CLEARFIELD -- People, no matter their condition, have the ability to do so much more than they are aware they can accomplish.
That was part of Kevin Ryan's message Thursday at Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center's Second Annual Disability Awareness Symposium.
Ryan, a rehabilitation engineer for NISH, a national nonprofit agency that creates employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities, gave a presentation dealing with the use of assistive technology to improve performance in the workplace.
"Employers can look at jobs and have them redesigned and simplified, making accommodations so people can succeed," he said.
Ryan, based out of Atlanta, travels around the country to different agencies and helps them improve the work areas for employees with disabilities.
During Ryan's 75-minute presentation, he showed several videos depicting a typical work situation involving a person with disabilities. Then he asked for suggestions on how to improve that situation.
After the discussion, he showed an "after" video, which included several improvements that helped the worker become more effective. Those improvements included raising a chair or lowering a table, changing the way the worker faced and even inventing a tool to assist the worker.
"It's rewarding to see people having their self-esteem built up," Ryan said.
Other speakers at the symposium included PARC Chief Executive Officer Robert P. Daniels, PARC Community Employment Services Program Manager Ken Naegle and Dr. Adam Schwebach, a neuropsychologist at the Neuropsychology Center of Utah in Clinton.
The event was in recognition of National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month.
"We're trying to bring about awareness to the public about employing and supporting people with disabilities in the workplace," said Josh Lopez, human resource director at PARC.
Lopez said this year's attendance was up about 80 percent from last year's inaugural symposium. He credits Weber State University students Billy Hofmeister, Sarah Hsu, Scott Lougy, Noah Lattin and Emily Carter, who helped promote the symposium as part of their Interpersonal Communications class.
Around 60 people took part in the symposium, which was open to the public. Those in attendance included professional staff, parents, actual employers and state case workers.
All came away with the same message.
"By making a workplace better for people with disabilities," Lopez said, "employers not only become more efficient, but they also make the jobs better for people without disabilities."