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  • Jason Hahr

Highlight Your Strengths as a Person with a Disability When Looking for Work

FSACentral is proud to once again celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month by featuring people with disabilities sharing their advice, opinions & experiences.

Rachael Riccobene is sitting at a table. She has curly brown hair, wears glasses, and is smiling. She is also wearing a white blouse.
Rachael Riccobene

As Disability Employment Awareness Month winds down we have another employment profile highlighting an outstanding member of the disability community, Rachael Riccobene.

Rachael was born in a small town outside of Cleveland, Ohio, but she now lives in Bay County Florida, having moved there from Martin County a few years ago.

Racheal performs a wide variety of duties in her job at Publix, including being a customer service clerk as well as a personal shopper for customers who need assistance. As we have done for all of our employment profiles this month we asked Rachael a series of questions.

Hometown: Bay County (near Panama City Beach)

Employer: Publix

Duties & Responsibilities: Customer Service, including personal shopping

Years on the job: 1 year

What is the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment? Highlight your strengths as a person with a disability when pursuing work and continue to do so with your employers. For example, in her opinion, people with disabilities are incredible people to hire, rarely miss work, and are very reliable.

What is the most significant employment related challenge you've faced as a person with a disability? According to Rachael, the most significant challenge she has faced is a lack of understanding from others regarding people with disabilities.

What agency was the most helpful when it came to finding and maintaining employment? Rachael relied more on natural supports, saying that her sister helped her fill out the job application for Publix.

What advice would you give employers about hiring a person with a disability? Even though it is hard not to do, it is important not to make general assumptions about people with disabilities. We are all individuals and possess unique skills that we can bring to the table.

How should we be advocating for better employment practices in Florida? According to Rachael, we need better help from agencies to not only showcase our skills but highlight our talents and abilities that are not on a resume. Agencies and people with disabilities also need to advocate for higher paying jobs.

In your opinion, how does employing a person with a disability help their quality of life? Employment not only benefits us financially but in the long run we are able to do more, and in turn, we have the ability to make a difference in our communities by giving back in a variety of ways such as through volunteering or helping others financially.

Florida Self-Advocacy Central would like to thank Rachael for her time and thoughtful answers.


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