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Breaking the Silence

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

[By Kerri Nettles]

Finding your place in the workforce as an Arkansan who is deaf.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, raising awareness of the gifts and talents people with disabilities have to offer Arkansas businesses and all of us as consumers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 35% of Arkansans have some type of disability. Shawn Reese is deaf and is an employee at Goodwill Industries of Arkansas. The following is his journey, as told through his interpreter.

My mom suggested that I go to work at Goodwill. I've been here with the company for four years, and I've been able to develop and continue to grow and learn. My main job duty is with electronics, but sometimes I also help with the donor door. I just really am a floater. If they need me, I'm there to help them.

At first we'd have to write back and forth, then finally we were able to get an interpreter. It made me feel good. It helped me be able to understand.

Rori, my supervisor, helped me develop along the way. She made sure there was good communication. She learned sign language, and it made me feel better. It made the job more enjoyable. I was able to discuss more in sign language and not just having to write back and forth and pointing.

I plan to work for Goodwill until I retire. I made a promise with my mom that that's what I would do. My mom is in heaven now, but I'm going to make sure that I keep that promise for



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