Celebrating American Sign Language Day with an AbilityOne rock star!
Access to America Sign Language interpreters and opportunities to learn this language foster inclusivity and diversity. For employees like Wanda Tye, ASL is an important form of communication that sets her up for success in the workplace.
Tye works in the official mail and distribution center on Fort Rucker for the Department of the Army through the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. At Fort Rucker, Tye is known for her positive attitude and ability to process and sort mail quickly. She is proud of her skills to get the job done accurately and provide this essential function and most enjoys her interactions with the Fort Rucker staff.
Global Connections to Employment is one of approximately 700 nonprofit agencies in the SourceAmerica®
network, committed to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Throughout her time working with GCE at Fort Rucker, many employees, peers, and staff have stepped up to the plate to learn ASL. In the mail room, Tye has an ASL alphabet card that colleagues can use as a resource. She is overjoyed by the number of individuals that have memorized signs and words from the card just so they can speak with her. Their efforts to learn how to communicate through ASL have made Tye feel like a true part of the Fort Rucker team.
“My favorite part of the job is talking with customers when they walk in,” said Tye. “People usually come in, use the ASL alphabet card on the wall, and start a conversation with me. It feels amazing when other people speak the language. I love to see people learning ASL.”
Tye is grateful for the support that GCE has provided her, and those around her, to become more knowledgeable about the language. When Tye first started working at Fort Rucker, she was nervous about her disability. She was happy to see how kind others were, and that they were eager to learn ASL and finger spelling from day one.
An important part of a truly inclusive environment is the ability to offer proper accommodations. GCE provides Tye with a dry erase board to more easily communicate with people who may not know ASL. Additionally, the organization put a mirror on top of her computer so she can see behind her as people come and go. GCE is continuously looking for ways to accommodate Tye’s needs because she is one of their rock star employees.
“I can’t say enough about Wanda,” said Leamon Sullivan, Project Manager, Official Mail/Records and Publications at GCE. “She has the sweetest spirit of anyone you will ever meet. She is sincere, honest, observant, and caring. There’s not much you can get past her. She is an all-around awesome individual.”
As her supervisor, Sullivan is always looking for ways to challenge Tye and help her grow. He has truly enjoyed seeing her thrive over the last ten years.
“She’s always up for any task. Even when she faces a challenge, she doesn’t hesitate to ask the right questions,” said Sullivan. “Because of that, I know if I push her out of her comfort zone she will always be successful.”
When Tye first started working with GCE she was intimidated by the customer service window in the mailroom. Today, interacting with people at that window is her permanent job, and she is always receiving kudos from the Fort Rucker staff. In fact, most of the compliments that GCE receives from that job site are about Tye.
April 15 is National ASL Day. Tye wants people to know that those who are deaf can do any job -- and do it well. ASL is an important part of her life and she hopes that other organizations can be truly inclusive by offering ASL interpretation during interviews and while on the job.