Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Week

This past week was a bit interesting. I think I learned about both leadership in the workplace and about legislation.
In regards to legislation, I started working through the Health Care bill. Basically I went through the 564 amendments and the bill to find any reference to disability, blind and vision. That was interesting because it was in very few cases that any of these words were mentioned and any time it was there was a frequent association with aging. This was frustrating because so little of the bill or amendments were actually focused on disabled people at all when millions of people are in that demographic.
About leadership in the workforce, there were a lot of changes going on because next week there will be one person leaving the office and two starting. The person leaving is a bit older and except for myself the only sighted person in the office. What we had to do was maneuver furniture and switch two whole offices. The Director, basically tried to help but the woman leaving was very insistent on what to do. He seemed to just let it go rather than trying to finesse it. Although they had a few conversations that could have been constructive, it ended up not working out at all and she simply seemed insistent and overwhelmed. I feel like they both could have handled this situation better. The Director is a very good policy advocate but seems not to be very focused on managerial aspects.
One wonderful thing I experienced was how both he and the VP are so people oriented. They both talk to me a lot and not just about policy. They genuinely seem to want to get to know me and that creates a very open and great environment. The VP, even while he was out, called to talk to me to ask me to call a couple people in other offices so that I could better get visual adaptations. That kind of personal attention changes things a lot and is a very strong individual, indirect organizational tool in leading an organization.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

COAT Access

One of the coolest things I have been doing is going to the hill. We are advocating for an assistive technology bill. This is the COAT Bill which basically calls for better assistive technology for blind and deaf people primarily though others as well. It has been a great experience in learning what are the essential things to say to a staff member on the Hill and what isn't.

Also this week, I have been getting to know our VP and Director who are both wonderful people. I am the only intern so establishing an office rapore is a lot of fun. They are both really nice and approachable which is helpful. For example, they asked me to go to the Hill and told me to take a taxi and that was kind of expensive. At first I was nervous about asking for reimbursement but I basically phrased it such that either way was fine with me and I was just inquiring but it turned out they did and their openness made the question a lot easier to ask. Also, they are very open about talking about blindness and as well as assistive methods. I find this helpful because I am visually impaired and have a degenerative disease. I will never go totally blind-just really bad eyesight but still their openness is really helpful and maintains an open and supportive environment.

I have been doing this like working on survey processing about access technology, and contacting respondents when questions or further information was needed. This I know is a really important policy tool so I am thrilled to be working on it. In policy research, people's input is important so as a tool for opinion gathering it is really interesting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


As I begin my internship, I am struck with how nice the people I work with are. I am immediately welcomed into the office and am given an orientation. Having only ever worked on the Hill, it is definitely different-and wonderful- to be in a small public policy office as the only intern. In addition to special projects, some of the things I will be working on are:
duties other than special projects will include: meeting with key congressional and federal agency staff, scheduling hill and other appointment, spreparing correspondence and briefing materials, drafting short newsletter articles and fact sheets for distribution via the organization, website, participating in coalition meeting within and outside the field of vision loss and using tools and mehtods for conducting policy research.
I'm vrey excited to get started!