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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Forum reaches out to students with disabilities

Facilitator Gwyneth Tracy, coordinator of Disability Services & Programs for Students (DSPS) introduces panel members Robert Harris, SCC Student Rachel Stewart, Californian Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Kelvin Sanders |[email protected]

People with disabilities are paving their own roads in the workplace.

At a forum held Oct. 18, a panel of former City College students who are all living with disabilities shared their experiences as working professionals.

The event was held to coincide with National Employment of People with Disabilities Month, which runs through October.

Gwyneth J. Tracy, coordinator for the Disability Services and Programs for Students at City College, has put the forum together for the past five years. Her hopes are to give students with disabilities motivation to go out, work and live independently.

“The idea is to talk about people who are employed and have disabilities, the interview process, challenges and how it is different,” said Tracy.

Rachel Stewart, the staff manager for the California Committee of Employment of People with Disabilities, opened the forum, sharing her decision to go to work, to give back to her community, and not get stuck behind her disability. She lives with muscular dystrophy.

“My decision was, Do I sit at home watching crappy daytime television or do I make a contribution and give back?” said Stewart.

The panel of former students talked about the ways they are giving back. Chelle Ellis has mild cerebral palsy and works as support for Student Service and Special Programs with the California Community Chancellor’s Office.

Jeff Acosta works for Target, and is also working toward a master’s degree in special education at CSUS. He has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Robert Harris is partially blind and partially deaf. He currently works for  Rite Aid, and intends to take business management classes.
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Each speaker recalled their experiences as employees, challenges they have faced and how their jobs accommodate their disabilities. Ellis was particularly vibrant and seemed to love her job, particularly her ZoomText. ZoomText is a software program that magnifies everything on the computer screen and can speak back the text.

“It really affects the quality of my works,” said Ellis. “They have to accommodate you.”

These accommodations are a part of being disabled in workspaces that are largely outfitted to accommodate able-bodied workers. Stewart said that knowing the challenges of a particular disability helps remove the barriers that get in the way of disabled people realizing their full potential in the workplace.

“A lot of people see disability as a negative thing. I began to see my disability as a positive thing,” said Stewart.

The Disability Resource Center at City College works with students with all disabilities including physical, health, learning and psychological disabilities, and aims to help them take advantage of all the of educational resources provided at City College.

According to Tracy, approximately 10 percent of post-secondary students nationally have some type of disability, but don’t take advantage of services offered.

“There is a negative stigma when it comes to disability,” said Tracy. “There are many students that don’t use our services that are eligible.”

The Disability Resource Center coordinates with programs such as Workability Program and College to Career to help students with disabilities get internships and jobs.

“I personally believe there is a job out there for everyone,” said Stewart.

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