Rod's Corner

November 20, 2011

What does it Mean to work and be Disabled?

Filed under: Uncategorized — summer9797 @ 11:54 am

I have been on this earth for almost 50 years. For 50 years that means getting up, making my bed, showering, dressing, grabbing a bit of breakfast and then out the door to work

Oh, did I forget to mention that I am also legally blind. Did I mention that my mirror has more magnification than most? Did I mention that I tend to keep things always in a certain spot? Did I mention that I drive with the help of a special device?

I am usually one of the first to reach the office. I get my either hot tea or coffee started, sit at my desk and start my computer booting up.

Did I mention that I have a 21 inch flat screen computer monitor on my desk that can reach all over my desk? Did I mention that I also have a camera attached to a platform and then connected to a 22 inch HD television set? This allows me to read writing no matter how small.

Did I mention that despite all the wonderful accommodations that I am required to meet the standards of a “normal” counselor? I may need extra help seeing but my performance is based on that of my nondisabled peers.

Besides carrying a regular case load, I am also a specialized counselor that deals with those with Traumatic Brain Disorders. Something we will discuss in another blog.
I have a great supervisor. She provides everything to me in larger darker print. Due to my eye condition I must be absent a few hours each month to attend an eye doctor’s appointment in Cincinnati each month. She has always been supportive of those appointments. She is a very good supervisor and she expects me and the other counselors that work under her to be just as good.

I am fortunate because my secretary that has four other counselors always spends extra time with me helping me be more organized and making sure that all material that comes to my attention to readable by me. I am told she is he best secretary in the state and I believe it.

During the day I handle clients on the phone. I meet with clients for various reasons. I write reports related to those clients. It can be a fast paced stressful day.

At the end of the day. I pack my things and head for my car. I then drive home. I stop to do any necessary errands and return home.

Besides living alone how different of a day is it from yours? Did you get up and get ready for work. While at work did you have the support of your coworkers and supervisor?

A working disabled person is just like their non disabled peers. True, we do have to do some things differently but in the end we all get the same results.



Filed under: Personal — summer9797 @ 11:07 am

My current job is as an Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. The mission of our agency is to assist those with physical and/or mental disabilities find employment.

My specific duties are to interview perspective clients. I then collect information from medical doctors, psychologist etc. to determine if their stated disability is the reason they have trouble entering the work force, maintaining employment or reentering the work force.

If they are determined eligible. They are then referred to a not for profit agency that will assist them in finding employment. At this point it is my duty make sure they are served in a timely manner. I then create an employment plan which will enable them to work with a person from the not for profit agency to find employment. Basically, I make sure the chosen goal is practical considering their disability and one which they will find success. My role then is to make sure that agency is paid for helping them find employment. Finally, and most importantly my job is to monitor progress of the case. When a problem arises it is my duty to resolve the issue.

If you are disabled there is a very good chance you are unemployed. Statistics show that 82% of the nondisabled population is employed while only52% of the disabled population is employed. That is a gap of over 30%.

Why are those with disabilities unemployed? Could it be that we have a society that does not value the disabled enough to include them in employment opportunities. In 2003 Rutgers University did research asking employers why they rarely higher the disabled. A full one-third of the employers said that they felt the disabled would not be able to effectively perform the required job task. The second reason stated by the employers was the feared cost of special facilities needed by the disabled employees.

So, what do we do? How do we change the attitudes of the general public and most importantly the attitudes of perspective employers?

First of all, the Rutgers study pointed out that many of the needed accommodations cost either nothing or under $600 dollars. It should be pointed out here that my agency is willing to pay for most work place accommodations.

Finally, the Rutgers study pointed out that after one year of employment, the retention rate of the persons with disabilities was as high as 85 per cent.

Speaking as an experienced Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, I have many clients that are highly motivated. I have some that are willing to work late hours after most have gone to bed and work early before most have gotten up for the day.

Many in society have the view that the disabled are unwilling to work or that they are just being lazy. Rather, it is one of motivation to improve one’s financial situation. One’s attitude of wanting to give back to society and one’s wish to have a career and live like everyone else.

The disabled bagger at Kroger should not be looked upon with pity. No, we need to look at that person as someone who is adding to society and is enjoying an enriched quality of life.

In conclusion, two weeks ago I was sitting at my desk when the phone rang. The secretary said it was a client who we had recently closed successfully. He called to thank me for helping him. Wow, what a great way of ending your day. Knowing that you have helped someone succeed.

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