NDEAM 2021 Thoughts from the Vice Chairperson
By Lud Kozlowski
A job or career is a pathway out of poverty and into success and prosperity. Individuals with disabilities have abilities and talents that never should be DISSED and should be seen for who they are and for their ability not the disability.
As someone with a developmental disability being on the autism spectrum there are quirks that can be misunderstood and taken the wrong way. For me reading things literally and not being able to tell sarcasm from serious feedback can lead to frustrating but funny situations. It can also lead to dangerous situations at times.
However, we have the drive to be successful and productive members of the workforce resulting in a better quality of life and a freeing up of government services to those who need it.
The American With Disabilities Act has been a Godsend. Disclosing that you have a disability does NOT give you a free ride. Unfortunately, too many folks have the misperception that it protects you from being fired. Let me assure you I DO NOT WANT to be treated differently and if I am not making the grade please fire me because it does not do anyone any good.
All the ADA does is it gives individuals of all disabilities the ability to have an equal playing field through REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS so the individual can achieve and be as successful as an able-bodied person. That could be clarity of questions, larger size rooms, noise cancelling devices for sound sensitive individuals, but it is anything but a free ride.
The disabled community is able to work and, when given the right tools, you will find us to be among the hardest working, focused, detail-oriented people you meet beyond the quirks we all have. With employment we all can live a life that is integrated, free of institutions, be independent and have a fully inclusive world that works for everyone.
This October, make a habit of learning about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities in the workforce. When you do, you will see your organization be the best it can be.