Florida Self- Advocacy Central is pleased to once again celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month by featuring people with disabilities who are out in the workforce.
Name: Eddie Hall
Hometown: Lakeland, Florida
Employer: Home Depot
Positions: Part-Time Greeter (current); retired after 26 years at Publix in warehousing and logistics
Length of time at current job: 10 years
What is the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment?
My best advice to self-advocates about accessing and retaining employment is to get passionate about your employment -- set an obtainable goal in a career you are passionate about. Work with Vocational Rehabilitation to obtain a degree in that field. While working on obtaining the degree, network with people working in a company where you want to be employed.
What advice would you give employers about hiring a person with a disability?
Talk with managers of companies that are currently hiring people with disabilities. They'll tell you that people with disabilities are more reliable, more committed, and don't call in sick as much. By hiring someone with a disability your company will prosper!
What’s the most significant employment-related challenge you face as a person with a disability?
Making sure my van is working properly to get me to and from work. If not, then finding another form of transportation until my van is working. If you can't get to work you're not going to keep your job. Transportation is a real issue that we advocates need to continue working on.
How should we be advocating for better employment opportunities and practices in Florida?
By making sure that more people with disabilities are prepared and ready to work in any field.
Which agency was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?
Vocational Rehabilitation is your key to getting the training needed to obtain the employment you want. Networking with people who are currently employed is the key to obtaining the job! I got my job at Publix through a contact at church. I had tried to get a job there through the typical route -- going through HR -- but they told me there was nothing for me because I used a wheelchair. My church friend gave me the name of a hiring manager in the warehouse and it was that contact that got my foot in the door and an interview. When he met me in person, he knew I could do whatever they needed me to do.
In your opinion, how does employing a person with a disability help their quality of life?
A person with a disability who works has the opportunity to earn their living and gain a feeling of accomplishment! They will have the opportunity to have the same quality of life as any other person. Working and earning money gives you more freedom and opportunities in life!
FSACentral would like to thank Eddie for his time and thoughtful answers.