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Eric D. has a learning disability and works as a photojournalist for ABC WEAR-3—Sinclair Broadcast Group. He accommodates himself rather than requesting reasonable accommodations.
Accommodation Perspectives and Experience
Eric D. thrives in his job: “as a news photojournalist, I rarely have planned events. News is daily and very fast paced.” Although he has never requested reasonable accommodations for his learning disability, he accommodates himself:
“I do carry a small pad with me each day to write down my schedule. I use an electronic pocket reminder for assignments that may be projected in the future. I use a GPS to assist me to find locations where I have to be. I purchased my own accommodations for under $100.
“I have not needed to ask for anything—but if I were to, I think my supervisors would understand and do their best to accommodate me. Because I have not needed Reasonable Accommodations, I have not ‘disclosed’ my disability. Although I found my own job, I was a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) client when I was hired, and the General Manager of the station at the time was aware of this.”
Although Eric does not work for a disability-related organization, he does extensive volunteer and in-kind services for several organizations that serve people with disabilities. He also donates his video and photography skills for many events. Eric has won several awards for his volunteerism and support of the community for assisting people with disabilities. He won Volunteer of the Year for the Center for Independent Living (CIL) Disability Resource Center in 2007 and then in 2008 he won the Spirit of CIL Award. He was also featured in the 12 Most Successful Vocational Rehabilitation Clients in the VR Annual Report in 2005 and his story was featured for November in the Florida VR calendar.
Eric pursued his photojournalism job on his own:
“One thing that was amazing is that during the testing phase from VR, they told me that it would be nearly impossible for me to pursue this career based on my educational and psychological testing. They kept trying to get me to go to school to work in business, specifically sales or restaurant management. This is where I had been for 20 years and was not what I wanted. So, I went out on my own and got into the schools I needed to become a photojournalist, producer and director of television shows and also entered college. In addition, I volunteered countless hours at Public Broadcast Television Stations to get on-the-job experience.”
Eric did need reasonable accommodations while he was in college, “but it was never ‘quite’ right. I needed a reader for testing and requested several of the course materials in audiobooks. I was told they could not get the audiobooks. I did receive a reader for testing, but I had to wait until after everyone took the tests and go to another area of the college and wait until a volunteer student was available to read for me. Sometimes, I was at the college 4 -6 hours longer, just waiting for the reader and to complete the testing.”
So, once again, Eric took care of his own accommodations:
“My other half read all my assignments and books on audio cassette for me. We purchased a portable cassette player, and I would listen to my class work every day. I also requested to video the professors and/or tape them. I met some resistance from one of the professors, but with my other half assisting me through advocacy – I was able to set a video camera up in the classroom. It helped me because I could basically retake the class over several times until I comprehended what was said. It also assisted me with my disability because I became a better listener. I did complete my college work with a 4.0 GPA! I did not finish my degree because I got this job before I finished, but I intend to finish online. Also, in the classes I took for production and directing, I completed at the top of the class and eventually was contracted to teach the classes!”
In summing up his overall experience with his employer and other employees, Eric says,
“I have a good job. It is fast paced, so sometimes I have to slow it down to keep up. When I find myself not keeping up or getting frustrated, I have to take a walk – calm myself down and then go back and finish. There are certain staff members that are more high pressure, but they have tight deadlines too. They do know that I get rattled sometimes, so do they --- we have short deadlines everyday! They are very supportive.”