing. My experience with Mike helped me realize that persons with disabilities are just that - people. Without outside limitations, Mike did his work, and lived his life in such a way that it was invisible to me that he had any sort of disability, until I was confronted with this fact with my own eyes. Each of us changed jobs and I haven't spoken to Mike in years, but if his name comes up, I always find it odd, that after awhile, it re-occurs to me that Mike was in a wheelchair. It is always a secondary, largely irrelavant piece of information. Even though I can't say that this experience has provided the template for the way I relate to every person I meet, it has had a profoundly positive impact.

Response: Because you were able to get to know Mike as a person instead of "disabled", it gave you an accurate view of who he was. Many times individuals with disabilities are not given that opportunity and people cannot see past their disability. Thanks for sharing your experience. Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #39: When I began working, my first supervisor was a gentleman who used a wheelchair. This was in the mid-1970s. The company, a local midwestern credit reporting service, had arranged the office with wide aisles and accommodations to allow for my supervisor to perform his work and travel throughout the office without unnecessary obstacles. Nobody in the office treated my supervisor in a different manner than the treatment toward other employees. Other than my initial uncertainty (because I am tall) with regard to whether I should stand or sit when speaking with him (my supervisor did not wish for people to speak to him on an eye-to-eye basis; this made him feel as though he was being treated differently, so we stood or sat as was natural to a conversation), my supervisor's disability was a non-issue.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. Do you think that having this experience changed your perspective of individuals with disabilities from that point forward? Thanks, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #40: My first experience with a handicapped person was when I was a young child. My mom worked at North Jersey Training Development Center where there were residence there who had mutiple disabilities such as retardation, waterhead babies (sorry don't know the proper name, down syndrome and other physical disabilties. I can recall feeling very sad inside and some what frieghten. I recall asking my mom many questions as to why, how and what did she do in working with them. When I grew older and left for college one of my jobs was a consultant in a group home setting for the disabled. I've had several jobs assisting and managing in that area. Currently I'm a sign lanaguage interpreter working with deaf adults. I would guess that impact as a child and a servant heart led me to continue in any way to serve and assist those with physical and mental challenges.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I think many people have an experience early in life that leads them down a path later in life to help - whether it is with an older population or individuals with disabilities. I think my path started in first grade when I met someone with a disability. Thanks, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #41: My fisrt eperience with a disabled person was with the son of a friend. As I knew these folks are among us daily, I greeted him with as much respect and support as I would anyone else. I felt that I wanted to show him that we were equals, but just had different capabilities. I wanted him to feel comfortable with me. He worked at various jobs. I was very comfortable, because the fact that he had a disability did not define him as a person, he was just a person who happend to have a limitation in a particular regard. Also, I am used to work in the deaf community.

Response: I wish more people would respond as you did with this individual - with respect and support. We must remember that individuals with disabilities are people first - with real feelings and emotions - and deserve the respect and support we would give anyone else. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #42: My first experience with a physically challenged co-worker was in a training class. He was legally blind and I didn't know how he would be able to do the job, because there was heavy reading and research required. Special equipment was brought in to assist him and I quickly noticed that he was one of the brightess individuals in the class. We developed a healthy competitive relationship and a long lasting friendship. We have been friends now for many years and I thank him for opening my eyes.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience. Technology has really grown over the 10 years I have been working in this area and has really advanced the opportunities for individiuals with disabilities. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #43: My first experience with a Deaf person was at an early age and on my first job they he/she was isolated from the rest of the work group and when I inquired why, I was told that they couldn't hear. I was excited because I took it as an oppertunity to use the finger spelling alphabet I had learned in scouts. It opened up a world that I love and have never regretted.

Response: I am sorry to hear that this person was isolated from the rest of the group because they could not hear. It would have been so much better if the company could have included her in the team - even though she/he may not have been able to hear there are other ways to communicate. I am glad that you were able to interact with this coworker. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #44: I first came into knowing the meaning of disabled person when in the college with the female colleague being a person with some physical disability.At first sight it was that I had some feeling she wouldn't manage the Physiotherapy course which we were about to begin.It turned out to be indifferent from what I was feeling because, she turned to be the leading figure in the class and even challenging the ones without any physical challenge "physically"She is still practicing and a nearby colleague.

Response: It sounds like this student may have been able to teach the class some lessons of her own related to the abilities of individuals with disabilities! Thanks for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #45: My first experience with disabled co-workers was consequently one who was wheelchair dependent and another who had mental health challenges. I was new in the position and learned that they had been working there for over 5 years. My observation over a 2 year period was they were extremely reliable, hardworking, thorough, and committed. There were a couple of challenging incidences when the wheelchair bound person had fallen off his chair and it scared the staff because they did not know how to response. They were scared for his safety and scared to not knowing how to appropriately handle, picking him up properly. The person with mental health challenges was stable with her medication for several years. It wasn't until later that she was not able to continue a commitment to the position.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I think it would have been scary to have someone fall - no matter if they were in a wheelchair of not. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #46: my first experience working with a person with a disability, i was unaware that that person had a disability until the person had a manic episode in the office. I was the one who was able to talk the person into getting some help.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I am glad you were there for this individual to help them at a difficult time.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #47: My first experience was working with a person with a developmental disability. The pace of the communication was a bit different but the desire for connection was the same. It set the stage for me to move into the disability field.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #48: My frist experience with working with someone with a disabilty was when i was 10. I worked with my aunt and uncle that have cp. Which is what i have.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. It is interesting to hear your perspective! Thanks.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #49: My first workplace experience with a person with a disability was when we had a new employee who was blind. It was an eye opening experience because I never realized how much we rely upon our sight. At the same time, I was surprised at how much equipment, etc. there was to help a blind person perform the work. He was able to do everything we did with his special equipment--and I would say he was also a much better communicator on the phone than a lot of us. It was neat to be able to learn from him.

Response: I am glad that this experience gave you a new perspective on the disability world. It sounds like you learned a lot about the abilities of this individual! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #50: When I worked at a college, we had an accountant who was wheelchair bound. That was my first experience in working with someone who was handicapped.

Response: How did this experience change your perspective of individuals with disabilities? Were you comfortable interacting with this individual? Please tell us more. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #51: Our previous director whom I worked with for 5 yrs. was in a wheelchair due to a hunting accident. I am inspired by his faith and his drive to continue with his career as a vet surgeon. He is truly an inspiration!

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds like this has given you a new perspective of the abilities of individuals with disabilities. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #52: My first experience working with someone with a disability was as a summer youth recreation center leader. One of our regular attendees was hearing impaired. I remember being initially startled by the sound of her voice, but quickly became used to it and learned to listen more carefully when she spoke, and to be sure I had her attention and was facing her when I spoke. She was quite skilled in lip reading and had a support network of siblings and friends with varying skill in signing. Tess was quite popular and included in all activities.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes it is startling when you meet someone with a disability, but what is important is to to face that and continue building the relationship and offering that opportunity for the relationship. Many people are scared of the interaction and avoid contact with people with disabilities and miss out on meeting some wonderful new friends! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #53: My grandfather lost his eye sight when I was four years old and I can still remember the way he accepted the loss. He lived eight years without seeing but never complained and was an inspiration to all the grandchildren.

Response: Wow - thanks for sharing your story. I think that people like your grandfather are not only an inspiration but can teach us that one doesn't have to crumble when we have an obstacle - but that we can overcome it. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #54: I have learned over the years, that disabled or not patience is the best virtue a person can have. All things are possible with patience. Disabled persons are just like everyone else. We all need a kind word.

Response: How well said. You know we all struggle with our own personal issues - some have disabilities, some have issues with their marriages, sick family members - and I think you are right, with patience we can accommodate them all. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #55: As a very young child, I new many children with both physical and mental disabilities because my grandmother would keep children in the foster care system. I can't remember my first reaction but do know that in later life I rarely focused on the disability but instead the abilities. This especially was true when I worked in the rehabilitation field as a computer systems engineer. My first reaction when I saw another person typing for a quadriplegic taking a computer class was of anger and disappointment. I remember thinking that we need to help make this person independent and not dependent on others. I later had the opportunity to use my computer skills to demonstrate how computers could be adapted to assist individuals. Although I am no longer working in the rehabilitation field I continue to encourage folks to focus on an individuals abilities not disabilities.

Response: It is interesting to see that your early exposure to individuals with disabilities may have led you into the field of rehabilitation. Thanks for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #56: One of my managers has Muscular Scherosis. The manager started out limping, then had to get a walker with a seat on it and now has a mobile chair to go to meetings, other offices, in fact everywhere they go.

Response: Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #57: I forgot to explain my feelings etc concerning the manager in my area. I am always asking how they are, helping them if needed. I care that the individual has to be like this, but they are still working and keeping up with things as always.

Response: Thanks for expanding on your answer. I am sure that your manager appreciates your willingness to help.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #58: My first experience working with a person with a disability was as a teanager. I worked for a paneling making company and had to work with a deaf person. At first I was rather afraid that I would be offensive to this person because of the way the manager instructed me to get his attention. I had to hit on the boards very hard to make it vibrate so that he could feel it. I found out that just stopping and looking at him had the same affect. It might have caused one or two sheet of paneling to get throught that were not glued but it worked. Of course, I lost my job because I did not not it the way the manager instructed.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear that you lost your job because the manager wasn't willing to consider other ways of interacting. Thanks.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #59: When I first began work for Virginia State government I was employed by the Department of Rehabilitative Services. As you might imagine, I worked with a number of employees who were disabled in varying degrees. It was much like any experience on a new job. Once you get to know other staff members, you don't pay attention to the "differences." We're all just people there to do a job. It was a wonderful way to begin my employment with the state.

Response: This is a great way of explaining the experience. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #60: I work with a person in my section that is legally blind. We work together on several projects from time to time. He uses a screen that shows a much bigger print than I. I am always comfortable around him.

Response: Computers have opened up many opportunities to individuals with disabilities to be able to work. They allow people to have the accommodations needed at no or a low cost. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #61: This is the first place I have worked where a large number of people with disabilities are employed. What I have found is there really is no difference between working with people with disabilities and working with people who don't have disabilities. Other than possibly noticing that someone is in a wheelchair or has a vision impairment - the interaction is the same. I think this is something that most people don't realize.

Response: You are exactly right - it really is no difference in working with people with disabilities vs. people without disabilities - and I don't think most people realize this. If they did understand this I think more people with disabilities would be working! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #62: We first used disabled individuals to move boxes of agency records to another location. Two individuals that were missing an arm reported to me the morning of the move. When I saw them, I thought I had made a mistake hiring them. I was pleasantly surprised that they worked out so well. They worked very hard and accomplished more than someone who was not disabled.

Response: You know, research actually shows that individuals with disabilities are just as productive in the workplace as their non-disabled coworkers. They also tend to motivate the people they work with to be more productive. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #63: I've only had limited experience with diabled individuals but tried to approach them in the same manner that I'd want to be treated. Judging people too quickly isn't acceptable whether they are disabled or not.

Response: Thanks for sharing. You are right - it is not fair to judge people. And the disability minority is the only minority group that anyone can join at anytime! Thanks.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #64: My brother was diagnosed with a learning disability early in his life. To better learn, he needed alternative methods to be able to receive and process information other than strictly reading from textbooks. I also learned that this is a fairly common problem within the general population. When I became and HR professional, I realized that it was critical to offer to our workforce various ways to receive communications and educational/training information in the event that others, especially those who perform in roles that do not require being able to receive and process information from written sources, had this same challenge.

Response: Everyone learns differently and I think many of us probably have some learning disabilities that were never diagnosed. Doctors are better at recognizing them now than they used to be, I guess. So you are right - offering alternate means of communication to your workforce is smart. Thanks for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #65: My first experience working with a disabled individual was a customer service job after college. We had a team of four people doing the same customer service tasks and sharing responsibilities. As a courtesy to another employee's friends' grown child, the company hired a young man confinced to a wheelchair. He had suffered a spinal cord injury but had all of his cognitive ability. He was not productive and became a cause of frustration and tension on our team, but his production was never addressed. Ultimately he was terminated, with most people relieved that the tension was gone and one person, his "sponsor," very hurt. I'm thirty years older now and a Manager. I've had about twenty blind employees, some of them spectacular, most of them excellent and a few not suited to customer service. In restrospect, I think thirty years ago we could not see past disabilities to the "normalcy" in everyone and the need for guidance and feedback at work.

Response: I am sorry to hear that your first experience was so frustrating. You are right that everyone is due guidance and feedback. Without these things we cannot succeed in the workplace with or without a disability. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #66: In my career history of 42 years, I have never worked with a person with a disability. I have observed in passing people who do have a visual disability. I have observed and often asked myself, could I do that, or is this a hardship for them and it must be hard on them. Especially those that may be partially blind. There are many things to overcome.

Response: Have you ever initiated a conversation with any of these people that you have "passed" in life? Not about their disability, but just about everyday things - things that you would talk about with anyone else that you newly meet? I hope that if you haven't, maybe you would after going through this course. You might be amazed at what you learn and the friendships that you make. Thanks for being so honest and sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #67: I have not worked with a person who has had a disability. However, I am in a position that is to look at reasonable accomadations for employees. Sometimes I find it hard to determine if the disability if covered under ADA (i.e. depression). Expaining the different coverage levels to employees, STD, FMLA and ADA, to employees can also cause confusion.

Response: Do you think that it has made your job more difficult not having experience working with people with disabilities? Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #68: Working as a receptionist in a Personnel Office I occassionally encountered hearing impaired and and persons with visual disabilities. It was uncomfortable to me because I was afraid that I would not be able to adequately help them. With the hearing impaired person I offered pencil and paper so they could communicate with me that way and it seemed to be effective. The visual impaired person had someone with them but they did thier own communicating and I was comfortable with it.

Response: After you had the interaction and were able to communicate effectively, did it make you feel more comfortable? Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #69: I have worked with people with disabilities  both as customers and co-workers for over 15 years. I shared an office with a Case Manager who used a wheelchair. He was a great teacher. He told people when to help and when not to. He explained that touching his chair without permission was touching him without permission.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like your coworker was able to teach you a lot about disability! What an amazing opportunity. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #70: The first interaction I had with someone with a disability was in college. The class was in an auditorium and she was sitting in a wheel chair in the back. I didn't know her, but as others came in, they sat closer to the front. I didn't want her to feel like she was by herself so I sat in the row in front of her. We began talking and became friends. Many times I transported her where she needed to go. Both of her legs were amputated due to a misdiagnosis. She was always upbeat and kept everyone else in good spirits which always amazed me. She never felt sorry for herself and didn't like special treatment. I gained an enormous amout of respect for her and learned a great deal about her disability. She wasn't a person with a disability, she was my friend.

Response: Wow - what a great story and what an amazing friendship that was built. So many times people feel uncomfortable with individuals with disabilities and so they avoid interacting - if you had done this you would have lost out on a friendship! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #71: I have always felt the need to help others, but the death of my wife has made me even to be more determined and convinced towards helping others in anyway that I could be helpful, particularly people with developmental disabilities and their family. Additionally, my passion and interest for people with developmental disabilities is what motivate me today on my job. No doubt, if there is anything I want and love to do today, it would be to continue to serve this developmentally disable population.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is great having such passionate people working with individuals with disabilities - those are the ones that make a real difference! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #72: I work in a building that was built before ADA. Therefore, when I see someone attempting to enter our building I want to assist. However, some have the determination to overcome. Impressive, but I don't know when to help and when to step back.

Response: The best way to approach this situation is just to ask "do you need any help?" That leaves the control with the individual with the disability. They will tell you if they need help or not and it will keep you from imposing on them. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #73: The first people with disabilities that I knew were friends. These two individuals were confined to wheelchairs, one as a result of a car accident and the other as a result of polio. Both of my friends were determined to live as independently as possible despite the obstacles in their way. One became a successful entrepreneur and the other a rehabilitation services counselor. This was more than 30 years ago, before ADA. I shared numerous experiences of discrimination and exclusion with them, and joined them in their struggle for access to things that most of us take for granted, from a seat at a restaraunt or movie to meaningful employment. My experiences with these friends, as well as with other friends and co-workers with disabilities since, have made me so glad the ADA came into existence. We would all be missing a lot of gifted and determined people without the access that the ADA ensures.

Response: What an amazing learning experience and friendship you had with these individuals. I am sure that they taught you a lot and that you have been able to teach others this wonderful knowledge. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #74: My first experience working with a disabled person was in the 70's. At that time,access through doors,seating at desks,steps and restrooms were not mandated. Our employee was confined to a wheelchair. Working with our facilities folks, we were able to modify existing barriers and had a successful employment experience.The sensitivity shown to the individual was remarkable and I witnessed first hand what can be done.

Response: What a great story! I think it really is powerful to see someone go to work and see what a difference it makes in their life and in the lives of their coworkers. It is extraordinarily powerful.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #75: I have been supervised by someone that had Parkinson's disease and was a wonderful boss. She did not let her disability stop her and she was at work everyday. I also have worked with a lady that had an accident and was in a wheelchair. This was before they had all of the handicapped facilities available, but she worked around them and was an excellent employee. I also have a friend that has been deaf since she was 3 and she does not let not hearing stop her, she went to college, has a good job and a family.

Response: Thank you so much for your stories. It sounds like you have had a lot of exposure to individuals with disabilities. These friends and coworkers are no different than anyone else in the community - they work, have families and friends - it is about looking beyond the disability! Thanks so much for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #76: We, in the laboratory system, worked with a gal who had a spinal cord injury. She was not the most pleasant person and appeared to have a huge chip on her shoulder. Her unpleasantness is what drove us away.

Response: I am sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. But I think that it is important to share this - people with disabilities are like everyone else in the community. Some people you like, you get along with, you build friendships, and some you don't. Some people are not nice or angry or have difficult personalities - I know we have all met folks without disabilities like this. Thank you for being honest!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #77: One of my most recent supervisors has MS, however, he has not let it slow him down. He has continued to work every day. While I am no longer a direct report to him, I have watched his illness change over the past 15 years. He has continued to work every day even continuing with over night trips & long drives. He now has a Motor Scoter to assist with walking but he continues to do his job daily.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience. We all face adversities in our life and how we handle them says a lot about who we are. Sounds like this individual is very motivated and determined! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #78: My first real experience in working (as a co-worker) was with a person who was paralyzed from the neck down. He basically lived in a motorized wheelchair. He worked on computer programs. he used his mouth with a stick to type on the keyboard. I wasn't uncomfortable, I just was afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. My first reaction was more of astonishment at how much he could do.

Response: There are truly some amazing folks out there who have overcome so many obstacles to become part of the working world. It really says a lot as to who these people are. I think this level of perseverance is commendable and quite an asset to a company. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #79: My first experience working with someone with disabilities was in the middle 80's. One of the FAA employees in Oklahoma who was a computer programmer was blind. He worked with a brail computer and I was very nervous working with him in the beginning. I felt as if he would not be able to understand or obtain the information that I need to complete my job. I soon learned that he was very efficient and used his other skills (memory) to help me complete my tasks efficiently. He had a great sense of humor and helped ease me working around him. I have never been so impressed in someone's ability and have never questioned anyone with disabilities again.

Response: Thank you for sharing your story. I think that many people have concerns initially when working with someone with a disability - how will they be able to do their job, etc. But by giving your coworker a chance, you were able to see that he was very qualified and able to perform his tasks. And you learned from him! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #80: I hired the sister of a friend to do some temporary work for us. She was not able to walk very far or stand for any period of time, so some activities were very slow. I was somewhat frustrated because I knew the work could be done much faster. We did accommodate to some extent by purchasing a stool that she could use while faxing, etc. She ended up being very pleasant and was thankful for the changes we could make. We kept her on for a lot longer than we initially anticipated.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. It may have been helpful if this individual had utilized the services of a job coach who could have looked at the job site and seen what she could have done to increase her productivity. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #81: I have been fortunate to be in a position to hire people with disabilities in an educational setting. The level of enrichment they bring into the workforce is amazing. Creating accommodations has been a challenging yet learning process. Those with disabilities are wonderful teachers for their co-workers.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. How were you able to learn about accommodations? Did you use the Job Accommodation Network to help with any of the accommodations? Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #82: I have not had the opportunity to personally work with someone that has a disability. My first encounter in the workplace with someone who had a disability was when I interviewed someone that was in motorized wheelchair. Initally, I was kind of shocked, but was very impressed with the applicant's skills.

Response: I hope that you will have the opportunity to work with someone with a disability someday. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #83: My opportunities have expanded over a lifetime, personal and professional with individuals with disabilities both physical and mental. I was comfortable as a child growing up with individuals with special needs and believe that it allowed me preparation as I became an adult in the work arena. Most of the people I come in to contact with have given me an opportunity to grow, and realize the care aspect and not to minimize the abilities that all individuals possess.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing. It is so true - we wll have abilities and those are what we should focus on!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #84: What a great question. Well, I don't know anything different, but being with children, adults and my own family with a disability. Being in the profession of Life Coaching with a niche (ADHD/Learning Disabilities) I come from a strengthed based approach. We might have a challenge, but we can always find at least one small gift in everyone.

Response: Thanks so much for your comments!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #85: I have experience dealing with people with mental and physical disabilities. The first one was back in 1992, where the janaitor had a disability. He was very nice and I have always respected people with disabilities, my best friend sister has disabilities. Most of my experiences was just pure amazing but some have been kind of scary and uncomfortable.

Response: Thank you for sharing. As with people without disabilities, every person is different and unique and has different personalities which can make our experiences positive or negative - disability or not. Thanks again!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #86: Several years back a co-worker had some real mental problems. She was under heavy medication and some days I wondered how she could even begin to function due to the drugs. It seems like anything set her off. Everyone was very careful what they said because they were afraid they would upset her. After getting to know the person, I felt more comfortable, but it was still difficult the entire 7 or 8 years she worked there.

Response: Thanks for your comments. It is important to get to know the person as you said and try to understand the issues they are dealing with so that you can have postitive interactions.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #87: Many years ago, I worked with a group of engineers in the government. One of them was blind and used Braille as well as a device that allowed him to "hear" what he read. This engineer taught me a lot about being positive and I was very impressed with his intelligence, focus, and sense of humour! I was very young at the time and wasn't sure how to approach him at first, but he was just "one of the guys," and contributed so much to our group, that you soon forgot about him being blind. I will never forget him.

Response: What a great story. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #88: My first experience with a disabled person was excellent. The person had a positive attitude and did not view their disability in a negative manner.

Response:

Posted by

 

Post #89: My encounter with a disabled indivdual was during highschool.The indivdual was involved in an accident and was parlyzed from waist down. As we became friend I found-out just because he has a disablity were some physcial resists were limited his mental state was fine and he was still human and deserve to be treated just like everyone else. I believe without that encounter in my younger years that my response to those who were a less fortune physically and mentally that I would not be as mauture as I am now to know that they are God's special gift for all to amire & learn from within the work place.

Response: Thank you for sharing your story. I think that if we can educate people as early as possible that individuals with disabilities are just like everyone else that maybe we will lift some of the stigma and prejudice these individuals receive. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #90: I had a co-worker who was hard of hearing and wore hearing aids. My first reaction was awe because I would watch her sign to her clients. I have much respect and admiration for her because of how hard she works. I was comfortable around her because she was so comfortable with herself. For others who are not aware of her hearing limitations I have noticed they get a little embarrased when she asked them to repeat. They would then usually end up talking too loudly, but this would not faze her. She was very positive.

Response: Thank you for sharing this story. Sometimes individuals are embarassed in their first encounter with someone with a disability because they aren't sure how to interact, but if we can help people feel more comfortable and know that it is okay to feel that way at first and the more you interact with individuals with disabilities the more comfortable you will get.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #91: One of my first experiences of a person with a disability was a friend I had meet on CB radio - arranged an eyeball & he was a quadrapegic & of course in a wheel chair with bags attached!! I was so anxious tryingto "not notice" or say the wrong things but he put me at ease by saying that he was OK about me worrying about him so how about we just be ourselves?

Response: What a great way for him to break the ice and help you feel more comfortable. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #92: My first encounter with a person with a disability was my uncle. He had polio when he was 17 and is unable to move from just below his arm pits down. My aunt met him when she was a nurse at a polio hospital in 1950. He left there, went to college and looked her up when he was 24 and working. He can do anything. He never wanted to be treated like something who is "disabled." He is now 75 and he camps, travels, swims, anything he wants. He retired as CFO of a major company. I learned from Uncle David that having a disability and being disabled are two different things.

Response: What an excellent story and what a great message you share with the group - that having a disability and being disabled are two different things! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #93: My first experience with a person who had disabilites was when I was in grade school a young boy rode a special bus in to our school, the rest of us were walkers. This young boy went to a special class but he seemed so much like the rest of us. I was a hall monitor so I seen everyperson who came into the building. This person always looked me in the eye but never spoke to me. One day I had the opportunity to help unload the bus that this person came to school in. I also had the opportunity to speak to this person and I realized he was the same but different too. When most other children made fun of the people who rode the bus I began to advocate for those individuals. The same year in the summer my family found out that my cousin had a developmental disability. I spent the rest of the summer teaching him to walk and to talk-he was two at the time of the diagnosis before then the doctors thought he was just slow at doing things. I enjoy my work.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your story! I had a similar situation when I was in elementary school. I hated that the kids on the bus made fun of the children with disabilities and I would always tell them to stop teasing them. I sometimes wonder if that lead me to my career of working with people with disabilities. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #94: I had the experience of working with a man in a wheelchair. He worked hard and was the receptionist for a large non-profit. My first impression was that of any worker. It did not phase me that he had a disability.

Response: Thank you for sharing! It is great to hear that individuals with disabilities are being seen as individuals and not just their disability!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #95: I once had a countpart in another state agency who had to use a weelchair. As in posting above, this didn't present any problems for me.

Response: Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #96: When I was first introduced to state employment, there was a gentleman that worked on my floor that had a very visible disability. He seemed to fair fine within the scope of his position and had garnered the support and trust from those around him as a knowledgeable person is his role. I believe folks with disabilities have the same opportunities for success in the workplace as those that do not have a disability. At times, as an HR practitioner, I think there are many misconceptions about the value of a disabled employee. But like in most things, when you learn things, then that type of apprehension can be replaced with hope and aspiration of working collaboratively with this segment of the workforce because they truly brings valuable experiences.

Response: Thank you for sharing! And so well said! I agree that there are a lot of misconceptions out there and the more we can educate people the better the opportunities for individuals with disabilities!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #97: As a child I had a friend who was in a wheelchair. We played games he could participate in and he had a "can do" attitude about most everything. He was a joy to be with.

Response: Thanks for sharing! Do you still keep in touch with this individual?

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #98: In high school there was a class mate who was mentally challenged. We did not have classes together, but I always spoke to her when I passed her in the hallway. At our ten year class reunion, this young woman came up to me and said "you were always nice to me in school - thank you". I never realized it meant anything more than just a simple hello, but it meant something special to her. Her sharing this with me has stayed with me through the years.

Response: Thank you for sharing. You treated this person like you did everyone else and she truly appreciated your kindness and respect. These small acts can really make a difference! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #99: I have contact with someone at our main office who is wheelchair bound. She doesn't let anything stop her and works hard to bring awareness to people that although people have disabilities, they are still capable, productive people. When talking to her on the phone, you'd never know she has any physical limitations.

Response: Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #100: My first experience or encounter took place when I worked in Direct Services with the Arc of the Piedmont out of Charlottesville VA. The Arc is exclusively designed to work and help individuals with Mental Retardation. My job at out of the residencies involved taking care of these individuals needs to include feeding them and bathing them. I felt compassion, which confirmed to me I was on the right track professionally.

Response: Thank you for sharing and for your hard work that you do to help people with disabilities lead a productive and fulfilling life in the community.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #101: I;ve worked with individuals who where in wheelchairs hearing and sight challenged. I had a great time learning from them and working as peers. I treated them with respect and ask how I could be of assistance and they were honest and cooperative. I never assumed they could not accomplish a task.

Response: Thank you for sharing. I am sure that the individuals that you have worked with have appreciated the respect that you have given them.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #102: My first reaction to working with an individual with a disability was curiosity about the supports and independance that individual had. The individual did work, with slight modifications as needed for the disability. I was comfortable with the experience.

Response: Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #103: I've always been curious about people /disabilities. Hands on experience came w/ my child diagnosed @7yrs old w/Central Auditory Processing Disorder. My career changed to working w/people w/disabilities.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. And thank you for the work you do with people with disabilities.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #104: I was working with atraining organisation and I arranged a meeting with a Welfare Agebcy.The lady I meet had her hands attached to her elbows not her wrists I did not know where to shake her hand . It was a bit uneasy.The next meeting I asked herand she said "the same with oter people if I offer my hand you shake it if I dont yoy dont . Easy!!

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience. I am glad that you did not avoid this woman but rather talked with her to become more at ease. Did you feel better after you had talked with her?

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #105: I work with individuals with disabilties providing Supportive Employment Services. I find it very complicated and fraustrating when I approach other organizations, business or what not and have them pretty much shut the door on or proposal. Q. How do I get around that?

Response: Finding employment for individuals can be very frustrating and I would be interested in hearing more about how you are approaching businesses. We have a lot of resources on our websites that you may benefit from and I would be happy to talk with you more if you would like to contact me at: jltodd@vcu.edu

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #106: My first reaction to working with a person with a disability was to feel sorry for the person. I often thought why is this person here. After the person started to speak every morning and make me feel welcome, I got to know him. He told me his story and how he still had goals in life. It made me laugh. He was a very good worker with many different skills. I was very comfortable working with thim. I trusted and felt he was just as capable of during the job as anyone in the office.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. I am glad you took the opportunity to get to know your coworker better. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #107: My first encounter with a person who had a disability was the with my daycare provider. She was a vibrant young lady with CP. When I first met here I was impressed with her determination to be a contributing member of this society. She cared for my daughter for about 4 years. My daughter loved her and so did I. She provided excellent care and my daughter learned a lot under her guidance. As a result of this experience; my daughter has no inhibition when it comes to people with disabilities. I believe this was a great experience for her as well.

Response: I think you make a powerful statement. By including people with disabilities in our lives at a young age we educate children to treat these individuals just like they would anyone else! I think that is the best way to educate our future and by having more and more individuals with disabilities working and living in the community it makes this more possible! Thanks.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #108: My first experience working with a person with a disability was as a college intern. This person had a hearing disability. I had to make an extra effort to listen carefully and it got easier with time. I also spoke to the person while facing them so they could read my lips. After awhile it was second nature. Otherwise the person performed like anyone else.

Response: I am sure that the individual appreciated the respect that you gave them and the time you took to listen carefully. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #109: When I was 19, I gave birth to a child with disabilities. I needed to know how to care for her,so I enrolled in a certificate program offering training in working with people with dilabilities. Before the hands on training I felt so sorry for those at the facility but once Ibegan working side by side with different individuals, it was just so very amazing to see what these special folks could learn to do with good training and someone by their side with a little patience and understanding. My daugter is now 21 and graduating high school this year. she also has a job and a wonderful job coach.

Response: What a wonderful story. I am so glad to hear that your daughter is doing well! Congratulations on her graduation and also on her JOB!! That is awesome! We see that kids with disabilities who have a job when the graduate do MUCH better in retaining a job as they get older. Great work!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

Response: What a wonderful story. I am so glad to hear that your daughter is doing well! Congratulations on her graduation and also on her JOB!! That is awesome! We see that kids with disabilities who have a job when the graduate do MUCH better in retaining a job as they get older. Great work!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #110: I have often thought that an obvious disability is easier to deal with than one that is not so obvious. I have two adopted teenaged sons who have multiple emotional/mental disabilities. It is painful to see them struggle so hard to make friends when all they want is to be accepted by their peer group. The oldest is 17 and managed to maintain a job in a grocery store for 2 months. He has some strange tics and I honestly think the management of the store was not very supportive - even after I stepped in and let them know why he did some of the things he does. He quit after 2 months because I think the stress of the employees always making comments - and even some of the customers making comments - just became too painful for him. Transportation is also an issue - it isn't safe for either of my sons to have driver's licenses so they have to find employment close to home. Anyway, as a parent, I find it hard not to step in and try to intercede in situations. I try very hard to let them deal with others in their own way. Again, obvious physical disabilities seem to be more accepted in our society than mental/emotional disabilities.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I have heard from many people the same thing that you say that "hidden" disabilities are not as accepted in the community. Again, I think it is about educating our community that disabilities come in all types and varieties and that just because you don't "see" it doesn't mean that the person doesn't have a disability. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #111: My first experience working with someone with a disability was in high school. I was a camp counselor at Camp Needlepoint, an exclusive camp for juvenile diabetics under the age of 18. We took a group of 13 year olds on a 14 day canoe survival and it was the first time I ever consider that diabetes was a disability and what the emotional effects on the child were when living with the disease. Very moving and very educational to see their struggles on a daily basis.

Response: Thank you for sharing your story. Individuals with diabetes have a lot of issues that they have to deal with and I can imagine that is really tough on kids. Thanks so much!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #112: I first went to work at The Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired in 1989. I didn't know a thing about individuals with visual impairments. I learned very quickly. Your first instinct is to always help them, but in fact tha is the wrong thing to do. You need to ask them if they need help. Some twenty years later, I work for Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy and we not only have visually impaired individuals but other disabilities as well. The one thing that really got me when going out with a person with a visual impairment, was going to a grocery store or fast food. The clerk would always ask me what the other person wanted, I would always say, I don't know you would have to ask them. Then they would raise their voice like they were hearing impaired. I would say, "they are blind not deaf."

Response: Thank you for sharing your experiences! It is interesting how people will raise their voice to talk to someone who is visually impaired! Thanks so much for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #113: When I was employed as the HR Manager at Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center in 1989, one of my first recruitments and selections was that of a Rehabilitation Counselor who was confined to a wheel chair. I remember vividly that even though this was the top candidate, it was strongly felt by some that this facility could not accomodate this handicap. We were, at that time, housing the residents in old cottages which was also the workplace for the Rehabilitation Counselors. After some persuasion, I was able to initiate a meeting with the Maintenance Supervisor, the Superintendent and myself. My challenge to them was how can we make this happen. Everyone was very pleased and somewhat amazed that the cottage could so easily and with reasonal cost be made handicap accessible and that all of the files and materials that counselor needed to be able to access could be made wheel chair accessible by the lowering and placement of shelves and files. We hired the candidate and she was an outstanding counselor, making major contributions to the rehabilitation of the residents. Lesson: Don't think can I do it but rather how can we do it.

Response: What an excellent story - we can all learn from what you have shared. I like your statement: Don't think can I do it but rather how can we do it. Excellent philosophy!!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #114: It is about one year now since my first experience working with someone with a disability. He was not a co-worker he was my first client. I was very nervous yet excited at the same time. Nervous because I thought to myself " he might not like me, he might not talk to me, he might ignore me completely". Excited because I felt like I could be the one to break the world record and get my client to open up and be totally comfortable with me right away. On my first day at work I was in for a treat, neither situation occured, it didn't go bad nor did it go good, it was somewhat in the middle. As the day went on we were both getting a feel for eachother, as we would ask eachother questions every five minutes to know one another a little better, but it was a bit hard for me as he did not speak very clear. I had to get used to the sounds that came from his mouth to understand what he was talking about. By the third day we were like buddies, a new friendship blooming. I felt like a champion inside saying to myself " I'm the man". But I would later learn that being a buddy to my client was not the way to go. I had to be a teacher, and inflict strict rules and also consequences to those rules. Overall my first experience was a fruitful and great learning experience.

Response: Thank you for sharing your story. I am interested in what your job is. Thanks! Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #115: Hello Jennifer, in response to you comment pertaining to what my job is, I am an Occupational Aide at the Oasis Empowerment Center home based on the Island of Guam. Thanks a bunch!!!

Response: Wow - thanks for joining us from Guam!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #116: My first expereince working with a co-worker with a disabliity was at Puna Kamalii Flowers, upon my arrival for my first day of work I was assigned to work with a person with a disablilty. I was supposed to be the supervisor but as it was my first day, my co-worker was telling me where things were, and what all of the safety rules were, and introducing me. I was surprised at his ability to do so well and remembering where the materials were as well as all of the safety rules and he was very, very helpful.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. Has your relationship grown with this individual? Thanks.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #117: My first experience was with a co-worker's son. I did not know how to approach him. But I realized that he is very determined, and that impressed me.

Response: Thank you for sharing - I hope that this interaction changed your view of people with disabilities.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #118: I am a person with a disability. People when people first find out that I have arthritis they tend to be hesitant to say anything or to know how to talk with me. It makes me uncomfortable to know that people cannot see me as a person but only see what makes me different. Why is difference generally precieved as a negative thing?

Response: Thank you for sharing your personal story. I think people are fearful that they will say the wrong thing and that causes them to be apprehensive. Once people take the time to get to know someone with a disability, they don't even see the disability and just the person. Thanks again for your honesty.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #119: My first experience on the job was with a General Officer in the Army...I did not realize it until he was in his physical training gear, but he lost a leg in combat(Vietnam). He had very few limitations to keep him from participating in regular activities. I was very impressed.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your story. People with disabilities are all around us - working and living among us. And many times we are unaware because they are able to participate fully in the community. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #120: At one of my first jobs, one of the employees was deaf. I learned some sign language to communicate with her, but always felt that I should have done more -- become more fluent, for example -- because few others learned sign language and she was often left out of the loop in conversations and even communications about the job.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure that your coworker appreciated you making an effort to learn her language so that you could communicate with her. Thanks.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #121: My first experience working with a fellow co-worker with a disabity was a lady with muscular discrophy. She had difficulty using her arms. One arm was curled up by her side. My first reaction was how is she going to keep them students moving along and learning if she is having so much diffuculty herself. As she continued throughout the year, I watched and learned that the students responded to her very well. She not only taught them the subject matter, but she taught them how to respect people with disabilities.

Response: What a wonderful life lesson she taught her students - and she was probably an inspiration to many!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #122: I attended schools from kindergarten to my freshman year that had segregated classes for students with disabilities. They were always a sort of curiosity as they didn't interact much with the rest of the student body. My first year of college I got to know a young man who worked in the student union food court and I joined Best Buddies. I also have a cousin who has significant mental and physical disability and I saw very quickly that those disabilities did not equal lessened or incapability to understand concepts, feelings, and life in general. Over the years I've met and worked with many people who have disabilities and I'm always reminded that anytime I understimate them in any area, I'm the one who is disabled in that situation. I still am sometimes intimidated by people who have explosive behaviors or who seem reluctant to change in spite of continued negative consequences.

Response: Thanks so much for sharing your story. I like what you said that reminded that anytime you understimate an individual with a disability in any area, then you are the one who is disabled. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #123: I always wondered what goes through people's minds when they meet me. I have an obvious disability. The comments I read were very insightful and provided me ways to ensure that my initial meeting with someone to be positive, or at least a learning experience. When I meet coworkers with disabilities, I wonder "What's their story?" or "How are they adjusting?"

Response: Thank you for sharing your story. It is nice to get a different perspective on this issue!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #124: I am an employment consultant/job coach and my role is to place individuals with disabilities into jobs. I find the majority of my customers are highly motivated, have a good overall attitude, remain on the job once placed and are not frequently absent from work. My challenge is dealing with employers fears and prejudices. I love my job!

Response: Thank you! Keep up the good work and let us know if you ever have any questions that we can help you with!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #125: Just as every job is different, so is every employee. Rather than see one as "disabled" it is so much clearer with the view that one is "differently-able." I never forget how much people will amaze me when I least expect it. Love, patience & tolerance... go a long way.

Response: Very true! We all have different abilities and need to remember this!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #126: My First Experience With Someone With a Disability At Work: My first reaction was nothing I had imagined I had pictured it in my mind but when I seen it in person I was surprised and was drawn to the individual and concerned about how it happened to them. I didn't ask them directly but I wanted to educate my self in knowing more. I felt pity at first, I can't deny but ultimately the courage from that person taught me a lot about my self, and how much I lacked courage my self. You see, the person wasn't actually a fellow employee. The person was a child. I was a teachers assistant at that time. Although the whole school was dedicated towards serving disabled children when I think back to this memory I always remember this one child in particular. I can never remember what he was diagnosed with but I found him so beautiful. He was 4 years old in an infants body. Spoke so clear and was intelligent but he was barely surviving. He was assigned a nurse to monitor his breathing because he had to carry around with an oxygen tank. At first I was uncomfortable, and afraid. I didn't know how much he could comprehend and I felt like I needed to do something to help them. I didn't think I could be effective, until I got to know the child. I began to see that he was fine emotionally. He had so much energy, and proved me wrong in everything I thought. At the time I thought he was so strong but now I see that was the only way for him to be. He didn't know anything else but to be a kid, and he made sure he was able to do as much he was capable of doing in order to blend in with the others. It didn't take long for my mind to open and see that regardless of what we have been labeled we can be what we want to be. We just have to choose to. 'Life is not about finding your self, it's about creating your self"

Response: Wow - thank you so much for your story. How interesting - it sounds like you learned about yourself as well as individuals with disabilities.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #127: My first experience working with a co-worker with disability was very enjoyable. My co-worker worked as the front receptionist and brought joy to everyone that entered the office. He had a laugh that was contagious and always found a humor way to relate when mistakes were made. That took some time to get accustom to but I learned that this was his humorous way of separating his errors/mistakes from his disability.

Response: It sounds like he had a great outlook on life and could laugh at life. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #128: My first experience working with an individual with that I knew had a disability was a bit overwhelming. It wasn't so much a matter of an individual, actually, but it was a group. I worked for a supported employment services agency for a local government. I had been around people all of my life with disabilities, and am, in fact, married to an individual with a disability. The individuals that I first worked with all had some MR diagnosis. I recall that it wasn't long after Rainman came out so I think I probably compared some of these individuals to Raymond. After I got past the overwhelmed feeling (from working with so many individuals with disabilites) I was fine. Most of the individuals worked very hard - some did not. But that's no different from any other work environment. I have learned more from some individuals with disabilities than any degree could ever teach me. I am very comfortable with individuals with disabilties.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience! I concur with you - the folks that I have worked with who have disabilities have taught me far more than some classes I have taken. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #129: 1ST experience was when I was 5... our neighbor was autistic. Although she couldn't communicate realy well with people, she always smiled at me... and I'd wave... she didn't seem to bother with anybody else. I always thought she new something but wasn't letting on. In later years, in Jr. high school... I came into contact with a kid with a metal plate in his head. Everyone made fun of him but I couldn't figure out why since he was so smart & funny. I remember wewent trick or treating (back in the 60's, that's what we did) and I found out from his mom that he had passed away. I was glad I was never mean to him. I guess I was the quiet kid who always just got to know the people with disabilities.

Response: I have similar memories as a child. I was quiet myself and got so upset when other children would make fun of the kids that were different or had disabilities. I sometimes wonder if that was the beginning of my career path working with individuals to have the same opportunities as those without disabilities. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #130: I have been hard of hearing most of my life. After being discriminated against once too often, I decided to take a stand. Standing up for myself was so very hard to do, as I always wanted to fade into the background and not be noticed. I cannot even begin to tell you how much freedom I have enjoyed since taking a stand. No longer do I have to hide, and I am so proud of myself! I love to tell people my story, and it brings so much joy and relief to other PWD, who face some of the same challenges. Being up front about these challenges has improved my chances of gainful employment, because I am so confident in what I CAN do. Focus on ability, not disability, and everyone wins.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy hearing from individuals about how they overcame obstacles and succeeded! You should be proud and I can't agree with you more - Focus on ability, not disability, and everyone wins.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #131: First reaction to someone with a disability - really no reaction... people are people and treated the person with the same respect that I would treat anyone. How did I feel when first seeing someone witha disability - proud that the individual was so positive about life and so successful in their career.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #132: There was no first reaction to working with a person with a disability. That person worked just as as I did and was a pleasure to have as a coworker. I appreciated the different perspectives that brought to the table.

Response: Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #133: Because I've had a physical disability all of my life, I thought I would never have a reaction to a coworker with a disability; However, I've discovered that I very angry that they were asking for so many accommodations. I think this is because I have spent my life trying to minimize my needs and creating "underground" accommodations. I was really uncomfortable in the situation, because I knew they had every right to ask for accommodation, but I felt like I wanted to distance myself from them.

Response: Thank you for sharing your story. This is a different perspective than what we normally hear on this board, so it is nice to hear what your reaction was. Thanks, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #134: There wasn't a first reaction working with an individual with disabilities. I must say that individuals with disabilities have stronger work ethics than others. Also,you have less problems with inviduals with disabilities calling out and they also have a greater respect for their jobs.

Response: It is great to hear that you have had positive interactions with coworkers with disabilities. I have had the same interactions as you. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #135: My first experience with dealing with disability was my own illness called (SLE) Lupus which is invisible to the public eye. It took me for highs and lows initially, but the first thing I had to do was accepting this illness and move on with my life and live it to the fullest. I was advice by my Doctor no need to go back to school to update my skills because of my challenge illness; he said I would not be able to work. I went back to school finish at the top of my class and was hired as Skills Instructor, at the same school that I received my training and have been working in this field for over 6 years, full time employee as Career Specialist helping others to seek their dreams.

Response: I think everyone should be allowed to dream and try to achieve those dreams. I hate it when I hear of people who squelch people's dreams. Congratulations on your accomplishments and I am glad you didn't let the doctors hold you back!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #136: I did not have a reaction when I encountered someone who had a disability. As a child growing up I befriended a girl who has Down's Syndrome. In the beginning I knew she was different but I was educated about her disability. I now work for a company that advocates for the disabled population. Working for my employer has broadened my view on all types of disabilities/diagnosises. I view a person with a disability with more compassion and empathy rather than judging them on their inheritant differences.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. Keep up the great work!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #137: My first experience with a coworker with a disability found me a little to preoccupied with trying to keep from saying the wronge thing or even always trying to get at eye level (which is generally good - unless you are just saying "Hi"). You see he used a wheelchair. However, these fears soon faded and I was at ease. I must say that I was fearful in my first experience ever. I was in Boy Scouts and we were paired with the troop that was completely comprised of PWD's. This was a welcomed tradition among these two troops. However, being new and my first year at camp, this was my first experience being around someone with a disability - let alone 30! This soon changed in time and it was nice seeing familiar faces in the following years : )

Response: What a great program to connect kids without disabilities with kids with disabilities. Great way to educate our youth. Do they still have two different troops or are they combined these days? It would be nice if they combined the troops all the time.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #138: While working in community services I enjoyed the happy attitude of a young man with a disability and found that he had alot of hobbies, and was passionate about photography. My initial reaction was I felt I did not have time to have discussions with him, but quickly realised he was enjoyable to chat with and after that made time to see what his latest projects away from work were.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #139: I have workEd with individuals with disabilities for over 20 years. I have helped train these individuals and teach them skills to reside independently in the community. I found that with the training and skills, individuals with what the public preceives as the most severe disabilities can reside independently in the community.

Response: You are right - individuals with disabilities are quite capable of living independently. Thanks for your work!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #140: I have lived with and worked with people that have disabilities. I treated them the same as any indivdual. However, I was aware of their disability. One of the individuals did work for a large department store, and seemed to be one of the hardest working, most appreciative workers at the store. I felt comfortable working with the individual with the disability, as they worked harder than most of their peers, and was very polite and outgoing.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #141: My brother was in a terrible car accident about 20 years ago and was faced with a Tramatic Brain Injury (TBI). Even though he was the same person physically he was a totally different person mentally. It was very, very hard to be with him. He knew by my actions that I was not comfortable with his disability as I did not know how to interact with him. A few years after the accident my father had a heart attack and from that day forward my whole attitude changed. I realized that my brother is still the same guy but now has special needs. Today we get along great and my brother senses that I can be comfortable around him and accept his disability as being part of who he is. I forgot that he is still a person!

Response: Thanks for sharing such a personal story. I am glad that you were able to overcome the feelings that were holding you back from a relationship with your brother and that you were able to redevelop a loving relationship. I am sure it was tough for your entire family having to go through the accident and the rehab and then accepting him as a different version of himself. Thanks.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #142: Years ago I worked with someone who had a noticeable mental disability. My first reactions were that this person couldn't possibly be doing the same job I was, but she did and she did it very well. I was at first uncomfortable working with her (in my arrogance I thought I would have to help her out more) but as I saw she did her job well I started to treat her just like any other coworker.

Response: Thanks for sharing! I am glad you were able to see this individual's strengths and abilities!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #143: The first encounter that comes to mind was not with a co-worker but with a student. The first time she came through the doors to our office in her wheel chair, this kind of alarm went off in my head and heart. You want to treat them like everybody else and you know they want to be treated like everybody else but there is this feeling I had. I think she put be at ease, just by her attitude, eventually I didn't see the wheelchair. You see the person for who they really are. She graduated from college moved to another state is teaching and having the time of her life.

Response: I am glad you shared this story. Many times our own defenses don't allow us to see people for who they really are and what they are able to accomplish.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #144: I was a Director of a non-profit youth organization and we were house on the campus of our local ARC. It was a first for me and the youth. We were in contact with the disabled who worked in the sheltered workshops and it was a wonderful expereince for all. Everyone learned so much from each other. There was some uneasiness at first but it quickly subsided. It was a very rewarding and memorable experience.

Response: I wish that everyone had the ability to interact with individuals with disabilities at a young age so that the fear did not set in that often it does. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #145: I have had numerous experiences working with individuals with disabilities. All of which have been rewarding. I do however feel that before individuals are sent to be interviewed there should be an understanding of the job duties and what will be required. The most heart wrenching experience that I had as a supervisor was having a person with a speech and hearing disibality hired to answer telephones. She did a great job, was very dependable but the in coming callers could not understand her and lodged numerous complaints. I was able to find another position for her in our organization that was perfect for her and she has excelled. If we had the proper equipment to enable her to answer the phone properly she would have been great.

Response: I am glad that you were able to find a position that worked out for everyone involved!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #146: It has been my experience that the most awkward part of working with or getting to know someone with a disability involves disclosure. "Do I ask them?" or "Do I wait for them to disclose to me that they have a disabiity?" Once the conversation begins, usually we are communicating more freely not only about the disability but also about other topics as well.

Response: Thanks for being so honest about your experiences - I am sure many people have thought the exact same thing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #147: ONE of my first experiences was working with people with disabilities was after I became disabled myself, having survived a TBI. After months of barely managing to take care of myself, I was referred to a company called H.I.R.E, Inc, a supported employment company. I had the pleasure of working with a variety of individuals with a variety of disabilities (MR / Autism / and other TBI survivors. I became a job coach, helping these TBI survivors reintegrate into life and gainful employment. Working with them helped me to understand my own injury and how to better help myself. I will always be grateful to the staff at H.I.R.E. Inc, for believing in me and not giving up on me. TBI can be a very difficult disability to adjust to, as days vary considerably. I would forget that I had food cooking (fire dept came three days in a row and I was asked to leave my apartment), I would get lost going home, and some days I felt perfectly normal and could function normally. Other days, were a complete fog and very frustrating. the other TBI with whom I worked shared similar experiences and we formed a "team" to help each other. Since that time (mid-90's) I also lost my hearing, likely due to the same TBI. Rather than just take early retirement on "disabiltiy", I returned to graduate school and earned my second master's degree and learned to sign - so far competently, but not yet fluently. What I learned from my team is that with determination, hard work, a strong support team - and luckily I have that - ANYTHING can be accomplished. They also taught me to look at ABILITIES first, and then - if there is a disability - to focus on what they CAN do, rather than what they (we) can't.

Response: Thank you for sharing your very personal and candid story! Congratulations on your accomplishments! I know that what you have shared will better educate those in this class.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #148: My first experience was with a co-worker. At first I was uncomfortable because I thought that I would say or do something that would offend them. She turned out to be a really nice person and that she was very independent and turned out to to be really good friends.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #149: My first experience dealing with someone with a disability was a cousin who had a physical disability and a learning disability. He was always just Kevin and we never treated him differently than anyone else. If he needed help, we helped. It just takes a little compassion and empathy.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #150: I don't work directly with coworkers with disabilities. I am in the education field and much of my contact with disabilities comes through students. Mainly, my reaction to people with visual disabilities is concern that I can communicate mathematical concepts to them in a way that they can understand. With hearing impaired students I am more concerned that I don't offend them by doing something like looking at their interpreter when I am talking to them. My reaction depends on the disability.

Response: Thanks for sharing your perspective. I am sure you have had to change your teaching style based on the differing needs of your students with disabilities. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #151: My first encounter with a person with a disability was when I was a child/teenage. My mother worked with and assisted people with disabilities. I was very nervous and I always envied how my mother was with them. I wanted to be comfrotable and be that way. They loved her. Once I became an adult and volunteered and worked in agencies, I realized I needed to treat everyone the same. I became very comfrotable as an adult.

Response: Great! I am glad you were able to work through those concerns and become more comfortable.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #152: My first experience with a person with disability was one of curiosity. I wanted to know more about their condition. What were their abilities and limitations? What accomodations/adaptations have been made for them?

Response: I think many people have those same questions. Sometimes in trainings we have individuals with disabilities come in and answer those questions that you mention. It is always interesting and educational to hear their perspective.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #153: A family member was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. His first job was with a fast food group who hired many people on the fringe of society. This young man could not deal with public very well and had trouble with cash register operation. Therefore, he was trained in the kitchen area as a cook which didn't require public interaction, yet offered repetitive operations. He also learned to do maintenance on several machines in the back. Because of management's patience and understanding of his abilities, he became one of the most valued members of the team. Put in the right place, he thrived and became known as one of the most dependable, consistent workers on the team. This success and training led to further employment in better jobs, thanks to the awareness of management in this first job.

Response: Thanks for sharing this story. It is all about understanding an individual's strengths and matching those strengths to a job.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #154: My first response to working with a disable person, I wanted to make sure that person didn't feel like they were different from anyone else. I wanted them to feel equal. I work as a computer programmer so people who have physical limitation are not treated any different than any other employee. I use to stay late at night, so I could help the person walk to their car and to ensure their saftey at night.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. That was very nice of you to help the person to their car at night. Thanks, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #155: My First experience with a person with a disability was in elementary school. One student was classified as legally blind. Not experienced with this before, I treated her as a friend and helped her in school when I could.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience! I am sure this student appreciated your treating her just like the other students. Thanks, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #156: My first experience with a disable person was in High School, she was a young lady who had problems walking. It took her a long time to cross the street and even longer to walk up the stairs. I felt sorry for her but as time would have it I watch her time and time again, she never felt sorry for herself, she always had a smile on her face and finally it made me want to smile and forget some of the problems I was had even though I could walk without any problems. Bessie

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. Often times we find that when an individual with a disability becomes employed it makes the other employees in that office or company more productive for the same reasons you mention! Thanks, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #157: My first experience working alongside a differently-abled individual caused me concern. While I did not doubt the individual's capacity to work at all, my concern related to her dog. She needed the dog as an aid, at he same time however, I fear dogs. At first I was somewhat angered over the fact that my own rights were being trampled. However, I also understood that if she didn't have the opportunity to have the dog at her side when she worked, then her rights would would also suffer. In the end, I became used to relating to her uneasily. That was asclose to a medium ground as we were going to get.

Response: I can understand your concern. It may be helpful to know that all dogs that assist individuals who are blind or serve as assistant dogs to individuals with spinal cord injuries or other disabilities go through extensive training. And are not allowed to be given to an individual with a disability if they do not pass all of their training and testing. These animals are highly skilled and will not harm anyone that they come in contact with when they are in the community.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #158: My first experience working with a person with a disability was in my first Human Resources position. The person had a learning disabilty and at first I was a little uncomfortable with giving her work to do, for fear she may not be able to do it, but as I got to know her and understand her disability I felt more comfortable with giving her assignments. She was just like anyone else except she learned differently, by working with her I learned to be more patient not just with her, but with everyone. I have also learned that not everyone learn the same, and we as society need to realized this and think outside of the box when it comes to individuals with this type of disability.

Response: Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Yes, we are all different and we need to think about that when we are working with coworkers - with disabilities or not.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #159: I have had the privilege of teaching students with various disabilities. They communicate to let me know what accommodations are necessary for them to be successful in the class and I try to meet those needs. It takes a little more patience and understanding, but most of the time, they are motivated and put forth the effort required to be successful. It is very rewarding to be a samll part of someone else's success.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #160: I remember when I was a child, one of our neighbor's children had Downs Syndrome. Everyone said that he was violent and I must say, those comments made all the children frightend of him. He was sent away to a special school and we only got to see him during the holidays and even then he was still separated from the rest of the children which of course, fuelled the "myth". This all took place about 40 years ago and thank goodness times have changed and so have people's attitudes. I don't think he ever hurt anyone, but what happened then is typical of what can happen when people are given the wrong information or are just ignorant to the truth. I am so happy times have changed and that people understand disabilities a lot better now. We've come a long way in 40 years, but we still have a way to go!

Response: Thanks for sharing your story. Like you say we have come a long way but also have a ways to go. Think about that individual's life - being segregated all of those years. Unfortunately that is still the case for some people today.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #161: I was working in the IT staffing industry, and had an applicant with hearing impairment. He was excellent technically. I learned how to utilize the TTY system and work efficiently with the operator to do a basic phone screen and set up a face to face interview. At first I was nervous because I didnt want to be offensive in any way; but conscious not to cover my face while speaking and insuring there was a way for him to communicate with me since he was mute as well. For the interview we utilized an open Word document for him to respond to my questions. He read lips extremely well and typed super fast! He made it past me for the interview along with online technical testing so he was submitted to the client. He was hired on as a PC Technician. We utilized a text pager as well as email to communicate quickly, pre-smart phone and blackberry days. We were sure to adhere to reasonable accommodations! However in the end he had other issues that made this situation end on a bad note. Learning how to effectively utilize the tools was interesting for me and it made me happy that our client worked with us and never gave the disability a second thought other than proper accommodations.

Response: Very interesting story - thanks for sharing this with us. I appreciate your creative thinking in accommodating his disability in the interview and on the job!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #162: My first experience with a person whom had a disability was early in life I was about 6 years old and I had started cheerleading. There was a young girl about my age that was put on the same squad as me. At that age my first impression was what is wrong with her looks. I was kind of scared to get to close to her. She was a great person though when it came to cheerleading which made me feel more comfortable and less scared. It was a pleasure to have cheered with someone like her.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #163: Some of the problems that I run into is trying not to show to much favoratism and/or excessive compasion. example: A student comes to the lab and does not have an ID. It is a rule that you must produce one to use the facilities. This particular student is disabled with bouts of Myalga (excuse my inexperience in the medical realm if the term is incorrect) but it does not affect her walking, standing, speech, sight, or hearing. The student has left her ID in the car and refuses to go get it because she is disabled. Is it wrong to asess the degree of a disability or should all disabiities be grouped and priveledges be re-evaluated to apply to all who are considered to be disabled.

Response: You present an interesting scenario. I would suggest that you talk with the student and explain the rules/guidelines that you have to abide by and remind her that in the future she will need to bring the ID with her just like everyone else.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #164: I have work with several person whom have had some form of disability and I have found them to be just as hard working as the next person.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #165: My first experience with people with disabilities comes from my childhood when I visited nursing homes with my father who was minister. There I encountered a variety of disabilities. I was uncomfortable around them, possibly even a little afraid. I still find I am uncomfortable around people with disabilties. I find myself guarding what I say or do as I am afraid I will offend them. In my current job we have a part time employee in a wheelchair. Although I am no longer afraid around them, I still find I am uncomfortable worrying about what I say or do when I am around them.

Response: Your reaction and experience is similar to what many other people have had. Because of our experiences when we were younger often we are a little fearful around people who are different and that we don't understand. I hope that the information in this course will help you gain some comfort and that future interactions with individuals will be positive.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #166: My first experience was with a co worker who was deaf. I was concerned that I would not be able to communicate. I also felt guilty that she had to make such an effort to communicate with all of us. We ended up taking a course to learn sign language, which she greatly appreciated.

Response: I am sure that it made her feel good to have her coworkers gain a better understanding of her world and reach out like y'all did to communicate with her. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #167: I have worked with several persons whom have had some form of disability. Most of the times i was not aware of this until the person had informed me.

Response: Many times we don't even know that an individual has a disability. We call these types of disabilities "invisible disabilities". Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #168: My first experience with an individual with a disability was when as a small child I first met my great aunt, she had broken her back as a child and was confined to a wheelchair. I was scared of her and especially the wheelchair, fearful that my mother would leave me in the room with her alone. But after many visits, I came to love her, the only thing she couldn't do was walk, she made me feel comfortable with her wheelchair by telling me all aobut it and why she needed it and then showing me how it worked and what it enabled her to do. She was a very capable woman, not afraid to try anything and always ready with a funny joke, her wheelchair just blended into the background, to this day I when remember her, I never see the wheelchair just her warm smile.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #169: My first experience with a person with a disability was during my childhood. I lived a block away from the school for the deaf. During the summer I would go over to the school and play with the deaf kids standing outside the fench. We would race each other, jump rope, talk about school, ask each other question about our family. We would find anything in common that we could talk about. The kids I played with taught me how to spell my name using sign language. I enjoyed playing with my friends who was deaf, for it gave me a positive look at people with a disability.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #170: I have grown up with a disabled father, so working with people with disabilities has been part of my life. My father had a degenerative birth defect and has had limited mobility for most of my life. The one thing I learned through this is to not treat people with disabilities any differently than any other person. Cater to their disability and move on. The one thing my dad hates the most is when people feel sorry for him or assume that he is incapable of doing anything because of his situation.

Response: Thank you for sharing your personal story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #171: My mother raised us to look at the PERSON; not at a color, or size, or someone talking different or looking different...If I had a question, I was encouraged to seek information from the person - like asking my neighbor with the artifical leg how he got around and he showed me and he always answered any question I had (I think I was about 9). What I find now, from years of working with individuals with disabilities, is that others look to me sometimes in surprise that I am so comfortable with 'different people' -- so I take the opportunity to share 'how to'. I ask my cleints with disabilities to share with me/class, what are their 'passions' in life? What special talents do they have and want to share? Find what drive you and we will find the way there!

Response: Thanks so much for sharing your experience. These are lessons we should always instill in our children!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #172: I work with a gentleman that is visually impaired and he simply amazes me with his abilities. This gentleman works on the main swithboard, as well as uses a computer to send notifications. This gentleman is very independent with regard to getting around, performing his job and being an asset to the Department. I enjoy talking with him and he remains a positive, reliable influence with us.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #173: I grew up in a family of people with disabilities but I did not know that until I was older. My mother suffered from a mental disability and my younger brother battled with autism but I had accepted them as the status quo since I loved them and I had been exposed to them for my whole life. So when I first worked with a young lady who suffered from biploar disorder and depression, my first instinct was a mixture of sadness and empathy. I did not think it was unusual though. I had several discussions with her about her illnesses and the challenges of coping with both of them respectively, including talking about treatment methods of all kinds. She did work and although this lady's disability did affect her ability to work at times, she continued to work in spite of that. I was very comfortable with this person as I am not afraid of mentai disabilities due to my early exposure via my mother and brother.

Response: Thank you for sharing your personal story. I appreciate your honesty.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #174: I work with many people that have all types of disabilities. It is my job to find them a job that they may become successful with. My most recent experience is working with a young lady that is low functioning and is working well in close contact with the general public. My first reaction was fear for her, but that has changed. It has been such a pleasure to have people stop and thank me for helping her on her job. I have felt so proud of this person and would love for everyone to experience what I have the opportunity to see and feel during this part of her life and mine.thank me for helping her on her job. I have felt so proud of this person and would love for everyone to experience what I have the opportunity to see and feel during this part of her life and mine.

Response: Thank you for your comments. I too have had that experience. I loved helping people find jobs - it was a life changing experience. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #175: Interesting question...how does one really know when a person has a "disability"? Does that mean "disability" is real only when you can see it? Having worked for more than 35 years, I don't recall the first time I had contact with a person with a disability at work--it seems like I have always been around people with disabilities. Weird how people often think they have never worked with someone with a disability--I would challenge that. When I went to high school we had "special education" classes that were not integrated at all--those kids were totally segregated from the rest of the school. How cruel that was to group and segregate kids with disabilties in high school back then. It was hard to make friends because we had so little contact, but still, some of us did. That was probably when I really realized we are all more alike than different.

Response: Thanks for your comments. Disability includes those that cannot be seen - "invisible disabilities" as they are commonly referred. I agree with you that the total segregation of kids with disabilities is rough. It does make it difficult for them to make friends. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #176: I don't recall the first time I had contact with a person with a disability at work, it seems like I have always been around people with disabilities.My granfather had a broken back and was limited in his movement, my aunt is deaf and I myself have learning disabilities and I am the mother of a child with Asperger's. I was raised to look at the person not race, disability religon or any of that.

Response: Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #177: I am a person with a disability. One thing I would like others to know is we are not made of glass. Any problem you feel needs to be brought up doesn't need to be prefaced with an apology. That gets irritating to those of us from the old school. State the problem and we may attempt to fix it.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience. It is great to hear from individuals with disabilities so that we can learn.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #178: My first experience with a person with a disability was a neighbour across the road. She had down syndrome. As I was quite young I don't remember much about my initial impressions, only that we all used to play together. A more recent experience I had with a person with a disability was with a person with a mental disability. My interactions with the person are no different but I am really conscious of how other people treat that person and it makes me feel really uncomfortable

Response: Thanks for your comments. Maybe with the individual that you have had more recent experience with you could model your behavior of treating this person as an equal and educating others. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #179: I really cant recall my 1st incounter of working with someone with a disability. I know that i my self have a disability and have a number of family members with disabilities. I have never really had a problem working with anyone. My current supervisor is legally blind

Response: Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #180: The first time I worked with a person with disability I was very GLAD SOMEONE GAVE THEM A CHANCE TO BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE THE YOUNG LADY DID A GREAT JOB AND WAS VERY HELPFUL TO ME

Response: Great - I am glad that you had a positive experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #181: I have had several disabled individuals on the program and my first reaction was, how do I help them? How will we communicate? What do I need to provide for them in order for them to do their job? The individuals were really friendly and made my job easier, especially communicating with them. It was a pleasure to have them on the program.

Response: Many people are fearful when they have their first interaction with someone with a disability, but they are just like everyone else. It is up to us to overcome our fears so that these individuals are given equal opportunities to participate in the community.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #182: I am a person with a disability. It has frustrated me when people don't talk with me about my disability, when I have said that I am very open to this. Over time some of my coworkers have taken me up on my offer to talk about what it is like to be the other. Pity is not helpful to me, you, or in fact anyone for that matter. A desire for understanding a place in society that is not familiar can be the start to moving to the margins (not a place of power and privilege, which is where most Caucasians live. To be on the margins means that you are treated differently because of some aspect of you.) You can never really know what it is like to live in the margins unless you live there but understand, even intellectually can be powerful. By moving to the margins we can work with people with disabilities in a way that is helpful and empowering to them - not in the way we think will be helpful because this is disempowering people. It is not about bringing people with disabilities to the centre (where I am sure that most of us stand in society) it is about us moving to the margins to work with them.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience and feelings. We really appreciate your honesty. I have learned more from the people that I have worked with that have disabilities than any book or professor could teach me - it is all about the human connection and getting to know each other. Thanks for your comments.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #183: My first exposure to persons with disability was when I was transferred to a facility in the Navy where our staff had over 20 profoundly deaf employees. I found them to be friendly and willing to teach me how to communicate. I was amazed to learn about their subculture and how the differ from those of us in the hearing world.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #184: I started to work in and around this population some decades ago. I first started working in an institution in Florida named Sunland Training Center, I was mostly in shock, and I had not been exposed to anyone before this. I learned in a short time that all people can perform most any task given the opportunity and time to learn it.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #185: The first disabled person I knew was my father. He had a severe to profound hearing impairment. I remember he had a big battery on his chest and a wire behind his ear leading to his hearing aid. We had to talk very loud for him to hear us. Some of my friends were afraid of my dad, but he was the best dad around. When I was 10 years old, he had surgery and got a new hearing aid from the Veteran's Administration. His hearing greatly improved, but we still had to make sure he knew we were talking to him before he could attend to our message. My dad became a vocational education teacher at a Native American High School. He got along with the students very well because he was patient with them as they learned, but the other teacher thought my dad was inferior because he couldn't always communicate well. Now, I am a teacher with a hearing impairment. I face some of the same issues that my dad faced. We still have administrators and teachers today who don't understand hearing loss. They think because you have hearing aids and can function normally in some situations that you should be able to function the same as nondisabled people in all conditions. Thanks for your work to increase awareness in the workplace.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your experience not only with your father but also as an individual with a disability in the workplace. You are truly the one who teaches us all.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #186: My first reaction was actually "finally"! I work in a field that is trying to become more diverse, but until just recently have we hired individuals with disabilities. I think that within diversity, disabilities are pushed to the back of the line. This co-worker is working and they are doing an awesome job. I believe it is getting other co-workers past sterotypes and certain comfort levels. I felt comfortable because I have been exposed to a wide range of diversity throughout my graduate program, practicums, and volunteer work in the community. It's so wonderful to see that others are seeing the positive aspects of diversity in the workplace (which includes individuals with disabilities).

Response: I would have to agree with you about diversity and where disability falls within that range. Thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully through your co-worker your organization is able to recognize the importance of including individuals with disabilities in the workforce and you will see an increase!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #187: One of my first experience working with a person with a disability was when I hired this person. I had to look past the wheelchair and look at ways we could accommodate and include. This person wanted to work and be included. Didn't want to be different. Then I found out that is what we all want!

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, I think you are correct - we all want to be included and most of us want work as a part of that inclusion.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #188: The first time I took care of a disabled person in a wheelchair, I realized that she felt self conscious. She did not want to leave the house for fear of the reactions of others. I strongly encouraged her to go out and not be concerned with the attitudes of others. She made the effort and soon realized that it was only a few people who had negative attitudes toward the disabled. Then she began to enjoy her outings.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sure that your encouragement helped change this individual's life.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #189: I started working with an disabled person about 10 years ago. I was scared at first because I really did not any thing about him. I remember that there were people in wheel chairs in high school but you did not see them. It was as if they were outcasted. I now work with persons with disability daily. When I am out in the community they are still treated poorly. People are afraid and not educated.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, we all still have a lot of educating to do to the public. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #190: I have a neuro-/mental disabilty (seizure, anxiety) myself. I heard some of my coworkers discussing my personal history in a somewhat public place when they didn't know I was behind them. Some teamwork. It makes it difficult to work with them.

Response: I am sure that was hard to hear and even harder to work through. Maybe you could try talking with them about your disability to help educate them on it.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #191: I first worked with a person with a disability when I became a teaching assistant. It was so rewarding that I went to college to obtain my degree in Special Education. I now work as the rehab services coordinator for Progressive Workshop of Armstrong County in Kittanning, PA. I truly love my job. The people I work with are so upbeat and genuinely happy to be here, getting vocational training and working on site. I'm looking forward to finding out more about this website and some of the seminars and training they offer.

Response: Thank you for your comments. I hope you find our website full of helpful information!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #192: I've worked with many disable people over the years and after the initial 'wonder what happened' you do just accept the person as a member of the team. My struggle now is working with a member of the public that is severely physically disabled - he can't speak and has very limited use of only a few fingers. Communication is so difficult and I just feel terrible that I don't know what he wants.

Response: Does this individual have any type of communication device that he could use to speak with you?

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #193: My first response to a person with a disability was one of amazement. The individual was blind and I was amazed that she was able to work around her house and take care of her children.Being around her at first, felt uncomfortable, but the discomfort didn't last. I later developed a close friendship with her and understood that it was not amazing but she was doing what she taught herself to do, and that because of her independence, she was able to continue her lifestyle.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I think what you shared was similar to what many experience - a little uncomfortable at first but that quickly fades as we see the person for who they are! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #194: My first experience with a disabled person was when I was old enough to recognize my older sister was deaf. She was born deaf. Although I was 2 years younger, I found myself always defending her with other kids. Patty is 100% deaf in the left ear and about 90% in her right. When she was young, she wore a hearing aid that hung around her neck with a wired ear piece to her ear. All the kids would make fun asking "what radio station she was listening to" and assuming because of her speech problems she was dumb or a dummy. Needless to say I learned early (my first recollection was when I was 4) how to fight.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I can remember similar teasing of a child when I was young - and I too would get angry and yell at the other students to leave her alone. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #195: I was in special education for what they thought was hyperactivity and minimal brain dysfunction (1976, right around the time IDEA was law). At first all I saw were disturbed children, one of whom stuck scissors in the wall outlet (fortunately was unharmed). Later I saw LFA and LD students. I seemed close to one of the LFA kids. Eventually it was discovered, shortly before I got my Master's, I had Asperger, either in place of ADHD or as a co-morbidity. By then I also had major depression and soon was on permanent/indefinite medication for that, plus nearly indefinite therapy sessions since 2001. At least I am employed in a second career distinct from my social-science Master's (a state VR program in computer programming led to on-the-job training in Web design). Why I picked sociology was easy- I wanted to exercise some control over my immediate social environment by understanding it. You can get some limited control from a good liberal arts education. Take history. Rosie the Riveter got a job because she exploited a niche market. So many men were off fighting her bosses could not turn her down even if they wanted to. The lesson for you is, exploit something going begging with something you can do. Yes it takes research and maybe some training, and probably you'll have to do it again a few times in your life. But employers are rational human beings. They will do what they have to do when necessary whether they like it or not, such as work with a woman/Rosie or an Aspie/us.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience and story. I am glad to hear that you have found a line of work that you enjoy!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #196: My older sister had a disability so my first reaction was frustration at the number of barriers she faced on family outings etc. I was annoyed.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I can imagine the frustration that you and your sister experienced over and over again. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #197: My first experience dealing with co-worker who had a disability was while I worked in hospitality. The co-worker was paralysed and needed the permanent use of a wheel-chair. When I was first introduced to my co-worker, I had no doubt that the person could do the role however I was concerned regarding the accessibility of the room. The area we worked in was the standard romo size but very crowded. I had no negative reaction to the co-worker and thier ability to do the role. The co-worker was well suited to the role of switchboard operator and was very good in the role. I was very comfortable with my co-worker and I believe this was due to the good job match with the co-worker and also the fact that I have had personal experience with a family member who also has a physical disability. I have not yet worked with a co-worker facing the challenges of a mental disability.

Response: Thanks for sharing your personal experience. It would be great if everyone could view individuals for what they are able to do instead of what they are not.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #198: I really did not have a first reaction because when I worked with a person that had a mental disability, the disability was not immediately noticeable. However, when I saw some repeated behaviors I was empathetic, but I did not feel that I was reaching the person as a supervisor. Eventually the person opened up to me a little and he and I felt a little more comfortable in communicating. He was a hard worker and had been in the field much longer than me. However, I could see he knew his limitations.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. Communication is key in so many instances and I am glad that the 2 of you were able to get to a point where you were both comfortable enough to communicate effectively.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #199: My first experience was in my home with an aunt who had severe disabilities. My first reactions were not to her, but to my little friends who were afraid of her. By the time I was in third grade I was reading to her, helping to take care of her and couldn't understand why anyone would feel anything but tenderness and love for this precious being. I now deal with my own disability and feel blessed to be working in an industry that's all about mainstreaming people with disabilities and disadvantages.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. Children and adults are often scared of the unknown including individuals with disabilities. For those of us in this field and who have loved ones with disabilities, the more we can educate the better off we will all be!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #200: I have worked with a few individuals with disabilities and I have always treated them with the same compassion and respect as any other employees. That has worked well in each situation. They are very capable individuals with great abilities. They have to face many daily challenges but do so with great attitudes.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #201: My first contact with an individual with a disability was when I was about 19 years old. I worked a summer job at a production plant that made paneling. I was put on a line with a person that was deaf and told that if the paneling was not glued properly that I should bam on the paneling to get the attention of the deaf person. I felt that this was degrading to this individual and found that if I would just stop and look his way that got his attention just like bamming. Needless to say because I did not do what management instructed, I did not keep that job long.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. Your way sounds far more respectful than what the employer suggested.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #202: We have a woman at my agency that is wheelchair bound, it is not my first experience with a disabled person since i have a disabled adult child but my first exposure to a paralysed indivdual. We have to have fire drills twice a year by law and this employee was located on an upper floor so we would have to use a stairwell evacuation chair to bring her down and she always felt so bad that her co-worker had that burdeon of assisting her. I learned from this experience how much less a burdeon it is for me to help than for her to be willing accept the help. Walking people have the easy job and i never felt that it was or is a burdeon, she now is located on the main floor of another building so she can help herself and not have to feel bad.

Response: Thanks for sharing. I think all of us (with and without disabilites) have a hard time accepting help. We are very independent creatures and like to take care of ourselves and having a disability does not change that.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #203: My first encounter with students with disabilities was with a blind student. I was her aid and was amazed how openly she talked abot her limitations. She became my teacher.

Response: I too have learned a lot from the individuals I have worked with. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #204: A CSR at our agency has a physical disability and I am amazed at her confidence and capabilities as well as her quick mobility. I find myself intrigued and somewhat curious about her limitations and I applaud her independence. It makes me know that anything is possible with determination.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #205: I have encountered disabled individuals while shopping. My first instinct is to assist them in obtaining merchandise. I quickly learned that many people don't want assistance. They are capable of performing the task themselves. I now only assist someone if I'm approached.

Response: Your response is natural - we all want to help. But many people do not need any help at all! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #206: I actually had an experience just today with a very confident individual that was in a wheeelchair. It was at the grocery store and he was unable to reach some items that he needed. He ask with a great deal of confidence and absolutely no shame (nor should he have) me to reach some things for him. It was a very pleasent experience and i hope to see him again out in our community.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #207: My first experience was operating an employment/training program for older workers. I initial reactions I have to admit was not great, my level of understanding regarding our communication was based on no prior experience. I must have seemed very ignorant to my co-worker,pehaps even impatient. My co-worker did work, but not very hard. Not because of her disability though, but because that just how she was, she took it easy,lol, I later learned. I learned to be comfortable with her, because she was very nice and likable and didn't hold my ignorance against me.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #208: I grew up in the deaf community. I began working with people with hearing loss and limited speak as a child. When I was ready to work in the paid workforce, I worked as an Interpreter for the deaf. There I worked with several "professional" deaf people with college degrees. I look back and laugh at how some people, on the outside, never realized that deaf or hearing impaired people can go to college and get professional degrees. I never worked with a nicer group of professionals.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #209: Personally when I meet an individual with a disability I do feel a bit uncomfortable because I do not want to offend anyone with my behavior.I do not want to seem over friendly or seem completely unsupportive. It is also hard not to look if someone is walking different or shaking or acting in a way that you do not see everyday, and this may be taken as rude.

Response: Thank you for your honesty. I think your feelings are very common. I think you will find that the more interaction you have with individuals with disabilities the more comfortable you will become!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #210: My first experience experience of have a coworker with a disability was interesting in that I had been working in a small store for some time before I realized that most of my co-workers had a disability for some sort. One had a hearing impairment, one had a back/mobility disability and one had a psychiatric disability. These disabilities revealed themselves over time, so I had already developed relationships with these individuals before I realized that they were "disabled". The most interesting thing was that the owner of the store "accomodated" these individuals in a very natural way without even realizing himself that he had employees with some pretty significant disabilities that he was providing accommodations for. My first reaction as a co-worker of someone with a disability

Response: Thanks for sharing! Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was as accommodating as this person!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #211: I have always had a passion for people of various abilities. Even in Elementary school everyone was equal, just some needed a little extra help - where I was accelerated. I was a peer tutor in grades 6 and up for the younger students and assisted in helping teachers with correcting papers. I am very comfortable around people with special challenges, I have been a CNA, respite provider and a Behavioral Health Professional. There is so much for everyone to give and I value all the knowledge I have gained from having experienced so many wonderful people. I encourage diversity in every aspect of my life, work and home.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. We all have different abilities and we should recognize that this is what makes the world interesting!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #212: My first experience was working with WWRC in drama class in High school, we were doing a drama class scene there and I remember thinking I hope this play made them laugh. My 2nd experience was my senior year - I had all the same classes as the blind girl. I was elected to walk with her (she had it mapped out very nicely without me) I enjoyed her and we all admired her to walk among the busy halls as she did. I did not feel uncomfortable with her at all. I was glad to walk along and talk in between classes.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #213: My first experience of living with and seeing someone with a profound disability was when my parents invited someone to stay in our home who had no legs. I was quite young and I remember being shocked but we had lots of great discussions. In the early 1980s while working in Health we had in our center a person employed in a fron-line position who was exceptionally bright and had a disability. It was fabulous to be able to talk to her about how she managed in her life. I also worked with another colleague who had brain damage from a car accaident and was told she would never be able to do lots of things - so she went on and did master's degrees and PhD study. I think it is so important to put people's inclusiveness well before thoughts of what they may look or sound like. I still do have some concerns for young people who are disabled trying to get into the employment market. Employers themselves really need to understand that differences are interesting and add to our understanding of people's social worlds.

Response: Inclusion in the community including employment is key. A little education for employers can go a long way.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #214: My mother worked in a group home for women with disabilities when I was growing up. This was key in my attitude concerning working with people with disabilities. My first real job was in a sheltered workshop. The employees, both regular and trainees, worked very hard, were maticulously detailed and were fiercely loyal. They were the best I have seen to date, and that was over 20 years ago. My current position allows me to continue working with and on behalf of people with disabilities. It is very rewarding to say the least.

Response: Thanks for sharing! I agree - it is a very rewarding job!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #215: My first experience was with a co-worker who had a speech and hearing impairment. She did wear a hearing aid but her speech was difficult to understand. We worked at the same school but lived about 20 miles from it in the same town. I offered to drive her to work since she did not have a license. Each day I grew more accustomed to her speech patterns and not so embarrassed because I didn't have to ask her to repeat herself.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #216: I have not been in a co-worker situation until recently, many years after entering the human services field. However, I grew up with several individuals with disabilities and volunteered in my neighborhood also. Despite that experience, each time I have encountered a new situation with an unfamiliar disability I am curious and interested.

Response:

Posted by

 

Post #217: My first time as a co-worker of someone with a disability was at mcDonalds. I decided to be friendly and helpful. This person had a cognitive disability and would often display inapropriate behaviors toward women. At this time, I was also working in a group home with adults who had severe disabilities. After days several I realized that he did not display any inappropriate behaviors around me only with the other woman coworkers. If fact he would talk with me and was very friendly. My boss decided to pair us together, although we did no do the same job. I began to learn about him and why he reacted this way around women. If fact he was never taught about good and bad behaviors when he was growing up. So, I became an unofficial job coach and begin to work with his man helping him develop good social skills and show his true personality. It turned out he had a good sense of humor. So, he was getting along with the women and became a very good worker.

Response: It sounds like you were also a mentor to him. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #218: I am a person with a disability. I worked for the federal government for 20 years and became disabled the last 12 or so years before retiring. I can see my story in some to the responses above, (co-workers with the staring, talking, asking each other questions instead of asking me) It was very humiliating.

Response: Thank you for sharing your personal experience. It is our hope that through this course we are able to help educate people.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #219: I have not had the opportunity to work with a person with disability, but I've had the opportunity to assist people with disabilities by helping them receive services that they may need. In working with people of this population, I treat them with respect as I would do any other person. I really try to put myself in their shoes and do whatever I can to enhance or improve their quality of living.

Response:

Posted by

 

Post #220: My first experience working with someone with a disability was recently. My initial reaction was to be careful around that person, as not to say anything inappropriate that might offend that person. I quickly realized, within a few minutes of speaking to that person, that there was no need to feel that way. She was jsut like anyone else, and I felt silly for being uncomfortable when I first met her. I work with several people who have disabilities now, and I don't even notice anymore. I enjoy working with each and every one of them, sometimes more so than other co-workers. I find that people with disabilities often develop wonderful personalities to compensate!

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #221: I’m a person with a disability so my reaction is simple, they may or may not look different, but other than that there is no difference. I learned to allow the person to ask for help, I used to think I should be helping they sometimes wanted help sometimes did not. I always try to help persons who are blind cross the street if they want.

Response: Thanks for sharing! It is always best to ask before helping someone. As you say, the person may not need any help - so ask first!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #222: There has always been someone with a disability in my life and I imagine that had much to do with why I became a Rehab Counselor. I've always felt a responsibility to help secure services; not so much "make the person better" but to make the system work so the playing field can be as level as possible. So many people with disabilities are working. Many of their co-workers don't know they have disabilities. Sometimes it takes an incredible amount of effort and my experience has been that if matched with the right job, a disability does not deter someone from success on the job. Having a disabled child I learned that the professional versus personal experience is not the same. The professional is by far easier to manage in terms of emotional involvement, judging success, and settling into being comfortable with what work/life holds.

Response: I couldn't agree with you more - on Everything you said! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #223: I believe my first reaction to someone with disability was like some of the majority. I felt like ignoring it would make it go away or the person would feel less uncomfortable around me.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #224: I am very pleased to see persons with disabilities integrated in workplaces. It also feels good to help persons with disabilities return to work.

Response: Work makes a huge difference in our lives and it is truly a wonderful experience to see someone succeed!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #225: I'm not aware if I've worked with a person who has a disability as not all are clearly visable, but I did have the experience teaching several students who did have a disability. During my internship as a Student Teacher, over half of my grade 6/7 students had a learning disability of some kind, and one of these students was also a paraplegic and used a wheelchair. While teaching I had to make sure that my lesson plans, tests, and projects that I assigned were ones that all of my students could understand and work with. I would have to write three different versions of the same test, or have alternate projects or workshops for some students. Some people respond to this by saying that it's not fair to the other "normal" students and that the ones with the disabilities were getting special treatment. My responce has and will continue to be that it's not special treatment. They are getting what THEY need to succeed just as the rest of my students did, and it was therefore fair.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #226: I remember in elementary school there was a girl who had hearing aids. Everyone seemed to ignore her. She was shy and did not seek others out. I felt awkward and did not approach her. Today's school systems, with integration, is fantastic. My grandchildren have friends from all spectrums of society. To them every thing is normal!

Response: Isn't it wonderful to see everyone included and not seen as different! Unfortunately this is not the case always, but truly wonderful when it does - we have come a long way!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #227: When I was 8 I went to a day camp with a boy with cerebral palsy. He was my friend, even though people made fun of me for being his friend. It was my first look into what it might be like to have a disability. Since then I have been diagnosed with a learning disability, so I guess the first person I knew was myself.

Response: Good for you - that is advocacy at it's best! thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #228: My first reaction when working with people with a disability was one of concern, as I wanted to help to ease their situation. I quickly learnt however, that my concern was unnecessary, as the disabled worker/s were entirely competent and so very well adjusted to their circumstances. I felt privileged to be working with people who had overcome major obstacles to secure themselves professional positions in the workforce. I have followed the progress of some of these co-workers over the years and noticed recently that one of these dedicated and talented individuals had been recognised with an Australia Day Award.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #229: As a person with disability I can realize the pain in every moment suffered by the same. Specially the life of PWDs residing in quqsi cicvlized society of Bangladesh. I am LL.B(Hons), LL.M and advocate also. Wanna bring a change in this society & make life easier, smother, happier....But how?

Response: Thanks for sharing your personal experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #230: I NEED A JOB WORKING FROM MY HOME TO HAVE MORE INCOME. I AM IN A WHEEL CHAIR. I HAVE CORPAL TUNNEL PROBLEMS IN BOTH MY WRISTS. CAN I DO ANYTHING THAT WILL PAY ME FOR MY WORK? PLEASE HELP ME.

Response: I would encourage you to contact your State Vocational Rehabilitation office. This organization works with individuals with disabilities to help them meet their employment goals!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #231: I am the person with the disability and I find at times others feel uncomfortable around me. They know I have a disability because I my job but since it is a "hidden" disability, I do not think others know how to respond.

Response: Thanks for sharing your personal experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #232: My initial reaction was a mixture of fear, judgement, curiosity and wonder. I was in awe of the individuals I viewed who were operating table saws and similar equipment. I became more comfortable,as I viewed the acceptance and "normalness" of the environment.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #233: My first experience working with an individual that I knew (I say this b/c I am sure that I had in the past and wasn't aware) had a disability was a little scary. I was to supervise this person in a newly created role, Peer Specialist. I felt as if I had to keep reminding myself that he's just another employee, he has the same expectations as all the others regarding being on time, following schedules, making requests, and performing at a level that meets the requirements in his job description. I may have to make accommodations (for example, he had expressed that his medications make him groggy so early morning group faciliation may be difficult but not impossible) but otherwise, he wanted to be treated like an employee and a person.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #234: My first real encounter with an indiviudal with a disability was at my college orientation, many years ago. A classmate was using a wheelchair and had 2 hearing aides. He asked many questions of the presenters as he was unable to hear the disucssion. My father, following the presentation, commented to me that if this young man can obtain his college degree- I have no excuse not to! This made me think that we all, have some kind of limitations but more importantly, we also have many skills, desires, dreams, and goals. I have tried to live both my professional and personal life with this thought. I have also, raised my children to respect people as people and a disability is none other than something special to an indiviudal, much like their hair or eye color.

Response:

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #235: My first experience was many years ago at a bank. The individual did the janitor services at the end of the day. He was very friendly. My first impression was that it was nice of the bank to hire him to do what was probably the only thing he could do. There were a couple other people who worked with him and at first i thought they did most of the work. Eventually I realized he was the hardest worker and that he could carry on a conversation on most topics we talked about during lunch breaks. Within a few moths I had a totally different impression of him and the same kind of relationship with him as I had with my co-workers.

Response: So glad you had the opportunity to learn more about this individual and see beyond his disability.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #236: My first experience was working with an employee at Wal-Mart. I questioned their ability to do the job that was required of them, but after being able to work side by side with this employee, I soon discovered that just because they were different than I was in appearance, they were more than cabable of doing their job. I also observed them to be very happy and upbeat daily, which was a positive working experience. Nothing appeared to get them down. They were definately an inspiration to all of the other employees that had the privilage to work with them.

Response: I have seen this many times - where an individual inspires and motivates their coworkers.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #237: My first experience working with someone with a disability was when I landed my first job out of high school. I was a long distant telephone operator and later that summer they hired a sight impaired gal who worked on the direct dailing system (1969). She was very out going and made everyone relaxed. While working there, she got her college degree, worked (volunteered on some state agencies) and retired from the phone company a couple years ago. When I get to run into her we always pick up where we left off.

Response: What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #238: My first time working with someone with a disability was when I was growing up in fostercrae. All of my foster brothers and sisters were developmentally delayed, and I was put into a home with 4 wonderful people all with different disablilties. I was quickly the one to step up and fight for them.I knew I wantde to work woth them and so I becake a supported living coach and supported employment coach after high school.

Response: What a great story! Thank you for sharing! I think many of us have experiences in our childhood that shape our career path!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #239: I worked in HR at a state agency where the person screening all of the applications was legally blind. He was given a special computer and it was inspiring to watch.

Response: Yes, there are a lot of accommodations available to help individuals at work!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #240: I was kind of stand offish with the first person I worked with, but he wasn't. He was a dishwasher at a restaurant I workrd at. When it got busy, he did his job, but when things slowed down, he just came over and started talking, asking questions about me. He is a great guy and one of the best employees the place had. Always willing to help, would come in if someone was a no-show, did his job well, and NEVER complained about a thing.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I think your first reaction is common in many people. I am glad you were able to spend some time with this individual to get to know them. Thanks, Jennifer

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #241: My first encounter with a person with disablities was when I was very young. All I could feel was compassion, encouragement, pity, and inspiration all in one. I usually feel a lot of respect for those with disabilities because they show that I can do more if I put my mind to it and that in truth there is no excuse for not being to do something.

Response: Thanks for your thoughts.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #242: My sister in law has a disability and I think it has made our family very creative with going about activites that allow everyone to participate.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #243: I have cerbral Palsy. my family and frinds have always been behind me 100%. unfortunately I have come across some very "special people" thoughout my life who assume that my disability is a negative. yes I may do things a little differently but I still get the job done. I am disapponted to say that one of my first work experiences was not a positive one. In a job interview for a local real estate agent I used my disability as an example of needing to think outside the square to get things done. The interviewer cut me off before I was finished and told me to come back when I had the chip off my shoulder!!!! Luckily I controlled myself and didn't break his nose like I wanted too! Needless to say I walked out of the interview at that point and that was that. my most positive experience recently was being head hunted for a HR role to develop recruitment and retention policies for a local government agency. Things in Australia have changed in the ten years since that first interview!

Response: Glad to hear things have changed "down under"! I am thrilled to hear employers are starting to see individuals for their abilities and not their disability!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #244: I worked with a fellow college student in an Eastern religion class years ago as a first experience. He used a power wheelchair and it make frightening electrical crackling sounds when it moved. However, he was just like any other student and we got along fine once I got beyond the spooky noise issue.

Response: Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #245: My first experience with a person with a disability was about 15 years ago. I was a Certifiied Nursing Assistant and I was doing homecare for an agency in Richmond, Va. My first reaction was sorrow. I felt so sorry for him because he was a young man who was shot in the neck during a car jacking. When I saw him, I could remember thinking how grateful I was to still be able to walk on my own. It took me some time to get used to my feelings, because I was caught up in his situation and how I would have felt if it was me. He did not work at all. At first, I wasn't comfortable because I thought I had to feel bad for him. But after a while of taking care of him, I became more comfortable and was able to talk to him about how I was feeling. I thought because this was new to him that he would be a little defensive about it, but he was very welcoming.

Response: Glad you had the opportunity to get to know this person and allow him to teach you about ability!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #246: My first experience has been with a co-worker with a hearing impairment. As long as I spoke directly in front of her, she could pick up sounds and read lips. We also came up with some signals for certain things - worked pretty darn well, we were a good team.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #247: Richard O. Jones 15 November 2010 Disability Awareness My Story First, the contact I had with a disable person was working with my present company as a contractor. I actually felt great about working with fellow disable veterans. The companies I work for have over 30% disable veterans that work for military service members teaching, coaching and training them on different communication systems. I felt like this is the way many companies should follow when it comes down to setting the example for disable employee, everyone is treated the same. I feel very comfortable working with disable people as long as they can carry their weight within the work load.

Response: thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #248: Most of us live in homeless communities. It is important to note the homeless population more often than not suffer from co-occuring disorders. Society in general should have more empathy for the homeless. It is common to see folks with a job, home, and car lose it all. They are just one paycheck away from losing everything. The next time you encounter a homeless and/or disabled person, take the time to know the individual. In this manner we can all make this planet a better place to live. Thank you!

Response: Great points! Thanks for the reminders - very true!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #249: I have not worked at a company that has hired anyone who has a disability, but I have encountered many individuals who have a disability who are working in my community. My first internal response is always "Good for you, and the company who hired you!" My second response is admiration for the professionalism and hard work displayed by the individual. I am left with the impression that the individual deserves the job because of qualifications, not because the person has been given the job out of pity or compassion.

Response: Thanks for sharing! I agree - Good for the individual and for the company!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #250: I am currently working within a state agency doing an Administrative Assistant's job working for the director. I am paid as a clerk 3. After putting in for a job reclassification, Iwaited for over a year to hear from them and I was denied. I appealed the decision and I was denied again. Although I have scored high on my current EPRS, my boss the Director doesn't help me or work with me in any way. If I bring up my disability and how it is effecting me when I try to request any type of simple accomadation, she tells me I should apply for disability "off the record." I am so tired of tring to get the pay I should be getting; etc. I make less than everyone here and I am not allowed to work OT the list goes on. Right now I am so tired of trying to get what I deserve I just want to cry and I give up.

Response: Don't give up! Keep going!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #251: My first experience with working with children with disabilites was as a teacher, noticing that a certain child had to constantly leave the room without warning. After leaning about ASD and how it can be exhibited in varying environments - I became fascinated with finding strategies to better teach each child.

Response: thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #252: My first contact with a co-worker with a disability was very challenging. I tried to reach out to her, but she was not very responsive. I continued and eventually included her in my project. I think she got alot out of it. However, she was fired soon after because she was not initiating anything at work.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #253: My wife and I adopted a young girl with a disability so I had some personal experience prior to a work situation. In the early 1980's I ran an ad to hire someone part time to pay bills, etc. A young man called and I hired him over the phone. About thirty minutes later he called saying "My mother says I need to tell you I am in a wheelchair". I explained we had steps on the entry door in get in so probably would need to get a ramp done. He responded I think I know the house your office is in and I can get in the front door on my own(several steps to get up). So we agreed on a start date, he showed up, and went to work. His initial presence caused a lot of discomfort for the coworkers and my boss. I got chewed out but in the end whenever our boss added to or renvoated an office he had the young man check out accessibility.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #254: I have never knowingly worked with someone who has a disability but of course, some disabilities are not able to be seen. In my personal life, my husband and I had to go for an IRS audit several years ago and our auditor was disabled. It was an obvious disability because he was confined to a wheelchair. When he first greeted us, I was surprised simply because he was not what I had envisioned in my mind. Nothing about his disability impacted the audit. He was no less capable of performing his job duties and as the meeting went on it was easy to forget that he was in a wheelchair at all. The audit was uncomfortable simply because it was an audit....but it had nothing to do with him or his disability.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #255: In my family we have quite a few family members with mental or physical disabilities so, I have never really learned to sterotype or question the abilities of any person. My first job was working with the elderly and disabled at the Area Agency on Aging. I never had a problem working with them or felt differently because they were the first ones I was introduced to and showed the new girl the ropes There was never a quesetion that they were able to do their job. In fact, working with them was one of my favorite jobs and I still keep in touch with all of my old co-workers.

Response: Sounds like a great job!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #256: When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates used a wheelchair and also had leukemia. That was my first interaction with someone with both visible and invisible disabilities. At first I was a little confused and unsure how to act around her, but it taught me very early on that people with disabilities are just as capable as those currently without disabilities - they just develop unique ways to handle life's ups and downs. So when I started working in human services, being around co-workers and clients with disabilities didn't bother me a bit. Sure, sometimes I wondered about the origin of the disability, but if I knew the person well enough, I'd simply ask. Everyone I've worked with over the last 10+ years who's had disabilities have worked very hard and done quite well in their jobs, except for some of my clients who like to try and milk the system and play the "woe is me" card. But teaching people that they are more than their disabilities is part of my professional work, so that's something I have to deal with daily. And as a person with disabilities myself, I appreciate it when my co-workers treat me like everyone else and simply talk to me if they have questions about my disabilities. I've never had a negative experience with any co-workers who have had disabilities themselves.

Response: thanks for sharing your personal and professional experiences!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #257: My first experience with an individual who had a disability was myself. When I graduated from high school the guidance couselor advised me to become a child care provider (this was quite a while ago prior to CDA and certifications relating to childcare). I have dyslexia but at that time learning disabilities were not being identified by the school system. I felt "less than" and had low self esteem. I choose not to listen to the counselor. Today I have two Master Degrees, ESL teaching certification and am employed as a Disability Program Navigator.

Response: Congratulations! What a great story! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #258: I also encountered many people with different disabilities at a very young age, at school, church, and socially. I feel this helped me when I moved into the job force. I honestly can't remember the first disabled person I encountered at work, so I will share the person I went to school with. At first I think I was suprised and thought I would need to watch how I acted or what I said around them. I thought they should be treated different. But like others have mentioned, I quickly realized they are people just like us. We all are different in one way or another, theirs just happens to be a little more visible. Moving into HR this definitely helped me in interacting with my team and helping others see that while someone has a disability, we still need to treat them normal, but potentially with a little more patience.

Response:

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #259: I was fortunate enough to growup around kids with disabilities my Mother & Grandmother both worked at Monroe Developmental College in the cafeteria. There they worked with young adults teaching them food service skills and I would sometimes get to go with them (at the time I was elementary school age). I loved it there they were all so nice & loving. My Uncle was the Ranger at a Boy Scout Camp (Camp Gorton) and I would go visit him & my Aunt. When summer camp was going on we had several troups that had boys with disabilities and it was nice to see that they were treated just like everyone else. I have worked in theme park and I see so many different people everyday that I dont treat anyone differently. I think the most amazing person I saw was a high school boy while I was working at Disney on the Monorail platform loading the monorail & a group of kids came up the ramp. I saw a head a knee level, this young man had no legs just half of his torso, arms & his head and he was pushing himself around on a skateboard. When it was time to get in the monorail his friends lifted him & off to the park they went. It was amazing.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #260: I remember at first being hesitatant and shy towards individuals with disabilities. It was my older brother who taught me to be as accepting and open as I am. We were fortunate enough to attend a high school which promoted diversification and inclusion. My brother was the captain of the wrestling team which had a young man with cerable paulsy on the team. My brother an dhim became great friends and he was very soon attending family dinners with us and my family was chearing him on at the meets as while as my brother. It was an amazing expeerince to watch the relationships with my family, myself, and team mates grow and overcome barriers. Following high school I started off working through college as a Personal Care worker and have continued to pursue careers working with people with disabilities.

Response: Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #261: My first experience with someone with a disability, was when I was a kid. We had a girl who went to our church who was MR/DD. Of course the terminology was differnet then. Our parents taught us to treat her with respect.

Response: What a valuable thing your parents taught you!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #262: My first experience with someone who had a disability was with an Aunt, who had a pace- maker and walked with a crutch. She cleaned house, orked in her garden and generally did everything that she was able to do. She would put things in a laundry basket and attach a string to pull the basket into whatever room she needed to be in to complete a task. I have always had a healthy and postive attitude with people with disabilities.

Response: What a great story - thank you for sharing. That is an attitude that doesn't believe in "can't".

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #263: An early experience I recall is having a college instructor with Cerebral Palsy, teaching a course on speech pathology. He was a good instructor. I recall thinking then that it probably took some extra courage on his part, dealing with everyday life challenges insofar as mobility. I admired his fortitude. In the workplace, earlier, I recall a colleague having what struck me as an unreasonable, possibly stereotypical, and, in my view, inappropriate reaction upon interviewing a hearing-impaired candidate for a counselor position. Her interview notes that came to me later on questioned his capacity to perform safely in the environment (a correctional facility) on account of his disability. This was unfair. I wish I'd addressed it better, at the time (the candidate, however, was not as qualified as other candidates given his relevant work experience, and did not get the job based on that alone, and I did review all of the candidates' qualifications). Still I wish I could have addressed the matter more effectively as a teaching moment with the individual interviewer.

Response: Sometimes we have to chalk these types of experiences to learning moments and know that if we encountered it again we would respond differently. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #264: My first experience with someone with a disability was with my younger sister. She was born 1 year after me and was born with Downs Syndrome. I feel that shaped my interacts with others with disabilities as I didn't realize she was different when we were younger. I grew up knowing that somethings took a bit longer for her to grasp - but my parents taught us all to be patient with her learning process and the benefits would be invaluable! They were so right.

Response: Thanks for sharing your personal experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #265: My cousin, who is the same age as me, has a learning disability. Since we grew up together, I knew something was a little different, but it didn't bother me because we were and are still best friends. I didn't realize she had a "disability" until we were almost out of high school. Since college/reading wasn't something she was interested in, she went to a trade school where she could have a hands on learning experience. She excelled and is now happily employed. Everyone is good at something, we all just have to find our niche!

Response: Great story! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #266: I am sorry to say that I believe everyone has a disability. I hear so much talk about the disabled that it appears that society is anxious to point out people with obvious impairments so that everyone else will know who they are. I have a co-worker who talks too much and holds people hostage because we are all too polite to walk away, another who has such an inferiority complex that she sticks her nose in the air and pretends to be someone that she is not and still another who believes that no one possesses such great knowledge as he and tells everyone what they should do in every meeting. If these aren't disabilities, they should be recognized as such. On the other hand, there is a woman in my building who is in a wheel chair. She comes in and talks to me and I hold the door for her or move obstacles out of her way as I would for any visitor who comes to my door. Still another resident in the building has MS and often uses supports to be able to get around. She always has a smile and a compliment and talks about her pursuit of her Master's Degree. The difference between the first three examples and the last two is that the last two know their limitations, which is a blessing.

Response: Thanks for your comments. It is true - we all have some sort of limitations or challenges that we face, it is how we handle them that make us who we are.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #267: Before I worked with a person with a disability, I thought all people with disabilities were not able to work or did not want to work, or that if they did have a job, they would either not be able to do a good or would be lazy. Once I worked with someone with a disability, I learned that they can work just as hard and perform their job as good or better than anyone else.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. I am glad you had an opportunity to learn that everyone has contributions they can give to society.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #268: My first memorable experience of working with a co-worker that had a disability was when I had my first professional job with NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. My co-worker had CP which caused her mobility and speach to be impaired. She was very friendly and knowledgable and we had a lot of family related interests in common and quickly became friends. I came to admire her for her work ethic and fortitude. She was one who had overcome many limitations and continued to excel professionally and otherwise. She served to reaffirm my belief in vocational rehabilitation and the equality of all people.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #269: My first experience with an individual with a disability was in the 3rd grade. I had a friend whose sister had epilepsy. She had grand mal seizures frequently. When she would have a seizure, her sister would perform her safety routine, then call her mother, who would come and pick up her daughter. One day my friend was not at school when her sister had a seizure. The teachers knew I was friends with her sister so they came and got me. Although I had watched my friend care for her sister, I was afraid that I would do something wrong. But I did what I had seen her do and everything went ok.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. While it may have been frightening for you at the time, what a tremendous help you were to your friend!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #270: My first experience was working with a peer who was blind. We traveled to another state and I learned so much and failed to realize all of the routine activities which presented the need for some adapations. Most impressive was this individuals attitude of "going with the flow" and not seeing any of these tasks as a barrier. An excellent role model for everyone.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #271: In my first professional job in vocational evaluation, I worked with a co-worker who was blind. Growing up in a very small town I had never really been exposed on a daily basis to someone who was blind. It was a real eye opener. I found it fascinating that someone who couldn't see what I saw could do the same job as me and likely just as well. I realized how small minded and limited I had grown up in my little town. How limiting my thinking had been that you had to be "normal" to work and earn money. I was humbled by their open mindedness and generosity and embarrassed at my self limitation. They taught me to grow and expand as a human being. They did not treat me any different than themselves and considered me an equal to them. It was like a giant release of my heart to be freer and not closed off.

Response: Thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing what others can teach us about ourselves.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #272: As an OT with 35+ years experience, I have worked with so many persons with disabilities (clients and co-workers), I cannot think of the "first" experience. But an early one that had a huge impact was Bob, a computer technician who was blind. He used a screen reader to access the information that the rest of us saw on the computer screen and to problem-solve issues with programs...and that was back when we were using DOS. His ability to hold the information received auditorily, analyze it and correct issues in programming language at very high speeds (upwards of 400 WPM listening rate) was astounding...and shattered any image I ever had about persons with disabilities being less than fully competent.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience! I have met some individuals who have that same ability and it amazes me as well!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #273: My first experience was working with a young man with a learning disability. I was excited to have him since he was to assist me in my area for the summer. He requested that directions be in writing and then discussed. Even with procedures laid out in a step-by-step manner, followed by discussion/walk-thru, it was clear that a lot more time and attention was required. Sometimes it felt like I was working for him. It didn't work out as desired, however I think if he was working in an area where he had stronger interest and/or we had more time, he would be successful. He always had a great attitude and you just can't train attitude.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #274: The first person I worked with that had a disability was a women who was in a wheel chair. She had Spina bifida and had also lost her one leg due to cancer. I was totally amazed by her and she became one of my best friends. She held a full time job, raised 2 children. She was a Sunday School teacher, in the choir, led a girls group similar to girl scouts, visited others in the Nursing Home and Prison. She was just amazing and taught me that nothing is impossible if you want to achieve it.

Response: What a life lesson and what a true inspiration to you and everyone she meets! Thanks for sharing your story and your friend!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #275: I do not recall my first impression but I do know that traveling with him (wheelchair/accessible van) taught me about things that I had never before really noticed or thought about. (This was over 20 years ago.) For instance, getting into a hotel with luggage, without a curb cut and without an automatic door opener. The need to think about how to accomplish that, something I took for granted, was a learning experience.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #276: I have never worked with an individual with visible disabilities, but my niece has DS and two of my cousins have disabilities caused by brain tumors. All three of them are children, and they are so loving and open and full of joy, it has become very obvious to me that it's the heart that counts in every single person. Why should they be treated in a negative way or differently at all when they are such good people at heart? The key to overcoming fear or uncomfortable feelings around people with disabilities seems to be more clear to me recently...just get to know them and open yourself up to accepting all the wonderful things have to offer.

Response: So well said! thank you! Spend time with people, get to know them and understand them and this will wipe away your fears!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #277: My first experience with a person who has a disability was when I was very young. I have a cousin whom was hard of hearing and grew up closely with him.

Response: I wonder how this impacted and changed your life and your perspective of people?

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #278: Several years ago, my first cousin, my age, lost her vision unexpectedly. The whole family was shocked and didn't know what to do? I said that I work with her doing housecleaning chores. She was new at things to. But, did very well for herself, I felt that I was making more mistakes then her throughout the day!! I would forget a vaccum or the mop bucket, in the way of her walk path. It was quite an experience. Today she is a very skilled office worker, and enjoys her favorite chair at the casino, where all of the workers know and assist her with anything that she needs.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience! It is quite a learning process on how you have to think a little differently!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #279: My first job was at a sheltered workshop. I really wanted to help and was "Over helpful at first trying to do everything for individuals in wheelchairs and disabled individuals. I soon learned it was disrespectful not to let them do what they can and assist only when needed and asked to. I still want to help but now know we should let any disabled individual decide. I did feel uncomfortable at first because I did not know what to do. I am now inspired.

Response: Thanks for sharing. I think your response is a common response.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #280: I don't remember a problem working with people with disabilities because my brother has a disability. It is and was natural for me to help others adapt. My family has compassion on all individuals regardless of status...ability or race. I count it a privilege to serve others the best I can. So getting my degree in rehabilitation was a natural step. I have enjoyed my work and hope to continue till I can no longer serve.

Response: Thanks for sharing your story! I am sure you will accomplish great things in your career! Best of luck!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #281: My first experience with persons with disabilities goes back to my childhood. We had two boys that had Muscular Dystrophy and could not play with us, so we played for them because it made them happy. They were never suppose to survive to adults. In a native community disabilities were considered a personal trait within someone. No one is the same and they all have their own features. We just had to assist them when needed just like we do with our elders. I agree that everyone has a disability and that we as native people learn how to accept and work with it as with any other person.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like you were raised in a very supportive, respectful community. Thanks for telling us about it!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #282: My first experience working with someone with a visible disability was about four years ago. I would often bring my child to work and didn't want my child staring or making my co-worker uncomfortable. I took the time to have a very serious conversation on acceptance, not staring and treating people with kindness, before bringing my child in. I am so happy that I did that because now both of my children are respectful to everyone regardless of personal situations.

Response: What a great life lesson you have taught your children! If only all parents would take the time to do that! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #283: I previously worked with a visually impaired co-worker who has actually had two professions in his lifetime. He first became a Dental Doctor until he slowly lost his eyesight and now is a Solicitor who specialises in Disability Discrimination. I just think he's inspirational. I really admire his work. Just thought I'd share my little story with you all.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #284: As I trainer I once found myself teaching a computer skills workshop series in which 3 participants were deaf. They were the ones to help me here as I was very awkward in the beginning. They helped me to help them, including teaching me to sign the basics, and how best to use lots of illustrations and hand on training. They taught me a lot about sensitivity and awareness to differing learning needs.

Response: Great story - and great lessons you learned! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #285: Being a Prothetist/Orthotist dealing with people with disabilities and and knowing there experiences comes about daily. Working with people with disabilities really brings an inner enthusiasm because as per my experience they are really motivated and sincere to there job

Response: My guess is that you often meet people who may be new to their disability. What a unique perspective you get into people! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #286: My first experience interacting with someone with a disability in the workplace, was someone who was hearing impaired. I believe that, because I grew up with an uncle who was heaaring impaired, I did not really have to give it much thought. I naturally began relating to him as I did with my Uncle (face him when speaking, speak slowly, etc.). However, I notice the awkwardness of others who appeared to feel uncomfortable in their interactions with him. This would make me feel awkward, for I would wonder if he (the person with the disability) could sense this "engergy" and how it made them feel, and questioned if they experienced this often." Now, I am wondering if the person who was displaying the uneasiness toward the hearing impaired employee knew they were displaying this "energy", and whether I should have said something in the moment...Lesson learned. :)

Response: Thanks for sharing your story! You make a great point. I don't know that they were aware of their "energy".

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #287: I was responsible for doing initial (phone) interviews for the candidates considered for the Director of Disabled Student Services on campus and all candidates had a disability but only one of them had a visible disability. When I shared my assessment of the candidates after the phone interview with the search committee chair, one of the top 4 candidates had issues with the inability to listen and follow directions as I guided them through the interview process. The chair thought it might have been due to the 'phone forum' so she moved this candidate through to the final round of on campus interviews. After the 'in-person' interviews, this partiucular candidate did a poor job of answering the committee's interview questions and was no longer under consideration by the chair or the committee. I found it interesting that one of the other reasons the chair wanted to move this candidate forward is because she knew that this person had a visible disability and felt it was a 'good idea' to have this person included in the interview process. After she interviewed this candidate in person, she agreed with all the same concerns I initially had over the phone, that she chalked up to an ailment because of the 'phone forum'. The final candidate chosen had a non-visible disability but was qualified for the job. I just felt that no one should be given 'reverse discrimination' because of a disability, and should be given all necessary 'accessibilities' but not favored because of their disability, due to politics or any other bureaucratic conditions.

Response: Thanks for sharing your perspective. It sounds to me as if your supervisor was offering an accomodation to this individual. As it turned out the candidate was not qualified. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #288: I volunteered at a camp for those with disabilities, and initially I was intimidated, uncertain, and not sure how to respond to the campers. I had a lot of difficulty understanding them, and wasn't sure how to serve them. Once I had more exposure to them, I became more comfortable with them. In a more relaxed frame of mind, I was able to understand them more and really got to know them as unique individuals. The entire experience broke through a mindset I had and now I approach each person with disabilities as an unique individual with their own set of needs.

Response: What a life changing experience! Thanks for sharing your story!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #289: I am thinking back to all of the jobs that I have had starting at the age of fifteen and I can’t recall that I have ever worked with a person that I knew had a disability. That is distressing to me because I now work with individuals with disabilities everyday assisting them in gaining and maintaining employment. I think back to the late 80’s when I was in elementary school and I remember most of the students with disabilities were in separate classes. I recently when to my nephew elementary school for the day and they have a special education teacher in every classroom and the students are fully integrated into the classroom. I thought that it was wonderful concept and enjoyed the interaction with the students.

Response: It is great to see the students fully integrated in the school. Our school is very similar and my boys love working with the kids who have disabilities.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #290: My first experience with a person who had a disability was when I was 14. A new student moved into our community and started riding our school bus. My sister quickly made friends with her and learned that she had epilepsy. When this young lady had an epileptic seizure on the school bus, my sister held her head and told me to keep everyone else back. I did as she asked and all of the other kids on the bus cooperated. None of the other kids knew she was prone to seizures and quite a few of the younger kids were scared, but none of us treated her any differently because of her illness. Maybe we accepted her as one of our own because we got to know her before we learned how severe her seizures were, but no one ever treated her any differently. My sister and her friend still keep in contact after almost thirty years.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #291: I work with people who suffer from paraplegis and qua and one of the biggest misconceptions is that they have mental illness which is something completely different. They are exactly the same as your or I however they can't use their legs.

Response: I think many people in the public make assumptions about individuals with disabilities simply because they are uneducated or from previous personal experience. Thanks for sharing your experience and opinion.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #292: My Grandmother was bed-ridden for as long as I can remember- I noticed other disabilities in other people as a child and but they always seemed minor in comparison to what she dealt with daily because as a child not bring able to wslk was something I could not comprehend but she never actedas if it was anything but normal

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #293: I am a blind rehabilitation professional and have come to understand that people tend to avoid what they don't understand. I have learned that it is up to me to extend to those who may not know how to deal with me.

Response: I appreciate your willingness to educate those who are uninformed. I too see it as part of my contribution to the community to educate those who are uneducated about disability issues. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #294: My father had a stroke seven years ago which paralyzed the right side of his body and affected his short-term memory. Initially he received speech, occupational and physical therapy and I learned valuable lessons while assisting him with these. He has a form of dementia and can no longer verbally communicate with others but I have learned much patience, joy and understanding through my experiences interacting with my father. I would not trade the last seven years of my life for anything.

Response: Thank you for sharing your personal experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #295: My first experience working with a gentleman with cerebral palsy what incredible! My first reaction was one of empowerment! I felt that he provided an excellent example that demonstrated tremendous work ethic, leadership, and confidence. His various and awesome abilities reinforced my brief that everyone can contribute to society in their own way and that we must respect diversity for unity to be realized. Obviously, overall, I felt comfortable; however, I also felt very concerned for his safety and need for accommodations based upon him experiencing a few falls in the work place. This experience taught me a lot about myself, respecting everyone, accommodations, and appreciating the richness of having differences.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #296: My older cousin had Cerebral Palsy. He was one of 6 children and the eldest. We were very close to my cousins and played together often as children, although my cousin was much older than I and mostly grew up with my older brothers. I do not recall finding him odd or different, because he was just who he was and from a very young age we all accepted him. I think if you grow up with someone who has a disability, you have fewer preconceived notions. Later, as an adult, I was to learn he was one of the lucky ones - his parents became very active in United Cerebral Palsy and he was able to receive excellent physical therapy and training and a wonderful education for someone born in the late 40's and growing up in the 50's. My Mother would often remark that she was proud of the way his parents had stepped up to the plate and worked hard to provide the eldest of their 6 children with every possible opportunity to flourish. He went through years of arduous rehabilitation requiring expensive leg braces and sometimes painful surgeries to correct his various medical complications arising from CP. He graduated college, married, had a son, and was promoted to the head of his department at his job. We were all so proud of his accomplishments and he was somewhat of a role model to us younger ones. He had a wicked sense of humor that was somewhat notorious in the family, and it was his insightful comments and quick witted teasing that I most remember as defining who he was in my life. As a family I think we felt a bit over-protective of him when he was younger, but as we all grew older we began to rely upon him as a center and pillar of strength that we would gather around for family reunions. His humor could always diffuse family arguments, his intelligent and sharply insightful comments would often give each of us pause for thought and reflection. If anything, his deep insights into people were a bit intimidating at times - he would rarely "edit" and was often quite candidly direct with you and I might duck and cover to avoid the lash of his wit! He set an example for the rest of us in how to not only survive a disability, but to go further to overcome it and to excel. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you see someone overcome such great odds and live a full life without complaint. He had some difficulty speaking clearly and walking quickly, but it became a natural habit to be patient and to wait, because he was someone for whom it was worth waiting. I suppose we were all fascinated with him as children, and it seemed natural to listen closely to him speak and to try very hard to work out what he was saying, but in his later years we were all so accustomed to his language skills that this was not difficult to do. It was to his home we all traveled across country for reunions, weddings, and sadly of course, funerals. A few years ago he hosted us all for my own Mother's funeral and tragically, one week later, he suffered a fatal stroke, and I lost two centers of my world in one week. One week he was sitting outside on his back patio teasing me as his younger cousin, helping me to deal with the loss of my mother, and literally the next week I was attending his own funeral. It is hard to place a value on such transforming relationships and the loss of him in my life is still profound. We were all lucky to have known him - he was the best of us - and he did teach us all, I think, how to never judge a book by its cover.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story but I know others will enjoy learning about your cousin as much as I did. He sounds truly wonderful and I am so sorry for your loss.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #297: It has a long time since I first worked with a person with a disability, but I do remember feeling out of my comfort zone. I have worked with felons and economically disadvantaged people in the past and working with peopel who expereince a disability isn't much different. We all face challenges, I have learned the only difference is some people have better coping skills and a bigger support system in place that help them over come such barriers. I would love to say we have made great strides in removing the stigma amongst people with disabilities but we have really only made a small dent. I have been an CES for over 15 years and most of the people I have assisted in getting a job are among the hardest working, dedicated and appreciative people I have met. I wish more employers would "see beyond the label" and give more opportunities and most of all not to let "one bad apple spoil the whole bunch". There are good and bad in all cultures, religions and people in general. We need to remember that.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #298: I have been in workforce development for almost 20 years now. Prior to that I was in retail management for 10+ years and have to admit not very aware of disabilities and the employment challenges faced by those with disabilities. I wish that I had the increased knowledge and awareness I have now back when I was a retail manager. I would have been more proactive in my recruitment and employment practices. One of my first experiences with a co-worker with a disability (after entering the workforce development field) was having an employee (only in his 30's) who had diabetes and sufferred a stroke. This individual was one of the best staff I had ever been fortunate to have on my team. Working with him and DVR through accomodations, job reclassing, etc. over a three year period was an eye-opening experience for me. Unfortunately, this staff person's condition deteriated over several years to the point he had to take medical retirement but I felt committed to helping him stay as functional as possible until he reached that point.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #299: The first experience I had with a person with a disability was not in person: it was in reading the book, "Helen Keller." I was fascinated by the story--how she learned while being blind and deaf--and was able to later communicate. Imagine how hard it was to figure all that out with two of the primary senses we use to interact with the world not functioning as they do for most of us! My girlfriend and I learned to sign the alphabet (shown in the back of the book) and used it to communicate in our 8th grade homeroom where the teacher had a strict no talking policy. Looking back now I think the teacher actually got a kick out of our creative solution to communicate without breaking the rules. Helen Keller truly inspired us... Later as a young adult one of my sister-in-laws was profoundly cognitively impaired and physically disabled as well (she was a "rubella baby"). I was amazed how she would sit on the couch and bang plastic toys on her teeth for hours-how she entertained herself. My in-laws were amazing with her--treating her just like anyone else--resting upon faith that she could understand them in some way (she was very, very low function). Back then (about 33 years ago) my in-laws said they really couldn't go out to eat when Carol was with them because people would stare so much it made everyone uncomfortable. Now they do take her out with them and seem to have adopted the thought that the problem is not with Carol, it is with everyone who stares at her and gawks as she feeds herself with her hands and spills food. My in-laws have hearts of gold and the patience of saints. They feel truly blessed to have Carol in their lives-the love they feel for her is palpable and inspiring.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #300: I had been working as a Job Developer for Unemployment Insurance recipients when my program was terminated they transfered me to a position with a disability support program doing employment supports. My first client I met had extreme malformation of her hands and I remember thinking, 'Where on earth can I find this poor lady a job!". She ended up securing work at a local grocery store working the cash register and has adapted quite nicely to the position and is still there too this day (3 years later). She p[roved to me that day that as long as you have the drive you can truly do anything. I thanked her for teaching me that lesson and also allowed me to view every client through new eyes.

Response: What a great story! Thank you so much for sharing.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #301: I work with individuals every day and I truly don't look at them any more as I used to. Previously I would make assumptions, or statements that were in fact ignorant. O soon learned they are just like me in many was, which built my compassion to not judge on the outside but instead on the inside.

Response: Many times our assumptions about thing are due to ignorance. Education is the key!!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #302: My experience has been personal as a person with disabilities. Unfortunately it has not been pleasant and I have had to fight for my rights, file grievences and put up with harassment, being belittled and the impact of the disstress it causes affecting my health in a negative way.

Response: thank you for sharing your very personal experience. I think we can all learn from this!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #303: Although I've worked around people with disabilities for a number of years, the experience that was most profound for me involved supervising someone with a disability. I used to work as a supervisor and mentor for new teachers. In this role, I worked with a young man with a severe visual impairment. As a middle school teacher, he really struggled with classroom mangement. This is a common problem with new teachers in that grade level, but he had the added difficulty of being unable to see many of the small behaviors that would eventually turn into larger problems. We worked together to create really strong expectations and rules for his classroom that he would be able to enforce. We re-arranged his classroom so he would have an easier time moving through it while he lectured. This allowed him to get close enough to his students that he could hear problems and stop them before they escalated.

Response: So glad you were able to support this individual and help them be successful!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #304: My first experience that I recall happened when I was in high school. I am sure that I worked with other students with disabilities in group projects or things like that but didn't realize they had any type of disability. When I was in 11th grade, I was very bored with study hall and my English teacher asked me to come help with her special education class that she taught one period a day and happened to be that period. These students all had significant cognitive disabilities. I had seen them in school but hadn't had much opportunity to interact with these students. I can recall being very nervous that I wouldn't be a very good teacher's helper or know how to assist them with their work. In the end it was a great experience. It required me to really think outside the box. This particular group of students was very outgoing, easy to get along with and really set me at ease right away. It truly impacted my whole life since I ended up as a special education teacher and now work on transition skills for students with disabilities.

Response: It is these types of experiences that can change our lives and our perceptions about people who we come in contact with in everyday situations!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #305: My first experience with a disabled person was meeting my friends fiancee who is deaf. At first I dreaded the meeting, but when I met her I realized she was just a regular person who couldn't hear! It had been built up in my head to be a big deal, but it wasn't. She reads lips seamlessly, and we had great conversations well past dinner. She was employed full time, but has since taken time off to raise her 2 children.

Response: Sometimes we make it more anxiety provoking than it needs to be it seems. Hopefully this changed your perceptions and comfort level!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #306: My first experience working with a co worker with a disability is happening at this very moment. But the funny thing is I never would have known it if the people had not shared their stories with me. I'm the only one in the office with a visible disability and it never would have even occured to me that they had disabilities as well. I'm learning much more about invisible disabilities than I ever knew before.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #307: My first experience working with a co worker with a disability was about a year ago. Two years prior to our introduction she'd been in a terrible head on collision and it left her completely paralized on the right side of her body. Considering her mobility challanges, I was quite surprised to see her maneuver with ease thoughout the build; never late always on time for meetings. The other interesting fact is she also has an adorable eight month old baby girl. She's a bright and witty individual who holds the position of intake coordinator for a large social service agency. What an inspiration to all.

Response: What a great inspiration to you and your coworkers. Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #308: I've had the wonderful opportunity of meeting a young, bright and socially conscience lady at church. We serve on the Guest ministry team together and I really enjoy laughing and talking with her. She uses a wheel chair for mobility and due to CP her right hand is fixed in a curved position. But those circumstances do not stop her from being a great host at our team meetings and a reliable substitute for someone who may not be able to serve on their designated day. When you're in her presence you see a great person who has overcome many obstacles with a smile but mainly you just see a great person.

Response: Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #309: My first experience working with someone with a disability was as a manager in a retail store. There were two individuals with disabilities, and I really would have never known if we hadn't gone through an agency to hire them. Most people see a disability as something visible and obvious, but disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. I found in this experience that small accommodations went a long way and now encourage other employers to see these accommodations as a positive thing for increasing productivity within their company.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing this about the accommodations. Generally it costs very little to accommodate a worker with a disability!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #310: The first time I met a co-worker that has a disability, my first thought was how will I communication with her because I do not know sign language. I thought I will have to write everything down to communicate with her. To my amazement, she said I can talk to her just fine because she can read lips. She worked in the Human Resources Department did a lot of data entry for our organization. She is very detailed oriented, types very fast and communicates very well. It was a pleasure working with her.

Response: Thank you for sharing your experience and being honest in your fears and concerns. I think many people have those same fears and it is nice to share your story so others can learn from your experience. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #311: My first experience with a person with disability was when my daughter started to develop slower than her older siblings, I became aware that her learning was progressing at a significantly slower rate than normal and her behaviour was quite different too. After acknowledging this and seeking professional guidance she was diagnosed with having Intellectual Disability and ADHD. These two disabilities do not aid learning and we have had to adapt and modify skills and tools over the years to help her academically and socially. She is a happy, beautiful girl who does display social inhibitions which have broken my heart watching her watch from the sidelines when kids don't pick her or understand want to play with her, or even when adults believe that she has behavioural problems because she doesn't fit the norm and act as she should for her age. But on the other hand she is the most loyal and caring friend and lives her life to the fullest and is full of love. I think that is why I am so passionate about my role as an Inclusion Officer, I want to establish and sustain employment pathways for people with disability into the future so that my daughter can have not only a job but a job that fulfills her.

Response: Thank you so much for sharing your personnal story. I understand your dedication to your job. It is so hard to see someone excluded. Best of luck with your daughter!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #312: I have encountered many people with personal challenges, but the most memorable is a young woman with cerebral palsy who has become a close friend. I am in awe of the things that she can accomplish, and how hard she works to get what she needs. Her life is not easy, but she keeps on striving to have the best possible outcomes in what she undertakes. She is a great role model.

Response: It sounds like she is an inspiration and role model! How wonderful to be touched by her spirit to excel no matter the challenges!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #313: my first expereince working with someone in the workpalce with a disability was a coworker with a physical disability and in a whell chair. She was extrememly independant and very mobile, great at her job. I did not feel uncomfotable around her as she was very open about her disbaility and how she wnated to be treated the same as everyone else.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #314: I have not worked with disabled persons but I have encountered them at school, and in one case I worked in the school to help a disabled student. My earliest experience was in High School with a fellow student who was in a wheelchair. I remember being surprised that she gave such intelligent responses in class -- Since her legs weren't broken, I just thought her disability started in her brain and that was why she couldn't walk. I was also inhibited from asking her straight up what her disability was, so I think that's why I assumed her disability began in her brain and would affect her intelligence. I don't remember feeling bad about her, just wanting to be aware of what limitations she had.

Response: Thanks for your honesty!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #315: I do not recall the first time I was aware of disabily really. I think I was lucky to have grown up in an time and place whereby acceptance, assistance and integration have been a part of the overall picture. I have therefore viewed all people to be important and having amazing gifts to share regardless and including what the physical realm holds. I do not think I ever really saw the idea of "disability and imperfection" until living in another country that did not have this similar view. It was through this experience that I learned about how strong and truely amazing people with special needs are!

Response: Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #316: The first co-worker experience I remember having was when I was in high school. At my first job, fast food, I had a coworker who had some form of learning disability. He could not read. I never really thought much about it though because he was such a hard worker and figured things out so quickly that I don't think I even noticed for several months. After that, I think I was just surprised at how fast he adjusted and never complained even when a job would be hard and require reading (like putting away supplies in their boxes) he just looked at pictures on the box or matched letters and numbers.

Response: thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #317: My first experience with a person with a disability was many years ago. That person was my sister, who is now deceased. "slow" is the label given to her by teachers of that era. Today she would have been labeled a person with intellectial disabilities. I learned from a very early age that having high expectations for a person with a disability greatly increases their ability to succeed in life. My sister completed high school with a standard diploma, completed a training program in child care, lived independently and raised four beautiful girls. I agree with a lot of the post I read. People with disabilities are really no different than you or me.

Response: Thanks for sharing your very personal story with us all!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #318: My first experience of a person with a disability was at the university where there was a young woman who had thalidomide. I first saw her in the dining room and thought how is she going to eat with those short arms. And I watched, I hope I did not stare, but I probably did was so impressed with her ability to get her plate and cultery and cut everything up and feed herself.I talked to her and found out she was studying psychology. I admired her strength and courage to want to do everything for herself and succeed so well. I later went on to work with children with special needs.

Response: thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #319: As a person with a Disability growing up and living in Africa has been an 'experience' because of all the myths people are always shocked by me as they see that I'm like them can do anything and everything, sometimes even better. My goal is to try to touch as many parents of children with disabilities as i can so that they may give their children the 'I CAN' attitude i was brought up with. Candice Muir (Botswana)

Response:

Posted by J

 

Post #320: My first experience with an person with a disability was when I was 5, a fellow student was visually impared. As I was so young, it was a little confusing when he was unable to do some of the activities that we did or at least was doing them but doing them differently. It didnt take long for us to forget the differences and see the similarities, he was one of us, just did things a little differntly than us. I can still remember being so impressed with his ability to identify people by their voices and by touching thier faces.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #321: Years ago I worked with a non proffit organization that assisted handicapped youth. I was a counselor and learned very quickly that my goals form them were not there goals. The youth tought me that day to day task are taken for granted by people without any disabilities and simple matter the most. Example is a smile, a hung or just a laugh.

Response: thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #322: My first experience was with my neighbor, I was like 12yrs old., at first I felt sad for him, but then I learn that he was able to play like I did, and he was very smart and capable of things.

Response: Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #323: My first experience was with an unkempt individual with paranoid schizophrenia. I lived in Liberia, West Africa and that was the scariest person to me because of my ignorance and the fact that I was really young. That was over 40 years ago. Now, as a Mental Health and Certified Brain Injury professional, I see people so differently and am grateful to be able to educate others and eliminate the element of fear.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #324: my 1st interaction was in grade school and I was wary at first but soon realized that Jeffrey was sweet and fun and very bright. He helped me to know I wanted to be in a serving career and now am an R.N. and Supported Employment Specialist!!

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #325: I don't recall the exact first time I worked with a person with a disability. I am a Voc. Rehab. Counselor so I trained to assist individuals with disabilities. I do recall when I hired a person who had disclosed of his brain injury and rehabilitation. I hired him and he was one of my direct reports. It was a challenge to separate my rehab experience with my supervisory experience and I learned very quickly how easily frustrated I could get when I needed to repeat instructions, or when the person took me so literal. It was different being on the end as the employer and gave me a greater understanding of what an employer may experience. Ultimately I learned that I did to much rehab during the interview and didn't do enough finding out if the job was really the best match for him. I wanted so bad to make it work that I didn't do proper interviewing and support. I have since worked alongside of others as well as I have hired individuals who have a disability. It sounds funny saying it that way for I don't see my colleagues in that fashion. They have skill sets that I do not have and they bring something to the team that others do not. Not fluffy stuff but real contribution: someone is excellent at time managing and monitoring the availability of items. Another is able to use their personal experience to help our clients achieve success. I have learned that the ultimate success of a job is matching the candidate (and all their skills, not just the interview) with the position.

Response:

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #326: My first encounter working with someone with a disability was when I started with my current employer 15 years ago and had the pleasure to work with a colleague who uses a wheelchair. She had polio as a child. My colleague is now one of my closest and dearest friends. I have enormous respect for her and value all that she has taught me about living with a disability. She can be a prickly character and some people might find her intimidating at first. Difference is challenging, but also expanding. Some people never learn this, others take a while appreicate difference and some of us embrace. it My colleague with a visible disability is one of the best poeple I've ever worked with. How lucky am I.

Response: Lucky - you are!!!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #327: My first experience working with someone with a disability was when I was in high school. I worked at a small family run grocery store and one of my coworkers had a disability. The owner of the store was a great manager and treated this individual the same as everyone else. He expected us all to work hard and provide great customer service but he also was very supportive of all his employees. I remember I was a little unsure of myself around this individual at first because it was a little hard to understand him. However, that feeling quickly went away as I got to know him and also by seeing how typical this work situation was for everyone else.

Response:

Posted by

 

Post #328: I have Spastic Paraplegia Cerebral Palsy I am also an Ovarian Cancer survivor. I have a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. I am currently working at a Center for Independent Living where I work side by side with individuals with disabilities and I feel respected and valued. I also enjoy helping others with disabilities find competitive employment and being more independent.

Response: Thanks for sharing! It is important to all of us to feel respected and valued!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #329: I'm not sure when I first worked with someone with a disability. I had always assumed that people come in all shapes and sizes and manage as best they can, and we all have to be a bit generous and understanding of people's different way of doing things, whatever that might be. However, I have expected that people will generally manage themselves. In more overt situation of working with people with disability ie Deaf or blind, I have become more aware of the various barriers that exist and exclude and how actions I take for granted can often exclude others when I am not consciously ensuring inclusion. Ensuring access when I am aware of the barriers is important but also goes against many work system grains so requires more effort and often more time until a system is worked out and practised.

Response: I hope that one day we all see everyone with open minds!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #330: As I look back I realize that I have almost always interacted with people with disabilities of one type or another. I never really thought of them as disabled, but as being differently-abled people who needed assistance with certain tasks. My aunt was blind, an uncle was mentally ill, brothers have dyslexia, classmates had MR, and others had physical limitations. While other people I knew seemed to be what the public defined as 'normal people' I saw people who needed assistance as being what I viewed as being normal people. It wasn't the interacting with 'disabled people' that opened my eyes it was when I was taking a sociology course that required that students go out into the public arena pretending to be a disabled person for a whole week. We had to record how people reacted to us and the disability that we were portraying. I can only recall one time that their reaction was positive and even then it was in what would be considered an offensive manner. I was an object of pity. I was not an equal, nor was I seen as someone who had anything positive to offer to society. That is what opened my eyes to the barriers disabled people faced everyday. It is my personal goal to find ways that will improve the lives of those who face those such unreasonable and unwarranted prejudices.

Response: Wow - what an interesting assignment. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #331: My first experience working with someone with a disability was working in the mail room. He had CP and was running the mailroom before he got a job in the Government. He was a great mentor.

Response: Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #332: My first encounter with someone with disability was many years ago as a young child when my mum was a carer. She became close friends with one of her clients which eventually led to her becoming her primary carer and best friends. We also became close and I always remember being amazed at my her positive attitude, outlook on life and not letting anything hold her back. I had a lot of love and respect for her and she really shaped and influnced my life.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #333: I am a nurse and I have worked with many people that are disabled. I have compassion for them, however I also realize these people are of great worth. The are smart, and capable of doing most things as they have learned to adapt to their life situation. I have worked with many soldiers whom have had one or both legs amputated as well as arms,many of then have extrem PTSD. These are great people and I love then and their choice to keep on keepen on.

Response: I am sure you have had many experiences with many different people. Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #334: my first time working with a person with disabilities was at the job i have now as a job coach i worked with a person who had autisum my first reaction.. i wanted to get to know this person better so i wouldn't upset him in any way but make him feel comfortable with me and trust me. i felt like i was put with this person to make a difference in their life and that was what i was going to do.i quickly found out the person could'nt work more than 2 hours a day he would completely shut down after those 2 hours.i was very comfortable with them i learn how to work at their pace the more i was wth them the more i learned about them.

Response: I hope you were able to find a job that he enjoyed!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #335: I myself have a physical disability so it has been interesting entering the workforce and building my career. I remember the first time I ran into someone else with a disability at my office I was relieved. I was curious about her disability but didn't ask questions. It was certainly the first thing I noticed about her but now when I think of her it is her high level of organization and prompt responses that come to mind. Not her disability. It has been a great experience to work in such an inclusive environment! I

Response: Thanks so much for sharing your perspective!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #336: My first experience working with someone with a disability is a long time ago. I remember i didn't feel unease talking to her and it didn't feel strange at all. I embrace all people wether they have a disability or a different cultural backround.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #337: My first experience as a Disability Support Worker many years ago, was one of surprise at what I actually didn't know about people with disabilities. I also realized these people had so much to offer, were sincere and fun loving. Ten years on, I look back and know it was a life-changing experience and one for which I will ever be grateful.

Response: Thanks for your honesty and sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #338: My first experience was with my grandfather. He fell down the stairs and broke his femur. My first reaction was pity, I thought that he would never get back up, but he proved me wrong. He worked his way up to a full recovery and thanks to his enthusiasm and positivity, he is now independent again. The process was hard but thanks to my family and the help we all gave him he moved forward.

Response: As we age we find more and more disability in our families!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #339: The first experience was with a coworker who uses an electric weelchair. At the beginning, being with him didn't feel awkward, but I had the feeling that I had to be very careful with my movements and words when I talked to him. After a few days, the fact of the weelchair didn't mind, I when I talked to him was like talking to any one else.

Response: Glad to hear you worked through this and felt comfortable!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #340: I met a guy who after an accident, became paraplegic, at the beggining it was a little bit intimidating to talk to him, but one day we went to a party together and I realized that he is completely normal, he likes to do the same things a normal young guy likes to do, and he has a normal life, with an optimistic view of life

Response: Yep! People with disabilities are just like everyone else!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #341: The first time i worked with someone with a disability, i was only sixteen and living in British Columbia. I got a job working for a farmer picking strawberries and there was an older woman also picking strawberries who had a mental health issue. She worked harder than any of us but she had paranoia and anger issues. At first, i was suspicious of her and didn't like her. Some people teased her - i remember that in the first days, i would snap my gum which made her angry. Then the farmer sat with us over lunch one day and talked gently with us. After that, i started to notice that she was afraid and alone. I felt bad that i had snapped my gum and learned to be kinder. I will always be so very grateful to that farmer for taking the time to help me understand and grow.

Response: Thanks for sharing your experience!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #342: My first experience with working with individuals with disabilities was with my current employer. I worked in a retail store setting and they had a work crew that arrived weekday mornings to sort clothes. At first I was a little timid about meeting and talking to them but after a few weeks of seeing them come in every day I realized that they are no different than me. They come to work everyday just like I do. The only difference is that these individuals are usually happy and smiling when they arrive. After working with this population for a few months in this capacity a job opening became available to give direct support. I applied and was hired. For the first few weeks I wondered what had I gotten myself into. I mean I really liked the people but there were a few times where I struggled. As the years have gone on I have grown to love each and every one of our program participants in their own way. Every morning as I arrive to work, each person greets me with a warm smile.

Response: So glad! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #343: My first experience was working with students with learning disabilities. They were elementary school aged and had difficulty reading. At first I felt very anxious and nervous because I had never worked with anyone with a disability but I really enjoyed working with children. I worked with them for an entire semester and it was one of the most rewarding experiences.

Response: Great!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #344: My first experience was with my son. He has a speech problem. He is very hard to understand. He would use his hands to try to describe what he was wanting when he was younger. He had to see a speech therapist until around the age of 12. He talks much better but I still have problems understanding him sometimes.

Response: Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #345: My first experience working with someone with disability was working in a hospital with a coworker with a hearing disability. My first reaction was that he would not be able to use the telephone or communicate with dictation system. I felt he would hinder my work. He had however Bluetooth and other electronic devices that allowed him much easier access than I imaged. I eventually saw he could perform his tasks and felt much more at ease with him

Response: Yes - technology has come a long way!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #346: In my first interaction with a young man with cerebral palsy, I worried about not being able to understand what he was saying to me. After a while if I took time, we communicated well and often had funny humorous conversations. It was amazing how we were able to interact. I still worry now about not being "good" enough for the person with à disability, saying the wrong thing and coming across disrespectful, patronising or stilted.

Response: I bet you are more worried than the individual with a disability but I am sure they appreciate that you are so aware!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #347: I answered an ad for a volunteer position, spoke with the organization founder over the phone and we decided to meet nearby to go over the position duties and for me to get to know the organization better. As I walked up to Starbucks, I realized she was in a wheelchair. I sat down with her at the cafe table outside and we spoke for over an hour; we had so much in common as far as interests in that type of volunteer work. I felt a little awkward because I didn't want to say anything to offend her, I had never had a real conversation with a person in a wheelchair before. I was a little amazed at her wealth of knowledge and experience; she had so much to share with me about how she founded a nonprofit organization for people with disabilities. I did not ask her about her disability but we quickly became friends and over the next several months she told me, a little at a time, that she had cancer as a child and the treatment had weakened her bones, she fell one day and hurt her hip so badly that she needed to use a wheelchair. She was a strong woman; earned her PhD, although she never wanted to refer to herself as "Dr. Lorri". About a year later she told me that she was going to have surgery and that in time she should be able to walk again. She also told me that she had been in a wheelchair for 15 years. When she began using her wheelchair, slowly she began to lose friends, she was slower, couldn't go everywhere they wanted to go and felt like she was 'drag' to them. She felt like a second class citizen, yet she worked full time, owner her own house, founded a nonprofit to help others and had a PhD...why? She should have been so proud! After her surgery, I noticed a few things - she was much shorter than I thought - I had never seen her stand and she was only about 5' tall - I laughed! She also lost about 25 pounds due to stress and physical therapy and she cut her long hair very short - like a pixie. I didn't even recognize her the first time I saw her and I had known her for over a year! She acted like nothing changed, kept right on going and doing what she had always done, worked hard to help others; sharing knowledge and encouraging others to volunteer. She still battles re-occurring cancer and goes through treatments regularly but it doesn't define her. You would never know what she has overcome if you just met her. What a strong woman! The one thing she told me after her surgery was that she just wanted to dance - all the time! She missed begin able to just dance like no one was looking ;) The first time she was able to go to the beach, she walked down into the water, sunk her toes into the sand and just cried - the independence to do simple things that we take for granted - a lesson I will never forget! She changed my outlook forever. I am now the ADA Coordinator for my city and it is the best job I have ever or will ever have. I found this work support website on the internet and will be sharing the information with my city's employees. Thank you so much for putting this information together!

Response: What a powerful story! Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #348: my first time working with someone with a disability was when i gave a young man a job in my hotel, i was told of the condition and used this to find his strenghts within the business. Once i worked with him and found them i put him in the specific area and watched him excel and enjoy his job.

Response: It is all about everyone's strengths! When we focus on that we succeed!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #349: My first experience with a disability was with a student who was deaf. University accommodations included a signer and a note-taker. With that support I had no trouble in doing the class as usual. No recollection of adverse feelings.

Response: Great!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

Post #350: My experience with an individual with disability was that it showed me that we all have some form of a disability. I also learned to appreciate the commitment and determination that they have in wanting to succeed in life.

Response: Absolutely!

Posted by Jennifer McDonough

 

 

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