Spotlight Session: Keri Goff on equal employment opportunity

accessiBe News

Keri Goff, of the Brevard Achievement Center, joins one of our accessiBe Spotlight Sessions to talk about training and employment services for people who need career development and the support needed to succeed in the workforce.

accessiBe Team

Have you ever really thought about what equal employment opportunity means? Many people haven’t, but for the 16% of the population that lives with a disability,  the Brevard Achievement Center champions a cause that greatly impacts them: the ability to have equal job opportunities regardless of ability. Keri Goff, the Community Relations Manager at BAC, is a driving force behind this movement. Keri works to provide training and other employment services to people who need career development and support to succeed in the workforce. 

The opportunity to find and access a job you love is something that everyone deserves. We had the pleasure of speaking with Keri in one of our accessiBe Spotlight Sessions to learn more about how BAC makes this happen.

Here are some key takeaways from her interview: 

1. People with disabilities were on the frontlines during Covid

“We had people at rest stops cleaning the bathrooms so that truckers could keep bringing the toilet paper back to the grocery store. And then we had the grocery store employees stocking the shelf and putting that toilet paper back on the shelves. And it was really empowering and just amazing to watch and to know that the majority of the work was being done by individuals with disabilities.”

Some people assume that people with disabilities aren’t capable of completing tasks that are essential for society. This misconception was proven wrong on a large scale during the pandemic.  It was disability community members, after all, who helped to keep the economy afloat when Covid shut us down and locked us inside. Through the help of the BAC, many people with disabilities had been prepared for a workforce breakdown and many seized the opportunity to help society out during one of the toughest times of our generation. The jobs that society often looks down on became essential for survival during a worldwide pandemic. 

2. Accessibility is about equal resource distribution

“To me, accessibility is giving the means to somebody who is differently abled, they can access the same tools, the same resources, whether it be online, in a store, or in a place of employment that everybody else has access to.”

Access to resources is an integral part of accessibility. Resources can be a resume template builder online or a ramp that leads into a building for an interview; they can be accessible voting forms on a government website or a dressing room made for people who use wheelchairs. Equal opportunity to resources means means distributing what is needed to those who need it, when they need it. 

3. Integrating access into the workplace positively impacts everyone

“Having an accessible workplace not only empowers the individual to work hard and to be independent and successful but it actually empowers the entire workforce around them to be successful.”

It’s no secret that positive team dynamics are essential for a great workplace culture and ultimately company success. When you provide an accessible workplace you welcome people with disabilities and empower them to give their best at work. An inclusive mindset and successful teammates influence everyone. Working as part of a team and cheering everyone on can have a huge impact on the way companies function and how successful they are. 

4. Accessibility is available and attainable for the workplace

“A reasonable accommodation is usually something very simple. Sometimes is allowing an employee to use a screen reader or to have a larger monitor on their desk than what you maybe normally would have, it's not this huge investment it’s not widening doorways and putting in ramps. Sometimes it is, but generally, that's part of your building code anyhow.”

Accessibility at work isn’t just about the physical structure, it’s about the tools we use and the culture of our workplaces. Sometimes that means having the necessary accessibility technology, and other times it’s how we help people with disabilities when they ask for it. 

5. Businesses should keep an open mind and open heart 

“And that is where we need the business owners to keep an open mind and to realize that you can have this amazing candidate and these amazing employees and a small accommodation is all that is really needed here.” 

A candidate should never be discriminated against because of their disability if they are a qualified applicant for the job. If businesses want to experience growth and see success in the long run, it’s really important that they hire the best people for the job and make the inclusive and accessible changes necessary that will allow people of all abilities to thrive in the workplace. 

Shine on 

Keri brought some eye-opening insights to our Spotlight Session regarding accessibility at the workplace and how to improve at providing equal opportunities and resources to employees with disabilities. If you’d like to watch more Spotlight Sessions, you can find them all here.

If you are a disability advocate or have a nonprofit organization and want to share your story with the world, contact accessiBe’s Nonprofit Partnership Program so we can get to know you better.