Power Grid Blog
Two Weeks at AAPD
June 18, 2012 | Heather Rasmussen
I've been interning here at AAPD for two weeks now, and I think I'm finally getting the hang of things. This is my first internship, so honestly it was rough at first. Over the last two weeks, I've managed to learn to get to work on time, familiarized myself with the area (always challenging because I'm totally blind), and gotten to know the people who work here. They're actually all nice and not at all threatening like I thought on the first day.
I think the biggest surprise for me here at AAPD, though, has been the amazing amount of things I have learned. Coming into this, I really didn't know that much about issues affecting the disability community. I'm pretty familiar with things that impact blind people, but as far as things having to do with other physical disabilities, I didn't know much, and I knew almost nothing about the issues faced by those with intellectual disabilities. The first few days I gave myself a kind of crash course in issues that AAPD is currently tackling. I'm working mostly with the Interfaith Initiative right now, so the director gave me a rather thorough rundown of what it entails. Then I attended a weekly staff meeting, reported at an Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition meeting, and attended an accessible swimming pools rally at the American Hotel & Lodging Association. All of this was informative. Add to that digging through all the board report e-mails from August of last year as part of a project to build a media list, and I now have a really good idea of what this wonderful organization is all about and what battles they fight.
In the course of all this, my world of knowledge has opened up. I now know more about what other people with disabilities are accomplishing in higher education and that our city and most other communities are far from fully accessible. In my IDAC work, I've learned that many people with disabilities have trouble finding a place in their faith communities (I'm not alone!) I have also started to think about some things differently and notice things I didn't used to notice. The chapel on my college campus is not wheelchair accessible, nor is the building that I live in. None of the taxis I've ever ridden in, and that's a lot, have been accessible to motorized wheelchairs. These are problems I just never really thought about before. It seems strange that I was so ignorant since I have a disability, but none of these things really affected me or my friends. The fact that I have learned so much, even though I try to be a very empathetic and open-minded person, reiterates how vital educating the public is to our cause. I'm glad I'm interning here this summer. I will have the chance to learn much more myself about my fellow citizens with disabilities and their needs, and I will also have the chance to help AAPD in educating others about us.