Challenge helps put employees in shoes of others

By Jake Joy DLA Disposition Services

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Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center employees took part in a Disability Challenge Oct. 23 to observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The challenge involved five stations. Each station let attendees get a small sense of what it might be like to handle daily life while also navigating a challenge involving mental health, limited mobility, deafness or being hard of hearing, blindness or low vision, and wheelchair use.

At the limited mobility station, committee members and volunteers had participants simulate a broken ankle or arm that required use of either a knee scooter or dominant arm sling. Tin cans bound behind knees helped people understand the frustration of bending down and getting around with arthritis. Cans and the knee scooter together illustrated the complex challenge that might be faced by an arthritic person with a broken foot.

At the mental health station, two people would attempt to hold a conversation while a third person spoke directly and persistently into on speaker’s ear, mimicking the plague of auditory hallucination and simulating how difficult concentration can become for those suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and severe depression.

People With Disabilities Committee Program Manager Krista Nawrocki said the idea for the challenge came from the 18-person committee, many members of which deal with their own real-life physical challenges.

“They wanted others to experience what that’s like,” Nawrocki said. “Any one of us could have a disability at any point in our life. An event like this can hopefully help us to be more conscious of other people and more aware of their daily struggles.”

Nawrocki said DLA Disposition Services remains in line with agency guidance on the targeted employment of disabled persons, including meeting the goal of having a total workforce that includes at least 2% of those with severe disabilities.