Disability Pride Month Feature - Jon SlifkaAug 11, 2023
On July 26th, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. To commemorate this day, every July is now designated as Disability Pride month. This month celebrates persons with disabilities, and their experiences, histories, and struggles while also allowing us to recognize and honor people of all disabilities.
In celebration of this month, we had the opportunity to speak with Jon Slifka, an advocate for the disabled community and a wheelchair user. Jon is currently working for the State of Connecticut in the Department of Aging and Disability Services and has previously worked as the Governor’s Liaison to the Disability Community. We were interested to know Jon’s story, his successes and struggles in the workplace, and his favorite tools and resources for his mental health.
Since working for the State of Connecticut, Jon has been positively surprised by the amount of work being done for the disability community and the accessibility efforts made in the workplace. However, it wasn’t always like that. Early in his career, Jon remembers his employers viewing accessibility and accommodations as a nuisance. “I think one of the most challenging things is being comfortable enough in certain work environments to use my voice to raise certain issues,” Jon shared. He stressed the importance of automatic doors, elevators, ramps, and any other resources that allow equal access. With 1 in 4 adults (27%) in the U.S. identifying as having a disability, it’s more important than ever for employers to focus on accessibility.
So, how can employers make sure their employees with disabilities have equal access? “I think one of the easiest ways to increase accessibility in the workplace is to engage your employees who have identified they have a disability on how you can be more accessible,” Jon told us. By initiating this dialogue, it will help foster an environment where employees who haven’t yet self-identified feel comfortable to speak up.
Jon has been a member of the Movement Genius community for over two years. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Jon’s main two forms of movement were halted: the gym and ParaDance, which is ballroom dancing for persons with disabilities. Jon knew it was important for him to find something to bring movement back into his life, but he also knew he wanted an exercise platform that offered a mindfulness component as well. After several months of research, he landed on Movement Genius. “I dug deeper to get more information on the website and discovered they put serious thought into accessibility and they were certainly affordable” Jon stated. One of his favorite aspects of Movement Genius is the community he has gained from joining. He told us that he was welcomed with open arms and enjoyed the intimacy of live classes. To close our chat, we asked Jon what his top 3 Movement Genius classes were… and he didn’t disappoint:
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