Page Ensures Equality for Others with Disabilities
FSACentral is proud to once again celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month by featuring people with disabilities who are out in the workforce.
Barb Page is a senior advocate investigator at Disability Rights Florida, where she has worked for more than 20 years.
Name: Barb Page
Hometown: Tampa Bay
Employer: Disability Rights Florida
Position: I’m a senior advocate investigator. I investigate, advocate, and educate on issues relating to equal access for individuals with disabilities. This can include equal access to places and programs, public transportation, service animals, and effective communication. Really my role is to help ensure the rights of individuals with disabilities.
Length of time at current job: : I have worked with Disability Rights Florida for 20 years!!
What is the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment? The first thing I would advise is know your strengths and be able to express to others what you are skilled at, what you can do, how you may need to do it differently or with a reasonable accommodation. It’s all about presenting yourself in a positive “can do” attitude. I can’t think of one employer who doesn’t want a dedicated, team player, and motivated employee, so be sure to demonstrate all of those great qualities.
What advice would you give employers about hiring a person with a disability?
To employers, I would say, think outside the box. Take a chance to grow your company in a way you never have. Hire individuals with disabilities who not only can do the work you need them to do, but recognize inclusivity is a really important piece to any company or community. There is an old saying that says “variety is the spice of life,” but I think inclusivity creates the beauty, diversity, and “spice” of a workplace community.
What’s the most significant employment-related challenge you face as a person with a disability? For me, my biggest challenge has always been the times when I need travel for work. The challenges of getting there can sometimes be an obstacle, but once I’ve arrived at my hotel, there’s often another challenge. Many times, the bed is too high for me to transfer easily or safely from my wheelchair. I have requested the hotel remove the box spring which makes the bed a more manageable height. Hotel bathrooms are usually accessible for persons who use wheelchairs, but it’s not the same as being “home." Being adaptable and creative is a skill I’ve developed when faced with unexpected challenges.
Which agency was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?
Many years ago, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation assisted me with some college tuition and vehicle modifications.
In your opinion, how does employing a person with a disability help their quality of life? For individuals with disabilities, as is the case for most people, the ability to support themselves and their families, provides a sense of accomplishment and independence. Besides the financial benefits of working, employment can provide a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and self-confidence. For the employer, the benefit of hiring persons with disabilities means they will often get one of the most dedicated, hard-working employees. This is a statement I’ve heard from employers over the years.
FSACentral would like to thank Page for her time and thoughtful answers.