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Disability Employment Awareness Month

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October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Disability employment is a cause close to my heart. After my stroke, I spent time in a wheelchair, followed by five years using a motorized scooter. I remember the challenges I faced, and I operated my own business. I didn’t have to depend on anyone else for a job, but I did have to do business with other people who might doubt my ability to manage an interior landscape company when I couldn’t stand on my own two feet.

I remember one particular client visit. I had toured the atrium in the building to check on the work my staff did, then I met with the building manager in her office. We had a cordial discussion about the plants and our services, then I started to leave. However, her office had a short corridor from the office area to the exit, and I discovered that the corridor was too narrow for me to be able to position myself in such a way that I could reach the doorknob from the scooter. I had to back to scooter to her office and ask her to let me out.

The building manager walked over and opened the door. As I was maneuvering the scooter down the narrow passage, she said, “If I had to be on one of those things, I would never go out in public.”

I responded, “Every morning I have to make a choice. Will I lie in bed and feel sorry for myself or will I get up and go out in public on ‘one of those things.’ Every morning, I choose to keep living my life.”

She immediately apologized and explained that she had meant her comment to be a compliment, not a criticism. She didn’t think she would have the courage to make the choice to keep living.

“We never know how we would choose until we’re actually faced with the choice,” I said.

Millions of people with disabilities of all kinds face that decision every day, and they don’t all have the luxury I did of being my own boss. They must find an employer willing to give them a chance and perhaps make accommodations.

Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act makes employment more accessible for many individuals who have disabilities along with great talent. The ADA was a new law when I had the stroke. People with long-time disabilities hadn’t started venturing out in great numbers, so it was common for my car to be the only one in a long row of handicapped parking spaces. Today, it’s more difficult to find a handicapped parking space because people with disabilities are no longer staying at home. They are in the marketplace and in the workplace. May each one have the opportunity to contribute.



This post first appeared on Blog Of Lillie Ammann, Writer And Editor | Lillie, please read the originial post: here

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Disability Employment Awareness Month

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