Sunday, November 05, 2006

Strolling Down Memory Lane

It’s a quiet November evening and I’m just sitting here reminiscing about how much the times have changed during my lifetime. For example–
Do you remember when we used typewriters to type our letters and important documents? The advance of personal computers has sure made writing and printing letters or documents much easier.
Do you remember when we bought vinyl records, eight-track tapes, or cassette tapes to listen to music? The introduction of ipods and CDs have sure changed how we listen to our favorite tunes.
Do you remember how once all of our mail was sent by postal delivery and it took a few days to receive it? Today, who can operate without the instant speed and ease of Internet email?
Do you remember when we wanted to watch television how we only had three major network stations to select from? Today, the phenomenal growth of cable and satellite TV has produced hundreds of stations and possibilities for viewers to choose from.
Do you remember when we wanted to change a television station how we had to get up off the couch and manually change the station? How could we ever operate our TVs today without the ease of a remote control clicker?
Do you remember when we had to carry cash or at least write paper checks to pay for our food, clothing, and other living expenses? Does anyone get by today without the use of plastic credit cards or checking/savings debit cards?
Do you remember when most people relied on Social Security to carry them through their retirement years? How can anyone today make it through their golden years without the benefit of a 401K or 403b retirement savings plan to supplement their Social Security income?
Do you remember when we had to turn a key to open the locks on our car door? We are now gaining a majority who rely on the ease of opening car doors electronically through button press on our key chain.
Do you remember when we had to actually wait for our food to be cooked on a stove top or through a conventional oven? Heck, just a few minutes in the microwave oven is all it takes today to be eating leftovers, prepared frozen dinners, or perhaps a favorite snack like popcorn.
Do you remember when going to the movies meant a trip to a commercial movie theater? Today, we have the option of retreating to the theaters of our own living or family rooms to watch selected movies on big screen TVs played through electronic DVD recorders or cable.
Do you remember when we needed prescription eye glasses in order to see? Not any more! The introduction of lasix eye surgery can now correct our vision without the use of those annoying glasses.
Do you remember when we had to push lawnmowers to cut the grass on our lawn? Today, riding and power lawnmowers make the job a lot easier and with better results.
Do you remember when hand tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, or saws were the essentials in the toolbox of our trades people? Today, an array of power tools are making carpenters, builders, and other trades people far more productive and effective.
Do you remember when people with significant disabilities were served in sheltered workshops, adult habilitation centers, and mental health day treatment programs?
Excuse me? What's that you say? Oh yes.
You mean most Americans with significant disabilities are still working in sheltered workshops, adult habilitation centers, and mental health day treatment programs despite proven advancements in employment service strategies?
Gee whiz! And your organization is still using segregated work and non-work service settings to support people who live with significant disabilities?! Tsk. Tsk.
OK, let me say this respectfully, but directly. There is plenty of researched evidence and demonstrations that people with significant disabilities can work alongside other Americans in the workforce and at competitive wages when they have access to customized employment and supported employment services.
So your organization doesn’t encourage everyone to work? And your organization doesn’t extend customized or supported employment services to make employment a reality for all? Really??
Haven’t you heard? Typewriters are out. Your organization or program had better get in the game baby!


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Maybe I'm just a rube, I still don't own a phone that doesn't have to be plugged into a wall jack, and I still love going to see movies in the theater .. oh well, I guess I'll eventually be left behind

6:26 AM  
Blogger Don Lavin said...

Hey there rube, please tell me you are not using a manual typewriter too?! :>)

Yesterday, the federal government announced that the unemployment rate in the United States dropped to the lowest percentage in 5 1/2 years (4.4%). By way of contrast, the national unemployment rate for adults with significant disabilities in the U.S. continues to be reported at rates of 65-70%!

Sadly, we have proven service technologies to do something about this issue but continue to invest in the old ways of doing things. Employment in the workforce is commonly thought to be beyond the reach of most. What a waste of human potential! This is the real the essence of my post.

Well "reel fanatic," I would actually be willing to forgive you for not having a cell phone, if you promise to hire someone with significant disability and give him or her the opportunity to showcase their abilities. :>)

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is not a related topic but I wanted to get peoples thoughts and opinions on the internal and external perceptions of being a Vocational Rehabilitation Professional. I recently completed an AmeriCorps term with a large vocational rehab company in the metro area. First off I would like to say that the company I worked for did a very good job of trying to provide quality services to persons with developmental and mental health disabilities. I found the mission statement and overall company philosophy to be very sound. I unfortunately walked away from this experience far more pessimistic in regard to a potential career in this field than when I started. For the most part the staff at the company I worked for were very professional, educated, and dedicated to their craft. What I found disturbing was the universal frustration and contempt on the part of the staff that their work was unappreciated and very poorly compensated. Far worse than that in my opinion was the fact that people in this field should not expect to make market value wages based on education and experience and that a wage in the 20 to 30k range is “what this field pays” to quote an HR employee. I also want to make clear I am not talking about new individuals out of college or people with limited experience. I am talking about seasoned employees and managers with 5, 8, and 10 or more years of experience that are only making 20 or 30 some thousand a year. I watched as very experienced and competent individuals were forced to leave as they could not support their families on the low wages they were being paid. Thinking this was an isolated experience I talked to as many of my peers serving in different areas as I could to compare notes with. To my surprise the same basic story was relayed to me. The defining moment for me came when I attended the MRA conference. Having the opportunity to speak candidly with professionals from organizations all over the state and country was very educational. I was basically told that I would never make a livable wage working for a non-profit and that they basically string employees along for as long as they can but they will never pay you a decent wage. I was told that if I wanted to make a fair wage that I need to focus on the workers compensation field, private for profit organizations or the Veterans Administration. I can’t begin to tell you how deflating that is to someone who really had an interest in this field. Mr. Lavin your blog was referred to me by a core member who served with your company. She said that although all of the above was unfortunately true in your company that you were an open minded individual and that this would be a good forum to address this issue. I hope you and others in your position take these issues seriously. Your actions and policies have a profound impact on the lives of many people! I would love to hear posts from staff around the state to get there opinion on this. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to express my concern.

3:15 PM  

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