Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Jobs, Careers and Callings Has Moved!
Jobs, Careers and Callings is now at a permanent domain:

Please update your bookmarks.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Shawn Lockhart and Mike Dyas, Systems Specialists

Shawn on left,
Mike on the right

At the Federal Aviation Administration building in Illinois, two deaf guys, Shawn Lockhart and Mike Dyas work in rotating shifts to keep the facilities humming along. Shawn and Mike both work as an Airway Transportation Systems Specialist. Both men graduated from NTID/RIT with a degree in Electromechanical Technology.

“We provide system support to air traffic controllers,” explained Shawn. “They really depend on our systems to function properly in order to do their jobs.” Mike and Shawn are responsible for keeping the control center “out of the dark.” They check to make sure the primary and secondary systems, including the heating and cooling, alarms, batteries and generators are always in order.

Mike was the first to be hired at the FAA facility. After graduation, he worked at Eastman Kodak in Rochester but soon realized that he wanted to move back home to Illinois. An employment advisor from the Rochester Institute of Technology pointed him in the direction of the F.A.A.

“I left Rochester immediately and started knocking at the door of the F.A.A. Regional Office headquarters for Great Lakes,” said Mike. Mike worked with Linda Ross, who oversaw the disabilities hiring program. Linda suggested that he meet with the administrator at the Aurora office. At first, the administrator was reluctant to meet with Mike.

“After a brief interview, they took me on a tour and the managers were so impressed with me. From there, I was the first deaf person to be hired to work in the control center as an engineer technician,” said Mike.

Shawn started working at the F.A.A. facility four years after Mike was hired. Mike and Shawn don’t often see each other on the job due to the rotation in their shifts, but their shifts occasionally overlap for two hours.

“I love my job and it is challenging,” said Shawn. “People don’t often realize how complex our jobs are. Systems don’t discriminate. It’s all about getting the job done. Deaf or hearing—it doesn’t matter. You just have to have the knowledge and skills to keep the systems running.”

“I love this job because we face so many different, challenging problems each day,” Mike agreed. “We get to tackle the problems, troubleshoot the solutions and repair them as quickly as we can to keep the National Airspace System running.”
Monday, April 28, 2008
Working in Government? Training Conference Coming Up
On May 1, 2008, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Government (DHHIG) will host its Employment and Technology Forum at the U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Atrium and Conference Center, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, in Washington, D.C. from 8:00 am to 4:45 pm.

The theme for the forum is “2008 DHHIG Employment and Technology Forum ---Building Bridges with Innovative Technology”

This forum will feature subject matter experts from the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) who will be providing presentations in the area of reasonable accommodations, career management, and technology advancements. Part of the program also features a special track series of presentations that are designed for managers/supervisors and other people with an interest in working effectively with current and future deaf and hard of hearing Federal and government employees. The forum is being expected to attract a large number of participants.

Christine Griffin, Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will provide the keynote address.

To view the agenda of the forum and register to attend, please visit DHHIG's website:

The deadline to register is by April 30, 2008.

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Government, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization since 1998 serves as an advocacy group for several thousands of Deaf and Hard of Hearing federal employees throughout the country and overseas alike on employment issues. DHHIG is committed to improving the opportunities among the members by providing education, training, and resources that may not otherwise be available elsewhere.

DHHIG sponsors several programs and events such as highly-acclaimed National Training Conference which takes place every two years. The 2009 National Training Conference (NTC) will be held on May 5-7, 2009 at Gallaudet University's Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, which is conveniently located several minutes away from the our nation's capital.

For more information or any further inquiries, please contact either Kirsten Poston at
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Ben Lachman-- Project Manager

When Ben Lachman graduated from California Polytechnic State University with his degree in English, he learned it was difficult to land a job with very little work history. With the assistance of a job counselor at the Anixter Center, Ben began working at the Commerce Clearing House testing web links. "It was a very basic job and not my ideal situation, but it jump-started my motivation-- which is a key thing for a deaf person in a business environment," said Ben.

Ben's next job adventure began as the Director of Marketing for a team of financial advisors at Northwestern Mutual. "It was my job to handle client issues and come up with ways to market the financial advisors. I did an excellent job of coming up with marketing strategies however, the customer service was very time consuming and repetitive and a lot of it was over the phone," Ben explained. As someone with a large amount of ambition, this customer service job was a fine stepping stone to the next level, as it taught Ben the intricacies of salesmanship and building relationships with clients.

Ben moved out west and began working for a small real estate development company but that company went belly up. The owner was arrested several times, and Ben ended up managing one of his restaurants for four months. It was a challenge to communicate with multiple vendors, but Ben was able to adapt to the situation by using his Sidekick phone or through the good old pen and paper from time to time.

Ben is back in Chicago and now works as a Project Manager for Builders of Chicago. He is currently studying for his Real Estate Licensing exam and has plans to become the premier realtor for the Deaf community in Chicago.

Ben has some advice for deaf and hard of hearing individuals who are starting out in careers: "Make a road map - there doesn't have to be a particular destination, but a road map with goals, both large and small, is a very valuable thing to have because it provides you with something to work towards and you wont feel lost and aimless if you have goals."

Ben can be reached at:
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Patti Phadke--Motherhood as a Calling

For Pattie Phadke, motherhood was a calling that didn’t come easily at first. When her oldest child was born, Patti was thrilled to be a mom. Then she soon discovered that all of her time was devoted to the usual tasks of tending to babies, especially endless diaper changes.

“Changing diapers was a boring chore that was repeated over and over!” said Patti.

Patti knew that an attitude change was going to have to happen, especially if she wanted to have more kids.

“I realized that I was very thankful about having a healthy baby,” said Patti. “So I changed my attitude and I looked at the diaper chore as a time to bond with my baby.” Patti used that time to sign to her baby and give her plenty of attention. Diaper changing became an enjoyable time instead of a dreaded chore.

“I feel that motherhood is my calling,” said Patti. “From that moment until today, I enjoy having my kids so much!

Patti’s oldest daughter is now in college and plans to become a doctor. Patti has three other children and she works part time as an ASL instructor at Columbia College in Chicago.

Patti's favorite quote: "If you give what you do not need, it is not giving." This quote is from Mother Teresa.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Mark Drolsbaugh--A Man with Many Hats

When I first came across Mark Drolsbaugh's books,Deaf Again and Anything But Silent I ordered both books right away. I tore through both books, laughing and nodding along. I felt as if Mark had wrote about my life! I had the opportunity to contribute a chapter of my life in his third book, On the Fence. I always recommend those three books to everyone I meet and my copies are always being lent out.

Mark is a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor and I sure hope he ends up on Oprah some day because he would have Oprah cracking up in the first fifteen minutes with his wry sense of humor.

I had Mark share a bit about his life:

Tell me what a typical day is like for you at work.

As a guidance counselor at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, I work primarily with the secondary department. Each grade level in high school has one advisory session per week. Advisory sessions last one hour and cover numerous topics with the goal of preparing students for college, vocational training, and/or the work force. In Junior High School, we run a weekly PALS session -- Peers and Leadership Skills -- with the goal of preparing students for the transition to high school. I also have the thrill of collaborating with the World of Work program at PSD which focuses on job skills and job placement. On top of all that, we're currently revising our counseling program so that its in accordance with the ASCA (American School Counselors Association) National Model--a lot of exciting changes are in store.

Usually there are two advisory sessions a day and there are also opportunities to join students in the classroom. On top of that there are individual grade/credit reviews for each student throughout the year and college visits, guest speakers, and community service. No two days are exactly alike so it never gets boring!

Is this a job, a career or a calling for you?

All of the above!

Give me a little history on how your life lead up to this current position at work.

Well, I was bumbling along as an accounting major at Temple University back in 1988 when there was this little incident at Gallaudet University that caught my attention. I transferred to Gallaudet in 1989 and went through a total metamorphosis. Gina Oliva (author of "Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School") refers to this as the "Met Deaf, Wow!" phenomenon. The opportunity to attend a school with other deaf peers and role models had a profound impact. I switched majors and became a serious writer on the side. I wound up working a newspaper columnist for DeafNation, Silent News, and SIGNews for a while before branching off on my own writing projects.

What are some of the goals you've set for yourself down the road?

Quite frankly, I'm at a crossroads right now. It's exciting at PSD what with the counseling program aligning itself with ASCA. At the same time, my wife Melanie and I both run our own business, Handwave Publications, and what started out as a side endeavor has grown into something much bigger than expected. We've got three books published, a childrens' book is waiting in the wings, and I'm about to collaborate on another book with two former Gallaudet classmates.

Also, Handwave Publications isn't just for books -- we've got two websites up and running. They are Deaf Culture Online and Unique Fitness Tips. Deaf Culture Online
is more like an advocacy/informational website (with the infamous Drolz Uncensored blog included in there) while Unique Fitness Tips is designed for people who love to work out but simply don't have the time. It's a tremendous thrill to be able to run a home business that's based on your passion. I love the Deaf community and I'm a fitness fanatic, so to be able to write about both isn't a job -- it's a blessing. Somewhere down the road I'd love to see Handwave Publications expand and become a full-time commitment.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Josh Swiller Pens "The Unheard"

Josh Swiller has held many jobs. He's been a forest ranger, a raw food chef, teacher, a Zen monk, and he once crafted sheepskin slippers. He spent two years in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer.

After being fired from a law firm, Josh settled into a friend's barn and wrote The Unheard, a memoir of his two years in Kenya, Africa.

You can read more about Josh in an article that I wrote for Disaboom:

Peace Corps Years Inspire The Unheard

Josh blogs at Cochbla. For the time being, he's decided that being an author is a noble profession and he's hammering away at his next book.
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