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Hello. Welcome to the SEPTEMBER 2007 edition of our Disability Network Newsletter - current employment issues and resources for people with disabilities and the organizations that support them.

(We do our best to provide accurate and current information; but please check with the sources for validation of the information we have provided.)




In This Issue of Disability Network:
Lead Article

Reader Requests
Event Listings
Music Within - Disability and Employment on the Big Screen
* AWARDS: Promoting Access and Inclusion
* RECRUITING: Online Job Matching for Students with Disabilities
* RECRUITING: New Online Job Matching site in Canada
* SELF EMPLOYMENT: Successful Entrepreneurs with Disabilities
* LEGAL: Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration
* AFFILIATION: Deaf Professional Network

Resources on Disability and Employment
Diversity Training, Job Coaching
Conferences and Seminars

Photo: Rob McInnesMusic Within -  Disability and Employment on the Big Screen

For over two decades, like Johnny Appleseed, he has wandered the fields of corporate America (and Canada) - sowing seeds of new perspectives and fresh insights on the productive and rightful participation of people with disabilities in the workplace.  In the assault against attitudinal barriers in the workplace, he is a one-man S.W.A.T. team. Beyond his personal impact, he developed a revolutionary tool, the Windmills Attitudinal Training Program, which has enabled thousands of corporate trainers, job developers and disability advocates to effectively make their own inroads against discriminatory workplace practices. His name is Richard Pimentel.

I remember being at a conference twenty years ago and hearing loud waves of laughter coming from the room next door. When the session ended, I saw a colleague coming out and asked him; “Well, that guy is obviously funny, but does he have anything to say?” My friend gave me a grave look and replied; “He sure does. That was the most amazing presentation I have ever heard.” And so began my own campaign to get Richard in front of as many employers as possible. Over my years in this field, I have never seen anyone who could so quickly connect with a crowd of employers, so readily engage them, so thoroughly entertain them, and so successfully have them leave the room with eyes newly-opened to the possibilities of people with disabilities as prospective employees.

When, a couple of years ago, Richard told me that there was interest in making a movie about his life I was pretty skeptical. After all, how many people, who aren’t the Queen of England, have a movie made about them while they are still alive? Fortunately, my skepticism was ill-founded and “Music Within”, a movie based on Richard’s life, will open in selected theaters next month. Certain that almost everyone who regularly reads this newsletter will want to see it (and make sure that it is seen by their friends, families and colleagues), I invited Richard to share some of his thoughts with us.

~ Rob McInnes 

RM: Richard, a large part of Music Within is focused on your crusade with Windmills - the attitudinal training program that you developed for employers. From my own work, I believe that Windmills has been one of the most important influences in the opening North American workplaces to workers with disabilities. You must be very proud of the impact that you have had through it. 

Richard PimentelRichard Pimentel: A good friend of mine once said “Greatness can only be seen through the rearview mirror. You never see it through the front windshield.” Ultimately what we do on a day-to-day basis is just try to stay on the road. I feel that way about Windmills. Years ago, I was a job developer in Portland. I was trying to find jobs for people with disabilities. I would talk to employers and find that they had these attitude problems. I would take my time to educate each of them. Eventually, I just got tired. I couldn’t continue to give the same message to dozens of individuals every day. I decided to put it into a training program that I could use to educate several people at the same time. I would give these talks to groups of employers and then I would follow up with each of them – trying to get them to hire my job-seekers.

Some employer in Portland had heard my presentation and reported to his national headquarters that it was a really neat training program. This somehow got to the California Governor’s Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities who wanted me to develop it into a full-blown training program. I took a year off and wrote Windmills. It came out with perfect timing. The disability movement was just picking up steam but there was no strong employer component to it. It was like a missing piece of the puzzle and it exploded! I saw this little thing that I had designed, just to help me place a caseload of about thirty people with disabilities into jobs, suddenly become the corporate training tool for companies like ARCO and IBM. Clarence Thomas invited to me train all the investigators for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As part of the momentum of the entire disability movement, it was a huge roller-coaster ride.

RM: In Music Within your mentor, Ben Padrow, tells you not to focus on getting people to change their minds about people with disabilities, but to change their minds about themselves. How is that reflected in the Windmills program?

Richard Pimentel: In the earliest days of disability training we had “imitative training.” Trainers would come in and tell employers they were going to make all their people sensitive to disability. They would put non-disabled employees in wheelchairs. They would blindfold them. They would put earmuffs on them. They would tell them “You are now paraplegic, blind or deaf.” And they would have to go through their day that way. At the end of the day, those employees would shed those devices and say “Boy, poor people with disabilities. Let me write you a check.” What we didn’t see was that they weren’t hiring anyone. Those trainings elicited sympathy – not empathy. They focused on getting employers to do something for people with disabilities – rather than encouraging them to do things with people with disabilities.

When we entered the picture, we first asked “Why are employers reluctant to hire people with disabilities?” Overwhelmingly, we received the answer: “Employers lack confidence in the ability of people with disability to do the job”. In response, the disability community passed around things like the DuPont study which showed that, on the job, people with disabilities performed as well or better than their non-disabled counterparts. They passed around testimonials about how great this blind guy, or this deaf girl were on the job. But still employers weren’t hiring people.

"Music Within tells the story of one man, but it is an authentic portrait of the early years of what has become a global phenomenon - the disability rights movement. I hope it will inspire thousands of Richard Pimentels across the world to continue the work and add to the music.”  - Andrew Imparato /  President and CEO, American Association of People with DisabilitiesI talked about this with a lot of people. Then one day I had this epiphany: Employers are not reluctant to hire people with disabilities because they have a lack of confidence in the ability of people with disabilities. In fact, it is because they have a lack of confidence in their own ability to work effectively with people with disabilities. Once I realized that, we diverted Windmills away from teaching employers everything they ever wanted to know about being blind, deaf, etc. and we made it an exploration of how people make decisions, why people react in certain ways, why the good skills you already have in working with people are the same skills that will allow you to work effectively with people with disabilities – and why you are afraid to do it. As soon as we shifted away from “We want you to feel better about these people” to “We want you to feel better about yourself” we began building the confidence of employers in themselves. That resulted in interviews, that resulted in hires, and that resulted in retention.

You are right, that one line from Ben Padrow is really the key to Windmills, its Rosetta Stone. I think it was the most important line in the whole movie. If we had not come to that realization, Windmills would have just been another stupid program that, at the end of the day, left employers saying “Boy, this was a wonderful experience, but I really don’t want to hire one of these people because it is too hard”.

RM: So, Windmills really doesn’t educate employers about people with disabilities – as much as it educates them about themselves.

Richard Pimentel: Yes, that is our philosophy exactly: There is nothing wrong with people with disabilities. There is something wrong with the way that we react to them. The focus can’t be that you go to employers and say “Let me tell you why you are wrong about people with disabilities having something wrong with them.” No, you say; “Let’s talk about why we react the way we do... and if you look at it in a different way, if you react in a different way, what more can you accomplish?” That is the key to the whole program.

RM: Your old friend Art Honeyman is a central figure in the story and his portrayal by Michael Sheen was amazing to watch. Michael was brilliant as Tony Blair in The Queen, but how was he chosen for this role?

The Real-Life Art Honeyman and Richard PimentelRichard Pimentel: The most physically-impaired person in the movie, of course, is Art. Yet, if you look at it carefully, he is the only “normal” person in the film. Everyone, including myself, is fundamentally flawed. He is the only one that has his act together.

The key to casting Michael was that we weren’t looking for someone to play an individual with cerebral palsy. That would have been easy. We had to find the right actor to play Art Honeyman – a real person. When this thing first came about, I was insistent that people with cerebral palsy be auditioned for the role and, in the case of a dead heat with an non-disabled actor, that the person with cerebral palsy would get the role. Michael, however, nailed the portrayal of Art. People who know Art Honeyman, who have seen this movie, think that they have been put in a time machine and sent back to the 60’s. Throughout the making of the movie, Michael and Art became quick friends. Art taught Mike how to move and even how to drive his foot-guided electric wheelchair. In his portrayal, Michael was Art.

We bent over backwards to hire someone with cerebral palsy to play Art, but in the end, we had to go back to what I have been preaching all my life: “People with disabilities, like everyone else, have the right to be considered for every job but, ultimately, everyone has to be hired based on their own ability to do the job. A disability is not inherently a qualification.” In hiring Michael, we just hired the best-qualified person to do the job.

RM: In Music Within, we learn a little about your experience as a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War – and your early work in developing jobs for other disabled vets. Do you think that theme will resonate with today’s audiences?

Richard Pimentel: The movie did portray some of my experience as a Vietnam vet. I wouldn’t abandon my fallen comrades on the battlefield and I wouldn’t abandon them at home either. The parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is very real. We have soldiers fighting an unpopular and controversial war. We have very strong feelings on both sides. I personally don’t care how anyone feels about the war, but I do care what we feel about the warriors. We are going to get about 100,000 soldiers back this year. We have record numbers of soldiers with traumatic stress disorders. We have unbelievable numbers of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and we have huge numbers of soldiers with amputations. I don’t want the veterans of this war to come back and face the same lack of opportunity that Vietnam vets faced. I want employers who see this movie to be aware that injured veterans have valuable skills too.

RM: One last question about Music Within… what are your hopes for it? You designed the Windmills program that is featured in it. It is your life story, but it is communicating a strong message. What are you hoping that it will be able to accomplish?

Richard Pimentel: At first, as I started writing down my life story for the movie, I was really concerned about selling myself as the hero – because that seemed so wrong. As I actually began to write, however, I stopped worrying about being the hero and became worried about being the villain in my own life. After a while, however, I realized that I was neither the hero nor the villain, but barely even the protagonist. It became not the life story of Richard Pimentel, but the life story of the disability movement as seen through the eyes of Richard Pimentel. The story is about the movement – using Art and myself as the mirror.

I am truly hoping that seeing the movie will be a little like attending a Windmills training – that people will see it and come away saying “I understand.” - that people will come away with their perspectives on people with disabilities changed. I want employers to see it. I want teachers to see it. I want parents of kids with disabilities to see it. What I really want is for young people with disabilities to see it. I want young people with disabilities to know their history. I want them to know that there were people like Art Honeyman who were willing to go to jail. I want them to know where they came from - because they have so many more places to go. They need to know that they are a step in a longer journey. They need to know that something happened before them, that something is going to happen after them, and that they are playing a part in it all.

To me personally, Music Within is a blessing beyond belief. This movie captures my journey and everything I have stood for. As I get older and unable to teach as many people as I do now, like an ancient prehistoric bee frozen in rosin, people can pick it out and look at me! I hope that viewers will realize, as I have come to, that, ultimately, the only real accomplishments in life are the differences that you make in the lives of the individuals who you meet and touch.

© Rob McInnes, Diversity World, September, 2007 (If not used for commercial purposes, this article may be reproduced, all or in part, providing it is credited to "Rob McInnes, Diversity World - www.diversityworld.com". If included in a newsletter or other publication, we would appreciate receiving a copy.)

bullet Visit the Music Within website and watch the trailer:

bullet Learn more about Richard Pimentel:

bullet Opening cities and dates (For information on group tickets, promotional e-cards and
    postcards, please email mwright@miltwright.com.)

Opening Date: October 26, 2007

Opening Date: November 9, 2007

  • New York City: AMC Empire, AMC Village 7
  • Los Angeles: Mann's Chinese,
    AMC Century City
  • Chicago: AMC River East
  • San Francisco: AMC Metreon
  • Dallas: AMC North Park
  • Washington DC: Regal Gallery Place,
    AMC Sherlington 7
  • Minneapolis: AMC Eden Prairie
  • Boston: AMC Boston Commons
  • Boise: Regal Boise Stadium
  • Philadelphia: Ritz, AMC Neschaminy
  • Houston: AMC Gulfport 30
  • Seattle: Regal Meridian
  • Miami: AMC Aventura
  • St Louis: AMC West Olive
  • San Diego: AMC Mission Valley
  • Portland: Regal Fox Tower,
    AMC Bridgeport Village-CCS
  • Rochester: Regal Henrietta 18
  • Phoenix: AMC Esplanade

Training Announcement for Job Developers and Workforce Development Professionals:
Job Development, Job Retention, Job Renewal with Denise Bissonnette - November 27, 28 & 29, 2007 - Berkeley, CA
bullet For more information: http://www.diversityworld.com/EVENTS/BERK3/INFO.htm



Equal EmploymentOpportunity CommissionAWARDS: Promoting Access and Inclusion

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), recently presented the agency’s third annual “Freedom to Compete Award” to five employers from the private and public sectors for best practices that promote access and inclusion of employees with disabilities. Brief overviews of each award winner are on their website.

bullet See: http://www.eeoc.gov/press/9-26-07.html

Career Opportunities for Students with DisabilitiesRECRUITING: Online Job Matching for Students with Disabilities

Career Gateway - COSD, Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, has an online job matching service that allows college students to post their resumes (searchable by employers) and employers to post job openings (searchable by students).

bullet See: http://www.cosdonline.org/index.shtml 

handicapemploi.comRECRUITING: New Online Job Matching site in Canada

HandicapEmploi is a new recruitment site in Canada focused on workers with disabilities. (I am a little uncomfortable with some of the disability-related language on this site, but I suspect that is problematic because it has been translated from an original French language site.)

bullet See: http://www.handicapemploi.com/index.php?page=candidats&nav=1&lang=en 

Start-up USASELF EMPLOYMENT: Successful Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Speak Out! 

An online fact sheet outlines the summary of a question and answer session conducted with a variety of people with disabilities who have been successful in self-employment ventures. Some of the many questions include:

  • What were the major challenges to getting your business started?

  • How has owning a business helped you in your personal life?

  • What advice would you give to others who want to start a business?

bullet See: http://www.start-up-usa.biz/resources/factsheets/speak_out.cfm

National Council on DisabilityLEGAL: Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration

There is growing support among disability groups to support a restoration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many people now feel that the spirit and intent of the ADA continues to be eroded by decisions made in the courts. In recent weeks, the National Council on Disability (NCD) urged Congress to support a restoration of the ADA – legislation that will “legislation that will ‘right’ the course of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and protect the civil rights of people with disabilities.”

bullet See: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/news/2007/r07-542.htm

Deaf Professional NetworkAFFILIATION: Deaf Professional Network

This website is a “real-world, peer-to-peer deaf professional issues and empower deaf professionals with the tools to advance their careers.  The up-to-date news reports are designed to help deaf professionals remain current on the latest developments that can enhance their careers while the featured deaf professional profiles will expand their professional networks.”

bullet See: http://www.deafprofessional.net/

Picture of several books.DiversityShop

Resources on Disability and Employment

Are you interested in learning more about disability and employment issues? Are you an employer? An educator? A service provider? A job seeker with a disability? In our store, DiversityShop, we carry over 20 of the best books and videos that we have found on issues of disability and employment. Check them out now!

Visit DiversityShop for more Disability and Employment Resources


Beyond Barriers by Denise Bissonnette

PRODUCT PROFILE: Beyond Barriers to Passion and Possibility

This exciting new in-service training course from Denise Bissonnette  strikes to the heart of our purpose in providing employment and training services to people entering or re-entering the workforce. This training session covers essential tools and insights needed to assist people in changing their focus from their limitations and barriers to their assets and gifts.

More Information Here...

READER REQUESTS: Do you have a question?

Would you like information or advice on a particular issue related to disability & employment? Tie into our network of over 5000 readers! Send us an email and we will post your question in our next newsletter.

Send Us Your Question... DNET@diversityworld.com


* * *

Leadership Characteristics

I'm looking for a set of Leadership Competencies that I can adapt for development of a new curriculum on leadership. Any suggestions on where I can find competencies related to leadership? Not management but leadership. Thank you,

- Darla Wilkerson, Kansas City, MO Send Email Response

* * *

Functional Assessment

I am wondering if any of your network contacts provide or know of any existing Employment Assessment tools available that are specific to person's with intellectual disabilities? I am interested in a Functional Assessment that has been utilized and proved to be valuable in the marketplace. I work for an agency  that is currently seeking to start a pilot program with vocational rehabilitation for a community employment enclave and they want us to perform functional assessments. Having an existing tool would be most helpful.

- Bob Wyatt, Positive Approach, Inc., Colorado Send Email Response


Is your organization holding an event that might be of interest to our 5000+ readers? Would you like to add your event to our listings?

To have your event listed, please see here...


Job Accommodation Network
EVENT: Job Accommodation Network: Best Employer Practices

2:00-3:00 pm EST October 9, 2007

To celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the JAN/US BLN Webcast series features the Walgreen Company's commitment to hiring people with disabilities. The Walgreen Company is the nations largest drugstore chain and the 7th largest retailer. Walgreen's success story will be presented by Ms. Deb Russell who oversees the company's commitment to hiring people with disabilities in their latest and all future distribution centers. The first of these centers opened in January 2007. In this Webcast session, Ms. Russell presents Walgreen's plans and the early outcomes this effort, including lessons learned.

bullet More information here
Vermont Conversion InstituteEVENT: Vermont’s Conversion Institute 

“Closing Sheltered Workshops”

Burlington, VT  October 29 – 30, 2007

In 2002, Vermont closed its last sheltered workshop for people with developmental disabilities. you are invited to join us in Vermont this fall to see how we changed our vocational services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

bullet More information here

Canadian Supported Employment ConferenceEVENT: 2007 Canadian Supported Employment Conference

“Help wanted? Jobs wanted! MAKING the CONNECTION”

Calgary, AB November 7 – 9, 2007    

The National Supported Employment Conference is an annual conference presented by the Canadian Association for Supported Employment. This year's conference is co-hosted by the Alberta Association for Supported Employment. Our goal is to promote awareness of supported employment resources across Canada and to serve as a resource centre in this regard for people with disabilities, service providers and the business community. Sessions and workshops will cover marketing, entrepreneurship, youth and transitional services, partnerships and service innovations, and challenges and strategies in employment service delivery.

bullet More information here

National ADA SymposiumEVENT: National ADA Symposium & Expo

“Conference on the ADA and Disability Law”

St. Louis, MO May 12 – 14, 2008

The National ADA Symposium is the most comprehensive conference available on the Americans with Disabilities Act and related disability laws. Conference activities take place in a relaxed environment that emphasizes networking and group problem-solving. The EXPO Hall is filled with the latest disability-related products and services.

bullet More Information Here

This Newsletter is published by Diversity World, 849 Almar Avenue, Suite C, #206, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Archives of past issues are available on our website - www.diversityworld.com  We also publish the "True Livelihood Newsletter" by Denise Bissonnette.

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