National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2018 | Ashford University

Ben: Hello Ashford! My name is Ben Gothia
and this is Promoting Awareness and Wellness in Students! The US Department of Labor’s
commitment to ensuring an American workforce for Americans of all abilities is echoed by
this year’s official National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme of “America’s
Workforce: Empowering All.” We sat down with Ashford’s Director of Career Services,
Grace Williamson, and discussed her thoughts on how Ashford supports its diverse population
of students. Welcome to PAWs. Ben: Observed each October, the National Disability
Employment Awareness Month is a nationwide campaign that celebrates the contributions
of workers with disabilities throughout American history, and emphasizes the importance of
ensuring that all Americans have access to the services and supports to enable them to
work. We asked Grace, what comes to mind when she hears the 2018 theme? Grace Williamson: When I think of the theme
“empowering all” I think of the endless benefits that come with a workforce of varying
strengths and experiences. At Ashford, and specific to supporting students with disabilities,
we serve a diverse community and we really are empowering all students/individuals into
the workforce. There may be students at Ashford using their degree to pursue a new opportunity
or direction in their career. It’s also possible that this pathway wouldn’t have
been pursued without access to higher ed. Ben: Next, Grace talks about the ways that
Ashford embodies this theme and the ways that these efforts serves all students. Grace Williamson: The University is focused
on equity and inclusion, with the Equity Council tapping into representatives across the University
to assess and advance efforts.  Accessibility and inclusivity are at the forefront of our
minds in the way curriculum is delivered within the classroom setting. While some students
may choose an online environment as a method of mitigating disability impact, we are proactively
and continuously creating a fully accessible environment from the beginning. This serves
all students regardless of ability.   Ben: Lastly, Grace talks about some of the
challenges that students with disabilities face when seeking education or employment,
and the resources students can look to when navigating these barriers. Grace Williamson: One of the greatest challenges
students with disabilities face is whether or not the job they are applying for will
require accommodations and how to go about disclosing their disability. I recommend that
students become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the interview
process. This way, they can ask thoughtful questions during the interview to help determine
whether or not the opportunity is a good job and career fit for them based on their disability. Ashford
University Career Services and the Office of Student Access and Wellness are available
to help students with disabilities strategize on the best way to disclose their disability
to employers, given their unique situation.  We can also provide students with helpful
resources to aid them in this process.

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