Derek Greer knew that the middle of Holmes Avenue was not a safe place for pedestrians. But between the setting sun and encroaching darkness, his visual disability was preventing him from finding his way across. Suddenly, two strangers approached and helped him to the other side. It was a moment he wouldn't forget, even long after he graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) with a degree in sociology.
Today, Greer is helping people in much the same way. He serves as a disability resource coordinator for the state of Alabama, helping individuals with disabilities obtain training, education, and employment. His office is located in the Hanceville Career Center, but he spends much of his time on the road, visiting clients in the four counties under his purview: Cullman, Blount, Morgan, and parts of Marshall. "It's a very big job," he says.
The position of disability resource coordinator is, in fact, a new one for the state. Seven were hired this year as part of the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI), a joint effort of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy. The initiative brings together local, state, and federal resources to improve opportunities and outcomes for those with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed, and/or receiving social security disability benefits.