Gary Karp's Good Reading: Disability Awareness Information... and More.
October 13, 2010
In This Issue
Disability: The Wrong Word
NDEAM Webinar Dates Set
Quick Links
Federal Update
ODEP, the Dept. of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, has announced its "Add Us In"

They've made funds available to foster employment of people with disabilities from targeted minority populations.

Click here to learn more.
Books by Gary Karp
Life On Wheels
The A to Z Guide to Living Fully with Mobility Issues

From There To Here
Stories of Adjustment to Spinal Cord Injury

Disability & the
Art of Kissing

Questions and Answers on the True Nature of Intimacy
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Hello from Starbucks in Downtown Philadelphia.

October has been a Road Warrior month for me. Just part of my lifestyle that I can always find a place to work with a wireless connection and a vanilla latte!

Hope this finds you well.

The Wrong Word

It Means Too Much to Mean Anything

In the workplace, "disability" literally means "can't work." One "goes on disability."

"Disability" definition

Yet people with disabilities - according to the new paradigm of Modern Disability - are undeniably more able to work than ever before in history. More and more, "disability" does not equate with inability. More and more, having a disability need not equate with failure to perform - any more than for anyone else who is properly hired into a position they are qualified for.

So there are different things going on here. There is indeed such a thing as a disability that precludes someone from doing what they might have been doing before. A diamond cutter who loses her vision certainly is disabled in the context of that job. She is not going to be able to identify an accommodation or an adaptive strategy to continue performing that "essential task" (in human resources parlance) of the job.

But her blindness does not preclude her ability to work. In other words, disability is contextual. Given the right job in the right setting with the right set of tasks, given the tools she needs, her blindness becomes a non-issue. Just ask Kareem Dale, White House Disability Policy Advisor, and an accomplished attorney - who happens to be blind.

Often it is an artificial obstacle that disables, not the physical, sensory, or cognitive characteristics of the person (as in paralysis, blindness, or depression, for instance). As a wheelchair user, it was the presence of steps and the absence of a usable bathroom that would have prevented me from working. My disability is not a disability at all in the information-based workplace. Get me a desk and a computer, and my options are immense. The ways in which I can contribute are substantial.

So in the paradigm of Modern Disability, the word has a whole new meaning, or better put, a range of meaning. It has to be understood in the context of how that disability interacts with the overall environment, how people are capable of functioning with or without adaptation to perform what is required. Their disabilities have to be understood in terms of who they are as people, how they have prepared for the work they choose to pursue, and what their visions and goals are for themselves.

All of this is true regardless of the disability, the significance of its impairment, whether visible or invisible, from childhood or acquired, or whether the person even identifies with having a disability.

We're pretty much stuck with the word itself, so we at least have to bring its connotation up to date, and not fall into the automatic assumption that a "disability" means "inability." In the current state of the disability story, that just ain't true.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Webinar Dates Set

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. And 2010 is the year that I expand my offerings thanks to the newly mature online technologies.

It's Webinar time, Baby!!
I'm offering two online webinar sessions on The New Paradigm of Modern Disability on:
  • Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
  • Thursday, October 28, 2010, 4:00 p.m. Eastern
This is not your typical disability awareness session. This is the basic story of how disability is radically different than ever before in history, and how workplace culture needs to catch up to the new realities of disability and employment.

Best of all, you get a special offer as a member of the Good Reading newsletter. See the box at the bottom for the link to your discounted rate, and more details about the NDEAM webinar programs.

 Studio photos copyright,
Half Price
Good Reading subscribers can participate in Gary's National Disability Employment Awareness Month webinar for only $25, half the full $50 price linked from the home page.

Go to the Good Reading Subscribers NDEAM page to register now!
Offer Expires: October 28, 2010