diversability program manager

In 2015, Suzanne Davis joined the Applied Development team after more than 10 years working in nonprofit management positions. She felt drawn to AD’s mission and dedication to service. Today in her role as the dedicated Diversability Program Manager, Suzanne is proud to provide reasonable accommodations for people of all abilities in the workplace. She works closely with clients to provide the best match for their needs.

Suzanne’s career as Diversability Program Manager is defined by helping ensure people have an ideal experience whether they are working, learning, or enjoying their leisure time. Before coming to Applied Development, Suzanne worked in managing visitor and volunteer services at Baltimore nonprofits. These roles provided opportunities to work with diverse groups of people. By taking feedback from customers, ensuring compliance on accessibility issues, and training staff and volunteers, she worked to make sure everyone had equal access and a positive experience.

In late 2015, Suzanne began working with Applied Development. Although she had known co-founders Kimberly Citizen and Biffrey Braxton for years, it wasn’t until this time that she learned about AD’s mission. Making sure that all people can communicate effectively spoke to Suzanne’s interests. She believes in providing AD’s core values of inclusive, diversity, and equity in the workplace.

Applied Development provides a range of accessibility services to government agencies. Although our clients are government agencies, their needs, expertise, and area of focus are as diverse as their employees. Suzanne works closely with each client to figure out what their needs are when it comes to accessibility. She takes into consideration technical subject matter, linguistic experience, skills, and specific project tasks. This way, the employee receives the interpreter or transcriber that truly fits his or her needs. She also reaches out to the client to see if they have any preferred interpreters, readers, or other service providers with whom they’ve worked in the past and would like to continue working with.

“It’s critical that we provide an interpreter who ‘speaks the same language’ as the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing client, so that he or she can communicate effectively with coworkers or in any situation in the workplace,” says Suzanne. Then, she checks in regularly with the client and service provider to evaluate the working relationship. She dedicates herself to making sure that employees and clients are happy.

During her time at AD, Suzanne has become intimately familiar with diverse abilities, and what employees need to succeed. When Applied Development first began a Reader Services contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Suzanne worked with the Low-Vision employee to assist her with tasks that required a reader. “During our weeks together, I gained insight into the unique challenges that individuals with diverse abilities can face in the workplace,” says Suzanne. This work gave her a first-hand knowledge of the support employees with diverse abilities need.

She also recognizes the term “disability,” but prefers Diversability. Rather than considering individuals who may be Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, Blind, Low-Vision, or have mobility issues as having a disability, “I prefer to view them across a spectrum of diverse abilities,” she says.

We will not always have all of our abilities, she points out: “We might experience temporary loss of hearing, vision, or mobility. Some people may be born with a condition, or they may develop one later in life.”  But any sort of difference in ability shouldn’t limit our work or our worth. “What’s important to recognize is that our abilities don’t define us and certainly don’t limit our capabilities. Individuals of ALL abilities have the right to work and communicate effectively, and we’re committed to championing those rights.”