Interview with William Thomas from Disability Link

Here are my takeaways from the informational interview I had with William Thomas from Disability Link.

I had the pleasure of speaking with William Joseph Thomas, who is the youth services coordinator of Disability Link, an agency dedicated to providing services for people with all kinds of disabilities to becoming more independent. To start, he was an educator in the school system for over thirty years to K through 12 students, and after retiring, he was asked to work at this agency as a volunteer in the beginning. however, because of his passion for teaching, his position was recently change to the title mentioned above.

The first point of interest was how his typical day goes in this position. In relation to our course, he writes lots of emails and other documents such as reports every month or on the daily that show case consumer needs and progress. He works with someone who is also blind to manage activities throughout the day for students to engage in to foster growth and independence through conversation and strategic planning. This in turn gave me the perspective on what it takes to work in such a rewarding field.

News report of agency

Even though he as on his way to obtaining five degrees, he said that it doesn’t need even a degree to be able to do this career. “It is a calling. It is something you have to be passionate and committed about doing it.” This specific quote resinated with me in a very deep way because I relate to that passion and commitment to serving this community.

Another take away that I found was his activity on Mondays and Wednesdays as a part of his daily work routine. He and his partner go to specific school districts to help students learn the necessary skills to become employed as persons with disabilities. This specific part of his work week was especially fascinating to me because my assumption was based on doing independent living training inside or around the center within the community at large. However, I was far from right. He said, “I wish I had done more as an educator for all of my students.” This told me that he had a few regrets about not knowing about all students with disabilities and not just certain populations of disabled students during his time as an educator and principal. Of course, the lack of technology and knowledge at that tine were the factors to blame. however, despite such regrets, opportunities like this have opened his eyes to the larger community that he wasn’t exposed to before. This means that now he gets to serve more people at a time to boost their quality of life both professionally and personally. For me personally, I was able to realize that he and this agency are doing more than what is expected of them for the disabled community from the very beginning.

Disability link’s job posting’s page

One last point that is worth mentioning would be this man’s awareness and how it has risen over the years through his experiences as both an educator and a youth program coordinator/specialist. He states, “one of the most unique things about my job is working with other people that also have disabilities. I also have a disability that is invisible.” These words clearly illustrate his deep personal connection to his job and life as a disabled person himself and how this position fits him in all aspects of his life along with the lives of his coworkers and students. I myself can relate to his words because I was one of his students this summer at the Disability Link internship which was an amazing experience for me as a person who has the same calling from above to support this under represented community of people.

To wrap up, I would like to say a few words in closing as to how this interview impacted my understanding of this field. To start, it gave me a better perspective of what it means to be a professional in this field that sadly goes untouched by the majority. He is not just a disability rights and independence advocate, he is also a teacher, guide, supporter, and most important of all a passionate dedicated believer like his coworkers in the vision of his field. These characteristics shatter the over rated misconceptions about what we as the disabled do for one another to make our lives more easy going in this majority non-disabled world. I hope that this also has raised your awareness as to one of the ways my community is being served for the greater good. I also hope that this deep dive into his field has given you all the possibilities of maybe serving the community in a greater capacity throughout your lives. The more disabled and non-disabled people we have dedicating part of or their whole lives to us will benefit everyone in the long run in recognizing that we all deserve equal access and rights. As it’s tag line says, “Advocating for human rights not special rights.”, which is something we all should strive to understand and act upon.

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