I am a member of a special emphasis program committee and have been so since I started working at DLA, pretty much. Basically, a SEP is an outreach arm of the EEO office. They are the eyes and ears of the organization's policies on equal employment, and they advise and help to get people with diverse backgrounds and abilities employed. Sounds boring I know, but I enjoy it because I feel like I can make a difference in people's lives, especially if I can help them get a new job. Through the committee, I've gotten involved in other committees, and I've learned new skills and knowledge about 508 compliance (more about what that is in later entries). Before now, they have had six different SEPs--all concentrating on various groups. I, amazingly and shockingly enough, was a member of the persons with disabilities committee. Over time, we started having problems getting people to come to the meetings etc. Don't get me wrong, we did accomplish things and helped lots of people out I think, but we started to lack in participation. To make a long story a bit shorter, our EEO director decided to make all six SEPs into one, and so today started the training for the big committee. I'd done this training before a couple of years ago, and though it was very good then, I was worried I'd be bored, but I was definitely surprised.
We did a lot of talking about diversity, and I'd like to talk about that as it relates to blind people. We in the blind community create diversity some would think. Blindness is one of the magical "targeted disabilities. There are big pushes to hire targeted disabilities like us because we are given opportunities to get jobs where there were none before. We create diversity, and in the federal government, thanks to some brave souls who fought for it, we are encouraged to think this way. because of these fighters, not only do disabled federal employees have increased job opportunities, and we all benefit from the ADA. I wonder how diverse our group is? Are we really better then the rest of them because we have a disability? I don't think so.
Blindness affects people in all walks of life, so we should imply that we've got a diverse group of blind people out there. True, I see blogs, twitter feeds, and web posts from blind people, and because of the tech we deal with, many of the blind people I hear about tend to be techies. It takes all types though, as I know there are blind people who run the gambot from illiteracy to post-doctoral education.
I sometimes overlook this diversity in our community as I work to try to get disabilities and persons with disabilities accepted and employed. We can't micromanage every disabled community out there, but I think that the only way we can truly come together and realize and appreciate our differences is to look inside our own comunities.
We did an interesting activity with different animal Beanie Babies. We were asked, given our animal, to go around the room and describe what we, as an animal, would need in a new open zoo with no cages. There was multiple birds, an elephant, a swuirrel, and a rabbit, all with various needs. Basically we found that it was going to be pretty much impossible to give all of the animals in our diverse ecosystem exactly what they need. When the main agency EEO director who was presenting this activity asked what our local EEO director would do with this crazy diversity, said that' he'd just institute universal telework, and all the animals would get to work and live at home. hilarious.
Tomorrow, we're covering disabilities all day, so I shouldn't get too much new info, but I'm participating in a panel and representing visually impaired issues. I think I'll bring some of my tech in, but most of it fits in a pocket, so all I'll need to remember to bring is my braille display. Should be great fun answering questions.
On other non-related notes, I played with Julian on my radio and it was hilarious. I tought him to say such things as "rogre" and "k5. I set the radio to not transmit, and he held the mic and talked to the world about how my name was Daddy and that I pressed the button. Very hilarious. He's liked my radio since he was really little. It seems like it has some mystery to it--that and it's got lots of buttons on it--so those things combined with a curious two year old Julian makes for lots of fun. I just need to remember to lock transmit or he'll be transmitting jabber and Daddy to the world. Reminds me of what I do minus talking about Daddy in this journal.