Navigating the Worlds of Education and Employment with a Disability

Special guest blog post by Maureen Marshall, Electrical Engineer

 

Maureen Marshall 3

Having cerebral palsy (CP) definitely has its challenges and there is no denying that, but there are also so many possibilities for achievement in both education and where that education leads you down your career path.  I was diagnosed with CP at the age of 2 and, though my parents were told I may never attend regular classes in school or actually ever learn to read and write, I proved everyone wrong and successfully attended regular classes– even advanced classes because I pushed myself to prove everyone wrong and excel.  I graduated, not once but 3 times: I graduated from high school; I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, a Master of Business Administration degree in Technology; and a Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

 

Believe it or not, the biggest challenge I had in school was with the teachers.  While I was in elementary and middle school, I was forced out of orchestra class because I did not hold the bow correctly and I failed typing because I did not type with both hands.  In both cases, neither teacher was willing to recognize that I physically could not do what they wanted me to do, nor even the fact that I was able to succeed through modifying the way I performed the task.  Not having full use of my right side, I held the bow with a firm grip; no pinky finger up and I typed with one hand; not both. 

As I moved through high school and college, I learned to not register for classes that would be a physical challenge for me and cause further pass/fail issues, such as gym and swimming classes.  It was not worth the fight with the school administrators to get them to accept my limitations.  Instead, I enjoyed sports with my friends, who accepted these limitations and took swimming classes on my own where there was no pass/fail criterion.  When it came to choosing a field of study in college, I recognized that I would need a career that focused on my strengths and one that I could advance in.  I always loved and did well in math and science courses, so engineering was the path I chose to take– which I have had great success. Engineering allows me to use my knowledge and experiences, with little or no physical activity. There are so many different engineering positions and fields to chose from– one can definitely find one that fits not only their strengths but their abilities.  I have also found that industry is very accommodating to those with disabilities and will make every effort to ensure all obstacles are removed.  For instance, if you chose to work in a manufacturing plant, where getting around can be difficult, they have been known to install elevators or even mark walkways to allow wheelchair accessibility.

Maureen Marshall 2

I’ve experienced some interesting moments from the time I graduated to now– and one I’ll never forget is my first interview!  During the middle of the interview, I had to leave the room to get a form at the request of the person interviewing me and, when I came back to the room, I landed flat on my face.  For some reason, from the time I left the room to re-entering it, someone had placed a 2×4 board across the bottom of the doorway, which I tripped over when walking back into the room.  Mortified and embarrassed, I decided to get up as quickly as possible, gain my composure, laugh (instead of cry) and simply comment, “Well, that wasn’t there before!” and move on with the interview like nothing happened.  To this day, I will never know if that was an interview tactic or a simple mistake of someone working in the office area.  However, I am happy to say I got the job and I think a lot of that had to do with how I handled that situation! 

I have never called out my disability to any potential employers or future colleagues and over the years very few have inquired, even though it is very noticeable.  What worked for me, is taking on every situation, like there is nothing limiting me, and simply ‘adjust’ as needed.  An obstacle I have to overcome on a daily basis is when I am with a group heading either to a meeting or out to lunch and they head for stairs.  I will simply let them know to meet me by the elevator or ask where I could meet them after I find the elevator.  I have to say I have been very blessed with employers and colleagues that have never called out my disability either.  Do not get me wrong, there have also been a few challenging moments throughout the years too.  

Several years back, there was an incident where I was out of the country for a business trip. While at dinner with a group of colleagues, one of them decided to call me “Crip” (a term short for cripple).  I was shocked when I heard this reference and especially from a superior.  At first, I ignored what I heard, hoping I was mistaken.  However after he repeated it several times, I quickly stated in return, “I am sorry.  Are you talking to me?  Because if you are, I do not answer to that, nor does my disability change who I am and why we are here.”  Unfortunately for him, he continued to refer to me as “Crip,” even after my request throughout the dinner.  All I could do was continue to ignore him.  I was very surprised that the others around the table never participated nor tried to stop him right then and there.  However, once we landed back home and returned to work, he was fired on the spot because they had addressed their concerns with our Human Resources Department without me knowing– taking quick care of the issue. 

I have also had bosses that have treated me differently than others, not because of my performance, but because they were not comfortable with my disability.  In cases like this, I have learned it’s best to move on and get out from under them as quickly as possible– take actions in my own hands and find a new position.

Maureen Marshall 1

In today’s day and time, if one is treating someone differently– not promoting them, holding them back from situations or otherwise– it’s their problem and not yours! 

In the end, I am very proud to state that I am witness to the fact that the professional environment for persons with disabilities has improved over the last 20 years.  More and more buildings are accessible and employers are welcoming the diversity in the workplace.  Unfortunately, there will always be those that still need to be educated on acceptance of persons with disabilities.  The good news is that we are the change agents and it is up to us to teach them that those with disabilities are very capable of being high performers.

If I were to offer advice to students with disabilities who are interested in careers in engineering and technology, it would be– do not let anyone or anything stop you! 

 

Marshall is from Royal Oak, Michigan and has been married for nearly twenty years. She has three sons and has held a career as an Electrical Engineer in the automotive and defense markets for more than twenty years.

UCP APPLAUDS PRINCIPLES ON RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: 
Kalean Richards: 202-973-77175,  

 

UCP APPLAUDS PRINCIPLES ON RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION


Department of Education issued principles document to help educators, parents and stakeholders shape policies

Washington, DC (May 15, 2012) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) congratulates the Department of Education and the Obama Administration for taking a proactive stand on protecting our nation’s students by highlighting the use of positive behavioral supports in schools.

Achieving a safe learning environment that is free from abuse should be the objective of every school, and the Department’s 15 principles issued in today’s guiding document are a step forward in reaching that goal. As noted by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), there is no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective in reducing the problem behaviors that cause these techniques to be utilized. Furthermore, there have been cases of alleged abuse, including deaths, related to the use of restraint or seclusion of children in public and private schools.

“I applaud the Department of Education and the Obama Administration for issuing this document, which will act as a guide for teachers, parents, and policymakers on behavioral interventions in schools. By using these 15 principles to determine school policies and actions, the use of restraint and seclusion in our schools will be carefully regulated and hopefully eliminated. As the GAO points out, these techniques are not only ineffective in preventing negative behaviors, but can lead to tragic consequences when used inappropriately,” said Stephen Bennett, UCP President and Chief Executive Officer.  “These principles are important for all our students, not just students living with disabilities. Every student should be able to learn and grow in a safe environment, and be given the opportunities they need to reach their fullest potential.”

###

About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College issued a joint statement on the use of technology and interactive media with young children. The statement is meant to provide research-based guidance to all those who care for young children as they consider if, when and how to use technology and interactive media in early childhood programs (schools, centers, family child care) serving children from birth through age 8. Read the full Statement.

Disability Provider and Advocate Unveils New Public Education & Outreach Initiative, Celebrates Opening of New National Headquarters in DC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:
Lauren Cozzi: 202-973-7114 (direct), LCozzi@ucp.org
Alicia Kubert Smith: 202-973-7168 (direct), AKubertSmith@ucp.org

Disability Provider and Advocate Unveils New Public Education & Outreach Initiative, Celebrates Opening of New National Headquarters in DC

Luncheon Forum Explores Issues of Transition

Washington, DC (Nov. 30, 2011) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), an international service provider and advocate for children and adults with a spectrum of disabilities, unveiled its new Public Education & Outreach initiative and celebrated the opening of a new national headquarters in Washington, DC with a luncheon forum exploring issues of transition for people with disabilities.

During the Luncheon Forum, co-hosted with Disability Power & Pride, a distinguished panel of speakers discussed key transition issues in the lives of people with disabilities, including the transition from early childhood to teen years, post-secondary education, employment, independent living and long-term care needs.

Watch the recorded video clips of the panel presentation from featured speakers:

  • Richard Donovan, CEO and principal owner of Integrated Process Solutions LLC (IPS)
  • Connie Garner, Policy Director in the Government Strategies Practice Group, and Executive Director for Advance CLASS, Inc.
  • Seth Harris, Deputy Secretary of Labor 

“UCP affiliates provide key support for families and individuals across the globe during moments of transition in life,” said Stephen Bennett, UCP President & Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited to add significant new national information and networking resources for people with disabilities through our new Public Education & Outreach initiatives and hope that these tools spark a national dialogue about ways we can all help create a life without limits for people with disabilities.”

Resources:

About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

###

Disability Provider and Advocate Unveils and Launches New Public Education & Outreach Initiative, Celebrates Opening of New National Headquarters in DC with Luncheon Forum Exploring Issues of Transition

MEDIA ADVISORY: Request for media coverage

CONTACTS:
Lauren Cozzi: 202-973-7114 (direct), 203-858-5292 (cell), Alicia Kubert Smith: 202-973-7168 (direct),                            

Disability Provider and Advocate Unveils and Launches
New Public Education & Outreach Initiative,
Celebrates Opening of New National Headquarters in DC with
Luncheon Forum Exploring Issues of Transition

New UCP Public Education & Outreach initiative features
four public education campaigns for people with disabilities

Washington, DC (Nov. 9, 2011) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), an international service provider and advocate for children and adults with a spectrum of disabilities, will host a Luncheon Forum exploring issues of transition, with co-host Disability Power & Pride, to unveil and launch UCP’s new Public Education & Outreach initiative and celebrate the opening of UCP’s new national headquarters, on Monday, November 14. UCP President & CEO, Stephen Bennett, will be available for interview.

A distinguished panel of speakers will discuss key transition issues, such as post-secondary education, employment, independent living and long-term care needs. The event is open to the public with RSVP, lunch will be provided, and attendees will have the chance to see UCP’s new offices. Complete information is available at www.ucp.org/luncheonforum.

WHO:                        UCP and Disability Power & Pride

WHAT:                      Luncheon Forum exploring issues of transition in the lives
                                   of people with disabilities

WHEN:                      Monday, November 14, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
                                   Panel begins at 12:00 noon

WHERE:                   UCP’s NEW offices 
                                  1825 K St. NW, Suite 600
                                  Washington, DC 20006

PRESS RSVP:         To attend, cover or schedule an interview: ,
                                   

GENERAL RSVP:     Open to public with RSVP to rsvp@ucp.org (space is limited) 

For more information about UCP’s new Public Education & Outreach initiative, visit ucp.org/what-we-do/publiced/.

About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

###

Key Findings: The Post-High School Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities up to 6 Years after High School

A new report from the US Department of Education presents key findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). The study helps educators and policy makers develop an understanding of the experiences of secondary school students with disabilities nationally as they go through their early adult years. The report provides data on post secondary education, employment, wages, household circumstances, marital status, community engagement , and more.
 
Transition refers to the time when youth with disabilities leave the school system and continue on to adult life–college, vocational training, employment, and/or independent living. This is a time when many youths "fall through the cracks" and lose services and supports that enable them to lead an independent, productive life. Learn more about this topic on our Transition Page.

Website Reviews Apps for People with Disabilities

SNApps4Kids or Special Needs Apps for Kids is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about how they are using popular mobile devices like the iPad, iTouch and iPhone with children who have special needs.  These Apps allow children and adults with disabilities to communication, learn new skills and have fun. Browse through the site to find Apps categorized by device type, skill (color recognition, manual dexterity, decision making) or broad category such as math or reading.

Preparing General Education Teachers to Improve Outcomes for Students With Disabilities

The IDEA stresses the importance of participation of students with disabilities in the general curriculum. (read more about IDEA in the Education Section) and more and more children with disabilities are placed in the general education classroom and are taught by general education teachers. This can be problematic for some teachers who do not feel prepared to teach these children.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the National Center on Learning Disabilities recently published a policy brief, "Preparing General Education Teachers to Improve Outcomes for Students With Disabilities" that articulates a vision of effective preparation for general education teachers to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. The brief outlines challenges, promising practices and recommendations to improve the success of children with disabilities.

New Free iPhone App Gives Parents Information and Strategies to Advocate for their Kids

Developed by a Professor of Education at Syracuse University, iAdvocate provides parents with both information and strategies in regards to their educational rights and getting their child’s needs met. The goal of iAdvocate is to share and develop specific strategies with parents for working collaboratively with a school team to improve their children’s education and to provide the most inclusive and meaningful educational environment for students with disabilities.

iAdvocate provides suggested responses to the obstacles parents commonly face when dealing with the school system. The responses include links to the related IDEA section, court cases, and suggested books, articles, and websites for more information. iAdvocate is available free of charge from iTunes.

Thinking About Moving? Check Out Schools and Services Before You Move

Moving is challenging for any family but particularly so for families of children with special needs. Whether the move is within the state or across the country, the services provided will vary. Be sue to investigate the school systems and health and social service system landscape before you move. The following articles provide more tips and information.

Moving to a New Location from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities 

Want to Find a Special Education Program That Meets Your Child’s Needs Before You Move? Go Shopping from WrigthsLaw