Thursday, October 06, 2011
Sometimes there are just too many celebrations and commemoration days/weeks/months. This week in my fair city the downtown area and the school district have their version of Disability Awareness. In our neck of the woods, we call it Celebrating Abilities. I've had concerns about the way this group has portrayed disabled people as cute, incapable, very needy children. In the past few years they have changed their focus for the better. A few years ago they sponsored a recital that included a blind violinist and a cellist with one arm. Both are very talented musicians.
This year the theme is faces: the face of disability. Promotional posters feature adults, many of whom work at Goodwill Industries. It's a step forward, but also a step back, as the majority of the poster models have cognitive disabilities.
Why not take this a step farther? Follow a disabled adult like me through a normal workday. It might be dull, and maybe that's the point. I need some accommodations, but I'm an average, everyday professional on the job. I'm not a poster child for anything; I'm a teacher. A teacher with a hearing impairment, yes, but mainly a teacher.
I announced my new hearing aids to my coworkers via email, the norm in our online environment. I explained that I was adjusting to the new technology and they might need to bear with me for a little while. Within three minutes I had several replies, all positive.
One called me a good sport and an inspiration.
One thanked me for educating him about hearing loss.
Several wished me good luck with the transition.
One put a lump in my throat with her supportive comments.
This is the reality of being a disabled person. In some work environments, my hearing loss was basis for bullying and ridicule. In a positive work climate, dealing with my disability is not a big deal. My coworkers and I simply, well, deal with it, pass the coffee, and get back to work.
October's calendar also sports a depression awareness movement. Our wellness department, officially called the Office of Lifestyle Enhancement, included in their newsletter a short paragraph and several information links. One year ago, I could have been the poster model for this devastating illness. I'm recovering - not recovered yet, but making major progress. Working with positive people is a huge factor in developing peace of mind. A safe workplace makes a big difference as I'm healing - and beyond.
If you're interested, here are the links: