We all know what it’s like to grow impatient, right? Whether we are rushing out the door to be somewhere, scrambling to get into our car (or a Metro Mobility bus for some), standing in a long line that feels never-ending, or simply feeling impatient for your dinner to cool down when you’re hungry. Let’s say you are standing in a Target store checkout line and the line is taking longer than expected. As you move a step closer, you overhear a person making rude remarks about the clerk, “Gosh, she is so slow; she should not even be a cashier” or “I could do her job better than her.” Your heart skips a beat for a split-second hearing this, the words echoing in slow motion. Feeling guilty as charged as we have all probably once made uncalled remarks about someone based on our patience level.
What people do not realize is there maybe something physically or mentally affecting this individual’s body that prevents them from going the normal speed of others, of doing or speaking things. This is called a disability - a physical or emotional inability that has an effect on one’s body. Having a disability does not mean people cannot live a successful life like many with no disabilities. Everyone has obstacles and challenges in their own life, but the challenges and obstacles of someone having a disability are significantly different. One thing is for sure though, having a disability doesn’t define who you are. This brings me to discuss the importance of this month. When it comes to October, our minds think of cool crisp mornings, jackets, and apple cider, but for others, it’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I never knew there was such a thing as National Disability Employment Awareness Month until just over two years ago - a day to think about people having a disability seeking employment. Now whenever I hear about NDEAM, I get excited!
I have been in a situation where I am a little slower than other people while doing a rigorous task and have dealt with individuals being impatient with me. They often make remarks like “Can I have someone else help me?” “You are being slow,” “I do not have time for this” or “This is getting to be really ridiculous.” It is very hurtful to hear things said like that about you, let alone right in front of you. Especially because I cannot control my muscle mechanisms. I was born with a mild condition of cerebral palsy. Did I allow cerebral palsy to get in the way of going after what job role I imagined myself in? Absolutely not! In order to put myself out there, I needed to be a good advocate for myself when it came to speaking about what I would need help with, depending on the job or task. Disclosing my disability to employers has been hard for me, but I put one foot in front of the other and chose to do it anyway. Dory from Finding Nemo is on my mind time and time again. As she swims through the coral reef, she repeats “Just keep swimming,” this allows her to push through to get to where she needs to go. You need to keep on pushing forward in the world of work when and if disappointment arises in not getting a job you wanted.
Now, I am not saying that during this particular month people must “praise” or “bow down” to us. Some of us have to go through hoops and hurdles to get a job. National Disability Employment Awareness month is a month for everyone to take time and educate themselves on what people with disabilities go through in seeking employment. How important it is to realize that yes, with disabilities there may be limitations, but we all have strengths and talents to bring to companies too. We should be included, not left out when it comes to jobs. This is a time to educate our loved ones, family, spouses, co-workers, siblings, children and peers that there are people out there who may look, act and speak differently but are living life wanting jobs they’ve dreamed about since they were little and finding adaptive, modified ways to achieve them. We seek out employment like everyone else and find ways to advocate for ourselves if needing accommodations for interviews or in job settings.Repeat after me, National. Disability. Employment. Awareness. Month. Let it soar through your mind. NDEAM is a month-long celebration where we need to come together in ways we’ve never had before to celebrate the successes and triumphs of people with disabilities. See how I look at NDEAM, here!? Do you follow me!? We all need to take a stand and acknowledge people living with disabilities seeking out employment like everyone else!