This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website:

09 August, 2010

The Number 26

There's a number that I can't get out of my head.

It's the number 26.

These past few days have had me working on a grant proposal with an employment element to it and so have been in the wonderful process of literature reviews and brainstorming and casting visions in the space between my ears and on the white board that's on my wall at work. It takes me back to my student days when I was at the UIC UCEDD, studying to get the terminal degree in Disability Studies. I worked so hard to gain that intellectual status (not sure if that ever happened), and actually enjoyed the intensity of synthesizing theories and social policies and applying them to life - and, of course, writing papers under pressing deadlines. It's my zone.

So here I am over the weekend, reading Butterworth, et al's State Data: The National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes report (go to UMass UCEDD ICI's website for the report at ) and there it was: the number 26.

It was on page 7, I believe. Preceded by the words "In FY2003, only" and followed by the words "percent of individuals with ID/DD supported by community rehabilitation providers worked in integrated settings..." followed of course by the appropriate citation of the authors as these kinds of quotes should always do. But my eyes stuck on the number and my heart faltered just a bit. It wasn't the usual number 14 that was used in the typical disability employment stats to indicate the current rate of unemployment for people with disabilities of all sorts that have been in the workplace. Nope, this number was different.

Translation: 74 out of every 100 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are working in segrated settings, or at least this was the case in 2003. S-E-V-E-N-T-Y-F-O-U-R. P-E-O-P-L-E.

While I should have known this number, the fact remains that if it weren't for the amazing scholars that are embedded in the AUCD network that generate these kinds of data, crunch the numbers, and work tirelessly in quiet university offices all over this country, probably those working right next to you, the number would never have been calculated. And if the number had never been calculated, then it would have not been there to inspire someone to change the number, to change the lives the number represents, and by doing so, change the world. Because of the number 26, now I must - I must - change the world.

I bring this up to you, dear AUCD trainees, to emphasize a few points: the AUCD network may be far more powerful and present and relevant to the lives of those with disabilities and others than you realize at this moment. Now, five years away from my graduation at UIC, I continue to be amazed at the depth of resources, information, networks, and dedication to those with disabilities of the AUCD network. I am inspired. The network provides unparalled opportunities for trainees to enter a field that is brimming with important problems that need to be solved, which is full of talent, and which has an open road to take you where you want your career to go. Oh - and one more thing. Find your passion and make it what you do. Get inspired by something and change the world with the gifts you bring to it, in your career, if possible. That way, you get to go work instead of having to.

Enjoy your day,

Ann Cameron


disability-aroundtheworld on August 10, 2010 at 1:25 PM said...
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