IRVING - October is Disability Awareness Month, the purpose of which is to educate the public about disability issues.
If you do not have a disability now, you may have one in the future. Whether it is permanent or temporary, adaptations may have to be made in your lifestyle.
According to the Center For Disease Control website about 50 million Americans, or one in five people, are living with at least one disability, and most Americans will experience a disability at some time during the course of their lives.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Pictured are the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program staff who helped organize the 13th annual Disability Employee Awareness Day: GED Instructor/Transition Specialist Karlin Matwijow, Allegany Territory GED Teacher Keri Hayden, Program Manager Monica Redeye, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Denise Bennett, and Administrative Assistant/ Transition Specialist Susette Logan.
The Seneca Nation of Indian's Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program celebrated Disability Awareness Month with its 13th annual Disability Employee Awareness Day.
The purpose of the event is to let the Native American community know about the services the program offers along with collaborating agencies.
"Voc rehab helps people with disabilities overcome their barriers to get into or back into employment. Today is to let the community know about the services we offer and our partners," Program Manager Monica Redeye said.
The program helps people with disabilities receive training or be retrained in order to gain employment.
Redeye used the example of a waitress who has developed arthritis and can no longer hold a job where she is on her feet all day. The program has a successful secretarial training program which can help that person into a new career.
Redeye described the program as similar to the New York State ACESS VR program with a "native slant." The program's logo says the program is open to those with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual disabilities.
She also said that the agencies the program collaborates with help out with job placement and other barriers a person with disabilities may face. She used the example of the state Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped which will help a visually impaired person adjust to new surroundings.
Redeye explained that the program pays for certification programs and will locate jobs for clients on and off the reservation. She said in the work experience program it will pay the person's salary for a certain amount of time for them to gain working experience and many times they are hired after.
"This is National Disability Awareness Month, we as a small agency want to let people know that even if you have a disability you can still make a contribution to your community by holding a job," she added.
National Disability Employee Awareness Day was celebrated with several booths of the available resources available to disabled Native Americans, along with door prizes and a meal.
At one of the booths for the Parent Network of WNY, Kim Walek explained how the parent led group offers support to parents with children with disabilities, to walk them through special education as a child grows up.
The Parent Network of WNY will have a workshop on Nov. 9 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on understanding special education at the Employment and Training Center, 12885 Route 438, Irving. The workshops are free but registration is required and can be done by calling (716)332-4170 or going online to www.parentnetworkwny.org/workshops.
The Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program also works with other agencies like the U.S.D.A., Oahiio, Sasi Inc. and many more.
The program is open to all registered Native Americans with a documented disability. Redeye said that information on the program can be accessed by visiting one of their offices on the Cattaraugus or Allegeny reservations Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.