My Disability May Be Invisible, But I’m Not!
My Disability May Be Invisible, But I’m Not!

Categories: Community Life

A photo of Hannah Andrusky

By Guest Blogger Wayne Connell, Founder and President, Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA)

But you don’t look sick.” “But you LOOK good.” “It’s all in your head.” “You just want attention.”

When most people are sick with the flu or a fever, they become pale and droopy and their hair is in a tussle. Therefore, when we meet someone who tells us he or she is ill or has an invisible disability, but he or she does not appear to be sick or in pain, we are often perplexed. Despite their appearance, we must realize that there is a difference between having a temporary cold or the flu and living day after day with a chronic illness or in chronic pain.

Many chronic conditions and disabilities are not as noticeable as a bad case of the flu. For instance, a person can battle symptoms such as extreme fatigue or cognitive impairments on the inside, even though he or she may appear healthy and well on the outside. Just the same, a person can have horrible pain or dizziness, despite the fact that he or she may seem strong and able.

IDA Ambassador Hannah Andrusky is someone who looks amazing and healthy on the outside while battling from injuries on the inside. In January of 2012, a serious car accident sidelined Hannah’s career as talk show host and stylist, as well as her confidence and self-esteem. Her ‘invisible disability‘ of concussion syndrome left her depressed, exhausted and even suicidal. Hannah’s medications caused her to gain weight and have severe mood swings, contributing to her lack of equilibrium on many fronts. A single mother and a daughter, her caretakers often had enough of the resulting behaviors.

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Grounded, But Still Soaring
Grounded, But Still Soaring

Categories: Civil Rights & Voting, Transportation

A photo of Albert Rizzi and Doxy

By Guest Blogger Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed., Founder and CEO of My Blind Spot, Inc. 

I was returning from a business trip to Silicon Valley. The organization I founded, My Blind Spot, and the dedicated engineers at Intuit had been working together to develop accessibility features in Intuit’s widely used small business accounting software, QuickBooks for Windows. I had just met with a group of QuickBooks trainers and trainees about the tutorials we were developing as part of our effort to make QuickBooks software accessible for the blind. The meeting had gone well, but I was tired and ready to get home.

My guide dog, Doxy, and I had enjoyed our flight from San Francisco to Philadelphia, where we would pick up our connecting flight to Long Island. Doxy has been my guide dog for almost eight years, and he has crisscrossed the country on business trips with me. He flies more frequently and, at times, more adeptly than most people do. Since we had traveled together by air so many times without incident, I never anticipated the situation we encountered when we boarded our flight in Philadelphia.

Doxy and I were given a seat in the back row of the plane. The proper positioning for a guide dog on a plane is lying down at his master’s feet, vertically, with his head and shoulders, or rear and tail, tucked underneath the seat in front of his handler. Because this was a rather small plane, there was no seat in front of me—only the aisle. After showing me to my assigned spot, the flight attendant reminded me that I needed to make sure my dog was under a seat for takeoff. I was a little concerned about how we were going to manage that, given that we had no seat in front of us to make that happen. Fortunately, the woman beside me—Mary, from Pittsburgh—graciously offered her foot space for Doxy’s trip. I got him in position, and we were ready to go.

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Working at Home in the Ticket to Work Program
Working at Home in the Ticket to Work Program

Categories: Benefits & Assistance Programs, Employment

A photo of Lisa Seeley.

By Guest Blogger Lisa Seeley, a Ticket to Work Program Participant

As I started down my own personal journey with the Ticket to Work program, I was very nervous and felt all alone. I had not worked in quite some time and was afraid to take that first step. Navigating the waters of which Employment Network (EN) to assign my ‘Ticket to Work’ to was overwhelming enough, but to even think about actually working again was quite terrifying.

I had been receiving Social Security disability benefits since 1997 and had not worked in 12 years. I felt “rusty” to say the least. Yes, I did do some babysitting for friends and family, but that was not the same as a “real job.” I was so ashamed to answer people when they asked me what I did for a living. I was tired of saying I was on disability and felt I wanted more in my life and more for my family. Relying on my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and my husband’s income for our family of four was tough. I had to cut a lot of corners and was not getting any extras for myself or my family. Even with couponing and stretching every penny, it was just not enough. I was tired of the constant financial worry.

In 2009, I finally took a deep breath and made the leap to return to work. I did a lot of research on the Internet and tried to figure out the best way to go about it. I researched work from home companies but ran into scam after scam. I looked into working out in the community, but with my social anxiety disorder that proved to be too much for me. Finally, after just about giving up on my dream, I found out about the free Ticket to Work program provided by the Social Security Administration. I researched what would happen to my disability and health benefits before deciding to go ahead and find an Employment Network who would help me locate suitable work. I was so thrilled to learn the program was free because I receive Social Security disability benefits!

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