Employer's Leap of Faith Opened Doors for Loderhose
FSACentral is proud to once again celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month by featuring people with disabilities who are out in the workforce.
Name: Elyse Loderhose
Hometown: Riverview, Florida
Employer. Hillsborough School District
Position: DHH (Deaf Hard of Hearing) Itinerant Teacher
Length of time at current job: 2 years as a DHH teacher (but 15 years working for the school district)
Elyse Loderhose is a self-advocate living with cerebral palsy, veteran special-education teacher, and a foster & adoptive mom. Currently, after over a decade of classroom teaching, she serves as an itinerant teacher for hearing-impaired students in Hillsborough Country. Itinerant means she travels around to different schools to do her job.
What is the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment?
I found success in being candid about my disability and trying to make others around me as comfortable as possible. I try to encourage questions and want to educate them on my cerebral palsy and speech impediment.
What advice would you give employers about hiring a person with a disability?
I know that hiring someone with a disability is scary and that there’s so many unknowns, but if you allow that person a chance, some wonderful learning experiences and insights will arise.
What’s the most significant employment-related challenge you face as a person with a disability?
Assumptions are the biggest challenge that I face on a daily basis. Due to my speech impediment and the way that I move, people tend to assume things about me that are not true.
How should we be advocating for better employment opportunities and practices in Florida?
We have come such a long way in giving individuals with disabilities better employment opportunities! As a society, we need to keep educating and “normalizing” different disabilities.
Which agency was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?
During high school and college, I received help from VR services. They provided me money for books, a computer, job training interest inventories, and a Speech Easy (a small device that goes in the ear to help reduce stuttering) when I went on job interviews.
In your opinion, how does employing a person with a disability help their quality of life?
Being able to be a contributing member of society and knowing that I am helping is such an incredible privilege that I know many do not have. It allows me a sense of purpose in my life and gives me the opportunity to live my best life. I recently adopted my former foster daughter, Hollis, whom I absolutely adore. Being able to have a career has opened up so many doors and opportunities that I would have never had if employers such as Sylvia Hastings (former principal who first hired me 15 years ago) had not seen past the disability and took a leap of faith. Because of employers that were open and willing to learn and make simple accommodations, I have had the resources to travel the world, be a foster mom, and teach incredible students that have taught me so much about what life is truly about.
FSACentral would like to thank Loderhose for her time and thoughtful answers.