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Los Angeles, CA, Oct 21 – Some of the success behind the RespectAbility Entertainment Lab’s ability to help place its alumni in positions of employment is the Lab’s support from a variety of studios. As such, throughout the Lab, executives from DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros Discovery shared tips with the virtual cohort Lab Fellows on how to advance within the entertainment industry. [continue reading…]

Asking for Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all employers, including government entities, faith-based organizations, and employers in both the public and private sector, provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Offering and asking for accommodations can be complex. It can be hard for some people to ask for accommodations. It can also be hard to receive accommodations in a timely and consistent manner. I interviewed two early career professionals currently participating in RespectAbility’s National Leadership program about their past experiences asking for accommodations.

Erica Mones headshot

Erica Mones

Depending on who you ask, asking for accommodations can be easy or hard. Some disabled workers feel comfortable asking their employer for accommodations, like Erica Mones, Entertainment and News Media Apprentice. Erica has had very positive experiences with accommodations in the past. She says both of her previous employers have been good about it. However, she notes that her past work experience has been in the social justice space, and that is why she has felt comfortable asking. She thinks that if she were to work somewhere else, such as a customer service job, she would not be as comfortable asking for accommodations. She might even be scared to ask for accommodations there. Other disabled workers, like McKenzie Stribich, Faith Inclusion and Belonging Apprentice, might feel bad about asking for accommodations because they feel like they are a nuisance. She says she feels somewhat comfortable but a little anxious asking employers for accommodations because she feels like she is being annoying by asking for them. In their experience, she said they “[found] it hard to confront bosses” about accommodations not being met. [continue reading…]

Matthew Shapiro headshot wearing a suit and tie and seated in his wheelchair

Matthew Shapiro

I always had a goal of working in the disability space but was never quite sure how I was going to achieve it. One night, in December of 2014, I was in my bed contemplating all the things that I desired to do to make an impact in the world around disability. I wanted to be a well-known voice around disability issues. Like a lightning bolt, this idea popped into my head: Why don’t I start a disability consulting business? I had 15 years of experience in the disability space, public speaking, and mentoring young people. The idea of Six Wheels Consulting was born. I took a deep dive into the world of entrepreneurship.

I took this idea of starting my own disability consulting business to my parents and their first reaction was one of doubt. “I don’t think you can do it,” they said. “I don’t think there is stability in that. Maybe you should continue looking for jobs.” [continue reading…]

Shelly Christensen smiling headshot

Shelly Christensen

Discovering that I live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was a relief! Managing the lives of three kids in three different schools who were involved in different outside of school activities, learning to navigate the special education system and advocacy, and working full time in an outside sales job created such chaos! Trying to keep on top of everything was simply overwhelming.

I read the book, “Driven to Distraction,” by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey at the request of one of my son’s teachers. My son was diagnosed with ADHD, and his teacher thought it was important that we were on the same page. I appreciated her willingness to work with my son so much that I immediately picked up the book and read it between loads of wash and running carpools. [continue reading…]

“Lessons on accessibility – or any kind of advocacy or awareness – can and should never be relegated to just one ‘special’ month. But it’s never too late to start.”

Lily Coltoff smiling headshot

Lily Coltoff

Overseeing an organization’s employee newsletter means having almost complete editorial control, which in turn means that you can more or less add in anything you want, so long as you can argue that it’s both applicable and appropriate. I mostly use this privilege to hype up my team members on their birthdays or to share resources created by some of my favorite coworkers, but sometimes, I use it for education and advocacy – particularly for causes that I care a lot about.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This is a line that I put in an email not so long ago – linking to, of course, RespectAbility and their resources for this recognition month. In general, I always try to link to a Jewish or Jewish-connected organization – whether they are a partner organization or not – that focuses on the community I am hoping to elevate. For Pride Month, we turn to Keshet. Hispanic Heritage Month, Jewtina y Co. Black History Month, the Jews of Color Initiative. And of course, for NDEAM and Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), which takes place in February, I turn to RespectAbility. [continue reading…]

satellite view of Hurricane Ian over floridaAs the U.S. celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month this year, two places with large Hispanic populations were dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters. Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 18 and Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on September 28. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, people with disabilities have a greater risk of mortality and morbidity when a disaster hits.

CDC data shows that there are more than a million disabled adults in Puerto Rico, and more than three million disabled adults in Florida. What happens to them during natural disasters? The Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration (GADRA), a resource from the World Institute on Disability, surveyed organizations to find out. Every disability-led organization that responded believed organizations led by disabled people are left out of disaster relief funding, causing a lack of support for the population in times of great need. [continue reading…]

P&G Global Ambassador, Employees with Disabilities and Medical Conditions: Raymond Lynch’s Journey Advances the Disability Community

Raymond Lynch headshot

Raymond Lynch

Raymond Lynch has always been an overachiever. Raised on a farm in Ireland, he worked hard and long hours in his youth. In college that same work ethic helped him to hold down multiple jobs while working towards a master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering. Upon earning his PhD, Raymond applied to a Research and Development position at P&G in Egham, England and immediately built on his achievements with a track record of delivering impact and results. He was on his way to a new role after he returned from a much-needed vacation. But his life—let alone his career—would never be the same.

In August 1998, Raymond and his wife planned a holiday to enjoy one of his favorite past times: riding motorcycles. Only three days into their journey, a car “jumped” a red traffic light and hit them head on. Raymond’s left leg was shattered, and worse yet, the next morning his wife noticed that he wasn’t making sense when talking. An emergency team was called in and in another challenging turn of events, his wife was soon after told that he was brain dead. Over the next two weeks, doctors asked Raymond’s wife to consider turning off his life support machine. She told them she could not. [continue reading…]

by Bill Gaventa, PFTW Project Consultant, and Erik Carter, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center UCEDD

How do most of us get our jobs, at least somewhere along our work lives? It is often through personal relationships and networking that we find out about openings. Or, in other words, social capital is often the pathway to work.

Congregations are among the most numerous and natural support organizations in the United States. In fact, there are over 300,000 local faith communities across a diversity of traditions. Who attends these faith communities? Your immediate answer might be a collection of people who share a common set of beliefs and commitments and have chosen a particular congregation as their spiritual home. But there is another way to look at this membership. Faith communities are also filled with employers and employees from throughout the surrounding community. It is comprised of people who have deep knowledge of and personal relationships throughout the community. Moreover, faith communities represent the largest source of donors and volunteers in the country. [continue reading…]

Leah Ilana Craig headshotIf you had asked the Leah Ilana of 2020 where she would be career wise, she likely wouldn’t have guessed learning about grant writing for nonprofits in a hands-on environment. My educational background is in history and my undergraduate internships and employment experiences are in libraries, archives, and museums. After graduating with my bachelor’s, I found myself in a variety of roles from touring with a children’s dance competition to wearing many hats at a start-up focused on personal empowerment and consulting.

No matter how polished I may look on paper, I have always been plagued with a crippling sense of imposter syndrome. Constantly doubting myself, I felt directionless by the time my chronic illnesses worsened after a bout of COVID in March 2020. So, joining the cohort of apprentices through RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program as a Jewish Nonprofit Management Apprentice felt like a dream come true. A dream that I still felt unworthy of. Moving through the program, I learned how to apply my natural talent for writing and skills learned in my MFA and slowly gained confidence in preparation for my entry to the nonprofit world. [continue reading…]

Charo Mato headshot

Charo Mato

New York, NY, October 6 – Charo Mato is an Argentinian filmmaker with hearing loss who graduated from the Image and Sound Design career in the University of Buenos Aires. She was a fellow of the Sundance Documentary Film Program with her first documentary film 8 Stories About My Hearing Loss, which premiered at 9° FIDBA and won Best Film at 9° Construir Cine. The film has premiered at the Buenos Aires International Documentary Film Festival (FIDBA), Santiago de Chile IFF (SANFIC), Vancouver IFF (VIFF) and won best film at the Construir Cine – Festival Internacional de Cine Sobre el Trabajo (International Labour Film Festival). She is also a recent graduate of the 2022 RespectAbility Entertainment Lab for Professionals with Disabilities.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and the recent World Day of The Deaf, which was celebrated on September 26, I interviewed Charo about her recent film and her artistry in relationship to her multiple identities. [continue reading…]

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