Norfolk Naval Shipyard Incapacity Consciousness Committee ERG Shines a Mild on Invisible Disabilities > Naval Sea Methods Command > Saved Information Module


The Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) with the country in October. The Employee Readiness Group (ERG) of the NNSY Disability Awareness Committee hosted two events on the subject of “invisible disabilities”. The ERG chairman of the Disability Awareness Committee, Daniel Freeh, defined an “invisible disability” as something “that you can or cannot see from the outside”.

One in four adults in the United States lives with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s the equivalent of 61 million Americans. The vast majority of people with disabilities live with an invisible person. When Freeh spoke on the subject, he used himself as an example. “I will tell you that most of the people who see me every day would not know that I am disabled. I go and talk like everyone else, but you should see me by 4 p.m. when I leave work. I’m not doing that well at this point. “

The first event took place on October 25th and consisted of guest speaker Dr. Debbie Pfeiffer, director of outreach programs for the Virginia School of the Deaf and the Blind. Pfeiffer discussed the history and mission of the school in Staunton, VA.

A highlight of Pfeiffer’s presentation was her discussion of the Courtesy Rules of Blindness published by the National Foundation of the Blind. The rules, which can be found online at, provide tips for sighted people to refer to when interacting with a blind person Can refer to or visually impaired. Some examples were: “I see – I may not recognize your voice. If I don’t know you well, please say, ‘Hello, it’s Sue.’ “Another was,” Experience – I’ve probably had years of experience using non-visual techniques to live my life. Feel free to ask me how I do something or how you can best help me when help is needed. ”

Pfeiffer emphasized that the discussion is not about disabilities, but about how access to everyone can be made possible. She talked about technology that helps turn challenges into opportunities. Some examples were a portable scanner used to convert printed text into electronic text using optical character recognition and software that can read text aloud to a person who cannot see it. Another example was relay interpreting services, which provide access to telephone calls between people who have American Sign Language and those who do not have American Sign Language.

Freeh directed the second event and had the audience play a quiz game listing facts about three historical figures and the audience had to identify the person based on the facts. Freeh said, “These three people have done remarkable things for humanity. You are also disabled. “The three people Freeh spoke about were President Franklin D. Roosevelt, mathematician John Nash, and author Helen Keller.

At the end of his presentation, Freeh said that these people’s disabilities “did not affect how they changed the world”. This persistence is a trait that is reflected in the NNSY workforce. “Many people here have overcome their disabilities. They come to the shipyard every day and do a great job. They do their job and their disability does not prevent them from striving for excellence. ”

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