Sources: National Organization on Disability,
U. S. Census Bureau
People With Disabilities.
Anderson Banks’ younger
sister, Regina Anderson, was born
with cerebral palsy. In Anderson’s
elementary- and high-school years,
she attended high school at home
through the means of an audio-box-type device. Tutors came to
the home to go over Anderson’s
homework with her. She had trouble writing by hand, so her parents
and her sister wrote her homework
answers that she dictated to them.
came to the home to write her
answers to test questions.
Anderson graduated from high
school with honors and enrolled
at the University of Texas at San
Antonio. She wrote about her college experience as a person with
a disability: “I was the intellectual
equal of my peers in every way. Yet
pencils, pens and calculators were
mostly foreign and useless objects
in my hands. I could discuss
complex economic concepts like
profit maximization and product
elasticity with a familiarity that
only comes from hours of diligent
study, but few of my classmates—
even my professors—could
initially grasp any meaning from
my words. And while other students and faculty scurried around
campus on foot, I buzzed my way
around on four wheels.”
For more of Regina Anderson’s
story, read www.DiversityInc.
Another talented person who
recalls tough earlier years is Chris
Sullivan. “I was isolated,” says the
vice president of special-needs
marketing at Merrill Lynch, No. 2
on DiversityInc’s Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities
list and one of DiversityInc’s 25
Noteworthy Companies in 2007.
Sullivan, who is deaf, is referring to the first 35 years of his life,
during which he did not know sign
language. His parents chose to
“mainstream” him, so Sullivan did
not associate with the deaf world.
But being deaf in the hearing world
was not easy.
Sullivan, who for phone communication uses a sign-language
interpreter, built a successful
private business as a technical
analyst. To communicate with the
hearing world, he hired assistants
to make business calls for him. It
wasn’t until Sullivan met his wife,
who is also deaf, that he learned
American Sign Language. Five
years later, he joined Merrill Lynch.
For Donovan, the decision to
enter corporate America was not
easy. In college, he worried about
when he should tell prospective
employers he has cerebral palsy and
if he would find mentors.
“You can legislate the hell
out of it but you can’t legislate
human nature, and the reality is
that people act differently toward
people different from them,” says
Donovan, who graduated from