October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a month that raises awareness, celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce, inclusive of the skills and talents that disabled people bring.
As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, it’s important to recognize the assistive technology that helps people with disabilities participate in the workforce. For me, my wheelchairs throughout my life have enabled me to be successful in all the work that I do. If not for my wheelchairs, I would not be able to perform the duties of the various jobs that I have held. Furthermore, since having access to iLevel® technology, my participation in the workforce has only increased.
Here are a few ways that my iLevel power wheelchairs have helped me to participate in the working world:
Whether I am giving a closing argument to a jury in a court case or giving a keynote speech to an audience of 600 people at a conference, one thing remains the same: I want my audience to see me.
I believe there is power in presence. The more visible you are to your audience, the more opportunity you have to engage them (of course, this does not apply to Blind folks in the audience). Being able to raise my power wheelchair twelve inches allows me to be more visible to anyone that I am presenting to. It allows a jury to look at me, not look down to try and see me. It also allows the people in the back row of a conference to see me when I am presenting. I present in many different forums and have found that iLevel technology helps me in all of them.
I am an adjunct professor at a local college where I teach about person-centered planning and serving people with disabilities. In a class of 30+ students, it’s important to me that my students can see me when I’m teaching, and that I can see them too. When I can see all of my students, I can tell from facial expressions if someone is confused and I can also see someone who is shyly half-raising their hand when they have a question. iLevel also allows me to reach more of the whiteboard so that I can share more information and ideas with my class in a written form. I am always at iLevel when I am in the classroom and truly believe that having iLevel helps students engage with me more.
Networking is key to opening doors to new opportunities. As a lawyer, I love to network to learn about new areas of law and meet attorneys who practice in different areas. This allows me to refer people to the right sources if I cannot help them with a particular area of law. As a nonprofit founder and executive director, networking allows me to tell more people about my organization’s mission and meet people who may be just as passionate about empowering girls with disabilities as I am.
I have found that networking events are a lot easier to navigate when I am at iLevel. Without iLevel, I was at waist height, which made it very easy for people to look over me. Not anymore. Now people look directly at me, resulting in more conversations with new people.
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.