FSACentral is proud to celebrate Disability Employment Awareness month by featuring some people with disabilities who are out in the workforce.
Name: Don Risavy, Jr. Hometown: Daytona Beach, Florida
Employer: The Division of Blind Services Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Position: Senior Rehabilitation Instructor
Length of time at current job: 1 ½ years
What’s the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment?
Have a positive attitude no matter what and make sure to show up to work daily.
What’s the most important employment-related challenge you face as a person with a disability?
Being able to access material as someone who is visually impaired and getting other accessible material so that you can do your job.
How should we be advocating for better employment opportunities and practices in Florida?
Agencies that help people with disabilities find work should get more information out to the public and be in the community promoting the hiring of people with disabilities. They should promote the product, in other words, the person with a disability. Agencies should also try to find out if businesses would be open to hiring people with disabilities and let businesses know there are programs that help prepare people with disabilities so they might be comfortable hiring a person with a disability.
Which agency was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?
The Division of Blind Services (DBS) helped me get my job after I attended the Re-Thinking Unemployment program they used to hold. I went and shadowed for a day with the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Pensacola. During my time at Re-think, or re-thinking unemployment, and because of some connections I had made, I found out about a possible job at that CIL. I had contacted CIL in Pensacola and sent my resume to them. Then DBS got me in there doing a work experience with them for three months. Frank Cherry, who was the Executive Director of that CIL at the time ended up offering me a job when a position became available.
FSACentral would like to thank Don Risavy, Jr. for his time and thoughtful answers he gave during the interview.