Adapting To , Not Ridding, Disability

by Alex Garrett

Below is a portion of a transcript from my January 15th podcast, ‘Adapting To, Not ‘Ridding’ Disabilities’.
(https://www.spreaker.com/episode/42959125)

Article referenced in the DurangoHeraldOpinion by Tara Kiene on 1/8/21

(https://durangoherald.com/articles/359852)

‘I want you to be introduced to a woman named Tara Kiene. She’s the president CEO of Community Connections and in the Durango Herald she writes this incredible piece about changing the perceptions of the disabled community.

I think that is always what we need to do. We need to continue to smash stigma, but listen to how she writes about it. This is so cool. She wrote a great story. And what I would like to highlight are a couple of points that she made. ‘By focusing on people and ridding them of their disabilities, we discount the capabilities they offer right there.’

I’ve often been encouraged to get a prosthetic like personally that has always been like someone saying, why don’t you do this? And I tried it and I wanted to try it on as an adult. But then I thought that wouldn’t be the real me, that rollerblading would stop if I had a prosthetic leg. And more importantly, it would not be me and who God made. So there’s a lot of reasons why I enjoy rollerblading around the city. I enjoy not having a prosthetic because I don’t believe in ridding anything I believe in overcoming it.

I believe in continuing to love it, roll with it and continue to roll on with it. Let me put it that way. The whole idea that we can reshape reframe abilities and disabilities is great to hear. I want to hear more of that. I want to hear you’re this and we’re going to make it so that you can do this. We’re going to love on you and you’re going to do it. That’s how luckily my family raised me. I feel, and that’s how my friends were raised in the disabled community.

She said many people with learning disabilities find that they have struggled with reading. And because of that, they developed extraordinary memories and that benefits them in their later careers. Also, can we stop hiring people just because it feels good. It’s a feel good story. Hire them because they deserve to be hired. Hire them, not just to talk about diversity, or to meet a quota, hire them because you see something in them that maybe someone, a business down the road doesn’t see in them or refuses to seeing them hire them. Because you know, they can do a good job. Not because it’s some nice community service award.

The disability community is more than inspirational. It’s more than a community service effort to get them included. We’re just here we are amongst you. And the moment we say, yeah, he’s being hired or she’s being hired because of what she can do. Not because she’s overcoming what she can’t do. We’ll be in a better spot. The more we say I’m hiring you because I want to, I know you can do something. I know you’re working on whatever you’re dealing with and I want to see that work in my company, not to get some newspaper article about how this company hired this person. I mean, it’s nice, but that’s not why we exist.

The community and the adapting exists because we choose to exist. We choose to adapt to whatever we got going on.

And I hope you realize that. I hope you feel it. I hope if you’re a business owner listening to this, that you feel even more inspired to bring on people differently, abled, disabled people, whatever you want to say. And not because you want to feel good about yourself because you know, they can do the job. You know, they are equal opportunity for a reason, not just because it says so on some plaque, but because you know that they can do it. And I’m glad there are programs to help people who get frustrated, who get down, who don’t know if they can do it. There are programs there to help. I love that, but you know what I love even more. The fact that companies can take a risk on someone, not the average, Joe, not your regular someone who’s been stigmatized.

Those who see the stigmatizedfor more than just what’s on the cover. It takes a community effort, but there’s also no doubt that community embraces not memorializes it or highlights it as some great community service. It should be accepted that people with disabilities can do something amazing. It shouldn’t be some shock to people. It shouldn’t be like that meme that says it takes one disabled person to screw in the light bulb, and five others who are inspired by it. It shouldn’t be that way.

Let’s stop as a society assuming disabled people can’t adapt. Can’t learn. Can’t relearn. Can’t restudy. Can’t get themselves back on track, but let’s hire because we know they can do great things and not just for a photo op, but for the betterment of a company. Kudos to Tara Kiene for this article. I definitely want to bring her on and see what we can do and see how we can cover neurodiversity. We’re adapting, we’re re-framing. And we are living. Come with us as we live together in these crazy, crazy times.’