By Grace Dille
Google partnered with Terps for Disability Justice on Dec. 5 in the UMD Career Center to show “Lives Worth Living,” a documentary about the Disability Rights Movement, and hold a discussion about employees with disabilities.
Students snacked on pizza, popcorn and soda, received free Google swag and entered a raffle to win Google Chromecast or Google Home.
President of Terps for Disability Justice, senior information science major Blair Chisholm, said she hoped students would walk away from the documentary and discussion with a better understanding of what a disability is, and how much effort goes into protecting Americans with disabilities.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an individual with a disability is defined as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”
Chisholm has been a member of Active Minds, a club aimed to remove the stigma of mental health, since her freshman year at UMD. However, when she was diagnosed with a chronic illness a few years later, she had trouble finding a club on campus that represented disability resources.
“I wanted there to be more representation and to unify [disability] efforts into one club,” Chisholm said.
“We’re a new club for advocating for students with disabilities, inclusion, educating the whole campus about disability and discrimination against people with disabilities,” Chisholm said, adding that this is Terps for Disability Justice’s first semester as a club on campus.
Today, the workplace is one of the hardest social institutions that people with disabilities have had to break into, according to Nancy Forsythe, Career Development Specialist in Disabilities at UMD.
The Google employees and Forsythe stressed that when interviewing for jobs, someone with a disability should not be afraid to ask for accommodations throughout that process.
Forsythe said that talking about your disability with an employer is not a weakness; it gives the employer insight into how you are going to be successful and your best self in the workplace.
“When you show up as a person who needs an accommodation…and you’re able to articulate what you need and you articulate it in terms of it making you successful,” Forsythe said, “it actually demonstrates to an employer a level of maturity and self-awareness that many students don’t have. An employer doesn’t care what your diagnosis is, an employer cares how you’re going to be successful.”