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Overcoming your challenges

by Robert Ward

My personal experience is that when I first started to work after I graduated from Cuyahoga Falls high school in 1973 I was employed first as a parking lot attendant at a local theatre for about one dollar an hour, and then I got a job at a truck dealership as a custodian for one dollar and sixty cents an hour.

My disability was a learning disability, which means it takes me twice as long to learn something. I didn't really know at that time what I was capable of doing. Then, in 1998, I first got my real job at a window factory in Cleveland Ohio. It was from my ex-brother in law. I worked at that job for over 16 years, then left it to move to another place to start work, then I found out that the window company was moving down south. I worked at three different window factories after that, but had little success with them. I didn't have the skills to do the work well, so they laid me off. It was a blessing in disguise, because if they didn't let me go I wouldn't have been able to get the data entry training at Sage Skill Training and be hired at Sage Computer Services (Coleman Professional Services) in Akron Ohio.

I started my data entry training in 1998-1999 of which it took me one and half years to complete my training. I graduated and successfully completed my data entry training in June of 1999. I was able then to type 50 words a minute with few errors. I never knew I could even type until I took my first typing course in the summer of 1998 and completed it only with 16 words a minute. However, with perseverance and daily practice of one hour a day I was able to rise above it. In the summer of 1999 Sage Computer Services hired me as a data entry technician and now as a scanner too. I have been working for them over seven years now.

My advice is this … First find out more about your disabilities and learning potential by studying about it, learning from others like yourself and pushing yourself to do what you can handle, even to the point of pain, but not to despair or harm to yourself. Be patient and enjoy the process, no matter how long it takes to learn. God has given to each of us talents, skills and abilities to use to bless others, serve others and to honor Him. Believe in God, believe in yourself and have a positive attitude. I found out what I am capable of doing, I believe others can too.

Contact the local government office near you and ask about getting tested and training. For example I contacted the Ohio government office of BVR (Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation) which is a part of the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission in Akron Ohio. They helped me see a counselor there by the name of Karen Kriss.

Since I was able to find out what I am capable of doing, I enjoy the place where I work at and the work I do there.

I have learned how to be a speaker and writer too. I am a Toastmaster of Akron 151 club in Akron Ohio. I am a speaker for Classervices this fall.

If I can be of further help let me know:

Robert Ward
Email: bob202w@aol.com

Published: May 2006

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