I came from the public sector, working years for various federal and state agencies. During my onboarding process at AT&T, my hiring manager stressed the importance of employee groups. He said to read through the mission statements, find one I could relate to, and join it. It was the perfect way to get “plugged in” at AT&T. I had no idea what an employee group was, but I didn’t have to look too far before I found Ability and knew I had immediately found my tribe.
Fulfilling My Purpose at Work
I live and breathe disabilities and accessibility. I was born with a cataract, leaving me legally blind in one eye. Even though I was an only child, I have 13 aunts and uncles and over 50 cousins. With disabilities affecting 25% of the population, I absolutely had family members with an array of diagnoses. My federal and state work thrust me into not only working with people with disabilities, but taught me how to mold, shape, and create everything around us into an accessible environment for everyone, including websites, mobile apps, and electronic documents.
To take a leap of faith, to leave a seemingly secure government workforce, and to work for a private company, was scary. Finding an employee group, during the first week on the job, was a blessing. Ability provides understanding, awareness, and assists with the challenges facing individuals with disabilities, mental health, and general wellbeing. It is what I grew up doing, what I do for AT&T in my current role as an Accessibility Solutions Engineer, and what I still do in my free time currently.
Everyone loves great food, great music, great movies, and great company. Having a disability doesn’t change that. It’s a stigma we are still fighting today. That stigma is why Ability partners closely with the AT&T Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) team, to encourage employees to self-identify and work together to create a more inclusive environment.
Pushing for Accessibility for All
I have enjoyed nothing more than seeing Ability grow and evolve over the last 4 years as their National President. Our board has worked hard to restructure and revitalize multiple different chapters and, as a result, have created a robust talent pipeline.
Ability has built trust in its brand. We have flourishing programs this year because one or two employees spoke up to say, “I need this.” Because of our amazing members, we have…
- A Neurodiversity support group
- A mindfulness program
- A long-standing support group for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia’s caregivers
- A grief and trauma support group meeting every other week
- A Parkinson’s support group (launching soon!)
One of our members from Chicago connected Ability with Aurora University in Illinois, and we are now supporting their Neurodiverse student population with assistive technology and scholarships.
The work we have accomplished together is astounding. I have, hands down, the most dedicated volunteers. It is only through their hard work, as well as that of our members, that we have been able to provide the real-time support our employees need.Learn more about Accessibility at AT&T