From the Editor
by Vicki Leeper
What does it take to work with people with disabilities? The same skills as working with anyone else. When you realize they are just people, it’s pretty easy to relate. My job requires me to be highly organized, especially since I am working from home during COVID. And flexible, as there is something called “disability time”. I need to be observant, and responsible. Have good listening skills, and an ability to communicate in more than one way.
And I can say that everyone in DAC offices and in other CIL’s across the state have the same skills. Their good judgement, ability to problem solve, and offer advice from a personal experience, is what sets them apart. Their disabilities have no impact on how they can interact in a sensitive way with our consumers.
Each of them bring their personal histories with them to work. I know I do. Every job I have ever held (let’s see, that’s six jobs so far. I still haven’t decided what to be when I grow up!) has given me highly-developed skills that make me unique to the organization. That’s the same across the board. We are all different and bring something of value to the table.
It bears mentioning that the disability community has for years been viewed as a segment of society that requires coddling and compulsory care instead of collaboration. It is this institutionalized thinking that many people with disabilities have internalized over time. This affects the way they pursue living their lives.
CIL’s offer something different. The consumer sets the pace, makes the decisions, and breaks out of the stigma to achieve the level of independence they want. You won’t hear “you can’t do that” or “you need help” from our staff. Instead we challenge that with “let’s try that” and “let’s see if this works”. They are a part of the community, not a lone wolf, and we are merely here to empower them.
So if you were wondering what it’s like to work with people with disabilities – you probably already know!
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