UCP Seguin Enterprises: Creating Opportunity and A Space in the Community

Special thanks to Julie Lerch, Senior Director of Seguin Enterprises, for her assistance in contributing to this blog!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness MonthOur affiliate in the Chicago area, UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago, has worked to help provide job training for people with disabilities through two of it’s unique enterprises, Seguin Garden and Gifts and Seguin Auto Center.

UCP’s national office recently caught up with Julie Lerch, Senior Director of Seguin Enterprises, to learn more about their history and the impact of employment for people with disabilities.

The welcome sign for Seguin Auto Center.

Seguin Auto Center

Seguin Auto Center began as a small crew washing the vehicles in parking lot in April 2004 and grew into a full detailing and car wash service. Built solely through donations and the help of the community, Seguin Auto Center provides a range of services, which includes full vehicle detailing and hand car washes. In addition to the services provided at the Auto Center, they also own a used car lot. Though the amount of cars for sale to the community varies, each of the vehicles available for purchase were secured through donations. Seguin Auto Center also works with various nonprofits in the Chicago metro area, helping to administer their vehicle donation programs. This can include processing donations, cleaning up those that are suitable for selling on the Seguin Auto Center used car lot, and recycling the cars that are not able to be sold. Once the vehicle is sold or recycled, Seguin Auto Center sends a check to the non-profit partner for the proceeds of the donation. According to Julie, this is a win-win for both the nonprofit partner and Seguin Auto Center.

Employees at Seguin Autocenter washing a car.

The lot sells more than just cars. Starting in April and running through Thanksgiving, the Seguin Auto Center hosts a market every Saturday & Sunday. Vendors rent a space for $13 to $18, and sell a wide range of items, from housewares to clothing, pretty much whatever they like. It also creates a wonderful opportunity to engage the community with UCP Seguin and for the vendors to earn income and promote the items that they have for sale. 

Seguin Garden and Gifts

A display for “UCPSeguinMade” ceramics.

In addition to Seguin Auto Center, UCP Seguin also runs Seguin Garden & Gifts. Seguin Garden and Gifts came about from a successful Horticulture therapy program and a growing lawn and landscaping crew that maintained the lawns at the UCP Seguin CILA homes, in addition to a small, off-site craft store.

Seguin Garden and Gifts features a 4,000 square foot greenhouse and 2,000 square feet of retail space. Construction on the space began in 2007. The greenhouse offers a variety of edibles, annuals, perennials and houseplants, depending on the season. “UCPSeguinGrown,” a line of organically grown vegetables and herbs are available in the Spring, all grown by participants. The retail side features gardening merchandise, home decor, holiday items, and features a section of “UCPSeguinMade” ceramics, jewelry, cards, and plants.

Both Seguin Garden and Gifts and Seguin Auto Center offer competitive employment for people with disabilities with varying needs and supports. They help to provide employment training and life skills, and currently have 87 employees who have worked over a total of 18,000 hours.

Planting in the garden. 

Find out more about UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago’s Enterprises by going here.

For more information on employment and people with disabilities, check out our Facts About Employment Blog.

Facts About Employment

This post and the accompanying infographic are by UCP’s Summer 2017 and Programs and Development Intern, Sara Shemali

 

The worst global recession in recent history, the great recession, yielded unemployment rates which peaked in 2009 at 10 percent. Lowering this exceptionally high rate of unemployment became a national priority in America. Yet, the current rate of unemployment for people with disabilities still stands at 10.5 percent, over double the rate of current unemployment for people without disabilities and still greater than that peak rate of 10%. The difficulty that people with disabilities experience when finding and applying for jobs has rippling effects, making it harder for them to achieve financial autonomy and gain independence, as well as a myriad of other benefits of employment.

Barriers and Benefits

Individuals with disabilities face significant barriers to employment that persist regardless of education, race, age,or gender. According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, at all levels of education, people with disabilities are less likely to be employed than their able-bodied counterparts. This data reflects the obstacles many people with disabilities face when looking for and obtaining work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a 2013 news release, reported that 70.8 percent of people with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 64 had experienced at least one barrier to employment in the past. These barriers include a person’s own disability, lack of education or training, insufficient transportation, and the need for accommodations on the job.

When individuals with disabilities are given the resources to overcome these barriers, they are valuable assets to the companies that hire them. Supportive employment for people with disabilities, such as the partnership between UCP of the North Bay and WineBev, has long proved to be effective. WineBev implemented a successful training program which provides not only accessible but also competitive employment for people with disabilities. Another company found that the young people with disabilities that they hired had an attrition rate of only one percent, compared to 10 to 15 percent for people without disabilities. Their workers with disabilities were also more productive than their workers without. Furthermore, a recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders demonstrates a link between having a developmental disability and being able to come up with unique and creative solutions to problems.This trait makes people with developmental disabilities excellent candidates for jobs which require divergent and out of the box thinking.

The Business Case

Employment of people with disabilities is not just a worker issue. It is also imperative to analyze the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities from a business point of view. One concern employers may have about hiring a candidate with a disclosed disability is the cost of accommodations. However, the Job Accommodation Network has found that most (59%) of accommodations cost nothing to employers to implement. One accommodation that employers are increasingly making is allowing employees with disabilities to work from home some or all of the time, an accommodation that more and more workplaces offer to employees with or without disabilities anyway. It is currently estimated that 463,000 people with disabilities, making up 7.1 percent of people with disabilities, regularly work from home.

When accommodations do incur some cost, 36 percent of employers reported a one-time cost, typically around five hundred dollars. Only five percent of employers reported that the cost of accommodations was ongoing or a mixture of one-time and ongoing costs. In addition to being low-cost, accommodations can have a number of positive consequences, including retaining valuable employees and increasing the employee’s productivity, reducing employee absenteeism, improving employee interactions, and increasing productivity for the company as a whole. Employers also have a variety of free resources at their disposal to help them meet the needs of their employees with disabilities, including the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) and consulting from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Technology and the Future

Although the levels of unemployment for individuals with disabilities may seem staggering when compared to the unemployment rate of people without disabilities, there is promise for improvement in the future. As technology advances, new devices that further accessibility and that improve health and longevity will likely increase employment of people with disabilities. The BrailleNote Apex, one such new technology, features a word processor, calendar, media player, web browser, and GPS, among other things, all in braille and in one device which assists the visually impaired. Assistive technologies are not only becoming more sophisticated but also more commonplace and integrated into the workplace. For example, Microsoft has just announced its plans to integrate eye-tracking features into Windows 10, which will make the software more accessible, and make it easier for programmers to improve and innovate new eye-tracking applications and accessories. These advancements will make it easier for people with disabilities to access job opportunities and work without limits.

For more information regarding employment for people with disabilities check out UCP’s Facts about Employment infographic

For a detailed image description of the infographic, click here.

 

 

UCP Interns Visit Capitol Hill

 

This post was co-written by UCP Programs and Development Interns James O’Connor and Rebecca Zewdie

 

During our time interning for UCP’s National office, we have had the opportunity to learn about a range of policies that affect the lives of people with disabilities everyday. On June 22nd, we were given the chance to attend our first policy briefings on Capitol Hill. It was really interesting to get a taste of how the issues we have been learning about get discussed by advocates and other stakeholders here in DC. The briefings we were able to attend focused on issues surrounding employment for individuals with disabilities and Assistive  Technology (AT).

 

Employment (Rebecca’s perspective)

 

The first session of the day was a policy briefing that happened to be focused on the elimination of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Hosted by Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS) in a small room in the Longworth House Office Building, I was shocked to see attendees of the event standing in the hallway because the room was so packed. That was my first glimpse at how important discussion of this particular issue  is to many people with disabilities, their families, and advocates.

 

Some of the speakers on the panel included those personally affected by Section 14(c), a longtime member of several Congressional committees, and a man who advocated to phase out 14(c) in the State of Maryland. It was an incredible experience to see what goes on behind the scenes of bills and how people work  together to advocate for policies they believe in. It was also important for me to see the significance of health care policy, and the ramifications it could potentially have on individuals.

 

Among the speakers at the briefing, there was one man who helped change this law in his home state. Ken Capone, a resident of Maryland, helped pass the Ken Capone Equal Employment Act (EEA). The EEA mandates that the State of Maryland must phase-out  the payment of sub-minimum wage to those with disabilities by the year 2020. His ability to advocate for, and eventually to make, a critical change at the state level was inspiring. His contribution in Maryland will now prevent any individual with a disability from receiving a wage that is below the State’s standard for people without disabilities.

 

His in-depth analysis further solidified my drive to advocate for causes that are important to me. As I aspire to be involved in the health field one day, the briefing further affirmed  my chosen  career path. Attending this briefing also made me see the need for more conversations surrounding employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

 

Assistive Technology  (James’s Experience on Capitol Hill)

 

For people with and without disabilities, technology is a part of everyday life. As I’ve seen from day one of my internship here at UCP, Assistive Technology (AT)  is an integral part of the lives of many individuals with disabilities. I have witnessed first-hand how important AT is to someone like my supervisor, Karin. AT — such as her speech recognition software–  plays an important, daily role in enabling her to do her job. Because of the work I have done researching and advocating for technology-related legislation, it was exciting to learn that Karin and I would both be attending a technology-focused luncheon hosted by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD).

 

The luncheon featured panelists speaking about AT and how it has helped them or their family members manage medication, go on vacation, exercise, access the web, communicate, and much more. I was particularly compelled by Jason Owen, who was in a car crash in 1990 that left him unable to communicate. With the help of AT, he has become an author, a motivational speaker, a self-help coach, and a mentor to people around the country. Listening to Jason, I realized that AT is not only a tool for survival; it can enable people to really excel.

 

After the panel, there was an assistive technology exposition with booths showcasing technology ranging from adapted Google Glasses to remote presence technology. I have seen how important something as simple as a motorized headrest can be, but to see some of the incredibly advanced technology available was breathtaking. Every technology at the expo was designed to make communication, travel, exercise, or work possible and practical for anyone and everyone.

 

As I learned more about AT, I came to realize that much of the technology I was admiring was funded by Medicaid for many of its users. I was disheartened to learn that the Senate’s healthcare bill could leave this technology out of reach for many of the Americans that need it. This fact, as well as everything I saw and learned at the luncheon, emphasized for me how important it is that I be an advocate and ally to those in the disability community through my work here at UCP.

WineBev Creating Opportunity to “Work Without Limits”

The Napa Valley is known for gorgeous weather and of course for wine. UCP’s affiliate in the Napa Valley area, UCP of the North Bay, works to bring together the wine industry and individuals with disabilities. WineBev Services began in 2007 and is helping to acknowledge the need for labor in the region, while opening doors for more accessible and competitive employment for people with disabilities. “It was a natural fit given the area,” says Mike Lisenko, President of Business Operations for WineBev.

 

WineBev works with around 15 to 20 wineries in the area at any given time during the season. They currently employ 115 individuals with disabilities, working in all areas – from packing to fulfillment. Potential employees are referred to WineBev from the local regional center in Napa, which helps to pair individuals with providers in the community. Candidates go through a job skills training course before finding the area that best suits their skills. WineBev provides both community-based and supportive employment. They also work with the the hospitality industry in the area, giving greater flexibility to area employers and finding roles that best suit each individual employee’s strengths.

 

WineBev estimates that nearly 200 individuals have come through the program, with several finding employment on their own after their time there. At UCP of the North Bay, living a “life without limits” plays a role in every aspect of life – both work and play. At WineBev, “Work Without Limits” is more than just a tagline – it’s a purpose and flows through every facet of WineBev, from monitoring to packing, to creating employment opportunity for all.

 

Special thanks to Mike Lisenko, President of Business Operations for WineBev.

 

For more information on WineBev, please visit www.winebev.com.

 

To find out more about UCP of the North Bay and their programs, visit their website at http://ucpnb.org/.

 

UCP of Greater Cleveland Client Shines On The Job and Stuns On the Ice

 

Sharita Taylor is a client of UCP of Greater Cleveland. Sharita has autism, and first came to UCP in October 2009 because she was looking for job opportunities when she graduated from high school. Sharita’s story has a little ‘twist.’ When she’s not working, she’s shining on the ice and is heading to Austria for The Special Olympics World Winter Games!

Sharita Taylor on the ice. [Image description: A young African-American woman in her mid-20’s, wearing a yellow and blue dress. She is wearing ice skates and her arms stretched out in a pose.]

Sharita has been a UCP-contract employee at a bank processing center in Cleveland, OH since November 2009. She works in various departments in the bank, such as statement preparation, lockbox department, and image retrieval. Of her job, Sharita says: “I love the atmosphere and I love the people here!” “They make me feel at home. I love my job too! It keeps me up on my feet!” She says her favorite job is delivering documents to other departments as well as meeting and talking to people outside her division. Sharita also enjoys helping the Statement Prep Department with mailings. Sharita says that jumping from job to job is challenging for her, but she just tells herself to focus. Her job has taught her that multitasking can be a positive thing.

While Sharita thrives at her job at the bank, she is also very interested in theater and hopes to one day have a job in that field. She is active in UCP of Greater Cleveland’s Career Exploration Program, which assists clients in exploring a variety of job fields to see where their true passion lies. Sharita also ushers at the Beck Center for the Arts, a local visual and performing arts center.

When Sharita isn’t working or volunteering, she is an accomplished level-five figure skater, along with her twin sister Shaye. They both became involved in figure skating through the local Special Olympics chapter in Ohio. According to the U.S. Figure Skating Association, a level five figure skater has mastered basic figure skating skills such as a beginning spin and a hockey stop. In an interview with ABC News 5 in Cleveland, Sharita was the only athlete from Ohio invited to participate in the World Games. She will be participating in both figure skating and ice dancing in Austria.

 

UPDATE: Sharita Taylor brought home the Bronze medal in Ice Dancing and came in sixth place in figure skating singles in the 2017 Special Winter Olympic games in Vienna, Austria. Read More (ideastream.org)

 

 

To find out more about UCP of Greater Cleveland, you can visit their website here.

 

For a schedule of events for the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, click here.

UCP Releases 2016 Case for Inclusion Report

 

 

Print

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Inquiries: Kaitlyn Meuser, kmeuser@ucp.org, 202-973-7185

UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY RELEASES STATE RANKINGS ON SERVICES FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Arizona, Vermont, New Hampshire, Michigan & Hawaii Top 2016 List

Washington, D.C. (September 20, 2016) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the 2016 Case for Inclusion today, an annual report and interactive website used to track state-by-state community living standards for Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).

The Case for Inclusion examines data and outcomes for all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC), ranking each on a set of key indicators, including how people with disabilities live and participate in their communities, if they are satisfied with their lives, and how easily the services and supports they need are accessed. By taking these factors into account, UCP is able to publish this comprehensive analysis of each state’s progress or failures in providing critical services to individuals living with disabilities.

In addition to rankings, the report digs deeper into two critical issues facing people with disabilities and their families: waiting lists for services as well as support for the transition from high school into an adult life in the community. Two case studies examine how states are approaching those issues.

Since 2006, the rankings have enabled families, advocates, the media and policymakers to measure each state’s progress — or lack of improvement — and gain insight into how the highest-ranking states are achieving their success. To enhance the usability of the report, UCP publishes tables of the data from which the report was compiled on an interactive website where visitors can compare and contrast results among selected states.

“Ultimately, the goal of this research is to promote inclusion and enhance the quality of life for all Americans,” said Richard Forkosh, Interim President/CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “UCP is committed to shining a light on how well states are actually serving people with disabilities and, by extension, their families and communities. Also, we want to underscore the national context for this data so that stakeholders can use this information to drive progress.”

“For more than a decade, UCP has ranked states to showcase the good and to highlight what needs improvement. The fact is real progress is being made. More Americans with ID/DD are living in the community rather than being isolated in large state institutions. But much more work needs to be done to reduce waiting lists, increase employment and expand support to families. This annual ranking clearly shows the true picture of what’s happening and what should be happening in the states for our friends and neighbors with ID/DD,” stated Tarren Bragdon, the report’s author since 2006.

To download and read the entire Case for Inclusion report, or explore the data tables, visit cfi.ucp.org.

Significant Takeaways from the 2016 Rankings

Promoting Independence

1. All states still have room for improvement, but some states have consistently remained at the bottom since 2007, including Arkansas (#49), Illinois (#47), Mississippi (#51) and Texas (#50) primarily due to the small portion of people and resources dedicated to those in small or home-like settings in these four states.

2. 32 states, same as last year, meet the 80/80 Home and Community Standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in the community and 80 percent of all resources spent on those with ID/DD are for home (less than 7 residents per setting) and community support. Those that do not meet the 80/80 standard are: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Connecticut is very close (with 79% spent on HCBS).

3. As of 2014, 15 states report having no state institutions to seclude those with ID/DD, including: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Another 9 States have only one institution each (Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming). Since 1960, 205 of 354 state institutions have been closed, according to the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living.

4. 27 states, up from 26, now report meeting the 80 percent Home-Like Setting standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in settings such as their own home, a family home, family foster care or small group settings like shared apartments with fewer than four residents. The U.S. average for this standard is 80 percent. Just eleven (up from 8) States meet a top-performing 90 percent Home-like Setting standard: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

5. Fifteen states, up from ten last year, report at least 10 percent of individuals using self-directed services, according to the National Core Indicators survey in 36 states. Five states report at least 20 percent being self-directed. These states include: Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont.

Tracking Health, Safety and Quality of Life

6. 47 states, up from 42 last year, participate in the National Core Indicators (NCI) survey, a comprehensive quality-assurance program that includes standard measurements to assess outcomes of services. A total of 36 states, up from 29 last year, reported data outcomes in 2015.

Keeping Families Together

7. Only 15 states, up from 14 last year, report that they are supporting a large share of families through family support (at least 200 families per 100,000 of population). These support services provide assistance to families that are caring for children with disabilities at home, which helps keep families together, and people with disabilities living in a community setting. These family-focused state programs were in: Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Promoting Productivity

8. 10 states, up from 8 last year, report having at least 33 percent of individuals with ID/DD working in competitive employment. These states include: Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

9. 15 states report successfully placing at least 60 percent of individuals in vocational rehabilitation in jobs, with nineteen states reporting the average number of hours worked for those individuals placed being at least 25 hours and four states reporting at least half of those served getting a job within one year. No states met the standard on all three success measures.

Serving Those in Need

10. Waiting lists for residential and community services are high and show the unmet need. Almost 350,000 people, 28,000 more than last year, are on a waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services. This requires a daunting 46 percent increase in States’ HCBS programs. 18 states, an increase from 16 last year, report no waiting list or a small waiting list (requiring less than 10 percent program growth).

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 70 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.

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To view this press release in PDF format: click here.

University Seeking Individuals with Cerebral Palsy for Research on Employment

 

VCU-RRTC

Are you not working but want to work?

Would you like to talk about your experiences with seeking employment?

Can you share 90 minutes to talk on the phone?

You will receive a $50 gift card to use wherever Visa or MasterCard is accepted for your time if you participate in the phone call for this study.

 

Background:

If the answer to these questions is yes, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment of People with Physical Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University wants to talk with you! They want to talk with people who have cerebral palsy, including transition age youth, who are currently unemployed. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 64 are encouraged to participate! Transition age youth should be 18 years old to 24.

The RRTC is conducting focus groups for people with physical disabilities about their work experiences. They want to know from you what experiences you face when job hunting.

These focus groups will be held over the telephone. You will receive a toll free number if you agree to participate. Everything you talk about with the RRTC will be confidential!

While your participation will not help you find a job, your input is very important! The information that you provide will be very valuable in the development of RRTC resources on work for individuals with disabilities, their support systems, employers and policy makers. If you decide to participate, the consent process is easy and online at:

http://www.vcurrtc.org/focus/index.cfm

If you need any accommodation to participate or have any questions, please contact Grant Revell at wgrevell@vcu.edu or (804) 828-6989.

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.

UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY JOINS BROAD EFFORT TO OBSERVE NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

CONTACT:
Alicia Kubert Smith: 202.973.7168, akubertsmith@ucp.org

UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY JOINS BROAD EFFORT TO OBSERVE NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH 

 

Nationwide campaign will take place in October 

 

Washington, DC (October 1, 2012) – United Cerebral Palsy today announced its participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with a spectrum of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Employers who ensure that inclusive workplace policies and practices are woven into the fabric and culture of the organization create an environment that encourages all workers — including those of us with disabilities — to work to their full capacity and contribute fully to the organization’s success,” said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy when announcing this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, which is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) leads National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“United Cerebral Palsy is proud to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is important to break the preconceived notions that often hinder creating an inclusive workforce. Individuals with disabilities bring many contributions to the workplace and together we can help break down barriers to employment. A diverse workforce is advantageous to both the employees and the employer,” said Stephen Bennett, former President & CEO of UCP.

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/. Additional employment resources can be found on the UCP website, and throughout the month special events and webinars will be promoted on the UCP’s Twitter and Facebook page.

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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 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.

UCP APPLAUDS NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION FOCUS ON EMPLOYING PEOPLE LIVING WITH DISABILITIES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
CONTACT: 
Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org

New NGA Chair announced year-long initiative at annual meeting

 

Washington, DC (July 16, 2012) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) issued the following response to the National Governors Association’s announcement of new Chair Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s initiative “A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities.”

According to the NGA’s announcement, the initiative will aim to increase employment among individuals with disabilities and focus specifically on the intersection of government, businesses and individuals seeking gainful employment. The initiative will work to develop a “blueprint” for states and businesses to help both raise awareness and outline the best policies to increase employment of people living with disabilities. Business and Congressional leaders will collaborate on this initiative and help to determine best practices and policies.

United Cerebral Palsy provides comprehensive employment-related resources and information through its nearly 100 affiliates across the country, which support employment programs, assistance to job seekers with disabilities, and work with employers to improve the recruitment and retention of persons with disabilities in the workforce.

“United Cerebral Palsy is thrilled that the National Governors Association has chosen to highlight an issue that is so critical to Americans living with disabilities. Employment is a way for these individuals to be integrated in their communities and live their lives to the fullest while providing the business community with a workforce that is eager to participate, and yet only has a 20 percent employment rate,” said Stephen Bennett, former President & CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “By bringing together business and government, Governor Markell will be able to develop a blueprint for employment that both serves and benefits all involved. We look forward to this initiative’s work and its tremendous potential for positive change.”

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