District 7 Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and as in years past, District 7's Disability Advisory Council (DAC) hosted several events to foster open and effective communication about issues facing people with disabilities and to celebrate their contributions.
American Sign Language Presentation: On October 8, District 8 Lead EEO Officer Darlene Lott provided a presentation on American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture. Prior to joining Caltrans in 2000, Lott worked as an educator at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside and holds degrees in American Sign Language and business administration. Attendees learned about the history of ASL, Deaf education, current issues in Deaf culture, and Fingerspelling. Lott also debunked myths about deafness and discussed the differences between ASL and Signed Exact English (SEE).
Diversity/Disability Awareness Day: October 15 was District 7's Diversity/Disability Awareness Day (DDAD). DAC's booth featured an informative video on emergency evacuation chairs for staff with disabilties, literature on disability issues, and an assortment of gluten-free deserts to raise awareness about the often life-threatening food allergies that affect 15 million Americans.
DAC also arranged to have Guide Dogs of America (GDA) attend DDAD. GDA provides guide dogs and instruction in their use, free of charge, to visually impaired people throughout North America so that they may continue to pursue their goals with increased mobility and independence. DDAD attendees had an opportunity to meet Guide Dog Trainer Glyn Judson and 8-month old Dave, a beautiful black lab currently in training to become a guide dog. Glyn said mild-mannered Dave is a top-notch student, though he does have a tendency to lick everyone he encounters.
Abilities in DisAbilities Presentation: On October 29, Janet Neal, President of the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities and host of the radio talk show "Disability Network" (KTYM 1460 AM), provided a presentation to District 7 staff about Abilities in DisAbilities. Neal spoke about the importance of looking beyond disabilities to the unique gifts and strengths we all bring to our work, and why increasing disability awareness is crucial to a healthy, productive workplace and society. Neal also discussed the goals of the Commission on Disabilities and shared her own experience with Ehlers-Danlos syndrom, an inherited disorder that affects connective tissue.
Though October is designated as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, DAC is active all year round, working to expand opportunities and accessibility for people with disabilities in District 7. Anyone can participate in DAC, which meets monthly. You don’t need to have a disability, just a desire help. Contact Seyed Torabzadeh (213.897.0085) for more information.