FSACentral is proud to celebrate Disability Employment Awareness month by featuring some people with disabilities who are out in the workforce.
Name: Amanda Baker Hometown: Panama City, Florida
Employer: Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
Position: Technician Length of time at VR: 2 ½ years
What’s the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment?
Be aware that things are going to happen once you’re working, especially with your benefits. Don’t be afraid about it, just work through it. Don’t be afraid to fight to get the same treatment that others who hold the same position would receive. Stand your ground and show other people how to treat you. Sometimes people don’t mean to treat you differently but they do without realizing it.
What’s the most important employment-related challenge you face as a person with a disability?
Being able to make money and keep benefits so that you have the services you need to stay independent.
How should we be advocating for better employment opportunities and practices in Florida?
One of the big things we need to advocate for is a Medicaid buy-in program so that people can keep the services they need. We also need to remain vigilant about transportation options that are both accessible and affordable for people with disabilities.
Which agency was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?
I did get help from various agencies but ,ultimately, I was the one to get myself the job in the end. We live in a system with plenty of programs for people with disabilities to gain employment but there are really no programs to help sustain people. There will be issues during the time that a person with a disability is employed. Unfortunately, at this time there is no one to help that person maintain their employment long term.
FSACentral would like to thank Amanda Baker for her time and thoughtful answers she gave during the interview.