During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we are celebrating the accomplishments of people with disabilities and sharing information about how we can all be more inclusive – in the workplace and in life. Lisa Larges, outreach coordinator for State Services for the Blind, shared this personal story about the power of equal access.
Recently, friends of mine sent me a box of assorted chocolates from the Canadian chocolatier, Purdy’s. They had read that Purdy’s puts braille on its packaging, so they thought it would be a great gift for their favorite (okay, their only) braille-reading friend! And, it was just incredibly fun to open that gift. The key – that little map that tells you the flavor of each chocolate in the box – was all in braille. The box had “left” and “right” brailled on each end so that I could easily line up the box with the key; a qr code on the box had a braille label saying “scan here to read about these chocolates with a screen reader.” (A screen reader is software that converts text to speech, giving access to computers and other digital devices to anyone who can’t see a screen.)
It was probably the first time in my life when I could reach for a chocolate in a box and know what I was getting!
It’s a really small thing, in some ways, and huge in others. The braille on the chocolate box is a little symbol of the power of having equal access. It says “You’re as important as anyone else.”
I think that’s the core of our mission at State Services for the Blind – to provide those resources and opportunities that communicate the message that all of us – with of our diverse needs and diverse ways of interacting with the world – matter equally. Whether it’s brailling a textbook, handing a senior a 3x magnifier, authorizing adjustment to blindness training for a new vocational rehabilitation customer, or assisting our Business Enterprise Program small business owners – to name just a few examples – these actions communicate the message, “You’re as important as anyone else!”
During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I’m celebrating the growing list of companies – including many based here in Minnesota – who recognize the value of people with disabilities as employees and as customers. In fact, I’ll be celebrating by choosing that caramel carnival fourth from the left in the bottom row!