D'Arcy Urges Employers to Look at the Person, Not the Disability
In October we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) by spotlighting people with disabilities who are out in the workforce.
As National Disability Employment Awareness Month continues, we are excited to introduce you to Patrick D’Arcy. He is a self-advocate residing in Orlando and a member of FL SAND's self-advocacy group in greater Orlando, MAGICAL.
Patrick is passionate about raising awareness of neurodiverse people and working with the educational system in Central Florida to help students with disabilities. Today we are going to talk about his employment at DHL Commerce Solutions - a logistics company that provides courier, package delivery, and express mail services.
Employer: DHL Commerce Solutions
Position: Domestic Mail Sorter
Duties & Responsibilities: Handling returns and sorting through pallets and frames of mail through the United States Postal Service.
Years on the job: 3 years
What is the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment? Never give up! Believe in yourself. You’ve got good friends and a higher power looking out for you. I was told I would never succeed and should withdraw in 9th grade. Now, here I am raising awareness of neurodiverse people.
What advice would you give employers about hiring a person with a disability? My advice would be to not just look at the disability. It’s important to look at the individual. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to society.
What is the most significant employment-related challenge you've faced as a person with a disability? The most challenging thing to face as an employee with a disability is experiencing barriers to employment that people without disabilities don’t have. Sometimes with employers, they are stuck in the old-school way of thinking.
Which agency (VR, APD, CIL, etc.) was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?
Two-6 (now Discover Ability) was the most helpful in accessing and maintaining employment. They helped me find the job at DHL E-Commerce Solutions. They are also in partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation.
How should we be advocating for better employment practices in Florida? We need to talk to the employers, let them know that people with disabilities can live and work independently. We need to be treated fairly and get competitive wages. We have to do a better job of dispelling negative stereotypes and rumors about disabilities because there are more people making positive impacts to the workplace, like Heather Kuzmich (a model with autism) and Greta Thunberg (an activist with autism).
In your opinion, how does employing a person with a disability help their quality of life? Employing a person with a disability dramatically increases a person’s quality of life and independence. People with disabilities deserve the same dignity and rights as everyone else.
Florida Self-Advocacy Central would like to thank Patrick for his time and thoughtful answers.