Four panelists share advice on accomodations, careers, life

Panelists shared their insight about pressing issues in the disabled community, such as employer bias and service animals. 

On Oct. 24, The Access and Accommodations Resource (AARC), the Institute for Leadership and Service and the Career Center partnered together to host Disability at Work, a panel with four guests speakers currently in the workplace, discussing different disabilities.

This conversation was lead by Larry Markle, Amanda Bagwell-Chase, Sean Kamperman and Karen Schimpf, the four guest speakers for the event. Markle is the Director of the Gregory S. Fehribach Center at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, which is a program connecting college students with physical disabilities to internships that relate to the student’s major. Bagwell-Chase co-founded her website The Internet is For Everyone, and uses this assistive technology and legal backgrounds to educate and assist businesses and nonprofits. Kamperman is a newly appointed Assistant Professor of English at Valparaiso University and currently teaches courses on disability studies, business and professional writing, composition and digital media. Schimpf is a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor for the state of Indiana where she helps individuals with disabilities find community employment. 

During the panel, people got to hear about the many issues concerning those with disabilities and these issues were discussed and brought to the attention of the attendees. Panelists shared insight about how to achieve accommodations, realistic career choices, navigating the world of employment and the challenges that may surface.

Schimpf brought up that maybe people can work from home, a topic discussed. “Employers should be careful not to overlook people with disabilities because they have certain attributes that make them more suited than someone else for the job” Markle stated. 

“Federal jobs encourage people with disabilities and research shows that people with disabilities are more dedicated to their jobs because these groups of people do not get enough job opportunities compared to people who do not have a disability,” Schimpf said. 

However, Schimpf stated that these people also need to advocate for themselves and steer clear of playing the victim. According to the panelists, employers are not required by law to hire people with disabilities, so, those seeking employment must self advocate, proving their disability would not interfere with their job. Job interviews for people with anxiety may be an issue, but there are several ways to work around it. 

For example, Markle stated two methods, which are asking to reschedule the interview or use the present pause method, which is taking a moment to sit there and consider what they said. Bagwell-Chase also added that having coping mechanisms to rely on that aren’t going to disrupt the interview is a good idea.

Another concern raised for people with disabilities were the requirements of a service dog. 

“The difference between a

service animal is that it needs to be a dog or a miniature horse and the dog has to be trained to do work or perform a specific task. There has to be training for a specific task,” Bagwell-Chase said.  

If you or someone you know has a disability, the AARC may be able to help with developing a system that works best for you. Please contact aarc@valpo.edu.

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