The Desk

April 13, 2018

Over 50 and Counting

Filed under: Affirmative Action,Diversity,Hiring,Recruiting — Yvonne LaRose @ 1:26 PM
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Experience-based Knowledge

Experience-based Qualification

One of the things I’m an advocate about is inclusive employment for those over 50. They bring to the table a wealth of experience and knowledge that can be crossed over to other matters. It’s because of the awareness.

These are people who, actuarially speaking, have a lot more and a lot longer to making the social and business milieu better and we should avail ourselves of those benefits rather than shove them into a space and make them vegetate. Practice keeps abilities sharp and honed. Think of tools that rust and deteriorate from lack of use and maintenance.

Mental and physical practice are also tools that deserve to be kept sharp. Like a well-seasoned cooking vessel, they get better with time and continued use. Here’s evidence of one such person – who also realized there was “another door” that could be opened.


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July 22, 2014

EEOC Announces Expansion of “Disabled”

Today I’m working on clearing some content off of my desk so that I can return to better productivity. Today I’m going to share with you a bit of the processes (but not all of them!) I go through to come up with some of the answers that are shared with my readers.

This particular topic isn’t quite as old as the research from the Meet the Press April 27 assertions about Asian women being the lowest paid of the minorities. And it doesn’t quite match the things I found about how recruiters review profiles on LinkedIn. Oh, there are quite a few things that have been crushing The Desk. But the matter of the expansion of the definition of “disabled” needs to be better organized and in a folder of its own.

It was late February or early March when I read an email that brought awareness of the fact that the EEOC had expanded the definition of “disabled” so that it now includes non-visible disabilities. The case related to Williams v. Toyota Motor Mfg. where a production line worker developed carpel tunnel syndrome and was not provided with sufficient accommodations for her disability. You’d think a simple thing like muscle strain would not give rise to such a momentous change in the law. But another phenomenon that was happening was people with diabetes or having been diagnosed with breast cancer were also suing their employers for disabling conditions that kicked them out of the employment arena.

12" wire cart accessibility device

A shopping cart or accessibility device?

I took this change in law to the Accessibility Advisory Committee’s March (or was it April) meeting because the Committee focuses on accessibility issues for seniors and the disabled. They needed to know about this change in definition. Also significant to the group’s awareness was the fact that I was the one who brought to their attention the matter of non-visible disabilities at the August 2013 meeting. The Committee, therefore, in its efforts to effectively serve its constituents was leading other organizations with regard to the matter. And the Committee could be said to be on the cutting edge of disability awareness and accommodation regulations and ways to address how they provide accommodations.

Unfortunately, that Public Comment was omitted from the meeting minutes in spite of the fact that several who were present asked for the information to be repeated while they feverishly copied the name of the case into their notes. It was necessary to find that email message again or at least the additional Web content that backed it up so that the accuracy of the shared information could be assured. And that’s when The Desk started growing its slush pile.

My efforts to commute on public transportation were meeting with increasing denials. My efforts to effect change and improvement through membership on the Committee were being met with increasing resistance and suspicion. I was finding I was spinning my wheels while being cut out of conversations and opportunities to provide input on driver training modifications. Worse yet, it began to appear that the presentation I’d done regarding non-visible disabilities was going to become (or had already become) yet another instance of watching my work be credited to someone else’s efforts while I sat on the sidelines with a reputation as a troublemaker but no attribution to the originator of the content. That isn’t what consulting is about.

  • Out of frustration, I took a new step by bringing my concerns to the Metro Board. But first, I wanted in my hand an official definition of a non-visible disability. I found What is an Invisible Disability?
  • It’s one thing to go before a body with a lot of platitudes and shrieks about “do something”. But a governing body has little room for action when it has few facts on which to operate. If I were on that body, I would want to know the size of the population that’s being affected. In answer to that, I researched on the string “how many suffer from non-visible disabilities

It isn’t clear whether Metro will make modifications to their operator training so that the drivers are much more sensitive to the fact that there is a class of commuter that is disabled but the evidence of their limitations is not obvious. They should not be accused of being shiftless homeless people. They should not be denied transportation. They should not be forced to over-exert themselves when simple deployment of a ramp (that is supposed to make boarding easier) could be done. They need to be cognizant that the person may have just exited their doctor’s office and are operating on instructions to limit certain activities. They may be suffering from an ailment that causes impairment to their balance.

Pass-ups happen to more than individuals using wheelchairs. Sometimes they happen because the person wasn’t paying attention; the bus approached and they didn’t collect their self fast enough so that the operator could stay on schedule. Those with sleep apnea may doze off without any fault on their part. Or just the fatigue of having to ride the bus all day to accomplish a paltry number of things (one or two) has worn the individual into an ennui. Unfortunately, the Chair of the Committee doesn’t seem to appreciate these conditions.

Furthermore, commuters should be treated with respect. Insulting words and insinuations are simply not appropriate and will cause your customer base to be motivated to find an alternative.

There you see some of it. These are just part of the process of collecting the information that falls on The Desk that needs to be reported to you, especially as today’s content relates to the volumes about the expansion of “disability” as it relates to non-visible disabilities.

Sponsored Link:

Sociopolitical Aspects of Disabilities: The Social Perspectives and Political History of Disabilities and Rehabilitation in the United States


July 23, 2012

Qualified and Disabled


After making formal application for an advertised opportunity, I was invited to interview. When the interviewer saw that I am blind and use a wheelchair, she exclaimed that she could not see how I would be of benefit to that company [in light of my disabilities].

I got the job but I would like to know what to do the next time I interview and face a similar negative attitude.


I’m glad that this sounds as though the outcome was positive. It shows that you demonstrated some excellent skills and ability to do the job. Congratulations. It also sounds as though you did a very good job of creating a sense of credibility for yourself through doing well during the interview. Possibly, you said empowering things that you did not even realize you were saying.

In answering your question, let me start then by discussing the most essential presentation during an interview.

  • your skills and qualifications for the opportunity
  • quantifiable evidence of how you are qualified
  • how those skills and qualifications will help the business function as well or better with you in the position.

You already pointed out that you were early for the appointment. That is good. It shows that you appreciate timeliness and that worked in your favor. No doubt, you took with you two extra copies of your resume so that they were ready in case your interviewer did not have it on top of her desk and you had one for yourself to pull out and discuss with them. You demonstrated being well prepared and skill in foreseeing and making contingency plans for unforseen circumstances. You showed diplomacy and tact.

The focus should not be on your shortcomings nor your disability (please note that those are two different things) but on you, how and why you are qualified. Discuss your direct, on-the-job experience that relates to the new opportunity. Discuss how well you performed in your last situation and how your input was beneficial to the customer and the company. If there were things or situations that were done better because of your involvement, talk about them.

Your speech should be cordial, business-like and professional. It should be at a good volume – not loud nor apologetic. Make certain your voice does not sound whiney – don’t be a martyr nor a cry baby. You are a strong, intelligent professional person. Show that in your deportment and presentation.

Finally (for this writing), openly discuss your disabilities. However, do not apologize for them. Discuss how adaptive you are to many situations and in short order so that you have several approaches to situations. These are not disabilities; they are opportunities for new ways of doing things. They are abilities that others do not have. Sometimes being in a chair makes you better suited for doing certain things better or more easily than others. Having low vision or no vision affords you with still other advantages. Point them out.

And having a disability is not the same as not being able. It is merely a different way of handling life and business situations. Two of your fellow South Africans have discussed coming into meaningful contributions to business and society by realizing how those “disabilities” proved to be assets and empowerment. Likewise, they point out how that South Africa’s (as well as India’s) relatively recent affirmative action legislation has created new legal bases for opening doors.

Although it positively states that those with disabilities are entitled to vie for opportunities, there is still a long way to go as far as making that new legislation meaningful for there is still the critical element of educating employers about the opportunities that are available to them through using all of the diverse population – diverse in age, sex, race and abilities. Likewise, there is still the matter of educating employers about the fact that employing those with “disabilities” is not a costly proposition and does not mean extraordinary expense to include that segment of candidates in the considered roster of candidates and personnel.

You did well and it appears you did so without realizing you did so. Focus on how you will be an asset to the company and will save money, enhance the business opportunities, have abilities that your co-workers may not have because of the issues that others see as shortcomings. Affirmatively show how you are qualified and “disabled.”

About the Author:

Yvonne LaRose was a Disabilities Accommodation Provider in the Bay Area of California from 1993 to 1997 as well as one of the founding members of Bay Area Disabilities Coalition (BADC). In addition, she was a news reader for Broadcast Services for the Blind (BSB) (a private band radio station based in the Rose Resnick Lighthouse for the Blind that reaches 13,000 listeners in 13 counties) from 1993 to 1997. From BSB, she produced and hosted her bi-weekly radio features and newscast, “Legally Speaking” from 1994 to 1996.

Originally published December 25, 2001

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January 15, 2010

Where Voices Ring

It seemed like just another day. But the someone punched a hole into the dark morning sky and a streak of light tore across the landscape announcing that this was not going to be just another ordinary day. The scene was glorious and people in the building stopped their work in order to take in the amazing sight of that broad shaft of light stretching across the land.

The busi-ness of the mundane suffocated the morning. And then minds began to awaken to take cognizance of the actual date. January 15. Just a minute! There’s significance to this date. It’s the birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Nobel Laureate, the civil rights leader, the champion of freedom, the advocate for change through nonviolent means.

The impact of the quietude regarding the date also has an impression. Not only is it eclipsed by the disastrous earthquake that has leveled Port au Prince, Haiti, the hurry scurry of being in our small spaces of our small worlds also eclipse the date. No longer do we have the stalwart civil rights leaders who champion equality and equal rights for the oppressed and downtrodden. No more do we have the voices being lifted up to speak against unfair practices that suppress those who would be qualified but for. No more do we have civil rights leaders.

My belief used to be that those who could have carried the Civil Rights torch became afraid after King’s assassination in 1968. They feared that they too would suffer the martyrdom and have little to show for it. “Cowards!” I growled to myself. Few inroads were made in the civil rights arena after that historic occurrence. There were occasional skirmishes such as Shannon Faulkner. There was the astounding victory of having a Black man elected as the President of the United States without having overt attention drawn to his race. It could be argued that these two meager examples are the present-day torch bearers of the Civil Rights movement. But I think not.

Where are those voices that used to cry out for justice, admission, and equal rights? The ones that were so prevalent and effective in the 1960s, where are they? I don’t hear them any more.

I stop to examine my circumstances as these seven years have stretched into an eternity and my strength and endurance have begun to fade (but not the desire nor the willingness to speak). Finally, like that hole punched into this day’s dawn, realization and appreciation of why the voices are stilled comes to me. It isn’t because of fear and cowardice. As with Faulkner’s epiphany, mine comes from the appreciation of the rigorous path that I have personally traveled, alone, and that many others have endured as well as those who are also enduring it.

The staggering preparation to become qualified has been there for each voice singing the song of freedom and equality. Look at our newest women who have succeeded in breaking that iceberg of the glass ceiling. The strong logic contained in the arguments and advocacy in favor of admission and access has been there. The humble words to encourage the adversaries to change their positions or merely open their ears to hear the message have been appropriate. The consistency of the message was in place. The urgency of the need was properly emphasized.

The trouble was the perversity of the opposition. Unbeknownst to the general public were the many overwhelming distractions that plagued the advocates. Accomplishments can be forgotten. They can be erased and no sign of them recoverable. In these days of electronic media, the mere click of a mouse button on the “Delete” key can wipe out years and decades of work. Thievery can destroy back-up copies.

Best laid plans and agendas can be overturned and toppled. All it takes, even with the most disciplined, is to have some type of urgent disruption on the order of financial or health matters that simply cannot be put off to a later or a more convenient time. Somehow, those urgent, single-factor disruptions grow in proportion and complexity. What should have taken half an hour or an hour, becomes several days. Those people who are pivotal in reaching a solution are not available; they don’t return phone calls or emails. The details and the requirements grow. The original agenda is lost.

The original advocate begins to appear to be ineffective and not worth the time to hear or read what they have to say. In many instances, finances become scant. With that loss also comes deterioration of appearance and lack of ability to be in the right company and places. The voices become hoarse and weak. The clarity of their ringing tones becomes a whisper, an occasional feeble squeak. It’s easily brushed off as something not very important and low on the priority list. And then the entire entity is forgotten because the person is dying or dead. As one person observed, the advocate has been so marginalized that they are no longer.

Today is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. In his words at the Lincoln Memorial, he urged us to let freedom ring. Today we need to partner with those who would let their voices ring on behalf of those who are still oppressed and repressed to our social detriment. We need to do whatever we can to allow those voices to ring with the message that causes the positive change and empowerment so vital to our survival and a thriving and healthy society and economy.

According to today’s E-Alert from California Employment Advisor, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that 2009 witnessed the second highest number of nationwide bias claims against private-sector employers in its history, amounting to 95,277 and edging out above the previous record set in 2008. The filings show a steady stream of age and race claims while the number of claims of disability, retaliation, national origin, and religion increased. According to the CEA, “Overall, continuing a decade-long trend, the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in 2009 were those alleging discrimination based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and sex-based discrimination (30%).” Could it be that the lack of those voices of protest is part of the reason that the claims are growing and the lackadaisical attitude that conscious deterence of discrimination is flippantly disregarded? No doubt it’s part of the reason.

It’s time for a change. We need to have those voices ringing everywhere we go. It’s time to stop their suppression. It’s time to stop the disruptions and obstructions. Those voices must be heard again. They must be heard today.

August 25, 2009


It was 40 years ago this morning that I began investing and the significance of making good choices became acutely underscored in regard to education, training, good listening skills, and communication. The awareness of where to network, as well as how, became another important factor at that time.

Being a member of a minority group meant, as my Second Grade teacher advised her students, being twice as good as our white counterparts so that we could be considered half as good. That meant being prepared for the rejections that would occur throughout our lives that were based on the mere color of our skin and texture of our hair no matter what the venue. But that lesson had to be taught in an indirect manner so that it felt as though it was intuited knowledge. Thus, acceptance and the true meaning of diversity, recognizing all of the races and cultures and ethnicities and blendings that caused our existence could be embraced and celebrated. That also spelled understanding discrimination without needing to endorse it nor waging a war about it. Sometimes the best way to defeat the hate is to simply wall it up in a container and then stow it.

These are all fine things to consider. It’s admirable to aim for accomplishing them as far as developing a person with a meaningful existence who will increase the value of their workplace. They will improve the community for the fact that they passed through that space and did positive things as they impacted it. They strove to do the best possible in the workplace and everywhere else. These are the factors in our investments. But its the return on investment, the ROI, that gives us the bottom line on whether the training and development was properly handled.

Do they fight resistance with all of the tools at their disposal, being selective about which to use at the proper time and in the right measure? Or do they become complacent and accept the dregs that smack of insult instead of the measure to which they have worked to earn and merit?

What type of ethics do they ultimately practice, whether in spite of or because of our training? The question also needs to be raised as to whether our input and training would have made a difference. We question whether we should have been more adamant about certain matters as our capital was being developed. There are some who would tamper with our product and interject negative influences that should not have been part of the training. Still others will attempt to approximate what they see us using but they have no sense of how to replicate the lessons. Therefore, their theft mangles the training and undermines the development regimen so that remediation is not just necessary, it is mandatory.

The issue of knowing when to let go in order to test both our own selves as to our abilities at development as well as the product to see how well it performs becomes critical as time passes. It’s important to do periodic quizes. Taking the small steps to curb disaster are easier in those small increments rather than wait until one payload is ready to be delivered and fails.

After going through all of the development and training of our investment in our future, we want to see our dividend and returns at least doubled. If they aren’t, there’s disappointment in the effort. What still needs to be considered in this regard is whether we’re using the proper measuring stick. It could be that we’re using the one for the architect when the activist logorithm is the correct rule. No matter. It’s important to have a sense of how much return we’re getting on that investment.

January 13, 2008

Pushing for Excellence

It was during a period between the end of April to early May 2007 when the incident occurred. Enroute to a destination that was not performing the duties for which it was established, I stopped at a Burger King for breakfast fare and rest. This particular Burger King is located at Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue and it has a mural of Civil Rights Era notables and events. Among the personages represented are images of Cesar Chavez, John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Dolores Huerta, and Whitney Young. Some of the events it memorializes are the March on Washington, King’s being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and many other significant points in time during that era.

It was interesting to reflect on the images of the people, the acts for which they are remembered, their places in history and that time period in addition to what that time meant to people of color and our United States as a whole. For one who watched as the cavalcade passed before my eyes, as one who walked and survived those tumultuous times, who stood for the life that they strove to achieve for all, it was uplifting to see the mural. But I wondered how many youth of today understand what it means and those it represents.

By then, a young boy of about ten years came into the restaurant. He began to notice the mural and it seemed safe to venture the question, “Do you know who any of those people are or what they did?” He understood that there was a Civil Rights era wherein people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, John and Robert Kennedy had roles. He only knew the history of two — King and Chavez. The reason for that was he had just learned about them in school the week before we met. And it was okay that he at least knew those two. It was a start.

Together we looked at the representation of King’s being awarded the Nobel prize. I explained the significance of the prize to him and the various categories for which people can win. But I omitted little pieces of information — some intentionally and some because I simply did not know it. I asked the boy to look up for me what must be done to become eligible for the Nobel prize, the amount of the purse, and the categories. I then gave him my business card and asked him to email me with the information.

What I wanted him to discover was that the Nobel Prize is not some remote holy grail reserved for the elite and wealthy. What I wanted him to grasp was that with the proper knowledge and focus, it is possible that one day he could vie for that award that attests to being the best in that year for that particular discipline. I wanted him to become familiar with the award in order to gain an appreciation of why it was established and where. And I wanted him to at some point in future time realize that he too can be a catalyst of change and positive energy in his community. Yet another intangible lesson would have been the importance of accuracy and precision of presentation in order to consistently be eligible for that type, that caliber of work.

It’s now eight months later and there’s been no email that delivers the information I requested. The more important thing about the request was to get the youth thinking about what that mural represents. It is supposed to inspire pride in overcoming so many bars to progress and fulfillment. It is supposed to be a reminder of an era and impetus to not allow the movement to die away. Yet, like the unsent email, the promise of that time and the march toward equality has slowed; it seems the promised day will never arrive.

How many of us remember those times and the things for which we fought in multiple ways through numerous venues? At least that boy’s teacher took the time to educate the children about some aspect of the Civil Rights Era, even if it was a mere sampling of two or three names. After all, that was their first introduction to the matter. However, that there is no education about the Civil Rights Era is a troubling matter. I have doubts about whether any of the workers at that fast food site or any adults in the community could remember as many names as the boy and I discussed, much less the events, what they were about, the progress that’s been made since.

Socially, we’ve lost sight of many things that were part of the affirmative action movement. Unfortunately, too many view it as a tool for the unqualified to gain access where they have not earned it rather than allowing them to at least stand in line for their fair shot at the target and then having their shot measured in equal balance to all others.

Once I reached my destination, I discussed the experience and the mural with one of the employees, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. My thoughts were multiple and ardent. They infected the listener.

That mural represents periods and dates in our history that need to be remembered. The essence of the representations and the strife that accompanied those histories need to be explained to each generation so that they have a sense of why it is so vitally important that they reach for the best that is within them and demonstrate that talent, that ability to those who have the power to say, “Yes.” The lessons of those days and the growth that they held needs to be continued and replicated.

The youth need to be given the sight of the upper branches where the prize resides. That view will facilitate their aspiring to climb the tree to its uppermost parts. We need to dare and risk. That mural represents so many things that are now falling into colloquialisms and quips instead of meaningful statements. The education about what is depicted and those things that could not be captured in that image need to be discussed on an ongoing basis so that there is knowledge of the circumstances. The discussions need to also cater to strategies to gain inroads in the places where it seems the doors are closed and locked. There needs to be education about how to negotiate in order to gain the keys to enter the doors. And there needs to be education about what to do once inside in order to claim and grow the prize.

That mural represents a struggle that was not about blame for exclusion but about self-driven desire and determination to achieve in spite of the obstacles. That mural represents those who did.

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