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Month: October, 2016

Informational references to hire the disabled

This last blog in the series for National Disability Employment Awareness Month is throwing out some information for those of you that need a bit more about possibly hiring someone who is disabled. As always these resources are mainly for Arizona and those who are blind or visually impaired.

Just to reiterate a statistic that I like to harp on: In the years since the ADA went into effect the unemployment rate for those who are disabled has risen. From, men and women respectively, 49% and 59% to 59% and 69%. Not exactly prodigious numbers for a nation that wishes, and supposedly, wants to include everyone no matter disability, gender, race, or ethnicity. I’m through venting now … so, as to not clog your day too much, let’s get rolling.

Organizations for the Blind:

National Federation of the Blind

nfb.org

American Foundation for the Blind

afb.org

Arizona Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired

acbvi.org

Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired

saavi.org

Equipment for the Blind:

  • Computer Programs – There are several software programs that assist the blind & visually impaired with effectively utilizing the computer. Some of these are expensive and others are free. But they all help us to use the computer effectively and efficiently. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has a larger list of resources for those that are blind or visually Impaired nfb.org/resources
  • JAWS – From Freedom Scientific. This is a screen reading program that allows us to utilize the computer and visit websites. It allows us to do everything that you can do with a variety of voice styles and languages. freedomscientific.com
  • NVDA is another screen reader which is a freeware program and has minor differences than JAWS but works just as well so I’m told

Nvaccess.com

  • Window Eyes & Zoom Text are magnifiers. They magnify the computer screen so that those who have limited vision can operate this infernal machine as well as anyone.
  • Braille text writers enable those who can read braille to use the computer. For example: Take orders/complaints in a call/complaint center. Depending on how fast the individual can read, they can be as fast as any sighted CSR.

Other Equipment for the Disabled:

Think all of those wonderful gadgets that talk and are so convenient nowadays were developed for blind people only? Not a chance! Talking watches, smart phones, micro digital recorders, talking machines (of all kinds), and many other items make it so much easier for a disabled person to go to work. Some are expensive others are inexpensive or free. But most were developed without regard for the disabled, just to make it more convenient for the larger population.

Governmental Assistance:

I don’t know all the alphabet soup of agencies that can assist you with helping provide accommodations to those of us who want to work. I would suggest contacting these agencies and organizations to get more information;

Social Security

http://www.ssa.gov/

Department of Health & Human Services

http://www.hhs.gov/

Veterans Administration

http://www.va.gov/

State Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation

The national organizations listed above, and other similar agencies may have a maze to navigate in the process but if someone wants to help the disabled to work for them with tax incentives, or other assistance then it is well worth the inconvenience for an employer.

From blind, deaf, paraplegic, Asperger’s, quadriplegic, and every other kind of disability you can think of, can now work if they wish to. And trust me most of us who worked all of our lives until our disability caused us not to be able to, want to go back to work.

So, the next time a disabled person wanders into your business and wants to apply for a job, why automatically put the application in round file 13? I’m hoping that I’ve given you plenty of answers and things to think about this month when it comes to hiring the disabled into your business. Whether that be security, customer service, media, stock room clerk, or just as a janitor, we can do the same jobs you can do even with our disabilities.

Most great people have their greatest success one step beyond their greatest failure

Napoleon Hill

 

Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

Preventing domestic violence in the workplace-Part 2

(This is the 2nd, and last, part of this series)

  • Ease of transferring of employees to different shifts or locations to avoid the abuser if they are stalking them. If your policies state that you have to do this and go through many steps to transfer someone to a different shift or location you need to simplify the process and get them off of that shift. You really don’t want the abuser to know exactly when the employee is there, do you? That makes it dangerous, and potentially fatal, for everyone inside the business and ancillary stores/offices.
  • Extra security in parking lots& entrances. It may be difficult and unwieldly, but some sort of extra measures must be taken, without being intrusive and obvious, to provide everything possible to make them feel safe. This may cost financial resources, but expending several thousand dollars in saving the life of an employee and showing you care, is how the commercial says, priceless.
  • Recording of phone calls on the company phone or instruction on their cell. The reasoning for this is fairly simple. The employee needs to be able to have these recordings to take to court and show some measure of abuse or threatening behavior to obtain restraining orders and protect themselves and their children. It may not be of any help, depending on the backgrounds, but is it worth it? Absolutely!
  • Surveillance of the employee, escorted or not, to and from their vehicle/parking area. Hopefully you have high resolution video surveillance of your parking facilities. This will ensure that the employee will not be accosted by the abuser on their way to or from their vehicle. If they are, hopefully the high resolution will show the journalistic who, what, when, where, why, & how of the perpetrator.

In the late 90s I worked at a major office building for a regional security company. Because of renovation of a museum, the parking lot was moved to a location across a bridge & railroad tracks that could have been dangerous for the thousands of employees that worked there. My officers and I stood on the bridge every night to ensure that no employees were assaulted. During a particularly cold and snowy winter in Kansas City it was…not easy to do.

  • Privacy and details of the abuse, of the employee must be limited to a need to know basis. In other words only as many people as necessary should know what the actual circumstances are. The security manager/supervisor, HR, immediate supervisor/manager, and other such people. If the employee wishes to tell others, then they should be the one to do it, no one else. This also means that the security staff doesn’t necessarily need to know either, depending on circumstances.
  • Giving safety and security tips for their home and personal security. This could even go as far as providing assistance in getting an alarm system installed and paying for the monitoring during this time. Additional tips and ideas should be given to the employee by the security manager, consultant, shelter, or police department.

While it sounds like you can hand off this point to someone else to handle, you can’t. How do you know that the situation was rectified and taken care of if you don’t do it? Especially with paying for the installation and monitoring of an alarm system in their home.

It comes down to the company assisting in any way they possibly can. Shame, embarrassment, and humiliation may force some victims to shy away from even asking for help. Your supervisors need to be trained in how and what to look for as well. And even if the employee says nothing is wrong… that’s not a good enough answer if injuries are consistently seen.

I have talked for several years in my postings that you need to throw out the sacred cows, conventional wisdom, and do what is right not just what is necessary to satisfy the legal requirement. You should push the limits of what is and isn’t legal to protect the employee. Additionally, everything you do to assist them, by necessity, needs to be documented in a file. This will be for any proceedings where you are accused of not doing enough.

Is it possible you will get into trouble and possibly disciplined for bending the policies and rules to assist? Yes. But there is no better way to build trust within the organization and the employees like doing whatever is necessary to protect just one of them who is in this situation.

Are there other ideas you can utilize to assist a victim who works for your company? Undoubtedly there are. What they are depends on your own policies, procedures, jurisdictional restrictions, and own innovative ideas as to what you will do. But remember if you don’t have trust and the confidence of employees, then DV could seriously cause fatalities within the business, be they physical or financial.

 

obert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

Would we elect FDR as President now?

Would you vote for a presidential candidate who couldn’t walk, had to lean on someone to stand, had little stamina, and who smoked? There is little chance of FDR being elected President today. The question is would any business hire hymn in the times we work in? I venture to say no, a company wouldn’t take the liability risk on him.

The next question then becomes, should you even consider, and take the liability risk, of hiring a disabled person for security? Why shouldn’t you? A disabled person may not be able to move or work as fast as other officers, but if you do your due diligence, again, it’s not that big of an issue. We just have to take pains to do it our way. And doing it our way may not necessarily be the standard way, or by the ideal corporate practice.

It is fairly obvious that a blind or deaf person can’t stand post. And if they are needed to greet visitors… On the other hand, would a blind or deaf officer be adept at a place that offers blind or deaf services? Of course they would, and they would probably be better than a normal officer.

Just like individuals that are confined to wheelchairs, using a walker or are not able to walk effectively, are not suited to being on an assignment that requires a lot of walking.  This is especially true if it’s outside the building on uneven pavement or gravel. Nor a job that requires them to move quickly and evacuate the facility during an emergency.

How can a disabled individual contribute to anyone’s safety & security? Especially in an industry that is so visually, auditory, and shoe leather oriented? The answer is simple. Do you have any jobs within your company that can be done safely by someone who is disabled? Do you take pains to ensure that you assign the right officer to the right post? Look at the jobs you have and then answer that honestly.

 

Misconceptions about disabled employees:

  • You either give us our accommodations or we’ll sue you for discrimination!
  • We’ll sue you for not getting the equipment we need quickly enough.
  • Equipment costs too much to hire you. (There are programs that assist in paying for accommodations)
  • We’re too sensitive about our disability to discuss it, without complaining
  • We’ll cause too many problems once we are hired

Is this saying that there aren’t people out there who do want to sue the company if you don’t spit on the griddle? Of course there are, as with people with no disability.  And the same holds true for the other issues I mentioned above. But HR should be able to weed them out utilizing appropriate interviewing and background techniques.  

 

What do we expect from an employer?

  • Computer, and other, programs that allow us to read, write, & correct documents
  • Keep aisles clear of items that will impede walking or rolling
  • Close the drawers on filing cabinets so they are not standing open in an aisle
  • Don’t allow items to hang off your desk, papers, boxes, and etc., that can be easily knocked off
  • If you borrow something off of our desk, put it back in the same place, and please tell us you are doing so
  • Let me know if your hands or arms are full when I’m coming to you
  • If you want to shake my hand, tell me yours is extended
  • Just plain ol’ common courtesy and professionalism in the office
  • Don’t be afraid to make jokes about disabilities unless you know for a fact it would offend us (I make as many blind jokes as anyone)

 

The way to treat us while working:

We want to be treated…the exact same way you treat any other employee. By making unnecessary exceptions it can be embarrassing for us, we just want to blend in. We want to make the company effective, efficient, innovative, & profitable. If we need help, we’ll ask. If we need something, we’ll ask. And we won’t be rude, surly, cop an attitude, yell, scream, or anything like that just because we don’t get our way. Will we get angry and frustrated at times? Of course we will the same as any other employee does.

As we move further into the 21st century, let’s throw out the misconceptions about those of us that are disabled. Look at what we can accomplish, not what we can’t.   What can we do to enhance the safety and security of the company, its employees, and clients? If you don’t, you may lose out on a wealth of innovation, knowledge, skill, & experience.

If a severely crippled man walked into your business, needed help to walk & stand, smelled like cigarettes, and applied for a job, would you even interview them? If you didn’t know that person was FDR probably not, but knowing who he was you’d welcome him into the company with open arms. So why turn a disabled person away just because you see their disability and don’t know their knowledge, experience, & skills?

 

Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be blind but my vision is crystal clear

Preventing domestic violence in the workplace

As with an earlier post, you may not think that domestic violence (DV) is an issue for your company or security department. Unfortunately, it has become a significant security risk issue for companies and you the security professional to handle. While we can’t stop it, we can help to mitigate the damage done to both the victim and company.

There are a few steps that can be taken to minimize injury to the victim and lessen the liability of the business. Will these tips below stop every single incident on company property? Probably not, but if you follow these few tips and make your own, then you will be getting a good start on assisting the victim to stay safe and limiting your liability.

Physical injury will be what a victim suffers from outwardly. However, it is the psychological trauma that can, and more than likely will, follow them for the rest of their lives. I’m sure that none of us wish for that to happen to a co-worker or friend, in or out of the business. Here are some tips and ideas to get the ball started on assisting the victims in making them feel safe, at least at work. It will also help you to begin building trust and confidence, or more of it, in you and the company.

 

  • Listening and actually believing that the employee may be abused. If the victim is male or the abuser is ‘charming, suave, and debonair…’ it may be hard to believe. But unless an actual investigation is undertaken by the police or other such agency… which is where the trust and confidence in you comes into play.

 

  • Looking for the signs of abuse, even if they deny it. These are numerous in and of itself and sometimes not so easily spotted:

Long sleeves, slacks, and/or turtle necks in summer

Constantly wearing sunglasses

Jumpier than they would normally be

While discussing their bruises they joke about their clumsiness

Constantly coming into work with minor injuries

Becoming a loner and staying quiet when the opposite had been true

Alienating friends both at work and elsewhere

Frequent unsettling phone calls either on company phone or their cell

Of course there are numerous other signs of abuse. Contact a local domestic abuse shelter and get as much information as you can to disseminate to employees.

  • Security procedures for an abused employee to protect them while at work. This is where your expertise as a security professional comes into play. You know when and where you can do little things to pump up the security program to make the facility more secure and keep anyone out who isn’t authorized:

Issuing a photo of the abuser and keeping them off the property

Ensuring that all doors are secured with no exceptions for ‘just this once’

Not allowing people to tailgate into the building

Adapting a high visibility of security in and around the parking lots and building

Ensuring that surveillance doesn’t become slack for as long as necessary

Never allowing an attitude of ‘I know them we’ll do it just this once’

Having your security officers, or supervisor, escort the employee when necessary

While these may be standard practice they need to be reiterated and strictly enforced. There are other procedures that you can tweak to protect one employee as well.

 

  • Employee Assistance programs (EAP) for references to resources to help them, including shelters. This may be up to an EAP provider; however you need to find one to allow your employees to utilize them. They may not be cheap, but the only other recourse you may have is to keep a list of resources with HR and/or publish it for the taking.

 

  • Can you provide any legal, security, or spiritual assistance? Don’t let your legal department tell you that you are treading on thin ice. If necessary refer them to the EAP for these items, especially legal and spiritual but security is our responsibility.

 

  • Can you provide a certain amount of compassionate, paid, leave? In other words can you give the employee time off to take care of legal issues, court dates, children, and so on. It may take some jiggling of your companies financial resources to do this but it is worth it most of the time. You can’t jettison an employee because they are having DV issues or as a result of DV. Going along with this is not counting their absences against them during this time, which according to policy could get them fired.

If you don’t remember: in the early 90s, an employee took leave to care for his young son who was dying of leukemia, I believe. When he returned to work he was disciplined for having let his job performance suffer because of his son’s illness and then burying a 6-year-old. He shot and killed several managers, union reps, & supervisors in the termination meeting a week later.

(Look for the 2nd part of this post next week)

 

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be blind but my vision is crystal clear

So you are disabled and want a Job?

          I hear from too many people that being disabled is all there is for them and they can’t work. And it is true that some of them can’t work due to their disability. But many are younger or can work, but they refuse, or make excuses, to get the necessary training so they can gain employment.

           So what does a disabled person need to do when searching for a job? The absolute simple truth is nothing special! That’s right, absolutely nothing special. So how do they get past the stigma of their disability? Simple, Apply on-line. And since so many job applications are on-line anymore…

One thing you have to do no matter what, you have to be a tad better than other applicants. And I’m not talking about their experience or knowledge level, although that doesn’t hurt. Being disabled, we have to be better than other applicants because if we don’t then it can be easily explained as ‘Oh they’re disabled, they can’t…, and so why teach them that if they don’t already know?’ Simplistic… maybe.

 

What the disabled have To Do:

There are certain items that you have to do to increase your chances of getting that job. Here is a short list of those areas;

  • Pick a field in which you’re qualified for. If you can be satisfied answering phones or such jobs…
  • Spell & grammar check your resume and cover letter! Unlike others, if it is error free and grammatically correct you already have an advantage over other applicants because it shows diligence. If necessary, hire a professional to write it for you or check it over for grammatical errors.
  • Polish your skills. From inter-personal to typing to everything in between. By polishing your skills, you’ll have another advantage on the application, interviewing, & training sections of the hiring process.
  • Dress for Success. Wear the appropriate clothes for the job you’re interviewing for. Don’t appear with torn jeans and an expletive filled shirt for a customer service position, likewise don’t wear a tie and slacks to an interview for a factory job. It may seem overly simplistic, but hiring managers will still judge you by what you are wearing. If you interview for a creative position, then a wild and crazy outfit may just work. There are many places that can get you the necessary business clothes for free, just check with a local agency that deals with your particular disability.
  • Show up on time AND alone, if possible. You should always try to show up for your interview or appointment time at least 10 – 15 minutes early. And if you can go it alone… Some of you will need help in getting around the office, but if you can… then do it…
  • Don’t smoke, eat, or drink before your interview. To a non-smoker it will hang on you like stink on a meat packing facility dumpster in the middle of a Missouri summer, excluding the flies of course. And then there is your breath and teeth. You don’t want to be face-to-face with the receptionist or interviewer with breath that smells like stale coffee, digested food, or tobacco. As a former smoker and a devout strong coffee lover, let me say, it’s not very appealing to be on the receiving end of doggie breath.
  • Don’t fidget, play with paper, or use your phone. Sit as up-right as you can and stay calm. Don’t mess with your hair, tie, or keep arranging your papers. As for your phone, ensure that it’s on either vibrate or turned off. Nothing will turn off an interviewer faster than having your phone do its little ding-a-ling in the middle of the interview. This, along with several other things, could cost you the job. Most of us aren’t anywhere near to being that brilliant to have the interviewer over look that irritation. All that having your phone ring does is potentially tell the interviewer that you will answer your phone during working hours, which is not good.
  • Have all necessary papers in order ready to hand over. If you’re blind it should be easy, we have to be organized constantly anyway. But have your references, resume’s, and other papers in order ready to hand over with no fumbling for them. Show the employer how organized you are by having the necessary papers to hand them as a non-disabled person would.

 

For those of us that are disabled, the economy is still on the rebound. So it may take a while to get our foot in the door… still. Add to that, the fact that companies are looking for specific talent and being very selective about whom they even call for interviews, and therefore you have to present yourself better than your competition.

The skills and pre-steps you need to take, even for a disabled person, is all the same. It’s not necessarily about the job or the competition. It’s all about how you present yourself. Something I learned while still in high school: “Walk like you have some where to go and something to do when you get there”

As much as you can, hold your head up straight, shoulders squared, & a confident demeanor & attitude, and try not to be arrogant about it. Whether they want to admit it or not, Perception is reality for any employer. What the employer perceives in your initial meeting is their reality and not much can be done to contradict it.

Getting a job in today’s marketplace is increasingly difficult for those of us that are disabled. The competition and requirements of employment leave many of us in the cold. But despite our 60% unemployment, we can still get a job doing what we want. We just have to do the little things a tad more impressively than someone else may have to.

 

Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

How does a blind person do what they do?

Blind people everywhere, seem to surprise people in practically everything we do. And the main question from them continues to be how do you do that? And usually when you explain it to them it’s a “Really? Wow that is amazing!” It’s a stereotype much like that of a blind person sitting on the corner with our little tin cup.

When at a business event, the question I get most often is “How can you help us? You’re blind, you can’t possibly know security?” And then they listen to my experience, knowledge, and presentation skills. They are impressed but not enough to hire me. Because I’m blind I can’t help them because after all I’m blind, what do I know about security (I’ve been in the field for 33 years).

People, including close friends, don’t understand how I can do certain things that most everyone else takes for granted. Items such as:

  • Clipping my own finger nails without cutting them to shreds
  • Cooking on the stove. And the simple idea of boiling water…
  • Hear sounds that most people don’t
  • Get around without someone guiding me like I’m an invalid

Being a security professional and being blind is not easy. No one wants to take a chance on me because of my blindness, and a few innovative creative ideas that don’t fit into standard practice. But thank all of those techie geeks out there who make it almost effortless for me to do what I like best, writing and protecting lives. So, keeping on with security, let me explain a few of those things I do in a security context;

  • Clipping my own finger nails

When you are conducting a threat assessment on a facility, are you meticulous, careful, & attempting to see things that aren’t necessarily in front of you? Of course you are. Another aspect that I’m sure, you consider is that you have to account for everything that may cause an issue, no matter how remote, small, or trivial it may be.

If I actually cut my finger while clipping… I staunch the blood before it gets worse. Likewise with security, you try to stop an incident before it gets worse. It’s never easy to do but it must be done. It takes that meticulous, attention to detail, & being results oriented to reach your goal. Isn’t that what you do?

 

  • Cooking on the stove

Just like all other security issues you have to be meticulous & have proper planning to accomplish the goal. With cooking food that is scalding, you have to use the pot holders and ensure the pot isn’t too heavy to move safely. If the heat comes through the cloth, then you have to put it down…quickly. Likewise with the operations of your department, you have to be aware of the limitations of your officers & coach them carefully so that everything comes out okay. Additionally, you may have to be mentoring, and training, them over and above the minimum, including what you require, may be.

Sometimes you have to handle certain officers with pot holders. In other words they need to be ‘coddled’ and empathized with for a few minutes. But if it gets too much you gotta put them down & terminate. Coddling is not something any of us like to do but…

 

  • Hearing sounds.

Some say I’m psychotic, or bi-polar, because I hear things that others don’t. And no, my hearing hasn’t gotten better since I’ve been blind, yet another stereotype. You have to pay attention. Especially to detail. Which means noises, sounds, & common items more than most.

When you’re alone in a dark warehouse at 0300 hours on a Sunday morning, your hearing has to be more alert. Rats or other animals can make the same noises as criminals trying to break in or get away with materials. You must have situational awareness and train your eyes (if they work), ears, & nose to recognize what should & shouldn’t be there.

 

  • Getting around without a guide

Do you need a guide to get around a new place of employment? How about your security officers after a bit of on-the-job-training (OJT, can they get around a new post or assignment? Of course they can! So why would I be any different just because I’m blind?

Do you, and your officers, not get turned around and lost from time to time? We all do, whether it is at work or out on the town. Do I make it all the time alone? No. Just as you and your officers might, I get lost on occasion. And sometimes it takes me longer to acclimate to new areas than others but are you bereft of patience? Not trying to be insulting, but if you don’t have that patience then you walk away and don’t help us get around a new office or facility and we get lost. To most of us that means you don’t care and don’t want to be talking to us any way so why bother.

There are times when I do need a sighted guide, especially if I’ve never been to that location before or in a crowd, the worst for me. And to satisfy your curiosity yes I’ve bumped into walls more than once, but they are okay, just minor dents no holes or bad cracks.

There are thousands of people that are blind, or otherwise disabled, that are in management positions and work as consultants. Some are motivational speakers, lead workshops, and innumerable kinds of businesses. So, it’s not unusual for us to be employed and surprise people that we work and are producing for the betterment of society at large.

Being blind is only limiting because you can’t use your eyes in a world that is uisually oriented. I keep moving forward until I get it right. Nothing will hold me back, except myself. But then that’s the lesson for security professionals everywhere isn’t it? “Nothing is impossible. The only one holding you back is yourself”.

 

Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

 

“You can’t run a business without taking risks”- Sir Richard Branson

National Disability Employment Awareness Month, started in 1945 by the Department of Labor, begins October 1. Many people will dismiss this observation for the disabled because “They are useless and can’t do anything but sit and put screws in little baggies.” This attitude is more prevalent than most may think.

And this attitude has something powerful to say about those that are disabled and seeking fulfilling employment. Some will just give up when they encounter it, but most refuse to bow. It can be extremely debilitating, physically & mentally.

A question to ponder: What would you do if you suddenly became disabled and told you couldn’t work and support your family? What would you do? Disregarding the jokes about finally taking a vacation and a nice long rest, how would you feel in the pit of your stomach? Probably, you would feel useless and a burden. Remember, “Perception is Reality”.

           As an example, when I went blind in 2003, I had been having some vision issues. I was fine when I went to bed but when I woke up one July morning, I couldn’t see well enough to identify the icons on the computer screen. I can truthfully tell you I was a wee bit upset.

           You try and look for work, but no one wants you, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the economy, your skills, or knowledge. So, what are some of the reasons, or observations you make while on the job hunt? And to answer your question before hand, yes I have encountered these, unfortunately several times:

  • “That’s such a good disabled person wanting to go to work”. It is said patronizingly and it seems like they want to come over and pat you on the head like a good obedient pet.
  • Your disability/disease is contagious so we don’t want you around, like a cat with a wet paw shaking it in disgust.
  • You’re stupid because you’re disabled. Yes this is the way we are treated at times when applying for a job, especially one that may be outside the norm for a blind person.
  • You’re disabled, so you can’t do what we need you to do. And being honest, this may not be true but it leads directly into the next one.
  • Your accommodations to fit in and work will cost too much, so we’ll find a reason to deny the application without being overtly discriminatory.

 

          Many companies when they see a disabled person coming thru the door to apply, they simply don’t want anything to do with them, despite what their anti-discrimination policies may say. Generally, the policies are for employees not for applicants. To paraphrase an old adage “Why hire a potential problem, when you can just ignore it…?”

           I have filled out applications and been called for interviews several times. They are all excited to get someone with my knowledge & experience into the company to interview. Then they discover I’m blind. The interview is nothing more than perfunctory and I’m out in less than 5 – 10 minutes. Not very encouraging.

           What are some of the other disadvantages to being disabled and trying to find a job? Here is another small list of them. There are others who will have worse job search issues than I have had:

  • Getting the proper training. If you need training you have to go through the state vocational rehabilitation which can take anywhere from 6 – 24 months to get in. Or pay for it yourself, which can be very expensive, not to mention finding a place that has the software to accommodate you.
  • Finding employment that is fulfilling and utilizing your skills, experience, & knowledge. which is hard enough for someone who isn’t disabled.
  • Locating the proper resources including employment centers to assist. Most employment centers don’t have the necessary facilities for the disabled, government funded or not.
  • The system that the government has developed is cumbersome and time consuming. And the reliability…
  • Equipment you’ll need to do the job you’re hired for. Most employers don’t realize that there are programs available that can, partially, compensate them for the expenditures and there are innumerable options for freeware as well.

 

Those are just a few of the issues that disabled people have problems with in finding employment. Are their ways around those? For some, yes, others, no. And unfortunately this can leave us feeling totally useless. Despite being disabled we still want to pay our own way.

A minor statistic that no one wants to ever talk about… Of the blind people who want to work and not be on Social security disability, the unemployment rates are staggering. 59% of men and 69% of women who want to work can’t find employment. Those are higher than they were before the Americans with Disabilities Act were enacted in the early 90s. And you want to tell disabled people, that there isn’t an issue with us getting fulfilling employment?

Are you ready to see beyond the physical and hire a disabled person within your business? Does it really matter if they are blind, wheelchair bound, deaf, or paraplegic? If the person has the skills to do the job then let them do the job. Take another look at one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurs above and take the leap. Here is a quote from 60 years ago for you to ponder:

“We have all the typical and ordinary range of talents and techniques, attitudes, and aspirations. Our underlying assumption is not as it is with some other groups the intrinsic helplessness and everlasting dependency of those who happen to lack sight, but rather their innate capacity to nullify and overrule this disability to find their place in the community with the same degree of success and failure to be found among the general population.”
Professor Jacobus tenBroek

Cross of Blindness

National Federation of the Blind National Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana

July 6, 1956.

 

Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

Domestic Violence Awareness at work

Whether you personally believe domestic violence is a serious problem or not, unfortunately, many times it becomes a business problem. Management, security, human resources, and unwittingly the entire staff are affected by it. But why should it be, when it’s such a personal issue and relegated to a ‘domestic’ problem not work?

           The issue becomes important and pertinent to us all because domestic violence can come into our businesses and create chaos, havoc, & destruction on everyone inside. Whether they are there when an incident occurs or even if they just know someone who was injured, threatened, or had the s*** scared out of them by a potential incident.

It can wreck & ruin lives, for nearly a lifetime. It creates chaos and causes havoc amongst everyone. The lives it ruins can literally cause trauma for decades. And if the company does nothing to combat it before it starts and enters the business, then they can be held liable for the death and destruction that can visit them.

It doesn’t have to be just a fatal incident either. Think about the emotional trauma and psychological damage done to individuals who may be mentally fragile. Usually you will never know who is that fragile until an incident occurs and then it’s too late to prevent it, and the lawsuits.

A few statistics that may bring home DV to anyone who may not have been visited by its insidious presence before and realized its impact on the workplace;

  • 48% of all workplace violence, WPV, incidents are related to DV
  • 40% of all WPV murders are related to DV
  • 3–4 women are murdered by their significant other every day of the year, although most are not at work
  • Murder is the #1 cause of death for women while at work
  • Between 3-5 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, and health care. This is probably significantly higher

A list of DV incidents, just the high profile alone, could go on for an entire library of books. There are literally millions of DV incidents every single year. And while most DV incidents are forgotten about soon after and rarely lead to death it has the same effect on the employee (s).

We all get upset from time-to-time and yell at our significant others once in a while and it does go both ways. You may even call them names that we later regret and apologize for later and in reality never meant in the first place. But for some people, sometimes that anger can explode into physical contact that can hurt long after the bruises, cuts, welts, & scratches would have healed.

As for the statistics mentioned above of 3-4 women are killed every day by their significant other. This is the same number that was killed during workplace violence incidents every day in the 90s. We were all in such an up-roar then over that. Where is the outrage over DV because of these numbers? Is it because it happens at home and not at a business and therefore none of our business? And besides it’s a personal matter. Right?

The statistics can be unsettling for some. But after you have digested and accepted them as fact, the next question is how can you protect your employees from a DV and WPV incident? For both victims and co-workers alike. It’s more than just protecting the business and its financial resources. In the next post I’ll discuss a few ways to help minimize the incident and prevent a tragedy in your business.

DV is not just a personal issue, especially when it comes into the workplace and threatens co-workers, customers, and the well-being of everyone working or shopping. It is an issue that literally can make some employees fear for their lives, whether they are the victim, or target by association, or not.

Emotional and psychological trauma will cost your business thousands. If the incident turns physical then that trauma can potentially cost your business millions and force it out of business. That will cost your employees much more than just lingering mental trauma.

Many television shows and movies have shown DV in a humorous tone. And while it can be put into a humorous light, it is seldom funny to the victim. The Honeymooners, All in the Family, & Family Guy. There was never any doubt that Ralph Kramden and Archie Bunker loved their wives, but the yelling, berating, & threats were all a part of DV.

As security and HR professionals we need to recognize the potential of DV to invade our work spaces and cause injury to our most valuable assets, the people who make the business run. Those injuries will typically not just be relegated to the abused employee. Many times it will spill over to co-workers – and if it’s a customer…

 

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

           I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

What is so special about October?

Every month, week, and day of the year is set aside for some special recognition. Whether it is inane, silly, serious, or accomplishment they are there. And there are those people who do their best to celebrate them. From National Waffle Day to Ice Cream, Cheeseburgers (I like mine with lettuce & tomato, French fried potatoes, Heinz 57…), and many others.

But October is sort of special to me for several reasons. I wanted to fill you in on some of the national and state days being celebrated and recognized and why I and millions believe in them as well:

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I have never personally lost anyone to breast cancer. I have, on the other hand, lost most of my mother’s side of the family to cancer of one form or another. My grandmother had all but 1 of her 9 sibling’s die of it, including herself in 1977. My mom has had 2 forms of it and my uncle consistently has polyps in his colon. Additionally, I lost a very good female friend to it more than 36 years ago, 1 week before her 19th birthday. So this awareness is special to me.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I know several women who have been the victim of this, including my mother more than 50 years ago. But that was back when you didn’t talk about such things or report it to the police. I also had a couple living across the street from me in the 60s who argued and hit each other like a heavyweight fight between Ali and Frazier. They also had the cuts, bruises, broken windows, and arrests to prove it, nearly every Friday or Saturday night.

Disability Employment Awareness Month

This day was started by the Department of Labor more than 7 decades ago to recognize and encourage employers to look at hiring those of us that are disabled. It is their way, and should be everyone’s, to showcase those of us that are disabled in attempting to assist us gain employment.

Just remember this little factoid: We can do everything that you can do at work and home. We just can’t do it as quickly as you do. That even includes programming computers and such technical expertise (no not this technological illiterate). We may have to bend rules out of shape sometimes to get it done, but it does get done.

Blind & disabled Awareness Month

How do you profile the disabled when you encounter them? I have been the object of ridicule and scorn going through the airport or out shopping. Everyone profiles those of us that are blind and/or disabled. We all have our prejudices against disabled people. That shows that we are all individuals.

But you do have to remember that it also makes us individuals as well. You noticed us, albeit in a negative light, and that’s not altogether a bad thing. When you encounter someone who is disabled think of that little line above in NDEA month “We can do everything you can do just in a different way”. And as so many on the political left are fond of saying “You shouldn’t profile people”.

White Cane Awareness month

When someone walks in a public area such as a sidewalk or shopping mall with a white cane, what do you think the white cane is for? You would be surprised at the number of people who have absolutely no clue what it is for or why we have it. Younger children I can understand the mystery, their parents have never taught them any different because they may catch the blindness disease and end up like us. Is that logical? No, but that is the reaction I’ve experienced in the past 13 years.

Meet the Blind Month

This is designed for you, the general public, who has never had much interaction with those of us that are blind before. You are encouraged to seek out someone who is blind or a blind center such as the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ACBVI) and actually see how we live our lives.

From daily living, getting around, interacting with others, and various activities. You may be surprised at how well we do it. Hopefully, it will dispel some myths about blindness and those of us that live with it daily.

Writing in the Dark Month

This is probably my favorite day of recognition in October. Why you ask? Simply put I started this group in March of 2016 to showcase the talents of blind writers and to show the world that we can be creative at writing as well as sighted writers can be. We are a combination of both established and newbies who want to express their feelings, dreams, and experiences in published form. One of the newbies is the best younger writers I have ever met or been associated with. And we are making wonderful progress in getting them on the road to publication.

I don’t want to take up much of your time with many of the great days, weeks, and month being celebrated in October so I’ll try to keep these last ones shorter:

National Reading Group Month – Reading groups aren’t just for younger kids in school. Start your own reading group no matter your age.

National Book Month – There are ways for everyone to enjoy books. From book readers for the disabled to the old fashioned way of actually holding a paper product in your hands and falling asleep with it.

Great Books Week- First full week in October – What is your great book? Dig it out of the library, box, book shelf, or find a new one to peruse. Literacy, and the amount of freedom we have, is directly based on how much we read.

National Book Day- October 1

World Teachers Day– October 5 – Celebrate the people who helped you achieve what you have now. The teachers from elementary to college have had an influence even if you didn’t like them.

American Libraries Day-October 6

Dictionary Day/Noah Webster’s Birthday– October 6

Halloween! – October 31 – Sugar addicts, like me, rejoice!

 

Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

               I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear