A disability-friendly community asks its citizens to become creative problem-solvers. If some of us have a problem, we all have a problem. When we solve it for some, we can solve it for all. Disability Dialog is your invitation to weigh-in on key topics, and offer your ideas and/or suggestions for solutions—the more creative the better!
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I was unable to gain work experience doing many of the traditional "first jobs" for teens and young adults - including waiting tables - because my size, strength, and build and other disabilities precluded most lifting and carrying, including carrying food trays. Recently I used a cart to bring food from food trucks stationed at my workplace to some co-workers in a meeting, and it hit me that if restaurants and stores stocked up on carts and allowed employees to use them to move meals or other merchandise, this would enable people of varying sizes and abilities to have those jobs.
It was my experience, as a person with disabilities who went to college, that career counselors and anyone involved in the job-seeking process tended to take for granted that everyone could move anywhere for a job or internship. It may have been partly because my disabilities are not easily visible, but even when I tried to explain the barriers to moving and traveling, everyone seemed to think I was just afraid to take a risk and step outside "the known." I realize not every non-disabled person can travel a long way for a summer internship, but I think those with disabilities, even if able to be in college and/or be employed probably face additional challenges and barriers to moving, especially if there are no friends or family in the new location and / or they don't know any medical providers or service providers. The more internships - in various fields, including government - that Toledo businesses and government agencies can offer, the more students will be able to get work experience without having to move or travel. (Also, career counselors and others at the university need to be educated about how disabilities like Asperger's, ADHD, and the other "hidden" ones affect employment.)
Everywhere you turn today, you read or hear something about "being yourself" and "not caring what others think." School vocational programs, job developers, and others who are helping people with disabilities find jobs may need to, as part of preparing the person for jobs, need to delve into how to balance "being yourself" with the reality that you have to work a schedule and do certain things an employer's way in order to have a job (and, to some extent, do certain things that are appropriate in order to live in the community.) This may be an issue for any young person, but people with DD (particularly autism) may be especially prone to taking "be-yourself"-type motivational lectures literally.
I was really fortunate because I had a close family member, who provided most of my support, who also worked with other families dealing with the same disability I had. This meant that I made connections with people working in my field who wanted to help people with my disabilities. Not every person with a disability can successfully work in the field where their parent works or knows people. What about a program for matching people with disabilities with people in their field who want to help people with disabilities. A person with Asperger's, for example, with an engineering degree, could connect with an engineer who was the parent of another person with Asperger's who was not an engineer, and thus get mentoring and leads to jobs.
Employers can also help facilitate carpooling. Allow employees to use mass company email, the company newsletter, etc, to send messages like, "I live in XYZ area and am looking for people to carpool to work with." Perhaps, the employer can get the consent of the employee with the disability and then give the message directly to another employee that the employer/ manager knows lives in the same area. This could probably work for churches and other organizations whose members with disabilities are looking for rides to meetings and such.
While I think new sources of funding for public transit have to be found/developed in order for Toledo to achieve the ideals discussed here, in the short term, businesses could do a lot to minimize the degree to which the TARTA cuts impact people's ability to work. I don't know whether scheduling a person with a disability who uses TARTA only Monday-Saturday would be something the ADA would require, legally, as a reasonable accommodation, but businesses could adopt the attitude that it is, and proactively convey the message, "If you depend on TARTA, we won't reject your application or fire you because you can't work Sundays." Employers could even have conversations / meetings with nondisabled, driving employees with the message, "We are committed to hiring people with disabilities. Since they depend on TARTA and you don't (right now) would you be willing to work Sunday and take another day off on a day when your coworker can use TARTA to get to work?"
The Washington Post, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Center for Talent Innovation