Connected. It’s a term that gets discussed a lot these days. And in the era of smartphones and tablet computers, there’s no denying that today we’re more connected than ever. But the true meaning of the word is much more basic in nature.
To be connected is to be brought together—and this spirit of togetherness is fundamental to the human experience. In fact, people across America tomorrow will celebrate a holiday rooted in it. After all, the first Thanksgiving feast stemmed from a connection made between two communities who, despite their differences, found that they had much to learn from each other.
In honor of another special occasion, albeit a slightly less legendary one, we’re inviting people to help illustrate this principle in action. To mark its 10th anniversary, Disability.gov, the federal government’s central source of information on disability-related programs and services, has launched What’s Your Connection? This is a national initiative emphasizing the connections among all people, including America’s more than 57 million people with disabilities, people like me.
Participating is easy. Entries can be in the form of a photograph with a caption of up to 250 words or a captioned video of one minute or less. And everyone is encouraged to enter—because disability touches all of us, whether through our own personal experiences or those of others.
Just think about it. Do you have a family member, neighbor, friend or colleague who has a disability? Have you ever been temporarily disabled due to an injury or illness? Have you ever pushed a stroller or cart up and down a wheelchair access ramp or used assistive technology, such as captioning or voice-activated software (first developed for people with sensory impairments)? In one way or another, obvious or subtle, we’re all connected to the disability experience.
When I take stock of my blessings each Thanksgiving, it’s invariably my connections that come to mind first and foremost—the people who have helped me learn and grow. In addition to friends and family, these include many mentors and colleagues who have and continue to support me in my career, which is such an important part of my life. Throughout life, connections to others make us who we are. They help shape us.
What’s Your Connection? Tell us at Disability.gov!
Kathy Martinez is the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.