Mentor Guides Veteran with Disability to Small Business Success

Bridget Weston Pollack, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, SCORE Association

By Guest Blogger Bridget Weston Pollack, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, SCORE Association.

Fulfilling the dream of owning a business can be a difficult journey, but some entrepreneurs face more challenges than others. With perseverance and a supportive SCORE mentor, military veteran Al Kroell and his wife Christy found their path to success.

While serving in the Navy, Al Kroell suffered an accident leaving him with a severe disability. He lost the use of his hands and the military deemed him unemployable – his 20 year career was suddenly over. A few years later, his wife Christy also became disabled after a car accident. The couple struggled with finances and needed a plan desperately.

Through the hardships, Al found comfort in his hobby of scroll saw woodworking. He especially enjoyed making plaques for military friends. Then it hit him – why not turn his hobby into a business?

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A Split Second Can Change Everything – PLEASE Keep Your Children inside When Mowing

A photo of guest blogger and mother Jodi Bainter

By Guest Blogger Jodi Bainter

Eleven years ago, our son Jake was tragically injured in a riding lawnmower accident. As a result, he will spend the rest of his life as an above-knee amputee. Think about that for a moment: he will live his whole life with one leg – because of a split second.

When my husband Brett decided to mow the lawn on a Friday in April 2004, he had no idea that day would change our lives forever. I am sharing our story today because it is easy to take things for granted. If you are like my husband, you operate with safety in mind, always using a protective and responsible lens because you love your child more than life itself. But accidents are unpredictable – they happen so quickly that even the most well-intentioned parents might not be able to protect their child.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation; 75 people are killed and 20,000 injured; and one in five deaths involves a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.

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My Experience Living with Syndactyly: Fusion of Fingers

Guest Blogger Stephen Bell, who has Syndactyly

By Guest Blogger Stephen Bell

Being born with a rare visible difference/disability can be an extremely interesting experience. I was born with a limb malformation condition on my right-hand called Syndactyly (pronounced syn-dac-ty-ly). All four of my fingers were fused together and I have since had the index finger separated after many skin graft and plastic surgery operations. Skin was taken from both the groin and the upper arm area to use for the skin graft and plastic surgery. I then had to wear a skin-tight, and very itchy, custom-made silicone glove day and night for six months in order to compress and heal the scarring. I have more flexibility and grip with the index finger since the surgery. The other three fingers share the same bone, so if more separations were to take place, one finger would be useable (like my index finger) and the other two fingers would be floppy, limp and useless.

My personal experience of having Syndactyly has been generally really positive; from an early age, my family taught, encouraged and helped me to be comfortable in my own skin. I guess nobody is 100 percent perfect. I have never ever tried to hide my fingers and hand, as this would only cause unnecessary attention. Some people never even notice but I am always more than happy to explain this unique condition and answer any questions. As with a lot of situations in life, it is often a case of assessing the situation and going with the flow. I let these conversations progress naturally, as I do not want to force anyone in to learning about my condition. If someone starts staring or glaring, then I will very politely just ask them, “Have we met before?” The majority of reactions I get when asked about my fingers is respectful, positive and encouraging. For as many years as I can remember, I have worn plain silver jewelry on both hands, like a watch, rings and bracelets. Perhaps this a subconscious was of both distracting and deflecting people from noticing my fingers. Like all other human beings, I learn coping strategies and mechanisms and this method works for me.

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Accommodation Information by Limitation

Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

By Guest Blogger Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

It’s been several years now since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act went into effect and many employers finally are heeding the Act’s main message: stop spending so much time determining whether an employee meets the definition of disability and instead focus on providing effective workplace accommodations. In fact, some employers have taken this message a step further and are leaving the disability determination out of the equation altogether when possible and just focusing on the limitation that is causing the problem. For employers who want to do the same, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) recently launched a new section on its website called “Accommodation Information by Limitation A-Z.”

And it’s not just for employers, anyone can use it! How does it work? The new section allows JAN website users to find accommodation ideas by the type of limitation an employee is experiencing, regardless of the underlying disability.

Here are a few examples to illustrate:

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Clarifying Your Ideal Work Environment

A photo of Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder of Employment Options, Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder of Employment Options Inc. 

When you’re trying to figure out what to do next in your personal job hunt, sometimes not just one job title comes to mind. You may begin to feel stuck or unsure which direction to go. Envisioning your ideal work environment can help clarify an appropriate direction by taking into account your workplace preferences and needs. Often, if you figure out logistics for your personal circumstances first, many other aspects of your job search then fall into place.

Do You Want to Work “Inside” or “Outside” or a Combination of Both?

Many job hunters feel like they need to choose between a desk job or an outside “only” job. However, you can look for desk jobs with travel opportunities or frequent meetings outside the office. Insurance adjusters, estimators, teachers, meter readers and car sales would be examples of a combination of both. What type of environment works best for you and your personality and disability?

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