My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Advocacy in Employment

As a woman who is blind - the opportunity to be assertive and an advocate for myself and others who are blind presents itself daily.  This week I made some transitions - quit one of my employers (love them and left on great terms).   I needed some additional time to pursue some other opportunities that have presented themselves. It has me reflecting on my career journey and the spunkiness that it sometimes takes to push through some of those barriers that I hope are being shattered.  Presently, I am in such a great position -- being self-employed I have incredible opportunities and am often approached to consult with others on how they might market their business.  I love this aspect and enjoy sharing with others.  As I have this opportunity, I don't recall a time when my blindness is even brought up -- other than my requesting that we meet at a location that is accessible or they might acknowledge Cricket as a cute dog before the conversation is turned back to professional.

With the transition this week, I reflect on the subtle and not so subtle messages that I have experienced in my career journey with blindness.  Each employer became an opportunity to educate and at times be challenged to advocate.  I think a trait many would say about me is tenacious or persisitent.  I see 'no' as a challenge! I reflect on  the employer that when I shared I had Retinitis Pigmentosa - encouraged me to quit;  the employer that when I asserted myself about an advancement opportunity told me that because I was blind I should just be grateful that I had a job; the employer that told me they would like to hire me but because they had a client who was allergic to dogs, they could not;  the employer that told the receptionist they must alert clients as they called in that the therapist was blind.   All of these employers became positive experiences, friendships formed and lessons learned with the hope that the next time an employee that is blind comes along they will  know  the possibilities and capabilities.  The challenges were handled with assertiveness and respect and perhaps because of those potential barriers that were placed, I welcome opportunities to be an advocate for my self and others, who happen to be blind. I hope this open room in my schedule will also give me a litle more time for advocacy and helping others who are blind be advocates. I appreciate so much those that helped me in those earlier days when I wondered what could I do when someone told me no, I couldn't do something. I learned yes, I can.


Deborah said...

That was a beautiful post and you can do what ever you set out to do!
Blessings, Deborah

Mimi and CC Cabana said...

There's not many who can educate others about the opportunities and challenges of blindness with more grace and love than you, Becky. My exposure to blindness is so limited, but I want to know more about it. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

karen (Mom) said...

You go my dear Girl!!! So proud of your positive and examplary behavior. YOU are the positive answer to those protests I made years ago when I didn't feel women were treated equally.


L^2 said...

What a wonderful post! I wish I could handle these sorts of situations with as much grace as you do. That's something I'm still working on.

Erin said...

You are an inspiration to everyone Becky! What a great post.

Jennifer said...

Great post and completely agree. If we don't make a good attempt to handle other people's misunderstandings correctly, how will they ever learn. Keep up the good work.