Friday July 26, 2013 marked the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That event was held by President George H.W. Bush on the south lawn of the White House, and it was well attended and well received on that hot summer day in 1990.
Through the eyes of a young idealistic baby boomer, I still remember the event clearly, which was shown over and over again on TV. It was well documented in newspapers, (which were still the rage at that time), and championed by my favorite radio station! Come to think of it, word of mouth didn’t do too badly either. Everyone was awed by this major piece of history unfolding right in front of us. We were transfixed by possibilities and with hopes for the future. I knew of no one who didn’t know someone with either a hidden or noticeable disability.
Flash forward to 2013 and imagine this! On August 1, I was asked to join two others to form a new team of Regional “Navigators” at Workforce Solutions. Our main purpose is to assist and encourage employers to be open to the idea of diversity by hiring persons with disabilities!
Our team includes Cornelius Booker from the Workforce Solutions – Astrodome office, former employment counselor David Spears from the Workforce Solutions – Texas City office, and me. Cornelius has been navigating now for approximately two years. He is truly an amazing resource for our young team, and he possesses a great deal of insight gained through past experiences and lessons learned. David brings four years of experience in job search skills training and career counseling for career office customers, as well as experience doing public presentations. My experience as an employment counselor is similar to my teammates and includes my all-time favorite thing to do — training and development!
I am honored to be a part of this navigation initiative and look forward to new adventures with my fellow navigators. In addition to working directly with employers and drawing their attention to the need to hire persons with disabilities, we will train and assist our co-workers by showing them how to improve the ways they work and assist every customer who walks through our doors.
Our new Regional Navigator Team has many exciting tasks ahead of it. We will be facilitating employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities; providing outreach to community service providers working with people with disabilities; and making public presentations on related topics at events, such as those with various Chambers of Commerce.
I am truly excited to share this endeavor with such a motivated group of people. I consider myself very lucky to be able to continue doing the type of work I love with an organization whose work I believe in!
As things progress, I will surely keep you posted on various resources, events and tips that you may find useful in your job search as well. For now, relive the best moments of the ADA signing ceremony by visiting its YouTube link!
Frieda Carmouche is a member of the Regional Navigator team specializing in training, educating and assisting employers, and career center staff throughout the Gulf Coast with community resources, outreach events and technical support in assisting job seekers with disabilities. A native Houstonian with a love of training and development, Frieda has been employed by Workforce Solutions for over 16 years.