As an able-bodied person, carrying your laptop into a meeting seems like a breeze. Or sitting down to work at a conference room table or your desk are things you may do several times a day. However, as a wheelchair user, Mindy Henderson had to ask a co-worker to carry her laptop for her up to six times a day for meetings. And when one of her new managers emailed to ask her about what her desk height should be, Mindy felt seen and understood about how important that accommodation would be for her.
Mindy Henderson is an author, motivational speaker, and advocate as well as the editor in chief of QUEST magazine for the national Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). After a 20-year career in high-tech, Mindy shifted her focus toward helping others realize their potential and normalizing disability. Driven to build a world that welcomes and includes EVERYONE, Mindy advocates for universal design in air travel, architecture, and fashion.
Disability Biases in the Workplace
Mindy’s discussion with Annette Hines really explored the discrimination that disabled people face in the workforce. Throughout her tech-career tenure that spanned three large companies with thousands of employees, Mindy never saw another wheelchair user. She and Annette noted that discrimination about a disabled person’s abilities are so prevalent that many people don’t bother to ask why it was a problem that Mindy was the only wheelchair user in any of her companies. Yet consider if you or your friend worked in a company with thousands of employees and never saw another woman or a person of color, wouldn’t you fight to change those demographics?
The truth is that less than 30% of people who live with a disability and are available and able to work are employed, compared to almost 90% of people with no disability. It’s 2022 and we’ve got to be better than that. But we are so uncomfortable even acknowledging a disability or asking: What do you need to make this job work for you? “Adversity is not an excuse – it is a reason…to thrive and to push ourselves to excel,” writes Mindy. Despite the adversity Mindy encountered in the workplace and while job searching due to others’ assumptions about her being a wheelchair user, she motivated herself to self-advocate and open possibilities. Her new book, THE TRUTH ABOUT THINGS THAT SUCK (AND HOW TO MAKE THEM SUCK LESS), examines the challenges Mindy has faced being disabled and how to use those challenges to be empowered and change her mindset about what is possible. She is an amazing advocate for the disability community and is working to help normalize disability. You can learn more about Mindy and her book on her website: https://mindyhendersonco.com
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