Inclusion Drives Innovation – NDEAM

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The theme of this year’s month-long celebration is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”

“Inclusion Drives Innovation,” is at the heart of PRIDE Industries’ mission – to create jobs for people with disabilities. In 1966, a group of parents met in the basement of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Auburn, California, determined to create employment opportunities for their adult children with disabilities.

For more than 50 years, PRIDE has had to be innovative to drive inclusion and grow our mission. With more than 5,600 people, including more than 3,300 people with disabilities and operating in 14 states and the nation’s capital. At PRIDE, we know that disability does not mean inability and that through employment, individuals with disabilities gain a sense of purpose, dignity, inclusion, and lead more self-sufficient lives.

pride industries employee at fort bliss going up ladder, HVAC tech

“For the first time, I did not have to hide my disability.” Meet Michael, click here.

 


“It really means a lot to have a job because I am on a regular schedule and making money with consistent hours.” Meet Sam, click here.

 

“My work gives meaning to my life.” Meet Richard, click here.

Through PRIDE’s innovative roots and by harnessing the ‘power of purpose’, people with disabilities gain opportunities to become contributing members of the community.

Where Are They Now

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM brings the issue of employment for people with disabilities to light. Individuals with disabilities face unemployment at nearly four times the rate of the general population. This stubborn statistic is not due to lack of interest or skills – but a lack of opportunity.

Last October, we introduced a group of women who participated in the “Presenting Yourself Positively in an Interview,” makeover event. The event exclusively supported job seekers with disabilities.

Seven women enrolled in PRIDE Industries’ Supported Employment Program received makeovers. The event served a diverse group of women from all walks of life, each with unique obstacles and stories.

We followed up on their progress, and here we share with you:

Alysha

PRIDE Industries Success Story AlyshaAfter participating in the makeover event, Alysha got a boost of confidence and soon after landed a job. We are happy to report that in December 2014, Alysha joined PRIDE Industries’ custodial team ensuring that the Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B is sparkling clean.

Alysha has an anxiety disorder. Although there were many disability-related challenges, Alysha made an effort to pursue self-sufficiency and independence.

When asked how life is different now, Alysha replies: “I do not spend so much time in my room, or look for other ways to avoid interacting with people.” Working at the airport has also helped Alysha overcome her anxiety.

More about Alysha’s journey, click here.

Ashley

PRIDE Industries _ Ashley02Employment success often follows a windy path for individuals with disabilities. Ashley has, not one, but multiple challenges. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Asperger’s – an autism spectrum disorder. She has attention-deficit hyperactivity, depression and anxiety and mood disorders.

Despite the challenges, Ashley never gave up. Soon after the makeover event, she landed a retail job. While the job was only seasonal, it was a great learning experience and a step forward on her journey.

Now, Ashley is a courtesy clerk with the locally headquartered grocery chain, Raley’s. Working at the grocery store provides a welcome environment where she sees the potential for a long-term future.

More about Ashley’s success, click here.

Pamela

PRIDE Industries WeaveWorks Sacramento _ Pamela 03Pamela has a learning disability. Because of her disability, her search for work was fragmented over four years.

At the time of the makeover event, Pamela was a volunteer at a thrift shop. Soon after, she landed a paid internship at WeaveWorks Recycled Fashion in Sacramento. Pamela earned the internship through PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services Program.

She excelled in the internship and WeaveWorks offered her a permanent position. At WeaveWorks, Pamela assists the receiving team and is a valuable asset to the group.

More about Pamela’s journey to employment success, click here.

Four more women received makeovers as part of their employment journey. One is thriving as an in-home care provider. A second recipient volunteers with a local hospital and hopes it will translate into regular employment. Two remain unemployed. One continues to pursue an opportunity in the insurance field; the other put the job search on hold due to disability-related setbacks.

For 49 years, PRIDE’s mission has been to create jobs for people with disabilities. We know that disability does not mean inability and that employment builds confidence, self-reliance, and dignity. The path can be long and full of twists and turns. For some, it can take a few months; for others it could take years. However, when a person with disabilities becomes gainfully employed, we know that opportunity will greatly impact him/her and those around them.

Pamela, Ashley, and Alysha are just a few of our countless successes. We look forward to following all of the women along their paths and will continue to cheer them on.

Why Words Matter

Man with a disability laughing with a woman at a cafe

Let’s Talk: Disability Language

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). We take this opportunity to highlight the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities and promote a culture of inclusiveness.

One out of five people in America has a disability, making them our nation’s largest “minority.” The group represents all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic levels. The likelihood of joining this group is high. Disability can be acquired at birth, in the blink of an eye due to an accident or injury, or acquired from illness or age.

Despite its frequency, many people are still uncomfortable talking about disability. This uncomfortableness contributes to the obstacles that people with disabilities face in obtaining employment or fully integrating with their workforce. The truth is that there are as many preferences about ways to identify a person with a disability as there are individuals. So what is a well-intentioned person to do? When in doubt: ask. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s talk about two distinct (and oft-debated) approaches to disability language.

Person-First Language (PFL)
People-first language is generally at the heart of our organization’s disability awareness training. The emphasis is on the person – not the disability or condition. Those who support people-first language (PFL) believe that using a diagnosis or condition as a defining characteristic robs the person of the opportunity to define him or herself. PFL was developed to address the stigma often associated with disability. Advocates wanted to reaffirm that disability does not, in fact, lessen one’s personhood. As such, the PFL movement encourages the use of phrases like “person with a disability,” or “person with autism” instead of “disabled person” or “autistic person.”

The disability community is not only large; it is often divided. Increasingly, a second preference is being voiced: Identity-First Language (IFL).

Identity-First Language (IFL)
For those who prefer identity-first language, “disabled person” is a perfectly acceptable way to identify a person. Their belief is that PFL purposefully separates a person from their disability, presuming that disability is something a person should dissociate from to be considered a whole person.

From their perspective, it also implies that “disability” or “disabled” are negative, derogatory words when, for many, disability is just a part of their being or uniqueness. Within the Autistic community, IFL is preferred by many when Autism is considered as a part of a person’s identity. Using IFL language, you would say that someone is “Autistic,” not a “person with autism.” However, even people with IFL preferences draw an important distinction when it comes to the use of a term strictly for its medical definition. You would never refer to a person based on a diagnosis such as “Down syndrome person” or “cerebral palsy person.”

Confused? You are not alone. So what’s a person to do?

JUST ASK.
The debate between PFL and IFL is proof that words do matter. Language, however, is never “one-size-fits-all.” When in doubt, do not assume. Ask the person how they choose to identify.
Words and language are powerful tools. Language, and the meanings we attach to words, have the power to influence, develop, and change attitudes and beliefs. Each person’s use of language and identity are deeply personal. Just ask and respect their choice.

Quick note: Always avoid terms that dis-empower people or have negative meanings like “handicapped,” “wheelchair-bound,” “crippled,” etc. And please, never use the “R” word. The word “retarded” is a highly offensive term for people with intellectual disabilities.

For more information about People-First and Identity-First Language, here are a few more:

Why Person-First Language Doesn’t Always Put the Person First

Describing People with Disabilities

Identity-First Language

Communicating With and About People with Disabilities

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

People with disabilities are four times more likely to face unemployment than the general population. The persistent statistic is not due to lack of desire or ability to work but to a lack of understanding and a shortage of opportunities for people with disabilities. National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), shines a light on the issue of employment for people with disabilities.

At PRIDE Industries, we focus on abilities rather than disabilities. For 49 years, PRIDE has been creating meaningful opportunities for individuals with obstacles to employment. We serve those who are born with – or acquire a disability – including veterans, and young adults leaving the foster care system. Through training, job skills development, coaching, and placement, we create opportunity daily. The result is changed lives.

PRIDE Industries_ Connie LFor Connie, opportunity meant finding her calling and contributing to something greater than herself. Click here to learn more about Connie.

PRIDE Industries _ Ramon T 02For Ramon, opportunity means participating in, and contributing to, a team. For more about Ramon, Click here.PRIDE Industries_Internship program_ JoshuaFor Josh, it meant finally getting the chance to prove himself while developing professionally. More about Josh, Click here.

PRIDE Industries Fort Bliss MacAnd for Mynor, it meant being able to provide for his family and secure a future for his young daughters. Click here to learn more about Mynor.

The opportunity we create through employment allows people too often excluded from the workforce to accomplish their personal goals – and more. Employment is essential to an individual’s sense of purpose, dignity, and inclusion. That individual success extends to families, friends and entire communities.

Won’t you join us in creating jobs for people with disabilities? The life that is changed could be your own.

Contact PRIDE Industries at info@prideindustries.com to learn how your business can employ individuals with disabilities.

10 Tips on Communicating with People with Disabilities

NDEAM2

It is no secret that some people are not comfortable around individuals with disabilities despite the fact that one in five people in the U.S. has a disability. A person with a disability is more like you than they are different. Individuals with disabilities are just typical everyday people who live with various challenges.

At PRIDE Industries, where two out of three employees are people with disabilities, even new employees can feel unsure at first. Here are ten tips on how to be more comfortable while interacting with people with disabilities.

1. Use people-first language

Here’s an easy one; always emphasize the person first in your conversations. Say “person with a disability” rather than “a disabled person.” Avoid terms that disempower people or have negative meanings like “handicapped,” “wheelchair-bound,” “crippled,” etc. Also, avoid the “R” word; there is no need for such use. For specific disabilities saying, “person with Tourette syndrome” or “person who has cerebral palsy” is, usually, safe to say. If you are not sure what words to use, just ask.

2. Communicate with the person

Always speak directly to the person with a disability rather than through a companion or colleague. Additional tip, do not speak louder or slower, be your usual self.

3. Be considerate and patient, don’t patronize

Be patient if a person requires more time to communicate, to walk, or to accomplish various tasks. Do not be patronizing. There is no need to pretend to understand if you did not; instead, repeat what you understood and let the individual respond.

4. Ask before you help

It may be hard to resist, do not automatically help without asking first. Do not assume that people need help simply because they have a disability. If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen and ask for instructions.

5. Be sensitive about physical contact

Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and mobility equipment should be treated as an extension of that person’s personal space. If you are assisting someone, always ask where the best place is to touch him/her or their equipment. Also, do not lean on a wheelchair or any other mobility equipment. Lastly, respect individual’s personal space.

6. Clearly introduce or identify yourself

Give the person with visual disability verbal information about the things that are visually obvious, and let them know you are near, enabling the individual to “see” their surroundings. For a person with a hearing disability, tap the individual on the shoulder or wave your hand to get their attention. Then, look directly at the person and speak clearly and slowly to establish if the person can read lips.

7. Avoid the “you are so inspirational” comments

While some individuals get inspired by people with disabilities, remember they are simply living life – like everyone else. Such comments have a negative effect, reminding individuals with disabilities how differently they are perceived.

8. Relax

Be yourself. Do not be embarrassed if you use common expressions such as “see you later” or “did you hear about this” that seem to relate to the person’s disability. Remember, it is okay to ask questions when you are unsure of what to do.

9. Keep calm

Breathe and keep calm. Individuals with disabilities are just like the rest of us, no need to worry. However, be conscious of how your reactions affect others. Be nice.

10. The golden rule

Lastly, remember the “golden rule” – treat everyone the way you wish to be treated. It is that simple.

Interacting with people with disabilities is only as hard as you make it. Remember these few tips and you should be okay. Hey, you may even have something in common; you’ll never know unless you make an effort.