I currently work in the automotive finance industry. I have been in this field for the last eighteen years. I love it for many reasons, including having the opportunity to engage and mentor team members in the finer points of customer service in the ever-changing financial landscape.
My workplace is newly accessible since I became disabled. Thanks to the awesome company that employs me, the building where I work has been upgraded to include automated entry doors at the main entrance, as well as at the entrances to every department in the building. The elevator has ample space and affords me access to any floor in the building. I have a disabled parking space very close to the front. That has enough room to accommodate a wheelchair accessible van.
My chair is super quiet which is vital when working in a call center environment. It also allows me to use the adjustable height to observe team members over the top of their cubicles and gives me a clear view of the entire area. With the outstanding speed my chair offers, I can get to and from meetings with time to spare.
For my work area, I have been provided with an adjustable standing desk that works perfectly with my wheelchair’s size. All of the fax and copier machines are on tables and without my chair, I could not reach them, which would limit my effectiveness. Now because of my iLevel® wheelchair, I can use the fax and copier without assistance. When I do have time to grab lunch or take a break, I can adjust to the right height to enjoy conversation and refreshments with co-workers.
There is a disabled accessible bathroom on my floor and very close to my desk. This bathroom has a taller than standard size toilet with an additional riser to accommodate ease of use. The soap and paper towel dispensers have also been adjusted to a lower height to be able to reach easier. It takes longer to complete when I go by myself, but it feels great to have the tools needed to accommodate such a basic but vital need when I am not in the comfort of my home.
Since the onset of COVID-19, I have been fortunate enough to work from home. When I was commuting to work, my husband, who I affectionately call my Uber driver, drove me to work daily. I transfer from the wheelchair to the car and vice versa. Although we don’t have an accessible vehicle yet, we make do with the two vehicles we have. Both vehicles have a high ground clearance making it easier to get in and out of the car and SUV.
While I’m working from home, I have been furnished with an adjustable height desk for home, also courtesy of my employer. This helps immensely as it replicates a part of my work area in my home workspace. I have placed my home desk in front of a window in the kitchen with a sunny and serene view of my fruit tree in the back yard. The scenery definitely helps to keep my spirits buoyant and relaxed.
About Merlisha Henderson: Merlisha lives in Arizona with her family. As a wife, mother and disability advocate in her community, she stays active and independent, working toward bringing equality and access to all. Click here to learn more about Merlisha.