As the Digital Marketing and Community Engagement Manager at jjslist.com, I have been blessed to learn about disability awareness at an organization that values community integration. I focus most of my time on online marketing, advocacy for individuals with disabilities, and maintaining the strategic partnerships with jjslist.com Disability-Aware Business Seal of Approval clients. Questions that often come up are : How can we share our story? How can we advocate for our needs? How do we create that “online voice”?
The truth is we all bear the responsibility of being disability-aware as citizens of the world. Often I find that the fear of not knowing leads to misconceptions, misguided beliefs and our inability to welcome individuals as part of our communities. I have learned that we can all be advocates; we can all fight for individuals with disabilities.
I remember not too long ago when I was having this discussion with friends in regards to racial discrimination. America has made significant strides when it comes to race but we still have a long way to go. Much like the Civil Rights Movement, disability awareness needs to be at the forefront of our discussions when it comes to diversity. Integration, I believe, is one of the most significant accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement.
I have learned that we accept people by getting to know them. That kids imagine being doctors by seeing doctors that look like them. That teachers became teachers by remembering their favorite teacher. What does this mean for the disability community? It means integration into the community is paramount to the success of individuals with disabilities. That we as advocates must accept individuals with disabilities in our work environments.
This Veterans Day I’m asking businesses to reconsider their hiring practices. To think of the veterans that have risked everything and have returned to nothing. Instead of remembering the wars, it’s time to spend our energy on helping veterans find jobs that fit their skill sets. This is an especially trying time for veterans with disabilities, who are often overlooked by employers assuming the accommodations will be significant and insurmountable. Yet every business provides accommodations for its employees, from providing heat in the winter to a break room to have lunch.
The best way to celebrate our veterans is to provide opportunities for them to build futures at home, as civilians. Join me in celebrating Veterans Day by hiring a veteran with a disability today.
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