In this third installment of our blog series marking National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we’d like to share highlights from the Palo Alto White Cane Awareness Walk, in which we participated last Wednesday, October 16th. This annual event is held each October on or in proximity to White Cane Safety Day, a national observance celebrating the ability of people with impaired vision to lead independent lives. Last week, for the fourth consecutive year, Benetech and Bookshare proudly supported the White Cane Awareness Walk tradition in Palo Alto and we were delighted to join this celebration in partnership with the Palo Alto Lions Club, Vista Center and the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC), the event’s host.
The summer when I was 14, I got fired from my first volunteer job because, over time, the company managers learned that I was blind. The only thing I could do was to be more determined than ever to compete in the world of future employment alongside workers without disabilities. Today that’s exactly what I’m doing. The thing that makes my employment experience at Benetech so fulfilling is that I’m part of a vibrant, dedicated and brilliant team consisting of both disabled and nondisabled folks who truly believe in the work we do and who strive each day to make the world a little better than it was the day before. And, in the end, I think that’s what all of us–disabled or not–want from our jobs.
My name is Liz Halperin and I contract for Benetech, working as a Collection Development Associate with Bookshare. I also happen to be Deaf-Blind with added orthopedic disabilities and serve as the Deaf-Blind contact person for Bookshare. I was asked to contribute this post to kick off a blog mini-series marking Benetech’s observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Each year, National Disability Employment Awareness Month has a theme, and the one this year is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.” This theme, I believe, doesn’t stretch far enough. That’s because, by being who we are, we add to the workforce much more than the sum of our individual tasks.