Being blind might be enough of a barrier to most people, but it didn’t stop Cyrus Habib from graduating from Columbia, Oxford and Yale Law School, becoming a Rhodes Scholar and professor at Seattle University Law School and getting elected to the Washington state House of Representatives.
During his keynote speech at the fourth annual Overcoming Barriers to Employment summit on Friday, Sept. 5, Habib told stories of how he was able to overcome his disability and achieve success.
Shoreline Community College hosted the event that featured 14 workshops during the day as well as an employment resource fair with community organizations. The event is aimed at people with disabilities and offers an opportunity for attendees to make connections and reach out to local organizations to get help finding employment.
“We continue to see large numbers of unemployment or underemployment of people with disabilities and this event helps with getting institutions together to address the problem,” Habib said. “There is a large part of the population that wants to work and hopefully with events like this we can get that message out better.”
The intent of the summit is to help change perceptions and help employers see abilities and not disabilities. Habib was asked to share his experiences where he outlined four lessons he believes are important: taking risks, embracing his disability, seeking out pockets of injustice and communicating his experiences in life.
The summit is designed to assist job seekers with disabilities navigate the road to employment. Experts shared tips for overcoming barriers to employment. The event is the brainchild of Judy Parsons, from North Urban Human Services and Northshore Shoreline Community Network, who thought it would be beneficial to provide information and services for people with disabilities searching for jobs. The event is a community partnership between Northshore Shoreline Community Network, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Shoreline Public Schools and Shoreline Community College.
“This event is part of Shoreline’s mission of serving a diverse community,” Rosemary Dunne, Shoreline Community College Office of Special Services, said. “People with disabilities need support to be competitive in the workplace and it is important to bring professionals in to help those that need it the most get the right resources.”
Dunne said Habib’s story is very empowering and hopes that it will have a great impact on those that attended the event and help them get on the path to employment.