Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The ABCs of this Week

Eastern Market
Moldy Dorm
Pool lifts
Self preservation

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bad Weekend

Hey all. I hope you have had a better weekend than I had, I spent mine curled up in bed sick. I’m feeling a little better today, but still far from good. As for last week, I got to experience something new: a fundraiser. I got to attend one of my congressman’s fundraisers held here in DC, and it was awesome. I got to meet several congressmen and make some great connections. I’m back at work today, although not feeling well at all. Hopefully things get better as the day goes on, but I didn’t want to lose out on a day of work since I only have ten remaining. We are still working on compiling data from our constituent surveys, and have one county left. Unfortunately, this is the largest sample size we’ll have, at over 900 entries for each of the 15 questions. This entry is a bit short, but there’s not much I can talk about except for my bad weekend, and nobody wants to hear those details. Take it easy, and I’ll talk to y’all again next week. Paul

D.C. NOT in D.C. week 9

My title brings it to the attention for all of you who did not notice that I am not in DC right now! But no worries I will be back early tomorrow morning. I was fortunate enough to be able to come home to Canton, Ohio for one of my first cousin's wedding. I really enjoyed myself and it was a well needed dose of medicine for my homesickness that I have been having.

Although I went home early Friday morning, the majority of the week I did spend in DC and it was pretty hectic. I spent a good 48 hours trying to get prepared for the JFA Awards ceremony we attended Thursday and I am glad I was chosen to speak on behalf of us all. This actually opened up another networking door for me, seeing that I received many accolades for my short description of my experience here. I received a free, autographed version of a book and exchanged some contact information with some people who are within the Department of Homeland Security!

When I return, I have some lunch dates to attend and a little more work to do at the USDA. God is good all the time and all the time God is good! I'm in for a long flight tonight so I will you all tomorrow!

Until next time!

A big decision

This week I had a decision to make.  I was at home in Iowa.  Where everything was familiar and comfortable.  I had the support of my husband and my mother and I did not have the stress of my internship that has made me question a lot of things about myself and my capabilities.  I was home because of my eye, and that was scary, needless to say.  It is still scary.  We do not have a definitive answer for what happened to my eyesight.  I just woke up one day and my right eye was blurry and it stayed that way for a week.  Thankfully, now I have my eyesight back and I learned that I am a bit nearsighted, so I got some glasses for that.  We still do not know the cause.  As stated in a previous blog, it could be Multiple Sclerosis, or it could have been a virus.  We'll hope for a virus.  Anyway, back to the decision.  I was home.  I was getting to spend time with my family.  I got to substitute teach at my mother's preschool where I work during the school year.  I love those kids and feel so at home in that school.  My mother told me that she needs a teacher for the first two weeks in August and she really wanted it to be me and since I was already home, why didn't I just stay.  My husband was missing me.  I had left the day after our wedding and we have not had any time together since.  He really wanted me to stay.  I was getting it from both of them.

But then there was the commitment that I had made.  I had responsibilities in D.C.  I had signed on for an internship that lasted through the 10th of August and I needed to stand behind my commitments.  Isn't that the professional thing to do.

Things have not been easy at my internship.  I am not saying that I wish I had not come, because that is not true, but it has been a challenging summer.  I know that the feedback that I was getting was to make me a better professional and to improve my career, therefore, I am not going to shrug it all off as unnecessary and superfluous.  I have taken in a lot of what has been said to me and I have learned a great deal.

In the end, I said goodbye to my husband and my mother and boarded, first a bus and then a train for my 30 hour trip back to D.C.  I was tired and sore when I got here, but I knew I made the right decision.  Two more weeks.
Disability and HIV
Angela Denise Davis

The AAPD 2012 Justice for All Awards and ADA Anniversary Celebration last week marked the climax of our summer internship program.  We have two more weeks to go, but it was clear that this event where disability advocates were honored was the last, formal hoo-rah for the interns.

The week was filled with other activities. I started it by having dinner with my partner who was here for the 2012 International AIDS Society Conference. Although I was not a registered participant of the gathering, I camped out 2 days at the “Disability Networking Zone” of the Global Village. It was amazing to see the international efforts of combining accessibility with HIV prevention programs. This was especially true of the presentation given by the Christian Blind Ministries (CBM) partners in Tanzania. They reported that the number of persons with HIV is higher for persons with disability than it is for the general population. A presenter also remarked that this disparity is even greater in other African countries.

The conference was attended by thousands of persons from all across the globe, and I felt that as I marched with the woman’s collective on Tuesday afternoon. I tied to my white cane the blue cloths   given to the marchers as a representation of a “sea of woman.” I lifted my cane high, and as we marched I saw another cane in the crowd. It belonged to a French woman who was quite glad to discover that she had a disabled sister in the crowd. She was not extremely fluent in English, and I did not know any French. Our language discrepancy was not a hindrance to our shared enthusiasm and solidarity, though.

The AIDS conference also offered me an opportunity to interact with friends from Atlanta and the D.C. area who are working in HIV prevention or research. A small group of us went to the Kennedy Center for an ADA anniversary performance “Theater Breaking Through Barriers” on the Millennium Stage. It was six plays about disability in 70 minutes. It was a pleasure to attend with friends, and then to talk about the performances over dinner.

Summer's Past

Since the beginning of the internship, I had been planning for this week. Sending out invitations, looking up contact information, hiring interpreters and a recorder, ordering food, buying supplies, creating materials, etc. What was this important event, you ask? On Tuesday we hosted a roundtable discussion on healthcare transition for youth with disabilities and chronic conditions at the Youth Transition Center. With 32 participants, the event proved to be a stimulating discussion and all our hard work appeared to pay off. Now that this event is over however, I really feel as if my internship is quickly coming to an end. Between having to say goodbye to a fellow intern two weeks earlier than expected and visiting with my Mom and Aunt this weekend, I feel as if my internship is over already even though I know I have 12 days left in D.C. In the time I have left, I am going to make a point to see as much of the city as possible. Even though I've been here for two months, I still feel as if I haven't seen most of the city. There is always something else to see or do. With one more weekend left, I plan to make the most of my time and visit museums and chic neighborhoods that I have yet to see. Whether I will be able to fit everything in, however, is another story.

From Pumpkins to Politics

July 26, 2012: While it is honorably noted to be the 22nd anniversary of the ADA, for me, it is so much more. It is the the mark up and vote on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. After much discussion and debate, this exact moment is what I and so many others have been waiting for. The Senate Committee is taking a roll call vote. I am on the edge of my seat, my right hand clasped with my roommate's left. My breathing has slowed. I am sorting through the ayes, nays, and inaudibles. Time and the votes go by painfully slow. I think back to the weeks I spent on Capitol Hill, where I visited and talked to the staff and interns for the Senators who are in this room today. Countless visits and hand-written letters, expressing the importance of ratifying the CRPD. Until a week ago, I had felt secure in hoping that the CRPD would pass through this Senate Committee. But last Friday when I had called the Senator's offices, I felt a different feeling settle in and take root; fear. That fear continues to fill me as I sit.

My reminiscing has caused me to lose track of the direction of the votes. I wait. By a vote of 13-6 the CRPD will move to the Senate floor! It is a moment of celebration, but more importantly, it is a historical moment. A historical moment in disability history that I can say I was a part of--assisted with--though my role was small and in the grand scheme of everything revolving around the CRPD, I am a nobody. That's the great thing about D.C., a nobody can become a somebody, at least for a few hours (glass slippers and princes not required). Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!

Week 9

Bringing week 9 to a close with some very memorable moments including closure to a major project, some very valuable and interesting meetings and of course the 22nd anniversary of the ADA. Not that university coursework is not fulfilling but, contributing to something that has the potential to positively impact a group of people feels amazing. It’s different than the satisfying feeling of taking a test and knowing you did well or even turning in a thesis paper. Those actions leave a person feeling accomplished and almost relieved. Conversely, having contributed to a greater good or to something that you have a passion for makes you feel exhilarated. It reminds you where your passions lie and what your objectives and motives are. It really is a great feeling. Like always, this opportunity has allowed me to meet and converse with so many successful and inspirational people. It has allowed me to think outside of the box in regards to a career path and has given me insider knowledge on what is needed in order to achieve and maybe even surpass the goals I have set for myself and my future. Lastly, the 22nd anniversary of the ADA, what more to say? The speeches were inspirational and about bettering the lives of people with disabilities. The ADA in a more focal and literal sense has opened doors for me. It has made it possible for me to travel and access things that may not have been accessible prior. It has allowed me to experience things with greater freedom.  I have traveled outside of the US and been able to witness first hand some of the issues that arise when the ADA is not available to be upheld. Things are not accessible, doors close, places are unavailable to entry. It makes me even more proud to be American. 

Second till the end

 And so the internship winds down.  It has been a very interesting summer.  I have been immersed in education about the fight for equality that the disabled community has gone through.  I have read court cases, and seen the Hill in action.  And I am working for the Department of Homeland Security.   I have made friends and had time to think and reflect.  I really feel I have grown this summer.
Speaking of the internship, things continue to go well.  I go through my assignments each day and then head home.  It remains a very nice environment to have a job (well internship in). 
In terms of my personal life, that too is coming together.  I have a place to live in after the summer is over, and I have already dropped stuff off.  I feel a sense of excitement about the future, really feeling like an adult.  It will be a completely new experience for me, as I roomed at the dorms all four years of my college experience at American University.  I am excited, nervous, and also determined to be on top of the minutia of my day to day experiences in the world of adults.
This week, I also had a great intern experience with the ADA Anniversary celebration.  It was great to see old friends there and to once again sit in that magnificent room.  I also got a copy of Amazing Gifts by Mark I. Pinksy.  I cant wait to dive into it.  I also got to see my mentor and agree to see each other after work this week for dinner.
Things have gone really well.  But I am also a little bit nervous.  I hope that I find work after the AAPD internship is done.   Well, there is still some time, and I should probably run!  See you all next week for what I think will be the last post as an intern.

Notes to Self, Post-ADA Week

1) There is one week only during which people and organizations who do not normally Do Disability are likely to consider that perhaps they should. Use this week as opportunistically as possible.

2) That said, it is still impossible to be in more than one place at once, even during ADA week.

3) Never attempt to put on a suit jacket outside if the temperature exceeds 95 degrees. Do not ignore this if you value your suit.

4) The "lead on chant" just involves saying "LEAD ON! LEAD ON! LEAD ON!" repeatedly, in a loud voice.

5) Disability Pride Parade has kicked off in Philadelphia! Definitely try to go to that next year.

6) Given that your disability causes overload and fatigue, under no circumstances should you attend an evening event on the same day that you wake up at 4 AM to staff a morning event.

7) Seriously, don't do it.

8) You have just two weeks left and you've only visited one museum in all the time you've been here! What are you doing with your life?

Pride and Hope

Our time here in DC is quickly winding to a close. There are only two weeks left and I just keep wondering how it went by quite so quickly. I wish the summer could stretch out a little longer so I could have more time. More time with friends and fellow interns, more time at my internship, and more time learning from AAPD and the disability community. More time in this city that I’ve come to love.

This past week was the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While there are ways in which we still have a long way to go, the change between twenty-two years ago and now is pretty amazing. I am part of a generation of people with disabilities who have grown up with greater rights, greater access, and greater justice because of the ADA. I am now part of a generation that will hopefully see the United States ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which will carry the promise of the ADA and other US laws to other countries. I am a part of a generation that understands and will carry a message of disability pride into our society. Organizations like AAPD and programs like their Summer Internship Program help spread that message.

People talk about the promise of a generation. As a generation that has had access to greater rights and opportunities, we also have greater expectations for the future and that is a wonderful thing. We should have high expectations. I only hope that they will not only be met, but exceeded.

While I am sad to be leaving soon, I am looking forward to carrying all that I have learned this summer home to my family, back to school, and into my communities. I have big dreams because of this summer. I am so used to teaching myself to be realistic that I haven’t allowed myself to dream this big or hope this much in a long time. More than anything else, this summer has given me so much pride and so much hope.

The Future is in Youth

The disability rights and justice movement is dependent on the next generation of youth leaders: young adults with disabilities who can take the movement to its next levels. Although there may be debate about where and what those next levels are, youth engagement is crucial. Thus, there are various facets of the disability community that are fostering the growth of young disabled leaders. Some of the major programs include the AAPD Internship Program and the Youth Leadership Forums for Students with Disabilities. I have been privileged enough to attend both the California Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) in 2009 and obviously, the AAPD Internship Program. Each program has a different premise yet they all display a strong commitment to sharing the knowledge of disability rights and empowering individuals to self advocate and embrace their place in the disabled community.

Whenever someone asks me about a life changing experience, why I am in DC, or why I am passionate about disability, the answer is always YLF. In fact, the YLF program lead me to this very blog post and this amazing AAPD Internship Program. Every year, 60 youth with all types of disabilities, invisible and visible, are brought to Sacramento, California to learn about disability identity, culture, history and pride, self advocacy and leadership. It is a transformational program that provides love and support to community leaders. Ever since I was fortunate enough to attend in 2009, my life turned upside down. I felt a part of something bigger. I felt proud to be disabled. I wanted to create tangible change in my community and my state. And most importantly, I wanted other youth with disabilities to experience the same type of change.

Therefore, I want to spread the word and ensure that as many youth have the opportunities to feel proud of their disabilities, learn about their history and understand their civil rights. This summer was especially meaningful because as a member for the 2012 AAPD Internship Program, I staffed YLF California as a Peer Counselor. Last week, I was able to work with other leaders in encouraging, teaching and celebrating the 60 young attendees of the program. I was able to witness and support the growth of young people with disabilities, and I could not be more thankful. And at the end of the week, after they had learned an immense amount of information, the youth asked themselves: now what? Programs were discussed that they could join, such as YO Disabled and Proud, Independent Living Center programs, and for one of the first times, the AAPD Internship Program. I was honored to share my experience and suggest others to find out more and apply. Many individuals were interested and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share this opportunity with many potential interns.

It is with the conclusion of this year’s YLF that I remember the significance of youth engagement and that the disability community must remain connected and transparent so that all youth with disabilities can have the similar opportunities that I was and still am so fortunate to have.

Disability is Diversity

This week, I was invited by my mentor, Sofija Korac to attend a meeting at the Dept. of State regarding disabilities and HIV in conjunction with the HIV conference held in Washington D.C. this week (btw, this is the first time the conference has ever been held in the states and for a long time, foreign people with HIV were automatically denied entrance...epic moment in history).  There were representatives from various African organizations who spoke about the challenges of those with disabilities in receiving health services.  Those with disabilities around the world are highly stigmatized--second class citizens--and those who have disabilities and HIV infected are even more looked down upon.  They are the last to receive help, if any.

It also doesn't help that there is a virgin myth that if you are infected with HIV, you can rid of it by sleeping with a virgin.  Those with disabilities are generally perceived to be unwanted caste from society, therefore, virgins.  They are easily targeted and not only become infected, but don't receive treatment and have to suffer.  It's terrible that people have to endure this injustice, especially because it is NOT their fault!  These organizations are striving to change this as best as they can, but with little support.  Many of the representatives mentioned the CRPD and how it's ratification by the U.S. will become a model for improvement in their countries as well (I really hope this is the case), and I'm thrilled the convention was sent to the floor this week.  I'm so excited and am hopeful of what happens this following week.

Another topic discussed is the call for youth leaders with disabilities to rise up and become the voices of their disability communities, to educate others and push for those basic human rights--health and equality.  People should never be discriminated against because of their disability (or anything for that matter), but unfortunately, we are.  We, as disability advocates, need to work alongside able-bodies to integrate people with disabilities into society, and teach people to become not only tolerant, but accepting of others different from them.  At least, we can educate others on our disabilities so they can better understand our needs, our abilities, and how we can contribute to our society.  Disabilities add diversity to every society and make up part of the definition of melting pot.  In actuality, everyone has a disability of some sort or will experience it at some point.  We are here and proud of our disabilities, and we should never allow these challenges to hinder us from attaining our right to equal treatment, health care, and opportunities.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Almost there!

This week has been the usual hectic week for me.  Yet, I still believe that my time here was all because of the divine’s will for me!  I have experienced many wonderful moments with fellow interns and realize that I have made life long friends with some. 

I have decided to remain positive for the remainder of the time here.  I feel like I have so many places I want to visit before I leave.  Nevertheless, I will do only do what the Lord allows me too. I have a strong faith in him for he has told me that “No weapon formed against me shall prosper”.  I believe his word and will continue to honor him.

As far as work is concerned, I am involved on many wonderful things and I have met a plethora of persons that have inspired me to reach higher.  I love the idea of seeing persons that look like me working in an administrative capacity. Thank God for my work experiences.  I now have taken the blinders off and see pass my circumstances.  I live life without limits. 

I must say that I have grown through my experiences in DC.  I have always respected the individuality of others and D.C. definitely offers diversity.  Diversity in the arts, entertainment, cultures, religious experiences, etc. is definitely an amenity within the city.

I also recognize the hustle and bustle of the city.  I sometimes feel like it is a survival of the fittest type environment.  You have to hustle align yourself with persons that have good character and will not “step on and over” you for self serving reasons.  I am staying aligned and aware.  For I know that the best is yet to come.  I am energized and ready to run the race in DC.  I want to have a better understanding of the reason I have endure certain unpleasantries on life, but I know that I will be able to use these issues as a testament to someone life. 

ADA Anniversary

On Thursday, July 26, I had the opportunity to attend the National Council on Disability Swearing In Ceremony at the National Archives of Records Administration Rotunda.  It was a very poignant moment, to be sitting there on the 22nd Anniversary of ADA, with the actual Constitution directly in front of us, the Declaration of Independence to our left, and the Bill of Rights to our right.  I was also thrilled to meet NCD members from my home town, Albany, New York—Mr. Chester Finn and Ms. Stephanie Orlando.  There was a reception after the ceremony, where I got the chance to network with others who are passionate about disability rights. 

Afterwards, three of us climbed into a taxi in order to make it to the CRPD markup.  Dirksen was filled with disability pioneers and advocates who had been working so hard for global disability rights and the ratification of the treaty.  It meant so much to be a part of such an historical moment.

Afterwards, we went to Union Station for lunch, and then made our way to the Botanical Garden, where the interns convened before walking over to the Capitol together for a group photograph.  It has been such an honor to get to know all of the interns over the summer.  Everyone has such incredible passion, and you all inspire me to the fullest.  

Now we moved on to the Cannon Building for the And Justice for All awards, where I was further inspired by Jim and Carrie’s speeches.  Finally, it was time to go, and head off to my second Diva Dinner at Fire and Sage.  It was an unforgettable day.

Dyslexic Self Advocacy Network

Note to Reader: This blog post is about dyslexia so I have made the choice not to spell check my natural spelling

I had the opertunity this week to meet Andy Imparato and Senator Harkin for the first time in person. When I brought up the subject of dyslexia, Andy asked me if I would organize the demographic. “We have some parent groups,” he said, “but I want you to organize adult dyslexics.” When I hesitated mementarly Andy said, “just say yes.” And so I did.

I had never really thought of dyslexia as a parent-dominated disability or likened it to the issues suranding autism and self advocacy. But Andy’s order made me consider it differently. I had been aware for some time that none of the top dyslexia researchers and authorities were dyslexic themselves—mostly parents, at best with a once removed relationship to dyslexia—but had never given it much thought. But when I got home from the event where I had met Imparato and Harkin, I traveled to the International Dyslexia Assocation’s website and viewed their boad of directors. Only two out of twenty-one board members were dyslexic themselves. At once I proceaved the problem Andy had aluded to.

How strange it is that such a glaring issue in the dyslexic community had aluded me for so long. Of course self-reperesnenion and advoacacy are important in both research and public policy. What could be done? Ari Ne’eman’s Autisic Self Advocacy Network provides a great model for a disalbity rights organization run for and by people with autisom. Dyslexic Self Advocacy Network? Sounds good to me. Let me know if you want to help.


My weekend has been one of the best I’ve had in DC thus far. I didn’t eat fancy meals or attend important events. I didn’t meet any prominent political figures or build my network. I did absolutely nothing productive, and I’m absolutely with fine that. Sometimes simplicity is bliss.

Instead of rushing to the metro on a time crunch, I kept near the apartment without a set schedule and checked out the local entertainment that the area had to offer. While seeing monuments, visiting museums, and shopping are great ways to spend time in DC, one must not forget to relax, and most DC interns would agree that open schedules and carefree weekends don’t happen very often. I’ve stayed up late playing card games and watching movies with the other interns and have slept in until at least 1:00 p.m. each day. Enjoying fresh air outside in the sunshine, a group of us gathered in the courtyard to socialize and compare our experiences. I must say that I wish we interns had more opportunities to come together and chat about our best and worst moments this summer—our successes and challenges at our internship sites and with the program itself. During our conversations, I felt like we were a group unified by our passion for advocacy. My class of interns is a strong support system that won’t be broken when we part our separate ways. We are the future of the disability community, and from what I can tell, the future looks promising.

I am...

This week as felt like another whirlwind of sorts. I feel like much of my time here has gone by way too quickly. It is also hard to pick a highlight from this week to write about in particular. This past Thursday was absolutely amazing. First off, the CRPD got sent to the Senate floor! After the CRPD mark-up I went to AAPD’s “Justice for All” Award Ceremony and ADA celebration. I heard many inspiring stories there but I think what struck me most were Joyce Bender’s words, “I am Epilepsy.” Before this internship I would never have had the courage to say, “I am Cerebral Palsy.” For most of my life I was taught that my disability made me  “a problem,” “a burden,” and “an incompetent person.” As much as I have tried to tell myself over the years that those things were lies I lived like those lies were truth. I tried to live like I didn’t need help, like I could do anything anyone else could (possibly even better) and like my life was not any different from anyone else’s

I tried to live under the statement of “I am Normal.” I thought for a while, that I pulled it off pretty well. Then, I go hit with a neurological disability that made my act a little hard to keep up. Now, I have applied for a mobility dog to help with the neurological issues. I had been encouraged for years to get a mobility dog but for years I avoided it because I lived in places that were not considered “disability friendly” and I didn’t want to be the woman who was treated differently because she had a service dog with her. I wanted to hide my disability, to the point that I had begun to endanger myself. I was willing to live dangerously just so I could say, “I am Normal.” When I heard Joyce shout from the podium on Thursday, “I am Epilepsy” I wondered in my heart if I would ever be secure enough in the way I was created to shout, “I am Cerebral Palsy.”  I think applying for the mobility dog was the beginning of working up the courage to do so.

Yesterday, I also went to Philadelphia for their first ever disability pride parade. I was totally honored to be a part of that event and I was glad I went. The time I will most treasure though is being with Yoshiko in 30th Street Station for two hours (our train was very delayed). First of all, I love her and I am amazed I had the opportunity to meet her and get to know her. She is so encouraging. She talked to me about Justin’s dreams and how the world needs people with disabilities who are willing to lead and be involved in politics. She told me I could be a leader. I think, though, that to become the leader Yoshiko encouraged me to be I need to be confident in who I am and who I have been created to be. I need to be able to confidently shout,


Happy Birthday, ADA

Hello lovely readers!

This past week comprised mostly of following the status of the CRPD in the senate and working on an article about the treaty and how it would affect me if the US were to ratify it.

Exciting to say--success on both fronts!

Thursday, the CRPD was voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a count of 13-6! the number of "Nays" is a little disappointing, but there are a few "issues" with the CRPD that will have to be worked out on the Floor. These issues include ensuring that the treaty has no effect on abortion laws in any country (it was never intended to) and the remaining hot topic of sovereignty that some legislators are still concerned the US will lose if it ratifies a UN treaty. But despite all of these controversial matters, the majority of the Committee wants to continue moving along what they agree to be an uncomplicated, just human rights treaty.

I didn't make it to the hearing this time around, but I did watch it live online, and tensions were definitely high from what I could see. I especially enjoyed watching Sen. Kerry's frankness in correcting what he considered to be the opposition's argument's flaws. I've never seen such personality in political debate before!

On the other hand, I completed writing my article--a brief vignette depicting the energy of the initial hearing and our community's enthusiasm, as well as a quick overview of the CRPD for those who aren't well acquainted with it. I'm pretty happy with it and I am grateful to my supervisor for acting as my editor!

Also--happy birthday, ADA! Thursday, and the day of the Committee vote, was the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was fun to be around so many like-minded advocates to share in the celebrating! AAPD hosted a wonderful anniversary event Justice for All, which honored key figures of the disability rights movement, such as Sen. Harkin (IA).

All in all, it was another great week in Washington, with so many more reasons to miss the amazing experiences I have had this summer!  
                         --Liz H.


This Week

This week went  very fast. I did alot of things like I went and talked at the Libaery's Board of Trustees and got a buniness card from one of the board members. I hope to set up an interview with her. Also I just came back from home becaouse my family and I were celebrating my dads birthday early. I did not get to do this but I wished I did take part of the group photo on Thrusday afternoon but I still went to the awards event. That was very fun and I saw alot of people and enjoyed that speechs. I like Carrie's and Jim's the most. I think they did a pretty nice job on their speechs. This weekend I am going to a friends lake house for her birthday then Sunday I am going to see the Golden Dragon Acerbats at Wolf Trap. This week I am meeting a women from the Misodian. Can't wait to meet her. Well until next week keep on rocking all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Colorado crazy"

As many of you know I have dedicated two of my blogs to the stigma of having a Mental Illness, this topic has been a passion of mine for the last three hours since I enrolled in Graduate School. Heck even the topic of stigma popped up during my presentation in the AAPD orientation, so yes incase the reader is wondering this is going to be another longwinded blog about Stigma. Something happened on Friday that really sickened me and disturbed me, I did feel for the victims of the Colorado shootings, and however the Media's reactions to this whole event are what I found the most unbearable. Immediately after the shooting even before the shooter's identity was revealed, Hannity came on the air announcing to the audience that the shooter had a mental illness. You don't know the guy's name?, You have no idea what he looks like?, but automatically you assume he has a Mental Illness. Needless to say CNN followed up on the story a few days later saying that the suspect looked "dazed and confused" in court and this had something to do with his Mental Illness. Let's see the guy graduated summa cum laude with Bachelors in Neuroscience, he was an honor student and according to one of his professors Mr. Holmes got a 100% in one of the most difficult courses in undergraduate. Don't you think a guy of that stature who knows how everything about Behavior, is familiar with Mental illness and biology can't go into Court pretending to have a Mental Illness just to get an insanity defense? Hmm that sounds more likely than assuming he has a Mental Illness. CNN also alluded to the fact that the shooter identified himself as the "Joker" to authorities upon his arrest. Mr. Anderson Cooper (the man who revealed this) later said that the suspect "was not all there and did not realize what he was doing". Hmmm let us analyze this statement, the man went to a Batman screening, shot a bunch of folks and then told authorities he was the "Joker". Maybe if the Suspect stated that he was Batman we can make that statement, but his thoughts are completely congruent with his actions therefore disqualifying the notion that "he did not know what he was doing". Sure we can conclude that the man had a few screws loose or there was something wrong with his medulla ambagata, but stating that he has a mental illness is just plain stigmatizing. Now if an individual with a Mental Illness will be more afraid to disclose his or her disability because they will be worried about what others think. An uneducated Vocational Rehabilitation specialist who is trying to find a job for a client with paranoid schizophrenia might think twice about helping this individual find a job. These depictions can also hurt individuals with mental illness as they might be afraid to seek help due to the way Media Portrays them. One might be thinking "the media has no impact on the individuals themselves". Wrong again! Let's take Tiger Woods as an example, many folks think back to the 90s and see a "smiling, soft-spoken and amazing golfer" named Tiger Wood. Few years ago the Media started portraying Tiger Woods in a different light(for those following the story you know what I mean) suddenly Tiger started declining in his name instead of going +30 in various tourneys, he started going -2 and this has continued for many years afterwards. The same goes for other celebrities such as: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Brett Favre, the media ruined all of these amazing individuals and their careers have never been the same again. The difference between Michael Jordan and average day Joe (aside from the Mental Health diagnosis) is that they already made their life and career; many individuals who have a Mental illness have not. The power of labeling can ruin so much for these individuals. I don’t care about the Colorado shooter being associated with a mental illness because he deserves everything the man has coming to him, but what many folks do not understand is that these attributions do not hurt just the individual in question, but others with psychiatric disabilities who just want to be productive members of society. As Disability advocates we must stand up to the stigmatizer , look him or her straight in the eye and say “we are not going to take this anymore”. I understand Anderson cooper does not have much to do and his weekly television show flopped worse than The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, but this does not give him or Hannity the right to undermine someone’s potential. Am I saying the Colorado Shooter did not have a Mental Illness? No, I am just saying that we should look at all sides of a situation before we draw conclusions. Oh yeah the good folks at AAPD can count this as next week’s blog Until next time Rak

Resumes - Make a strong first impression

Last week we went to a resume workshop hosted by AAPD, and here are a few of the tips they shared with us:

1) Two (2) font maximum:

Multiple fonts make if difficult for the reader to follow your resume.

2) Don't write paragraphs: 
Keep your task detail to a one-line bullet. If someone wants to read a novel, they will buy one.

3) Spark interest:
Employers see hundred of resumes regularly. If you enjoy dance, international travel, and Cuban cuisine - list that! Create opportunities to spark conversation.

4) Keep a master resume:
Keep a word document of every job you've ever had. That way you can always cross reference to see if you have old experience that relates to a new position you're interested in.

5) Have multiple people review:
Spell check is not reliable. Have a group of friends review your resume to ensure things make sense. A second sets of eyes can always catch the typos we miss.

6) Apply for the job!
Don't let one or two qualifications for a position scare you from applying for a job. Job descriptions are written broadly and are often explained in a more concise manner once interviewed. If you're unsure of your qualifications, as for an information interview with the company to learn more. They may point you in the right direction.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An ode to my friends

This past month has been fabulous. I have two great friends who I had the pleasure of meeting my senior year of high school/freshman year at university. Both were in D.C. for approximately a month for differing reasons. We had multiple opportunities to catch up and it was like no time had passed at all. We visited Truckaroo (a must if you've not yet been there), ate dinner at Tortilla Coast, visited McFaddens (a local stronghold) and walked around the city arm-in-arm like the unofficial family we still are and always will be. They've both since gone back to the West Coast and I can definitely say, life feels a little emptier without them.

I've also been visiting different places: Capitol Hill (all too often), the LoC (studying a bunch), White House, Baltimore (as part of a DOT-MARAD tour) and Friday I'm looking forward to meeting/greeting Secretary of Transportation LaHood. I also met a number of deaf/hard of hearing individuals at a monthly social gathering targeted for federally-employed deaf/hard of hearing adults. So. Much. Fun. It is nice to know that there are role models out there within the Deaf Community for me to aspire to.

So here's to whatever the future may hold.

And here's to making the most of the here 'n now.


I Hate One-way Streets

Currently, I am working on my Masters in Communications Management at Temple University in Philadelphia. I absolutely love my program. Most of the focus of my program, though, is on organizational management and communication. I am only half-way through my program and I still have much to learn. The basic tenant, though, of successful organizations is…COMMUNICATION! Who would have guessed, right? Good communication is also necessary for programs and pieces of programs to work. I didn’t think this was a novel concept but after spending some time working on a few reasonable accommodation projects for my internship, perhaps mentioning the necessity of communication for successful acquisition (or from the manager’s side, implementation) of reasonable accommodations would not just be the statement of the obvious after all. This may also seem like I am being captain obvious again but if you search through the information I searched through this past week you would realize that what I am about to state is not as apparent as it should be. Communication requires more than one person. It is a two-way street.

The EEOC and JAN have both put out guidelines on how to go through the accommodation process. Both organizations use the title of “The Interactive Process” when discussing how to go through the reasonable accommodation process. This interactive process includes the following steps: recognizing an accommodation request, gathering information, exploring accommodation options, choosing an accommodation, implementing an accommodation and, finally, monitoring an accommodation.  

Now, reading those steps, you would think they could be addressed to both the manager responsible for implementation and the employee responsible for notifying and obtaining. They certainly could but, sadly, they are not. In doing these projects this week I realized that pretty much everything out there regarding the reasonable accommodation process in both the public and private sector is addressed to the employer not the employee. I struggled to find a list of resources for employees on how to go through the interactive process at work.

 College websites tend to have information for students on how to approach their professors but there is very little that addresses this in the workplace. I’m sorry but I feel like there needs to be more out there for employees. I know when I first started work I didn’t even know I could ask for reasonable accommodations; never mind knowing what to ask for and how to ask for it. JAN does provide many resources for employees but before my first Federal internship in 2009 I didn’t even know JAN existed. I have to write a thesis for my Masters program and I think I am going to try and tackle this problem; the problem of the reasonable accommodation process seeming to be taught as a one-way street.

Monday, July 23, 2012

This Week

Sorry for the late blog. This week went by very quick. I am getting ready to give 2 speechs this Wendesday. One in the morning and one in the evening. I am alittle nervious but I know I will do fine. Also I practiced all weekend and did alot of things at the libeary. I am starting a excel spreadsheet for the list that I am doing. I am also still doing the books for the blind still. Alot of work has to be done with the excel sheet and the books still. I still can't believe that I only have 3 weeks left in the Internship. I am really going to miss DC. Next week is my dads birthday so I am going home for his birthday. I am going to take him to TED and then I hope treat him for lunch at the bowling aley. Well until next week OUT!
Hello all, This week started off with a bang as we received an email on Monday that the CRPD hearing had been delayed because some constituents had better things to do aka "play golf with their home boys". The entire staff at NDRN decided to dedicate the week to going to the various Senate offices with a draft of the letter requesting them to support the CRPD. While we did go through with our sales pitch (going to the various senate offices mentioning who we are, what we do and why should the various senate offices support the CRPD majority of the offices we visited already heard the sales pitch and just responded with a "yes we know, thank you". It almost felt like Halloween instead of residents giving out Candy it was the visitors who handed out the goodies, although it seemed like I was a used car salesman at times, I really enjoyed going to different Senate offices and speaking with the various members of the staff. When we watch a debate or a speech on television, we only see the individual delivering the speech, however what we don't realize is that there are several "behind the scenes players" who have a significant impact on what is displayed on the teleprompter. The Secretary who hands specific letters or documents to the Senator's chief counsel to the Senate staffers themselves each individual is unique, before I visited the Senate offices I always thought that "we will just hand over the letter" to the chief counsel, but instead I realized that it is like any other office. As soon we ventured into our first office I told Qin Qin that “we have one of these too”. The first Senator’s office(who I shall not name here) had two blonde ladies and one guy sitting at the table. One of the reasons that I point this out is it almost felt like “three’s company” there was no need for them to worry because we were knocking on their door. After we finished doing our “sales pitch” or “UPS deliveries” whatever way you want to look at it, we went back to NDRN headquarters to debrief staff on our experience. Secondly, There are many aspects of the Midwest that make the rest of the state’s jealous: the pizza (of course), the corn that invades our state and Midwestern Hospitality. Folks say those who live in the South have excellent mannerisms; my response to that individual who made such a statement is that they can keep their grits with them (nothing wrong with Grits), but the Midwest is where it is at… On Saturday I took a long journey out to Maryland where I was meeting my uncle who has not seen for 17 years, but someone my family knew since he was living in Chicago. As soon as I shook my Uncles hand and introduced myself to his wife. I was welcomed into the home with open arms and it felt like I was visiting my family back home. We had a great time eating the wonderful food Mumta Aunti my uncle’s wife made for all of us. We had a longwinded conversation about politics, sports (He is a proud Chicago Bear fan, you have to love that) and food. We cut jokes about each other and life in general. They are really amazing individuals, as an individual who has been invited to many homes I can say that many times you will find people who are just “stuck up” or “not down to earth”, however the Patel’s were very laid back something that meshed with my personality very well as I like to have a good time. I don’t like to sit there and be quiet or shy. If you do notice that I am quiet around you chances are there is something seriously wrong with you (just kidding). Thank you so much Husmukh Uncle and Mumta Aunti for inviting me into your home, you guys (and gals) are awesome! It is also interesting to note that Mumta Aunti did her B.S in Clinical Psychology when I first learned about this, my first reaction was “oh no! we have two Dr. Frauds(yes I know it is spelt Freud), but then she decided to go into Computer Science and Mathematics as soon as I learned that I became happy because now after years of searching I have finally found a Clinical Psychologist who can count! Of course Husmukh Uncle is an architect, so he better know how to count or the Brooklyn Bridge will come falling down! Finally on Sunday I went to go see the Dark Knight Returns with Paul and Tiffany. It is amazing that AAPD does not only select the most deserving interns, but the most patient ones also. I left Maryland at 2:30 to try and make the 4:10, but the train to Shady Grove was not running due to complications, so I had to get off at Grovernor and then catch a shuttle bus to Friendship Heights and then take the train out to Chinatown. Let’s just say that after last night I have arrived at the conclusion that the metro trains in the D.C area are not supernatural, they have malfunctions just like the Chicago Cubs actually have a Major League Players. Nevertheless all of the Interns did meet up and everyone lived happily ever after and we enjoyed a great movie. Spoiler Alert: Batman does not die!