The Other Side of Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs

VolumeVIII, Issue1, February-March 2007, Editor: James Walborn

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SUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

There were 10 OSD students interviewed for the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with. Disabilities (WRP) this February for summer internship opportunities with the Federal Government and private sector employers.  The WRP is an employmen project co-sponsored by the US. Dept. of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy and the US. Dept. of Defense.  The program provides a referral system for the 1300 college students with disabilities across the United States who will be interviewed this spring for summer work opportunities.  While the OSD recommended students for the program, the CDC assisted them in developing their resumes and interviewing skills.  In the past some FAU students have secured full-time employment from employers due to their WRP internship with them.

WRP OPINIONS

FAU student Ashaki Blair states, "This is a great opportunity for students with disabilities.  It is harder for people with disabilities to find a job and I really appreciate the opportunity.  It will be good experience."
FAU student Joshua Flapan notes, "I got a lot out of my WRP internship in 2004 and hope to get more out of it this summer.  The CDC helped me with my resume, how to prepare for interviews, and how to write formal business letters.  More students should participate in the WRP.  Internships make your college experience much better and they enhance your resume and your opportunities to get a job."
WRP Recruiter, Maggie Roffee has been interviewing students with disabilities for this program one week a year for the last 15 years.  "This is the first time I've been sent to Florida," she beams.  She is an employee of the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy and has been working in the disability community for 30 years.  "There are some wonderful internship opportunities out there.  For students, internships are absolutely critical to prepare for today's job market.  You not only get experience, you receive networking opportunities that may last a lifetime."
OSD Coordinator, Barbara Bazinsky emphasizes, "Many times students with disabilities don't have the work experience that their peers have.   I strongly encourage them to take advantage of internships such as the WRP, as well as the co-op programs offered through FAU.  That experience will be invaluable for them."

GENEROUS DONOR

The father of a graduate student from FAU has donated $4,500 to the OSD for assistive technology equipment to help improve the lives of others who have disabilities.  "My father was very active most of his life and became physically handicapped in later years," the daughter explains.  "Its been extremely frustrating for him.  But, he is very happy to do something to improve the lives of other people with disabilities."  The equipment will help students learn strategies which will aid them in acquiring academic success.  Thank you for your generosity.

ADHD SUPPORT GROUP

The OSD and Counseling Center on the Boca Campus have started a support group for students with ADHD.  The group, "Living with Adult ADHD," meets in the Counseling Center on the Boca Campus on Wednesdays from 10-11am.  Any student who has been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, has been referred by a healthcare provider, or would like additional support in developing skills to deal with the common problems associated with Adult ADHD is encouraged to contact Dawn DiCicco, LCSW, at (561) 297-3540 or e-mail at dmaynes@fau.edu to learn more and to register for the group.

FLORIDA ACCESSIBILITY

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended in 2001 to include the provision that people with disabilities have access to electronic information provided by the federal government.  Florida has taken steps to improve the level of accessibility to state government information that is equal to the standards applicable to the federal government.
These standards are known as Section 508, which establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government.  Section 508 requires that Federal electronic and information technology is to be accessible to people with disabilities.
On June 23, 2006, Governor Bush signed HB1503 creating provisions requiring that all branches of state government are to provide equal access to and use of electronic information and data to individuals with disabilities. Regarding Section 508 standards, the "Accessibility" statement on www.myflorida.com notes, "...it is the direct responsibility of Florida state government agencies and their web designers and developers to become familiar with these accessibility guidelines and to apply these principles in designing and creating any official State of Florida web site."

GOOD BYTES CAFE

Goodwill Industries of San Antonio, TX has opened up its first commercial internet cafe which includes assistive technology on the computers.  Some of the computers have screen readers and magnifying systems for the visually impaired.  Computers for the physically impaired have an on-screen mouse which follows their gaze and clicks when they blink.  The Good Bytes Cafe does not charge for access to the technology.  The cafe also doubles as a training site for food service workers.

"MY STORY" by JORDAN ARIZMENDI

About ten years ago, when I was living in New Jersey, I was in a car accident.  The accident put me in a coma for about 2 months.  The doctors told my parents that if I did manage to pull out of the coma I would have severe brain damage.  When I awoke, my head injuries had indeed left a bit of damage, and my memory, both long and short term, would never work like it used to.  My friends dismissed me as "brain damaged", and all the dreams I once had suddenly slipped from my grasp.  I then moved down here to Florida.  Before I came to FAU as an undergraduate, a specialist examined me and said that college would be a great challenge for me, quite possibly unattainable.  His advice was to enter a trade that did not require a college education.
I'm sure people with disabilities can relate with my sob story.  Whereas, I once deeply resented this shortcoming of mine, I have learned to value it dearly, because it magnifies any of my seemingly trivial victories ten times.  I have also learned that the most compelling motivation is to show people they were wrong when they dismissed you.  When I won an internship with Disney World I proudly boasted it to the world.  A couple of years later when my internship at the National Enquirer allowed me to be writing my own weekly column, I was sure to email all of my articles to those acquaintances of mine from New Jersey.  But, perhaps my greatest achievement came a few weeks ago, when I passed my GRE on my first attempt and was accepted to FAU graduate school.
A disability makes it a challenge for one to do something that someone else can do with ease.  A disability is like a head start that the rest of the world has over us.  However, ask any runner and they will tell you, nothing makes their legs move faster than the sight of another runner ahead of them.  [Editor's note: Thank you for sharing this with us, Jordan]

EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM

"Stand Among Friends" and the OSD are writing a grant to obtain funding to support a new employment program for individuals with disabilities.  The Employment Coordinator/Job Coach would prepare individuals for employment by honing needed skills, networking with local employers and educating them about disability- related issues, and then working with both the individual and the employer to retain his/her employment.  "Stand Among Friends" is located in NU-84, Suite 120.  Call (561) 297-4400.  They are online at www.standamongfriends.org.

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We want to encourage comments and contributions from our readers. Please address any comments to jwalborn@fau.edu. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. Current and past issues are available at http://www.fau.edu/osd.

This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca: SU 133; phone 561.297.3880, TTY 561.297.0358. Davie: MD I, Room 104; phone 954.236.1222, TTY 954.236.1146. Jupiter: SR 117; phone 561.799.8585, TTY 561.799.8565. Treasure Coast: JU 312; phone 772.873.3441.

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