Do Employers Today Really Understand Diversity and Inclusion?

Hello Everyone,

We hear so often that employers are focused on diversity and inclusion when it comes to their hiring practices. Yet hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities around the world are unemployed or underemployed. Why is that?

Many times when businesses say they are a equitable business they are simply saying that because it is what they have to say. No business person would advertise that they only hire able bodied people. Everyone would be outraged. So to get around that they say they support including and diversity. These terms are just that terms action is what shows if you are truly a employer that believes in diversity and inclusion. No business person is going to say we will give them an interview but never actually hire them. They would be a safety risk, they would take more sick days, it costs too much to have them work in our office. When that is the reality, so many like myself who have faced that employer who is giving you a interview because you checked the box, that you are a person which a disability.

Many times when you do get an interview as someone with a disability you spend the time discussing how you got there, how would you be able to get around the office, would you be a safety risk for them, do you need to take more sick days than other employees. All of these things end up making you feel like you are the size of an ant. Not to mention the feeling you get when you walk in a room and everyone is uncomfortable just by your presence. If you have never experienced this I encourage you to reach out to me and lets go to a professional networking event or dinner. You would be horrified by the way business people you look up to treat people with disabilities.

There was skills and education that got you the interview; yet many times you do not get to talk about those skills or what you can bring to the company. The focus is all on the fact that you are disabled. When in reality you are highly educated, skilled, and bring a unique skill set to the table, a new perspective even. The world of business would be a better place all around with people with disabilities in equal representation across the board

Someone with a disability may need to do things differently but they are also a highly educated skilled untapped talent pool. As someone with a disability I have had to fight my way through many things, we will persevere because we face unimaginable challenges every single day of our lives, we are resourceful and creative; when faced with a challenge, we will overcome it and find a way to make it work.

Those with a disability who are looking for work and are feeling like this is never going to happen and no one will give you the time of day. Hold your head high, stand up straight, and own it. Your disability gives you a skill set that can’t be taught in schools. That company is missing out on you, you are not missing out on them. Your disability does not stop you from doing what you love, peoples perception of what you can do does. So take that leap and show the world that you are not going anywhere and you will make it no matter what they say.

You will be the one to sit across the table from those who said no, and be the one to tell them no. It takes time and hard work but you are the one who will come out on top,

There are many people who may be uncomfortable with this, and that is ok with me. You should be, but the truth is this is the reality for so many people who have a disability and for so many companies who just don’t walk the walk.

Until Next Time..

Ashley and Danson

The Hard Days Make Us A Better Team

Hello Everyone,

It has been 6 months since my guide dog Danson and I were matched and started learning to work together as a team. This has not always been a walk in the park and life has made this transition more difficult than I would have ever thought. With Danson being my second guide dog I thought it would be easier this time around and I will tell you that could not have been farther from the truth.

Danson is an amazing guide, he makes life so much easier and gives me confidence and freedom that I have never felt with a white cane. When you are learning to work with a new guide dog it is a long process of learning each other’s quirks and what makes the both of you tick and what you need to be at your best.

I have been thrown some unanticipated health things and that has made this transition a little harder. I have lost the remaining light perception that I had when we were first matched and I have been on a little bit of a roller coaster with my health. Danson has taken this in stride and been there by my side through it all.

As all these changes have gone on, I am learning to trust Danson and work my routes around my home and work with zero vision. Danson is really sensitive and picks up on my fears and anxieties, and this is amazing but when I am having a rough day we as a team are having a rough day. I have found that I have more fears when I am moving about my environment and those fears can manifest more when I am having a bad day. These fears and anxiety can take a tole on Danson so it is something that I am working through and I am doing this with the support of Danson and some amazing people.

It takes a year to become a solid working team. And that year has its ups and downs. That is normal and it takes a long time to get used to each other and learn everything about them.

I am so happy to have been matched with Danson, after the early retirement of my last guide I have become hyper aware of what can happen if Danson is put in a situation similar. There are many things that can happen when you are a guide dog handler that a dog would have to retire early and the fear of that happening to Danson has made this transition along with the other things a little tricky. Danson is the right Guide Dog for me and we are working through life as a team and i am so grateful for his support and love through it all.

With the support from so many amazing people in my life we will be a great team. Having a guide dog isn’t always rainbows and sunshine but it is definitely worth every minute.

I get so many people asking me if a Guide Dog is for them or if I get a Guide Dog what are some of the things you wished you knew before you got a guide dog. I always want people to take as much information about guide dogs and make the choice for themselves. The one thing that I don’t think that I can prepare them for is the emotional rollercoaster that occurs as a guide dog handler.

There are days when it is hard, at the end of the day they are dogs and have good and bad days just like humans. You don’t meet the dog for the first time and trust them with your life. They don’t come in your room and love you right off the bat either. They are looking for who ever they loved before you to come back. When you get home it is not going to be sunshine and rainbows. There will be things you need to work through, issues that arise you never thought of, quirks that drive you nuts. The constant advocacy will get old. At the end of the day no matter how hard it is being a Guide Dog handler is the best thing I could have ever done for myself. And I hope so many others find what makes them as confident and independent as possible.

Danson and I are still learning to fully trust each other and that is hard for me this time with what happened to Rick. I have panic attacks because I am so worried when I am out that something is going to happen to Danson and he will have to retire and I will be left shattered again. I avoid the Starbucks where the incident happened to this day. But I am so happy and grateful to have Danson by my side I wouldn’t change anything. Soon we will be like an extension of each other, we are like a newly married couple right now, still figuring it out.

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Danson