Manager, National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center
How has the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impacted your employment journey?
The ADA has had a profound impact on my employment journey. The biggest impact has been the opportunity to work and contribute to society. I have had the opportunity to advance my education and receive a Master’s Degree from NYU which created a path to not just a job, but a career in disability inclusion.
If the ADA did not exist, what do you think your life would be today?
If the ADA did not exist, I would more than likely have remained on home instruction education without the opportunity to create and achieve goals. I would not have had the opportunity to live on my own and drive an accessible vehicle to be an active participant in my community and in society.
What was the best career advice you have received?
To always be authentic in everything you do. To treat every job as a steppingstone to a new opportunity.
What main point do you want all employers to understand about the value of people with disabilities?
People with disabilities have a variety of talents and skills that can be an asset to any employer. As a person born with a disability, I have had to learn to be creative in my daily living in order to do everyday tasks. The level of creativity, flexibility, and determination that individuals with disabilities have is very hard to find in an employee.
What is one thing employers can do today to build a pipeline of diverse talent that includes people with disabilities?
My advice would be to partner with organizations that serve individuals with disabilities. Focus on building a brand of inclusion so that individuals with disabilities will be able to connect and ultimately seek out the employer as an employer of choice. Providing employees, at all levels, with training on effectively working with individuals with disabilities is crucial as well.
Thinking ahead to ADA40, what might the workplace look like for people with disabilities?
There needs to be more opportunities for employers to understand this untapped market of talent. We need to change the narrative for employers to see the business case for disability inclusion and not see it as “the right thing to do.”
What advice do you have for young professionals with disabilities seeking their first job or advancement within their current company?
I would impart the same advice I received. Always treat every job as a steppingstone to a bigger opportunity for advancement. Take every environment you work in as a learning experience to develop your own style and path.