Misha Gonzalez, an architect in the Facilities Division at the Lab, is the recent recipient of the Kevin McCauley Memorial Outstanding Staff Award, given annually to recognize staff members at the University of California, who are supportive and inclusive of staff, and encourage equity, diversity, and community, are forward thinking, and do not compromise quality.
In our Three Questions For (3Q4) series, we asked Misha Gonzalez about access at the Lab and how she serves those who work and visit the Lab.
Elements: The Lab seems like a challenging geographical location for providing access. What types of things have been implemented to make the site more accessible?
Misha Gonzalez: Each year our site’s accessibility is improved through the strategic removal of barriers to access from existing buildings, collaborative work with divisions and individuals to ensure reasonable accommodations to provide physical access, as well as ongoing assessment and prioritization of infrastructure improvements required for equal access. Barrier removal and reasonable accommodations for physical access often include modification of a building’s primary entrance and corridors through the installation of automatic door openers, ramp construction, and other improvements to make the building accessible.
Elements: Not all disabilities are obvious. How do you accommodate for non-apparent disabilities?
Gonzalez: The Lab has a program for providing accommodations for individuals with apparent and non-apparent disabilities including an onsite Disability Accommodation Specialist. The All Access Employee Resource Group, which I co-chair with Betsy MacGowan, works to make our workplace and activities accessible and promotes disability inclusion for all employees. It is a group where folks can learn together and there are truly no prerequisites for involvement. I recommend that anyone interested in better understanding the diverse range of experience in the disability community consider joining All Access.
Elements: It must be easier to make a case for change if you know the access challenges faced by employees. Is there an anonymous way employees can share their apparent and non-apparent disability?
Gonzalez: Disclosure of disability is a personal choice that each employee must decide on for themselves. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is an excellent starting point for individuals to better understand their needs and advocate for themselves in getting support. The EAP helps employees and their family members find solutions to personal and work-related challenges through counseling, consultation, assessment, and referrals. All services are voluntary, confidential, and free of charge.