I'm up, dressed and ready to get my day going. I've assessed that today is a good day, a good day to call in to work and see what opportunities they have for me.
"Hello, Selena," the voice on the other end of the phone cheerfully greets me. "Are you able to work today?"
"Why yes, yes I am," I reply.
"How many hours of work are you looking for today?" my liaison asks.
I pause for a moment just to reassess how I feel today. My pain level right now is about a 6, my fatigue level is about the same. I got a good night's sleep, which definitely helps. No errands or doctor's appointments today, so my schedule is free. Yeah, I can do this...
"I'd like 90 minutes of work today," I respond.
"Great. Here are the opportunities available to you today, based of course on your skills assessment:
- You can staff the Wacky Farms turkey hotline. Log into the company website and type 'Wacky Farms' into the job ID search screen. You will be directed to the call handling information tree. Simply call into the system and enter your ID whenever you are ready to take a call and a caller will be routed to you. The system will track your call time and advise you when you have reached 90 minutes.
- You can conduct Internet research for a client on moringa oleifera, also called The Miracle Tree. The client is looking for a list of links to scientific articles that reference moringa oleifera. Simply log into the company website, type 'Internet research + Miracle Tree' into the job ID search screen and use the company browser to conduct your research. Hit pause whenever you need to take a break. The system will track your research time and advise you when you have reached 90 minutes. This is step one in a multiple tiered project that includes reading the articles and write a synopsis of the information, which you are eligible to take as an assignment for the next two weeks.
- Or you can locate the best deals on the Internet for buying several different items, including an iPod Touch, a Sony 52" flat panel TV and a used Slacker Radio G2 40 station portable music player. Part of the assignment is to look for valid discount codes that can be used towards the purchase. Simply log into the company website, type 'best deals' into the job ID search screen and use the company browser to conduct your research. Hit pause whenever you need to take a break. The system will track your time and advise you when you have reached 90 minutes.
"Hmm, let me see, I think I'd like to work the Wacky Farms turkey hotline today."
"Great, Selena, let's get you started...."
Yes, this is a dream. But today I am going to ask the question, "Why can't this be a real job opportunity for people with disabilities?"
Today I am writing my blog post in support of Empowering People with Disabilities Day, a Bloggers Unite event. As the organizers state:
One in every five Americans is affected by a disability. This means that approximately 54 million people in the U.S. alone are working everyday to gain greater independence and create new possibilities for themselves.
Within the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has done much to eliminate the barriers and discrimination people with disabilities have faced for so long. Yet, about three quarters of adults with disabilities are unemployed--even though most would prefer to be working. And, internet access for people with disabilities is about half of what it is for those without disabilities.
Clearly there is still a lot of work to be done if we want people with disabilities to be truly empowered!
I almost don't want to admit it, but I am one of those persons with disabilities that is unemployed. I receive Social Security Disability benefits, but my check is no where near the amount of money I used to make when I was employed. My chronic pain and chronic fatigue really limit how much I can do in a day and make me more home bound that I care to admit.
But wouldn't it be wonderful if there was an employer like the one in my fiction above that could match me to jobs that fit my skills and time availability? An employer that understood my need for flexibility in both work schedule and in my approach to getting a task done? An employer that encouraged me to work from home when I could and didn't penalize me when my health did not allow me to accept an assignment? An employer who recognized that I still had things to contribute to society even though I am disabled?
It really is a BIG dream, but today on Empowering People with Disabilities Day, I am going to allow myself to dream big because I know there are many more people out there who wish society could accommodate us more, beyond handicapped parking spaces and some limited protections in the workplace. I want to be a part of society, even if my participation takes place mostly inside my home. I want to be a valued member of society, even if I can only contribute a few hours a week to work pursuits. I want to be all that I can be, even if that looks much smaller than what most people can accomplish.
Please help empower people with disabilities and allow us to make our dreams a reality too.