Looking Past Limits

We often come across people like; parents, teachers, friends, family members, employers,…humans who see and interact with  people who experience a developmental, intellectual, or physical disability as limited by their circumstances. But what if we stopped seeing the limitations?  What if we expected more of each other (people with disabilities included)?  Can you imagine what the world would be like if we treated EVERYone as if they could, be, do or have what they chose?

If you say your child isn’t capable of doing much, then s/he can’t.  If you say your student can’t learn, then s/he won’t.  If you say your friend isn’t capable, then s/he isn’t.  If you say a person can’t work for you because they can’t learn the job, won’t be able to be safe, and aren’t able to contribute, then guess what…you’re going to be right.

But here’s the thing, in our quest to shelter, protect and avert disappointment we have extinguished possibility. Our good intentions have turned into barriers, much larger and longer lasting than those the people we are shielding were born with.

When we interact with people as if they are capable, amazingly…They Are! They won’t have the conversation-“I can’t.” In fact, they won’t even know what you are talking about.

If we expect more from people they will rise to the occasion because they see possibility and strive to achieve it.  Life becomes Limitless, and that’s much more inspiring, don’t you think?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyBk55G7Keo&w=560&h=315]

http://www.ted.com Activist Caroline Casey tells the story of her extraordinary life, starting with a revelation (no spoilers). In a talk that challenges perceptions, Casey asks us all to move beyond the limits we may think we have.

Caroline Casey has dedicated the past decade of her life to changing how global society views people with disabilities. In 2000, she rode 1,000 kilometers across India on an elephant to raise funds for Sight Savers. Then, as founding CEO of Kanchi in Dublin, she developed a set of best practices (based on ISO 9000 quality standards) for businesses, to help them see “disabled” workers as an asset as opposed to a liability. Hundreds of companies have adopted the standards, changing their policies and attitudes.

In 2004, Casey started the O2 Ability Awards to recognize Irish businesses for their inclusion of people with disabilities, both as employees and customers. The initiative has received international praise and, in 2010, a parallel program was launched in Spain.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmwXNy-RpwE&w=560&h=315]

Randy Lewis has acquired many titles; Peace Corps volunteer, Arthur Murray dance instructor, Ernst and Young partner, Fortune 50 senior executive and accidental advocate. Before retiring in 2013, as Senior Vice President he led Walgreens’ logistics division for sixteen years as the chain grew from 1,500 to 8,000 stores with the most advanced logistics network in its industry.

Believing that people with disabilities could do more, Randy Lewis also pioneered a disability employment model in its distribution centers that resulted in ten percent of its workforce consisting of people with disabilities (1,000+ PWDs). This initiative is being rolled out nationwide in Walgreen stores across America. It is changing the lives of thousands and serving as a model for other employers in the U.S. and abroad including large employers such as P&G, Lowe’s, Meijer and Marks & Spencer (UK).

He remains active in business and serves as a director of Wendy’s. In addition to maintaining an active speaking schedule, he lends his time and experience to the disability hiring movement. Over the past year, he has been developing the NOGWOG Disability Initiative, as an effective, low-cost and sustainable disability hiring model for employers. It a private/public partnership between employers, community providers and government to provide employers the qualified candidates they need and people with disabilities the opportunities they seek.

In a world where those with mental and physical disabilities are seen as “disabled,” what would it take to not only have those individuals contribute, but to also give them the same expectations, goals, and work at the same wage as those without disabilities? Can we actually design a system so creative that we can demand the same results from those with disabilities as those without disabilities? What could that system possibly look like and could it actually create value for a company?