Right now, there are people with disabilities working in careers. They have been given the chance to show they can work hard and do a great job. If given the chance and having people believe in them, you would be surprised at what people can do.There are people that did not believe in me or that I could work in the job I wanted because of the labels people have about people with disabilities and the fact that I was in special education. But I was lucky because I had people who also believed in me and saw my potential. They gave me the chance to show them that I can do the job. Some people would say we could never do the job and they just judge you on the labels and IQ testing and not on what the person can really do. If I didn’t have people who supported and believed in me and taught me the skills that I needed, then I may be sitting around and not doing a lot. I was given many opportunities and chances, and have worked really hard for the career I have now. I was so glad people supported me, and that I didn’t listen to my Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who told me to stay home, collect social security, watch t.v. and do nothing with my life.
I don’t want this to happen to other people with disabilities. Many people don’t have others believing in them, and they listen to others saying they are not good enough. I don’t want anybody to be told they should give up on life and having a job or even a career if that is what they want.The YES! Center is currently working to develop a Career Development Manual, a process that I am leading. I am hoping by developing this Career Development Manual, people with disabilities can think about and pursue the careers they want and share it with others so they can get the support they may need. I am hoping we can also create an app for people to use and be able to share and work on their goals towards a career. As part of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), I’ll be facilitating a discussion at our Friday October 23rd Self-Advocate Virtual Coffee Break about career development, and we’ll share our stories about employment and what we’ve learned along the way. Please join us on October 23rd at 3pm ET. To register for this event, click here. If you’re interested in learning more about the Career Development Manual, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tia presenting with Ruthie-Marie Beckwith, Nancy Ward and Mark Friedman at the 2020 Pacific Rim International Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. — Tia Nelis is the former Director of Policy and Advocacy for TASH and now serves as a Senior Consultant on Self Advocacy and Engagement. She comes to TASH after serving as a Self-Advocacy Specialist at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center within the Institute on Disability and Human Development at University of Illinois at Chicago. She also is one of the past chairperson of the National Organization of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE). She founded and successfully promoted People First of Illinois, where she served as president. Tia, a long-time member of TASH, has received the Burton Blatt Award, awarded by the Illinois TASH chapter, as well as the Elizabeth Boggs award from the President’s Committee. Tia has drawn on experiences relating to her own disability in promoting and demonstrating the benefits of empowerment for people with disabilities. She has wide experience in conducting training and advocating for progressive policies with legislators and public officials.