What is Your Perception of Ability?

Like many of us, Jenny Howell commutes from her home in Hillsboro to her job as a Cashier at the recently opened Carina’s Bakery in downtown Beaverton. Jenny loves greeting customers, taking orders, stocking products, washing dishes and cleaning tables; all with her cheerful demeanor and smile as sweet as the vegan, Swedish treats she proudly serves.  You might be surprised to learn that Jenny has been blind since birth and you might wonder how she effectively accomplishes these tasks.  Your perception of her ability to do this job may be based on assumptions, on unconscious bias or pre-conceived judgements.  It’s ok. It’s normal, we all have them to some degree; even if we don’t acknowledge them.

A blind Cashier may challenge your perception, however with minor adjustments and workplace accommodations, most anything can be accomplished.   Something as simple as a bell on the door and Braille labels placed in front of the vegan baked goods help Jenny greet, identify and fulfill the customer’s orders.  Other accommodations may include technology such as a voice-activated Point-of-Sale system or screen magnification software.  These types of accommodations are often available at no cost to the employer through the coordinated efforts of agencies like Dirkse CC and local Vocational Rehabilitation services such as The Oregon Commission for The Blind, as was the case for Jenny at Carina’s Bakery.

So how can we change the perception of ability in the workplace and especially toward individuals with disabilities?  Here are a few ideas:

Join in the discussion –  With our Dirkse CC Training Team as they present the next FREE, “Brown Bag” workshop on Thursday, April 26th, 11-1pm.  We will focus on self-awareness of disability bias in the workplace with interactive, practical applications.  Registration is required:

Attend Amplify Success Rock StarsThursday, May 31st @ Embassy Suites by Hilton, Portland-Washington Square.  You will be Empowered, Educated and Inspired by employers and individuals who have “Amped Up” their disability diversity initiatives.

Get involved in the cultural movement – Consider working with your local Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation office and Oregon Employment First who will connect you with agencies like Dirkse CC to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities in your workplace.  We are here to help you see the abilities in people and to look beyond the disability.  We want to help reduce the myths, fears and biases that may impact your hiring and retention of this untapped workforce.

Let us help you change your perception of ability so that you too can become “Rock Stars” and amplify your workplace with inclusion for all.

To become a sponsor or for more information contact: Cindy Bahl, Dirkse CC Business Development & Amplify Rock Stars Event Coordinator – 503-258-7715 or cindy@dirksecc.com/info@amplifysuccess.org

We are here for you; to assist you and your business/organization with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018.  Because we believe:

Disability inclusion matters

It benefits business

It benefits us all.

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What Employers Are SAYING About Getting “AMPED-UP” with Training on Disability Inclusion in the Workforce

It’s been 5 months since the 1st annual Amplify Success! Event created by Dirkse CC from a grant through The State of Oregon Employment First initiative with the goals of empowering, equipping and inspiring local employers to become more diverse and inclusive in their hiring practices; specifically around individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).

So where are we now?  What progress has been made and where are we going in the next several months?

Dirkse CC has met with 13 employers who took the Oregon Employment First Disability Diversity Challenge and who accepted the challenge to get all “amped up” and start the conversation about their diversity disability goals and initiatives. From those conversations an action plan was developed for each organization based on their needs and schedule.

Trainings have begun with three of the organizations using “Windmills, Changing the Perception of Ability” an internationally renowned disability diversity program created and published by Milt Wright and Associates and Dr. Richard Pimentel, Keynote Speaker of the Amplify Success! event.   Two more are scheduled to start in April and May with others on the horizon for summer of 2018.

Employers have had different levels of previous disability inclusion training and even with the most experienced, attendees report that it is important to have a refresher and to challenge current ways of thinking.  Attendees who are just getting started have found the information to be important and timely in today’s workplace.

Attendees were asked to rate the training from 1-5 with 5 being the highest rating.  The trainings to date were given an average of 4.7/5.0 with comments from participants such as:

 “I liked the interaction among the group”

“I enjoyed the activities and conversation”

 “I liked the discussion and exercises and enjoyed the interaction with fellow students.”

 “It made the training more interactive and a better way to learn.”

Presenters were very welcoming and made for a safe environment.”

In addition, Dirkse CC Certified Trainers have presented the first of three, free “Brown Bag” Lunchtime Workshops open to any employer interested in the subject matter.  Registration is required for the upcoming workshops:

March 29th 11-1pm – Disability Fact or Fiction & Taking the Emotion Out of Emotional Disabilities

April 26th, 11-1pm – Pick-A-Disability & The Rumor Game

All modules are interactive and valuable to any Employer, HR Professional, Manager or Supervisor to help identify self-awareness of disability bias in the workplace and to strengthen disability diversity in the workforce.  The Brown Bag Workshops are perfect for those employers with less than 8 individuals to train in order for successful interactive learning.

It’s not too late for your company or organization to take the challenge and take advantage of these grant-funded activities!  Contact us today for your free consultation and recommendations for disability diversity training.

Next up… Amplify Success Rock Stars – Thursday, May 31st, 8-10am at Embassy Suites by Hilton, Portland-Washington Square.  Register today to come and celebrate employers and individuals who have made strides in their disability diversity goals.  A Workforce Panel discussion will include local employers who will share insight, encouragement and challenges with their inclusive programs and initiatives.

Featured Panelists include honored guests listed below with more to come!

Jenny Marston
City of Beaverton
Assistant City Attorney

Riikka Salonen
Diversity Talent Acquisition
Oregon Health and Science University

Scott Youngblood
General Manager
Embassy Suites by Hilton, Washington Square, Portland-Tigard

To become a sponsor or for more information contact: Cindy Bahl, Dirkse CC Business Development & Amplify Rock Stars Event Coordinator – 503-258-7715 or cindy@dirksecc.com/info@amplifysuccess.org

We are here for you; to assist you and your business/organization with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018.  Because we believe:

Disability inclusion matters

It benefits business

It benefits us all.

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Are YOU a Rock Star?

When you think of Rock Stars who do you think of; The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, or maybe Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll”?  They all may be considered worthy of the Rock Star status but what did they do to deserve it?  Don’t get me wrong, they are all gifted and talented with their unique styles and sounds but that is really all they did; share their talents with us and get paid lots of money to do it; how lucky for them!

What about the rest of us?  Why can’t we be “Rock Stars” too?  You might say “I don’t have that kind of talent”, or “I don’t sing or play and instrument, what can I do?”  Well, what can YOU do?  You can choose to be a Rock Star and make a difference in someone’s life by helping them find and develop their talents, skills and abilities.  You can help a person find their meaning and purpose in the work they do, in the way they contribute to their community and society; you can help them belong.  You can be a mentor to someone individually or corporately your organization or business can provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities, specifically those with Intellectual and Development Disabilities (I/DD) who are often left out and not given the chance to show their talent, skills and abilities.

We all have the ability to be a “Rock Star”, the question remains; what will YOU do?  I hope you’ll join me at our upcoming event “Amplify Success Rock Stars” on Thursday, May 31st, 8:00am-10:00am at Embassy Suites by Hilton, Washington Square, as we celebrate and share success stories of people who have chosen to make a difference.  Some have just started along the path of developing a diversity plan that includes people with I/DD and others are moving forward with training to equip their teams to work with individuals with disabilities.  We will also celebrate individuals who have shown their rock star abilities in their community and at their jobs. Plan now to come and be inspired, encouraged and to celebrate everyone as “Rock Stars”, YOU all have the ability!

For more information contact Cindy Bahl, Business Development Manager, Dirkse Counseling & Consulting, Inc. & Amplify Success Rock Stars Event Coordinator (503)258-7715, info@amplifysuccess.org.

We are here for you; to assist you and your business/organization with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018.  Because we believe:

Disability inclusion matters

It benefits business

It benefits us all.

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Business Owners, Managers, Supervisors and HR Professionals . . .   It’s not too late to register for our first FREE “Brown Bag” Workshop; March 15th, 11-1pm – Profiles & Reasonable Accommodations – Examine how stereotyping and assumptions may impact employment decisions.  Register today!

What is YOUR Ability?

In a recent review of the video footage from the October Amplify Success event taken by our friends at One Click Studio, I was once again inspired by the words of our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Richard Pimentel. Here are a few key points Dr. Pimentel shared that resonated with me then and now on both a personal and professional level.

“There is a space between ABILITY and OPPORTUNITY” – He shared we all have attitudes, beliefs and assumptions that may divide and create a space limiting success. Dr. Pimentel challenged us all to “close the distance between ability and opportunity” by addressing these unconscious biases through education, training and conversation.

“Believe in someone” – Believe in the statement that everyone has the ABILITY to contribute, to participate, to work, to be a part of something.  This is also the message and mission of the Oregon Employment First initiative and the belief of Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc. and many other employment providers who assist people with disabilities in reaching their career goal. Who can YOU believe in today?

“Do YOU have the ABILITY? What is YOUR response to that ability?” – In other words; what can YOU do? What can you do in your business to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities? What can you do in your community to make a difference? What can you do globally to impact society? The answers are different for each of us but they could all result in making a difference; in one life, in many lives, in our community and beyond.

I hope your response is to take action in some way. At the October Amplify Success event we asked attendees to take a challenge, to make a commitment to learning more about how they could improve disability inclusiveness in the workplace. Disability Diversity Training sessions have been scheduled for the employers who accepted that challenge; they are taking action and following through with their response and their responsibility toward greater diversity in their businesses and organizations.

If you missed the event and the challenge, it’s not too late to take action!  Dirkse CC will be holding three (3) Brown Bag Workshops to help train and equip small employers or individuals using some of the same materials and exercises offered to the initial employers who accepted the challenge.  “Windmills, Changing The Perception of Ability”, created and published by Milt Wright and Associates and taught and referenced by Dr. Pimentel at the October event, will be presented by Dirkse CC Certified Trainers on the following dates.

You are invited to attend one, two or all three sessions!

RSVP Today – Seating is limited!

March 15th, Thursday 11:00am-1:00pm – Profiles & Reasonable Accommodations – Examine how stereotyping and assumptions may impact employment decisions & retention outcomes.  Explore the creative process of identifying reasonable accommodations.

March 29th, Thursday 11:00am-1:00pm – Disability Fact or Fiction & Taking the Emotion Out of Emotional Disabilities – Learn to elevate and value the inclusion of employees with disabilities.  Examine practical applications in the workplace for employees with emotional disabilities.

April 26th, Thursday 11:00am-1:00pm – Pick-A-Disability & The Rumor Game – Interactive exercises valuable to any Employer, HR Professional, Manager or Supervisor to help identify self-awareness of disability bias in the workplace.  Strengthen disability diversity in the workforce with practical applications.

All workshops will be held at the Dirkse CC Training Room in Portland, OR.  An RSVP is required as seating is limited.  For more information contact Business Development Manager and Amplify Success Event Coordinator, Cindy Bahl @ 503-258-7715 or cindy@dirksecc.com

Respond to your ability today; take action in some way to make a difference in disability diversity inclusion.

We are here for you; to assist you and your business/organization with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018.  Because we believe:

Disability inclusion matters

It benefits business

It benefits us all.

New Year’s Resolutions? – 2018 Disability Equality Index (DEI) Survey

There is a lot of conversation this time of year about New Year’s Resolutions. Questions come up such as: Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you make and break them, quickly forgetting about them? Do you hold yourself accountable and if so, how? Or are you the person that doesn’t make them, knowing you will not follow through?

Perhaps you are someone that likes the challenge and not only makes resolutions but actually follows through and makes changes as a result. Whatever your stance is on this annual tradition, we’ve got an easy one for you and your business; join Amplify! Success and Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc. and register for the

2018 Disability Equality Index (DEI) Survey

The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a unique, joint project of US Business Leadership Council and The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). It serves as the nation’s most trusted annual benchmarking tool allowing America’s leading corporations to self-report their disability policies and practices. This evolving survey then scores each corporation on a scale from 0 to 100—100 representing the most inclusive. The DEI was developed by the two national leaders in consultation with the appointed DEI Advisory Committee, a diverse and voluntary group of experts in business, policy, and disability advocacy.

Regardless of the size of your business, you will learn where you are and where you can go with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018. You will also join the ranks of many top employers, local and around the country such as:

Aramark, Capitol One, Comcast, Intel, HP, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Walgreen’s, Walmart & Wells Fargo

To name just a few who received recognition of the 2017 DEI Best Places to Work.

Take a look at “The Top 10 Reasons to Register for the 2018 Disability Equality Index (DEI) Survey” article from the USBLN, Business Leadership Network and register today; it’s a New Year’s Resolution that will put your organization on the path to meeting your disability diversity goals in 2018!

Read Article and Register Here

We are here for you; to assist you and your business/organization with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018.  Because we believe:

Disability inclusion matters

It benefits business

It benefits us all.

The Oregon Disability Diversity Challenge: Employers Take First Steps!

Last month we shared that we were excited to meet and begin having conversations with employers who responded to the Oregon Employment First Diversity Challenge given at the Amplify! Success event in October.  To date we have met with ten employers and are in the process of creating customized action plans based upon their identified strengths and needs.

Each employer participates in electronic surveys based upon the Internationally acclaimed “Windmills, Changing The Perception of Ability” disability diversity training program – one for HR Professionals and one for Managers or Supervisors. After the surveys are taken, Dirkse CC does an analysis of survey results and makes recommendations for which modules of the Windmills programs will best suit their expressed needs. Following this, customized training sessions, in 1-2-hour time blocks of time are scheduled.

The surveys are quick and simple, taking only 3-5 minutes to complete but they provide a pulse to guide our recommendations and prioritize diversity training within the organization.   A menu of options is provided along with available training dates and times.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE for you and your business/organization to respond!  If you completed the challenge and have been kept busy by year end and holiday activities but want to take advantage of this opportunity in early 2018, please contact us today!

If you did not attend Amplify! Or complete the challenge but want more information on how your business can participate in this FREE, granted-funded disability diversity analysis and training, please contact us today at info@amplifysuccess.org!

We are here for you; to assist you and your business/organization with your disability diversity initiatives in 2018.  Because we believe:

Disability inclusion matters

It benefits business

It benefits us all.

Happy Holidays from the Dirkse Counseling & Consulting and Amplify Success Team!

It All Starts with a Conversation

Once again we want to thank those who attended Amplify Success on October 19th and for those who expressed interest in the Oregon Employment First Diversity Challenge!

We wanted to share with you some of progress to date and the process we will use to help Oregon Employers become more diverse and inclusive in the workplace and to especially include individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).

The first objective of Amplify! was to engage people within any level of an organization, company, or government entity to begin to make a difference in the recruiting and employment of job seekers with I/DD. Whether those who responded want to dive right in and get all AMPED UP, or get more information and develop a vision, it is all good and we can help!

What’s Next?

We currently have appointments with 10 employers who responded and want to get “All Amped Up” before the New Year!  There is still time and opportunity for you; just reach out and we will connect.

The process begins with a simple conversation around the following goals:

  • To hear your vision
  • Discuss your current disability employment practices
  • Identify your strengths and needs
  • Develop an action plan

We look forward to reporting on the progress of these activities and next spring sharing the success stories that come from employers taking these first steps.

SAVE THE DATE:  Thursday, May 31st, 2018
“We Amped Up”!

A wrap up event hosted by Embassy Suites, Washington Square in order to share and honor those employers who took the challenge! Watch for more information in the coming months!

Cindy Bahl
Business Development Manager & Event Coordinator

Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC
President/CEO

Why Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Thank you Local Employers!

Thank you local area employers for attending the Amplify! event held at Nike WHQ yesterday morning! The room was packed!

I trust that you were as encouraged as I, by the keynote speaker, Dr. Richard Pimentel, as he inspired us to see ABILITY and to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities find their, “music within.”Through humor, tears and stories, he challenged us to address our unconscious bias and break down the barriers to workplace inclusion within ourselves and in our community. He amplified the importance and value that each person brings to our workplace and to our world.

The response to the Oregon Employment First Diversity Challenge Card exceeded our expectations! For those that completed the card, the team at Dirkse CC will be in contact soon to help your company/agency take the next steps! If you didn’t fill out a card or could not attend, please reach out – We’d love to talk more about what might work for your business.

Another shout out to the Nike Ability Team for hosting the venue and to our collaborating partners and sponsors, especially Oregon Employment First, who encouraged the opportunity to innovate and engage local communities to improve employment outcomes for students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Last, but not least, I want to recognize my team at Dirkse CC for making the event run smoothly yesterday without a hitch!

Let’s Amplify!

Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC
President/CEO
Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.

Why Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Local Boy Comes Home

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By: Dr Richard Pimentel

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein.

Einstein was thought of as anything but a genius when he was young. Life for him was like a fish trying to climb a tree. Then he found his lake. Mathematics. His story is not unlike many of our own stories. We of course are not geniuses as Einstein was but we all have a spark of genius our “music within” that we seek to discover and a “lake” that we hope to find.

When I was disabled in Vietnam I was sent home to Portland Oregon. At the time I was very much felt like a fish trying to climb a tree. It was not till years later that I realized that I did not have to search for my lake. I was sent home to it. The Portland/Beaverton area gave me the support and encouragement that I needed to be a part of the early disability rights and inclusion movement in the United States and eventually around the world.

I would like to take this moment to give a “shout out” to the individuals, organizations and employers who provided me with the “lake” I needed to learn to swim.

Portland State. When I was told by the Veterans Administration that my hearing was too damaged to ever become a professional speaker the head of the speech department, Ben Padrow told me “nonsense.” He worked with me for five years to achieve my goal.

Pacific Power & Light. When I was a college student in the 1970s I was working with disabled Vietnam veterans to try to get them jobs. PP&L donated their auditorium to me to conduct free trainings for persons with disabilities in the Portland/Beaverton area on how to find employment and be successful on the job.

When I was unexpectedly invited to Washington DC to attend the President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities I was a student and had no money to attend. PP&L raised funds and paid my way so I could learn and return and help persons with disabilities in our community.

U.S. National Bank of Oregon. When I was a student and had an untested idea to develop a supervisor training to change attitudes towards the hiring and development of employees with disabilities. U.S. bank offered to “donate 200 supervisors for me to “practice” on and help develop the program. That program eventually became the “Windmills” Changing the Perception of Abilities employer training that is not the international standard for diversity training for persons with disabilities.

Tektronix, Beaverton Oregon.  One of the first employers to use and support the Windmills program. One of the undisputed leaders in diversity, inclusion for all their employees. They were one of the first national employers to train their supervisors in disability awareness.

“The California Governors Committee on Employment of the Handicapped” In 1979 they funded a nationwide search to identify the most effective and innovative ideas to change employer attitudes toward the hiring and promoting of persons with disabilities. They identified Portland/Beaverton area as the leader in the country. They funded Oregon’s model internationally.

Art Honeyman. A Portland State student, a disability activist, poet and a staple at the “Saturday Market” in Portland. He taught me that there was more to disability than my own challenges.  He became a friend and mentor for life.

THE PORTLAND/BEAVERTON METRO AREA.  The seeds of the disability inclusion movement are not associated with the Portland Beaverton area simply because I lived there. It is because the area lived in me. Its values, its support, its philosophy and its standards became my lake. Without it I might still be trying to climb that tree.

Your company can be someone’s lake, the environment where your employees will find and in return give meaning. On October 19th I am coming home. I may have left our home many years ago but our home has never left me.

one-more-week

Why attend Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Success Story : D’Vida Injury Clinic and Wellness Center

CLICK HERE to REGISTER TODAY! Seats are filling fast for this FREE event!

By: Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC – President/CEO – Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.

Carlo Adds Value and Joy to the D'Vida Team

Job creation is perhaps one of the most innovative ways business can get involved in facilitating employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is a formula that works and it produces results for all. Job creation – identifying business needs and matching abilities and interests of individuals with disabilities is one of the primary goals of Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.

A great example of inclusion and innovation can be found at D’Vida Injury Clinic and Wellness Center in Beaverton, OR.  Owners Michelle Whittaker, LAc and Dr. Tony Rhodes, DC, ART, were open to the innovative approach known in the industry as a “job carve” or separating out tasks that match the skill sets of a motivated job seeker.  Colleagues Glenn Bishop and Cindy Bahl were fortunate to introduce them to Carlo Umanzor, a kind, soft-spoken 21-year-old who experiences Autism. Because of a short-term volunteer experience, they already knew that Carlo was interested and had the skill set required to meet a business need.

At D’Vida patients are treated to soft, clean flannel sheets that previously required attention from their Administrative team. The business process was assessed and identified laundry and other tasks causing a back-log and taking away from other pressing duties such as checking in patients, verifying insurance benefits and answering the phones.  They matched those tasks to Carlo and his skill set, creating an innovative solution and a “win-win” for the individual, the business and the community.

Carlo takes great pride in making sure patients at D’Vida receive this special treatment.  “It’s a pretty great job . . .  I learned how to use this washer and dryer and I make sure there are clean sheets for the patients”.

“It’s truly been such a pleasure having Carlo on board with our team.” Michelle shared.  “We were pleasantly surprised at what a wonderful attitude he had and how great he has fit in to the culture of our clinic. He has added value and joy to our team and is a lot of fun to work with!”

At Dirkse CC, it is our privilege to be a part of success stories like Carlo and D’Vida where “Inclusion Drives Innovation” every day.

Did you know that National Disability Employment Awareness Month is celebrated each October since it was originally declared by Congress in 1945?

The purpose of NDEAM is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s National theme is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”

Join us in celebrating NDEAM and learn more about how you can create a stronger workforce and community through inclusive hiring. REGISTER TODAY to attend Amplify! Empower Your Workforce, Affirm Abilities, Amplify Success! Thursday, October 19th, 8:00am-11:00am, hosted by Nike WHQ.

Why attend Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Empower Your Workforce
Affirm Abilities
Amplify Success!