COLORADO SPRINGS • Emily Shuman’s passion for helping people with disabilities made her the first choice for Director of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center in Colorado Springs.
Shuman, a Monument resident, began serving as a media coordinator at the Center for the American Disabilities Act in 2018. She later became an assistant director, before being recently promoted to director.
She has spent much of her career working with people with disabilities, starting in 2010 when she directly looked after adults with developmental disabilities. Her career led her into caring for adults with developmental disabilities. She then worked as a case manager in the Pikes Peak Workforce Center with young people at risk with developmental disabilities. She was later promoted to program manager.
“As a young teenager and adult, I was drawn to this population,” Shuman said. “I have always been a helper and have been interested in helper jobs. I live from this aspect of my work. I feel like I am helping to gradually make the world a better place. “
Shuman said the center’s biggest goal is to show people with disabilities how to access their rights under the ADA and to help companies understand their responsibilities for the law. It also helps show companies how the ADA can help them from a business perspective.
“I like putting all the pieces together for people and finding a way to make everyone happy and finding these win-win situations,” she said.
The leadership aspect of her position as director is also rewarding as she leads a team of people who share the same passion. The team serves a six-state region and has tons of geographic areas that they are excited to interact with other communities.
Shuman was born in Colorado Springs and attended Cheyenne Mountain High School, graduated from Pikes Peak Community College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs before earning her bachelor’s degree from another institution. She and her family moved to Monument about a year ago, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic prevention measures went into effect in El Paso County.
Your life has had some challenges along the way. She had a son aged 19 and as a single mother she worked full time and went to school.
“I’m really proud to be where I am now and always looking for ways to pass it on to others,” Shuman said.
As the director of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, one of Shuman’s goals is to raise awareness of the ADA and improve voluntary compliance with the law. In addition, digital accessibility is still a kind of “wild limit”. She said that when the ADA was passed in 1990, the Internet was not the World Wide Web as it is known today.
“The ADA leaves much to be desired when it comes to corporate guidelines on what their websites should look like and how social media content can be made available. There is still a lot of work to be done in technology, Shuman said, and that would be one of their goals to make ADA a resource for digital accessibility.
“Over the last year, when everyone was working from home, using Zoom, and exercising on Zoom, the need for accessibility for virtual content and meetings became apparent,” Shuman said.
Another consistent barrier to the ADA appears to be people’s attitudes toward people with disabilities, Shuman said. ADA helps people identify and mitigate their potential prejudices and teach disability etiquette, such as: B. the appropriate language for disabilities and dealing with people with disabilities.
“That’s the kind of services we offer, the training we offer, to help people change their attitudes towards people with disabilities,” she said. “It’s part of the human condition. There are 57,000 people with a disability in the United States. Most of us, if we age long enough, will have a disability at some point in our lives.
“It’s easy to get excited about because if it doesn’t apply to you now, it will be in the future.”
Another service the Rocky Mountain ADA Center offers is to help state and local governments understand whether or not their infrastructure is ADA compliant. Shuman said it was important for governments to remember that ADA compliance is not only dutiful but also required by law.
“It’s important to have a self-assessment and transition plan that outlines what needs to be fixed and a schedule to get there,” she said. “Until that plan is in place and active steps are taken to ensure compliance, there could be some level of liability there.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the law and its interpretation can contact the Rocky Mountain ADA Center at (800) 949-4232 or visit the center’s website at rockymountainada.org.