caret icon Back to all discussions

Speaking up for people with disabilities

Having coffee this morning, I listened on the radio to Take Note: Ola Ojewumi On Speaking Up For The Rights Of People With Disabilities and you can listen to or read the interview here:
Below are just some of Ms. Ojewumi’s responses that I found particularly resonating.

CHERAINE: I saw you in an interview talk about some of the ways that things have changed in terms of workplace during the pandemic that have been beneficial to people with disabilities. For example, being able to work remotely. Can you talk about what some of those changes were that have happened during the pandemic that maybe we should continue after things go back to whatever normal looks like?

OLA: Well, first of all, telework is an amazing tool that, previously before the pandemic, employers would readily deny people with disabilities. So it’s a brutal irony that now that everyone needs to be quarantined, now we're getting the things we've been begging for for years…

CHERAINE: Speaking of hiring, what is inclusive hiring, and how can workplaces do a better job of that?

OLA: …more companies need to employ affirmative action and have specific hiring initiatives to recruit people with disabilities. People with disabilities make the best employees. Statistically, we don't have high turnover rates, we stay within companies long term. There are so many things people with disabilities can offer in terms of innovation, because we have to adapt our lives to an inaccessible world and that translates into the workforce. We can bring new and innovative ideas, new perspectives. So I feel like invoking affirmative action and invoking special hiring initiatives to recruit people with disabilities is needed at the corporate level.

CHERAINE: So why should someone who is non-disabled care about these issues?

OLA: Because you'll eventually become us. If you plan on living to old age, you will become disabled. Naturally the human body ages and you experience disability. If my rights aren’t important to you, they should be important to you because someone you care about someone you know, you at least know one disabled person. You should care because this will eventually affect you and your life. And not caring or being apathetic toward disability rights is a form of injustice that you're doing to yourself.

I hadn't heard of Ola Ojewumi before this interview and will read her articles. Had you heard of her? Who are other advocates for people with disabilities who inspire you?

  1. Thanks for sharing this, ! I hope other community members chime in with their favorite advocates! I am looking forward to seeing their answers and I will have to look up more of Ola Ojewumi's work. Thank you again for sharing! Best, Erin, Team Member.

    1. This is so interesting! I had not yet heard of Ola Ojewumi but am looking them up as we speak! That's so cool that she's a Terp (fellow Marylander here). Such an impressive person. I look forward to reading more. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Sharon! 🧡 Kayleigh, team

      1. Glad to! I can relate to what she said about a disabled person whose work relies on using a computer being denied to work from home only to have every such employee forced to work from home due to the pandemic in 2020 (a month after I had to take medical leave). Ah, the irony! In time, I was able to let go of bitterness and take the high road by accepting that some decision-makers' fear of change gets in their own way of seeing the positive possibilities.

      2. man, I totally get how frustrating that would have been. It's awesome that you were able to let go of the bitterness but I imagine it was hard to do especially after just having to take a medical leave. How frustrating. I so agree with what you said about decision-makers and fear of change. It's really fascinating that in a business setting where it is typically all about changing and adapting what trips them up, you know? Big lessons learned. How are you doing these days Sharon? 🧡Kayleigh, team

    2. It's tough, Kayleigh, but I'm making the best of it, focusing on the things I can still do but treating my energy like managing a spending account. I schedule any and all appointments for first thing in the morning. I'm working on a small gardening project this morning with the promise to myself that I will stop at noon or when the pain starts, whichever comes first. Being fully vaccinated, I rejoined the YMCA two weeks ago to get back to swimming, my favorite exercise. Bonus, I'm making new friends there who are sort of replacing the friends I used to work with. It's so kind of you to ask. How is your Tuesday going? 😀 Sharon

      1. That's so awesome ! That's really smart about managing your energy like a spending account. I love that idea so much and it sounds like it's working out really well. What type of gardening are you working on? I'm a big gardener as well and am so excited for this weekend to get our Spring flowers planted! How did it go yesterday with yours? I'm so thrilled for you that you get to do your favorite exercise again and BONUS you are making new friends!!! That makes my heart just so happy for you to read that dear Sharon. My Tuesday was great, thank you! My dog got to spend time with his best dog friend and was absolutely pooped afterwards. He was sleeping so hard and dreaming up a storm - he was even doing those little kicks and runs in his sleep! I'm so happy that you have the gardening project and swimming going on. And I'm also so glad you are a part of this community and that we're having this conversation. I hope you're having a wonderful day today Sharon! 🧡 Kayleigh, team

    3. Hi, Kayleigh. Dogs are so wonderful! I have two inside cats. As much as I love dogs, I can't take on the responsibility of providing the exercise they need any longer. Still, I do enjoy saying hello to the dogs seen walking with their humans. 😀 I have very small gardens and I always think that the projects in my head are just small projects, too. Wrong-o! It took 2 mornings instead of 1 to redesign a 4'x6' area in front of my house. And, yes, I'm paying for it with fatigue today. Oh well, guess I overspent my energy account -- I enjoyed it though! Have a wonderful time this weekend planting your flowers -- you'll have to send me a pic of when they bloom. -- Sharon

      Please read our rules before posting.