The world is missing out on extraordinary talents. What is the source of these intentionally and unintentionally overlooked abilities? It is the dismissal of the passions, competencies, and experiences of people with disabilities.
I am not a disabled person, but I know a number of people who have been met with challenges in their lives due to injury or disease.
I am very close to two of these people in particular and both have MS (Multiple Sclerosis). One is a family member while the other is one of my three best friends.
To watch my friend with MS deal with the realities of a job search while having a disability has been most frustrating and annoying. If my observations produce those feelings inside of me (as an outsider looking in), I can only imagine what it must be like for him.
So many times the interest in him from employers is huge when the initial telephone contact is made. More often than not, this enthusiasm quickly vanishes once his appearance for interviews is marked by him coming through the door with the aid of his walker.
In the aftermath of these snubs, my friend misses out on opportunities for gainful and meaningful employment while the employers and the world that is touched by the business operations of these companies misses out on the amazing contributions he is perfectly capable of making.
Furthermore, consider the psychological impacts this has on a person. Ultimately, the shame of it all is that these cold-shoulders he receives are entirely unnecessary.
All people want is to be happy.
Happiness comes in many forms, and primary manifestations of happiness for people are using their gifts (passions, competencies, and experiences) and the knowledge they are making positive contributions to society.
Frankly, I have no solutions to offer with regard to the intentional crowd. But, perhaps a solution does exist with the unintentional crowd. Prejudice in any form is not acceptable. What creates prejudice?
There are a host of reasons, but I believe that ignorance begets fear while fear begets prejudice. So, if people can be educated about the capabilities of those with disabilities, then ignorance will vanish, then fear, then prejudice.
It may not shake all of the ignorant out of the trees, but to change the hearts and minds of the unintentional crowd or even a single person would be a considerable first step.
In addition, people need to realize that people with disabilities are no different than them. They also wish to be happy.
The people I know with disabilities constantly amaze me moving forward with their lives in the face of their injury, illness, and whatever roadblocks the world attempts to throw their way.
My family member with MS is an extraordinary artist. I could write much more about my friend with MS than this space allows.
Suffice it to say he has a riveting and unique creativity about him alongside loads of experience, education, and expertise that should be let loose on the world. He never stops aiming for his “big break” and if given that one opportunity look out world!
My friend wrote it so well at one time –”People are not hired for what they cannot do, but what they can do.”
I have made my living in the marketing, writing, editing, and training fields. However, I am terrible at things like mathematics. I have been hired for what I can do, not what I cannot.
There may be some things a person with a disability cannot do, but there are things a disabled person can do. It seems so simple. Disability does not mean the inability to function.
It means you hire a disabled person for what he or she is able to do, which, by the way, is no different than why a person unaffected by injury or disease is hired.
Could it also be that people with disabilities can offer certain strengths beneficial to an employer and society that a non-disabled person cannot offer? I suggest the answer is – yes.
In order to adapt to their change in lifes
tyle, people with disabilities learn to be creative problem-solvers in order to overcome obstacles. I believe that this ability to improvise and solve problems is directly transferable to who knows how many careers.
A person with disabilities demonstrates perseverance and dedication when engaged in a job search while being a loyal employee once hired.
On the subject of strengths, consider the following. It is said that when a person “loses” something (gains a disability) that he or she has increases in the other senses.
Imagine a blind person listening to the 1812 Overture versus a sighted person. Is it possible that the blind aficionado might pick up subtle nuances that the sighted person is “blind” to?
It is interesting to note how sighted people often close their eyes or turn off the lights when listening to music. What I am saying is that each person has strengths to discover, recover, and claim as a result of a disability.
Again, these strengths are transferable to employment as well as everyday life.
People with disabilities have unique gifts that they bring to this adventure called life. If only those disabled by prejudice could learn that disability is a natural part of the living process. I believe that this is the place to start.
Scott McBean is an award-winning editor and marketing manager.
He is the author of the book, “Career Transition Tailored to Your Best Asset – YOU!” that is available for purchase on the Internet. Scott is currently editing a self-help book by another author.
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