By Dr. Katherine Schneider, retired clinical psychologist, author, advocate on disability issues, and Benetech Board Member
Hats off to the graduates who achieved remarkable success during a turbulent year with many unexpected challenges.
Congratulations to you, graduates, and to all of those who helped you get there. As someone who graduated so many times (I got a doctorate), I know the joy you feel and also the anxieties about what’s next. Some thoughts and some free advice – worth what you paid for it:
The Realities of Living with a Disability
- You have to ask/advocate for what you need—often again and again.
- There’s a bubble around you, particularly if it’s a visible disability. Reach through it!
- It costs more in time, energy and money to have a disability.
- You will face discrimination because of your disability.
- A disability is an everyday part of your life. Keep your reserves up.
- Find the pearls in the disability experience.
“So many of our dreams first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” –Christopher Reeve
Suggestions for “Adulting” with a Disability
- Life tasks take longer—plan ahead!
- Try new things.
- You don’t get everything you want, but you do get to make choices and clean up messes.
- Mistakes are good teachers.
- Show up when and where you said you would.
- You have to train allies/helpers.
- When facing a conflict, work for a win/win.
- Teamwork rules!
- Play is important, but after your work is done and within your budget.
- What kind of a person do you want to be?
- Believe in yourself and have high expectations for yourself.
- Have three “Gs” in your attitude: gracious, grateful and giving.
- Asking for help is a sign of strength.
- Look for the pearls.
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye.” –Helen Keller
Give the Gift of Lifelong Learning
For those of you looking (or asking) for the perfect graduation gift, consider giving a Bookshare membership to a graduate who will no longer qualify for the free student membership. Bookshare has over a million books to enjoy and learn from. Learn more
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” — A.A. Milne
Bookshare has Dozens of Career Resources
For graduates embarking on a job search, explore this special reading list of career resources that can help with:
- Career assessment and choosing a job
- Disabilities and employment
- Interview skills
- Job searching
- Occupation-specific information
- Resume and cover letter writing
- Resources for students and young job seekers
- Transition and career change advice
“Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.” – Barack Obama
The entire team at Bookshare wishes all the graduates tremendous success and happiness on the road ahead!