America's Recovery: POWERED BY INCLUSION
National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021
In observation of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), reporters from The DSB Buzz and other BVI youth share their thoughts on transitioning from school or college into the workforce.
Reflections on National Disability Employment Awareness Month
For the final week of National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021, The DSB Buzz team reflect on the month.
October 27, 2021
By The DSB Buzz Staff
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and every year workers across America use it to bring attention to accessibility, accommodations, and discrimination problems that people with disabilities face every day.
But we haven’t always had this national recognition. It began in 1945, when congress declared the first week of October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.
It stayed this way until 1962, when they removed the word “physically” to recognize every type of disability. In 1988 it was expanded to the entire month and Congress changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
With National Disability Employment Awareness Month being a recurrent movement, it is important to keep in mind the true themes behind its relevance. NDEAM does not aim to pressure employers to seek disabled employees out of pity; it strives to dismantle the damaging stigmas associated with disabilities within the workforce.
The themes behind NDEAM encourage the public to recognize that unemployment is a prevalent concern affecting the disability community, and that increased awareness pertaining to this matter is the first step towards refining an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workforce.
Whether you are a member of the disability community or an individual seeking to empower the cause, it is important to remember that the principles of NDEAM stand true even as the month of October comes to an end. Advocacy and awareness should be a continuum in the fight for workforce equality, and NDEAM is just a simple reminder of what we should be using our voices for.
Working as a Student with a Disability
October 21, 2021
By The DSB Buzz Staff
For the third week of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we asked the readers of our Youth Services newsletter The DSB Buzz to submit their experiences in the workforce. Of those submissions, two were selected to be shared.
Hello everyone! My name is May Tran and I am one of the newsletter coordinators currently working on The DSB Buzz team. I’ve always held a passion for writing, and I often find myself wondering about the ways in which I can improve my skills as a writer.
To me, this served as the basis for my first few steps into the daunting world of employment. I found that navigating through my first few jobs was easier once I had a good understanding of what I was passionate about, what my skills were, and what I had left to learn. For me, I was passionate about writing and advocacy.
Thus, I took the position of Student Advocacy Senator in the Office of Student Life at my college prior to joining The DSB Buzz team. There, I learned that I had notable public speaking, communication, and team leadership skills. However, I also learned that I was definitely lacking in time management, task delegation, and informational writing. As a result, I went and looked for a job position that would enable me to productively channel my skills and passions whilst simultaneously challenging my weaknesses.
I then stumbled upon an opening for The DSB Buzz, which was exactly what I was looking for. Although journalism isn’t necessarily a field I intend on pursuing long-term, my experience as a newsletter coordinator has served as an opportunity for me to refine my capabilities, knowledge base, and ambitions; I am able to shape myself as a well-rounded employee each day.
Because of this, I personally think the first few steps into employment should be for the journey itself rather than the immediate destination. That is, it is a chance for you to make the journey towards your destination smoother, more meaningful, and most important of all – more fun!
Hi, my name is Theorius Wheeler, I’m 18, and I am visually impaired and Autistic. I had my first job interview when I was 15, and I absolutely blew it.
I was living in Arizona at the time, and I was applying to Dutch Brothers. I did the first parts right; I dressed up, printed out my resume, and I got there early. But I made one critical mistake: I was so nervous about my first job interview that I answered all of their questions with whatever popped into my head, and that included some really immature answers like “The only thing I’m really bad at is my math homework. Otherwise, I don’t think I need to be doing better at anything.” Big mistake.
When interviewers ask what you’re bad at or what you’d like to do better, they’re looking for self-awareness and tact, not jokes about geometry. I had my second-ever interview last year, and this time I prepared properly. I took some time the days leading up to the interview to practice my answers to common interview questions, and when the time came, I was able to keep a level head and respond to every question with my best manners. They were impressed with all of my answers, and I got hired.
10 Tips for Getting Employed as a Disabled Person
October 12, 2021
By Theorius Wheeler
Most people agree that finding and getting a job can be difficult, but it is often much more difficult if you have a disability. When you add being young with relatively little “real world” experience, it’s even more challenging. To aid you in this trying process, I have gathered a list of 10 tips to boost your job search.
1. Try to be confident in your interview.
As the old saying goes, “confidence is key.” Interviews are notoriously intimidating, but as long as you keep a level head and act professionally, you’ll be sure to impress them.
2. Understand what accommodations you need, and advocate for them.
The main concern employers have to look at when working with disabled employees just involves accommodations. You know your own needs best, so try to go into the job knowing what you need and how to ask for it.
3. Get some volunteer experience.
Many people have the same complaint about getting a job “you have to get a job in order to have the experience needed to get a job.” But that sentiment isn’t necessarily true. Finding volunteer work that utilizes skills needed for the jobs you want is a great way to boost your resume and impress your future employers.
4. Get to know the job you’re applying for before putting in your application.
The best way to anticipate the kind of things they’ll ask about in a job interview is to understand what the position you’re trying to fill requires. Find out about the job, the person you’ll be working for, the business or organization – what do they do? What are they known for?
5. Brush up on your people skills.
Social interactions can feel unnerving, or downright terrifying, which is why it’s important to practice beforehand. Ask a friend or family member to give you a mock interview and try to get comfortable with the experience.
6. Make sure you’re familiar with technology.
As we progress more as a society, the more reliant we have become on technology. This means that almost any job that you are applying for will require you to use some form of technology. Becoming familiar with using your email, navigating websites, and looking things up on the internet will help you be more prepared for the current technology demands of the working world today.
7. Be aware of your assets and disadvantages.
Knowing yourself can be one of your greatest tools as an employee. Your employer will appreciate your ability to communicate your needs and will be able to better accommodate you if they know how to use your skills properly.
8. Have an open mind.
Not every job you have will be your dream job, but many can offer you the experience and connections needed to further yourself in your career.
9. Be honest.
Always be authentic with your answers when completing the application. It is better to not get a job because they didn’t think you had enough experience, than to be caught in a lie, months down the road.
10. Just go for it!
Searching for a job can be a tiring process, and it’s important to remember that while not every application will turn into a job offer, the experience you gain in the process will bring you one step closer to a job you love.
Disability Employment – the Employer’s Side
October 5, 2021
By May Tran
Stepping into the winding paths of employment can be rather taunting, especially as a young adult in the BVI community. How do accommodations work? What are the legal workplace standards set for disabled employees? What should blind or visually impaired individuals expect when working with their employers? All of these common concerns are brought from employee perspectives, but what is disability employment like from the employers’ perspective?
As discussed in the "Late Summer 2021" issue of The DSB Buzz, the past summer has been teeming with activities for DSB youth. Internship programs have especially been active, with opportunities for both students and employers alike. Many individuals underestimate the value that interns can bring to the table, especially when it comes to cultivating and refining accessible, inclusive workspaces. After speaking with various employers from the DSB summer internships, we learned that many of these programs found ways to improve their structures, procedures, and operations as a result of intern input. When it comes to disability employment, advocacy skills amongst disabled employees are vital to the communication streams between employers and their workers. This then prompts the question:
How do employers feel about working with disabled employees?
“There really isn’t much of a difference between having a disabled and non-disabled employee. The only difference is the provision of accommodations, which was mostly just an opportunity for us to learn about how we can make our programs more accessible.” – Kristin Covey, educator for the King County Water Waste Division.
After speaking with various employers like Kristin, we found that most of them felt the same; disability employment is much less taunting than what many audiences may presume. Having a disabled intern or worker isn’t an obstacle, it is an opportunity to contribute to the growing demand for inclusivity and representation within the workforce. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is about deconstructing the common stigmas associated with disability employment and how we can dissolve views that prevent disabled individuals from pursuing their occupational goals.
This journey towards applied awareness is vital to the experiences of BVI youth, as many young adults – even those without disabilities – find themselves struggling to advocate their needs when starting a new job. Thus, it is crucial for employers to take equal initiative when addressing the possible needs and concerns of their employees, which is an expectation that applies to the workforce overall, not just those with disabilities.
Finally, we would like to conclude with a few tips on how you can participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October!
- Share your experiences on social media. Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to channel the stories of disabled employees from around the world. Share your unique thoughts, experiences, and views with those around you to emphasize the importance of disability employment and use hashtags like #NDEAM or #NationalDisabilityEmploymentAwarenessMonth to propel the exposure of BVI experiences.
- Share your experiences with The DSB Buzz. The DSB Buzz is a newsletter designed by youth, for youth! It is run by a team of interns that seeks to amplify the voices of the BVI community, so send your stories and thoughts to email@example.com to be featured in their next article!
- Educate yourself further. To learn more about the core themes of NDEAM 2021, follow this link to educate yourself further on the importance of equal employment opportunities among individuals with disabilities! https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/initiatives/ndeam