Episode 226 – Unstoppable ARC Colorado Thrift Stores CEO with Lloyd Lewis

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You may or may not be aware of ARC. This is an organization that for many years has championed the lives, rights and welfare of persons with Intellectual and developmental disabilities. One of the main funding sources for ARC is its thrift stores. Not only do these stores provide a revenue source, but they also provide employment for many persons with all kinds of disabilities.
Our guest, Lloyd Lewis is the CEO of the ARC Colorado Thrift Stores. For the past 18 years he has grown the Colorado network from approximately $2 million to a large operation employing several hundred persons and greatly helping to financially support the activities of ARC.
My conversation with Lloyd is far ranging and quite informative. We talk a lot about the broad subjects of disabilities including the myths and fears promulgated within society. Lloyd offers some keen observations on how we can and should work to make society more inclusive. Lloyd’s education and earlier business and legal background afford him a unique and strong skill set for the job he does today. I think you will find our conversation well worth your time.
About the Guest:
Lloyd Lewis is the CEO of the Arc Thrift Stores of Colorado, one of Colorado’s largest nonprofits, employers of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and relief organizations. Under Lewis’ tenure, Arc Thrift has funded over $250 million to nonprofit causes and charities since 2005.
Lewis is a passionate champion on a crusade to promote a new way to think about inclusion and diversity.
Lewis the recipient of a Civil Rights Award and received the World Citizenship Award from the International Civitans, an honor that has included such noted past winners as England’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Eunice Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics.
Lewis sits on the board of The Arc of the United States Foundation and is treasurer of Inclusion International, a worldwide organization advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with members in over 100 countries.
Lewis has a 19-year-old son with Down syndrome.
He is the author of Why Not Them? a book about how his life was transformed by the birth of his son. In it, Lewis hopes to change the way our communities think about, connect with, and employee people with disabilities.
Why Not Them? is about a purpose-driven organization, arc Thrift Stores, whose mission is the success and inclusion of all of its employees, regardless of their abilities. It’s about opening doors, challenging the way we do business, and touching hearts and minds.
Written from the perspective of a father and a businessman, it asks us all to join in the fight for inclusion and understanding. It is educational and moving and challenges us – as individuals and as a community – to perhaps look at the world just a little bit differently.
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Ways to connect with Dr.Jonathan :
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lewislloyd/
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
accessiBe Links
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Transcription Notes:

Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Well, hi, everyone, and welcome to another edition of unstoppable mindset where inclusion and diversity in the unexpected meet. And we get to talk today about inclusion and diversity. And if we’re not, we may hit the unexpected as well, which is anything except inclusion and diversity. But our guest today is Lloyd Lewis, who is the CEO of the ark, Colorado thrift stores. And we’re going to talk about ark and the thrift stores and everything else under the sun and why he’s doing it and all that. So I’m not going to talk much, because that’s his job. So Lloyd, welcome to unstoppable mindset. We’re glad you’re here, Michael.
Lloyd Lewis ** 02:00
It’s great to be with you. And I really appreciate our opportunity to get to know each other and have a conversation. Looking
Michael Hingson ** 02:06
forward to it. Now we’re in Colorado, are you?
Lloyd Lewis ** 02:10
We’re actually I have stores across Colorado, from Fort Collins in the North Pole in the south across what we call our front range. And also on our western slope. My company is headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado, which is just a little bit southeast of Denver. Okay, we are all across the state. I
Michael Hingson ** 02:31
get to be in Littleton in May for the board meeting of the Colorado Center for the Blind and Littleton.
Lloyd Lewis ** 02:37
Oh, nice. Very cool. Yeah, Littleton is isn’t as the city very near to us where we have a store and a very successful operation. And it’s a wonderful city. Well,
Michael Hingson ** 02:49
I’m going to have to make sure that when we’re going to be there that maybe we can at least meet in person. That
Lloyd Lewis ** 02:58
would be great. Please let me know when you’re here.
Michael Hingson ** 03:01
I will. I don’t remember the date. But I think it’s around the ninth of may. But I’ll let you know.
Lloyd Lewis ** 03:06
Maybe we could meet at my warehouse. We have a lot of wonderful blind call center agents there with adapted software. They do an amazing job for us. And I think they would appreciate getting an opportunity to meet you and and get to know you a little bit.
Michael Hingson ** 03:22
I may just stay an extra day or come in a day early to do that.
Lloyd Lewis ** 03:26
That’d be very cool. Very well. In any case, why
Michael Hingson ** 03:29
don’t we start with you if you would tell us maybe about kind of the early Lloyd growing up and all that. Yeah, the
Lloyd Lewis ** 03:36
early Lloyd grew up in Tacoma, Washington. And I have a lot of family there. And the early Lloyd moved around a bit. California bit Bakersfield, high point North Carolina and Oklahoma City. And I had a stepfather who was doing transfers as a FAA controller. And I grew up, you know, doing well in school and playing sports. And really appreciate where I grew up, where we can see Mount Rainier from my backyard. And we had covered playgrounds because it rained all the time. Not like the kind of rain you’re getting now. But it rained a lot in Washington and I actually like rain if it’s the appropriate level. Not the LA rain you got right now but I’ve always found it refreshing. You had some snow this year. We’ve had a lot of snow this year. And we had that this past weekend. We were expecting a couple inches we got eight or nine inches. And we’re having better weather right now as we’re speaking. But this weekend, we could get even more so it’s you know, I just wish we weren’t getting so much of this because it interferes with my stores. If the roads aren’t drivable people aren’t likely to be out On the road, visiting my stores. So hopefully it’ll be milder than what they’re predicting right now.
Michael Hingson ** 05:08
Just for a point of reference, we’re recording this on February 6 2024. So that’s why we’re talking about rain and snow and everything else. And typically, a lot of the weather that starts out in California does go East and elsewhere. So it’s probably going to be a follow up to the storm that we have here that that you get. But it’s a very slow moving storm. And that’s why it’s been so crazy out here, because we’ve had so much rain since it’s just stayed over us and dumped a lot of moisture.
Lloyd Lewis ** 05:40
We see it on the news media, and it’s very, you know, concerning. It’s a lot of damage there. And power outages. And, you know, we in Colorado, we are, you know, sorry, this is the experience that you are having. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 05:56
well, and we will we will deal with it, which is cool. But at least we can and the cities and the government is doing their best to try to keep up with it all.
Lloyd Lewis ** 06:06
Well, I hope they can.
Michael Hingson ** 06:07
I hope. So. You did you go to college in in Colorado, or
Lloyd Lewis ** 06:13
I did not I ended up going to undergrad at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, Oklahoma, and got a degree in political science.
Michael Hingson ** 06:23
Now, why did you go there as opposed to sign close? And I was
Lloyd Lewis ** 06:27
I was in high school at the time there. My stepfather had transferred Oklahoma City because he was teaching at the FAA Academy which is located. Yes. And then when it came time to do my undergrad. I had some counselors who thought I should attend an IV instead, I followed my friends to Norman, Oklahoma. And that was my undergraduate education.
Michael Hingson ** 06:53
Then what did you do? Then
Lloyd Lewis ** 06:55
I followed a girlfriend out to Massachusetts. From there, I did a paralegal training program in Atlanta, then hired at the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, where I spent a few years as a paralegal and applying for a paralegal job with an investment firm in Philadelphia, because I’d never been in the big city in the Northeast. And I ended up prior to grad school, being a municipal investment banker working on municipal financing projects, ultimately with Smith Barney, which Wow, fairly prominent firm at the time. Yes.
Michael Hingson ** 07:33
Did girlfriend follow you around or?
Lloyd Lewis ** 07:36
No, she that didn’t work. He did her own thing. She actually she’s done quite well. She went to do a PhD at Princeton and English, and became a professor at the University of Mississippi in a very successful career.
Michael Hingson ** 07:51
That’s great. So did you ever find another girlfriend that took?
Lloyd Lewis ** 07:57
I did? Oh, good. Okay, I found a few. And then from Philadelphia, we thought the 1986 tax bill would disrupt our industry. So I took the Graduate Management Admission Test the GMAT application test for business school, I got admitted to Duke to Michigan to some other schools and Oh, my word and versity of Chicago. Which is, you know, considered, I guess, the best business school in America, per US News rankings. And I did an MBA graduate in 88, with a specialty in finance. It came out to Colorado in Boulder with IBM, as a senior financial analyst in their executive training program, and from there did a series of companies. I was director of finance for publicly traded medical equipment company. I was a CFO for high tech ultimately sold to micron. And then in 2003, my world changed. I had a little boy born with Down syndrome, whose name
Michael Hingson ** 09:07
I’m sorry, his name again. Kennedy.
Lloyd Lewis ** 09:11
Okay, and I got involved in scientific research advocacy. I met a neuroscientist at the University of Colorado working in that arena. And we partnered up and advocated at CU University Colorado across the country to try to get more funding for Down syndrome research at the time. It really didn’t receive much funding and met a philanthropist daughter, whose father had founded stars encore she has a little girl my son’s age with Down syndrome. We partnered up and ultimately that family created what’s now the largest world’s largest Down Syndrome research facility. The Linda cernik Institute named for the neuroscientist that I met and worked with initially on advocacy. My whole world changed with the birth of my son candidate What?
Michael Hingson ** 10:00
What caused you to really decide to make that change and go away from being a financial analyst and being very successful in the corporate world to clearly something else, just just because of his birth? Or did things happen that changed your life or when
Lloyd Lewis ** 10:17
he was born? You know, a lot of parents if they have a child with Down syndrome, you know, surprise them at birth, they might get anxious or depressed or angry or concerned. For whatever reason, none of that occurred to me, I just thought he was great would always be great. And I immediately thought about trying to help Kennedy, because people with Down Syndrome and intellectual disabilities have a lot of challenges and obstacles. So I went to a personal development seminar. I announced my goal in life was to raise $25 million in Down Syndrome research and Everyone applauded. And when I got down from the podium with that, holy smokes, I don’t have money, I don’t know anybody with money. And ultimately, the philanthropist daughter that I met, that family created the world’s largest Down Syndrome Research Institute gifted with 32 million from that family believer in pointing the bat to centerfield, and, you know, shooting for the moon during the moon shot. And a few years later, unfortunately, the neuroscientist who was my friend and partner passed away from an aneurysm I took was my best friend at the time, I took a hiatus from Down Syndrome research, and was recruited to our by a friend that I had at IBM, and I joined arc, Mio five as CFO. Why? Well, I thought I could take my business skills and help create funding programs that would help people like my son.
Michael Hingson ** 11:56
So tell me more about Ark. So where it came from, what it is, and so on, if you would. Ark
Lloyd Lewis ** 12:03
thrift stores was created in 1968. To find Ark advocate chapters, who helped people with intellectual disabilities by jobs, housing, medical services, services and schools, affiliated with the Ark United States, the ark in the United States was the first parent organization during the 1940s, to advocate for humane treatment in large institutions where people like my son were being abused. And had my son been born in the 1940s. We would have been told, send him to Tunis, and forget about him, he won’t walk or talk, tell people he died, don’t tell people about him. But the Ark United States set about trying to create more humane conditions in these large institutions followed by deinstitutionalization advocacy, mainstreaming inclusion, public education, people like my son now live with their families, they participate in their communities. And the arcade United States with chapters all across the country, one of the top 10 charities in America does direct services and advocacy all across the United States, including advocacy in DC, with Congress and people, you know, important departments of the US government. So the art chapters of Colorado, all across Colorado, 15 art chapters, work with 1000s and 1000s of families and kids and adults. And again, try to help them achieve goals that, you know, a lot of us take for granted. How to find this job, how to find a place to live, you know, how to get your medical needs cared for, you know, how to be treated with respect in schools. And in our world, as as much progress has been made. You know, just through inclusion, people like my son have gained, on average 20 IQ points going from severe to mild impairment, moderate impairment to moderate to mild impairment. But still, there are tremendous challenges. 80% of people with intellectual dis 80% of women with intellectual disabilities will be abused. 40% multiple times 40% of men. There’s an 80% unemployment rate for people with intellectual disabilities, the highest in the country. There’s extreme shortage of housing and supports, there’s a higher need for medical care. schools still have segregated classrooms for people with intellectual disabilities. So a lot of progress has been made, but there’s a lot of progress yet to be made that the arcs are working.
Michael Hingson ** 14:54
Now is arc today an acronym for something. Now
Lloyd Lewis ** 14:57
it’s no longer an acronym. Back in a Yeah, the word retarded, which is never used was actually an improvement over previous descriptions like Mongoloid ism, etc. It’s no longer acceptable, right? It’s just our it is just art today legally things are name as did the United States as have all the art chapters across the country, which
Michael Hingson ** 15:19
is, which is great and which makes perfect sense. And I kind of always wondered that whether and I sort of thought that that was the case. Well, my experience of being blind going back to when I was born in 1950, doctors told my parents the same thing, send him off to a home because no blind child can ever grow up to be a contributor to society. And he’s just going to be a drain on your family. And that was the the tent the tone and the trend at the time, it was even worse than the other countries where they would just dispose of kids with disabilities when they were born.
Lloyd Lewis ** 15:57
Right, you know, we have many blind friends in Colorado, and they’ve all had similar experiences growing up, and challenges and obstacles. And, and, you know, our deep belief is that people with all disabilities, whether it’s mental health, blindness, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, should be treated equally and afforded the same opportunities through education or employment as anyone else in society. And that’s what we endeavored to do.
Michael Hingson ** 16:31
Being a little bit of a rabble rouser and troublemaker, of course, my position is, every person in society has a disability. And for most all of you, it’s the fact that you’re like, dependent. And if the lights go out, and you don’t, well, if the lights go out, and you don’t have a smartphone, or a flashlight nearby, you’re in a world of trouble. Yeah,
Lloyd Lewis ** 16:51
I mean, everyone has issues of some type, whether it’s, they have, you know, physical, physical issues, or, you know, they have hearing issues, or issues related to aging, or mental health. Or for some people, it’s alcohol, some people, it’s drugs, sure,
Michael Hingson ** 17:14
but I really, but I really do seriously choose to believe that life dependence is a disability, the only thing is that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and now light on demand has become so ubiquitous, that your disability is covered up, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the things that most people have to contend with in some way or another. Well,
Lloyd Lewis ** 17:36
you know, thank you for sharing that, you know, and you are absolutely correct if to do anything in our household, before we go to sleep depended on light. And without light. And without vision, I would be completely immobilized.
Michael Hingson ** 17:57
So and and the reality is, of course, you don’t have to be but that’s the way we’re, we mostly are brought up. And the result is that we keep talking about blind people as being visually impaired, which is so wrong on so many levels, because visually, we’re not now we look, we don’t look different, simply because we’re blind, necessarily. And impaired, is what some of the professionals in the field have made it but impaired or not. And it’s it’s really wrong for people to ever accuse anyone who has a so called traditional disability, physical or intellectual, of being impaired, because that means you’re really just comparing us to someone else. And that’s so unfortunate.
Lloyd Lewis ** 18:45
Well, thank you for sharing that. That’s, that’s very profound. And that’s very meaningful and impactful. So thank you for sharing that. But
Michael Hingson ** 18:54
it is, it is something that we, we all deal with, in one way or another, and it’s just kind of the way it is. So if we, you know, in looking at a lot of all of this, what about EI and people who are dealing with intellectual disabilities and so on.
Lloyd Lewis ** 19:18
But really, I just came to this conversation, from a meeting with my dei director, who happens to be African American, and our senior staff of 10 plus individuals, talking about the importance of Dei, with respect to people who have intellectual disabilities, with respect to broadening the tent as much as possible across the company for people with various various challenges in their own lives. They might be homeless, or they might be, you know, from poor economic or backgrounds, or they might be immigrants or refugees or veterans or formerly incarcerated or black or Latino, female, or we just, you know, every, every part of our society, we like to reach out to as much as we can to offer opportunities to be involved with us. We’re very diverse company, which is pervert produced our latest EDI report. And we believe that diversity makes us all stronger, that everyone’s different in some way. How
Michael Hingson ** 20:41
did we get most people in society, however, to recognize that we’re not including disabilities in the diversity discussion, if you talk to most experts about diversity, they’ll talk to you about sexual orientation, and race and gender and so on. And they won’t deal with disabilities at all physical or intellectual or developmental. I
Lloyd Lewis ** 21:07
think it’s a matter of awareness. I think it’s a matter of reaching out and having these discussions, I presented to a group of two or 300 CEOs last year about the importance of including people with intellectual disabilities in their dei programs. I’ve spoken to national organizations. I’ve written a book, I’m at work on a movie with a film producer. And to me, I think it’s a matter of, we need to reach out, we need to bring this to people’s attention. And we need to advocate for our communities. And make sure we’re included in DDI programs and discussions, I mean, that the ones that people talk about are more than deserving they’re really deserving. But we are no less or no more deserving than other parts of dei programs, right need to be speaking out on behalf of people with disabilities to make sure that we’re included in these conversations and in these programs.
Michael Hingson ** 22:15
Well, and we need to teach and help people with disabilities speak out as well, because the reality is that we tend to be ignored. And it’s it’s so unfortunate, you know, we’re talking this month in February, about Black History Month, and so on. In October, it will be in Disability Employment Awareness Month and Disability Awareness Month. But you won’t see anywhere near the visibility and the publicity and the talk about it. Even though it’s a larger minority than black history, or blacks or African Americans or any of the other minorities who get recognized at one time or another during the year.
Lloyd Lewis ** 22:55
I think it’s on us, I think it’s on us to really speak out. And, you know, make sure we’re represented, make sure we’re included, make sure we’re part of these conversations. And we need to bring this to people’s attention and advocate, just like other groups have that advocated. And they’re no less deserving of more than us. But it’s really on us, it’s on you and me and, and others disability leaders and people with disabilities to make sure that we have seats at the table.
Michael Hingson ** 23:33
Yeah. And I think that, that is a lot of it. We’ve we’ve got to get Congress and the states to do more to stiffen the laws and give us more of the laws that we need to have. Even though it should be a no brainer to do so. We don’t find that legislators work nearly as fast as they ought to on some of these things. For example, we’re just seeing reasonable movement on a bill that would require medical devices to be accessible. We still have debates regularly in the states and even in Congress about the fact that while the Americans with Disabilities Act should cover the internet, and the Department of Justice finally said, so there’s still a lot of argument about it. And the result is a lot of places say well, I don’t need to really make my website accessible because the Internet didn’t come until long after the the ADEA. So the ADEA can’t add in any way involve the internet, which is a ridiculous argument. But yet it is what we encounter.
Lloyd Lewis ** 24:52
Well, that is a problem. And you know if we could turn out 50 to 100 people to go talk to our legislators Talk to them session after session, day after day, week after week, we will get their attention. And we will make sure that we get these kinds of issues. You know, I chair five disabilities in Colorado, one of which is a Colorado cross disability coalition representing people with all kinds of disabilities. And the leader of that organization has become very prominent as an advocate, we have a policy aide for the lieutenant governor, who is my co chair for that organization. And we are making big strides in Colorado, getting lots of good legislation, but there’s still there’s still advocacy to be done. And we’re talking about creating a permanent disability office as part of the governor’s cabinet. But it again, it’s on us to go after these issues. To get the attention of the decision makers, the legislators, the corporation’s to make sure that we’re not ignored to make sure that we’re not back to the bus.
Michael Hingson ** 26:07
Yeah, it’s it is a process and there’s been growth, there’s been movement, but there still is so much more that that does need to be done. And we also have to be proud of our own history and, and recognize that we’ve made a lot of progress. But there is a lot you have to do.
Lloyd Lewis ** 26:28
I am chair of something called the Atlanta Community Foundation, which is was a sister organization of Atlanta’s community Inc, which was the nation’s second created Independent Living Center initially on it, or it’s helping people move out of nursing homes and get independent living skills. And we manage 200 affordable apartments for people with cross disabilities. And part of the history of this organization is the formation of an organization called adapt, which you’re probably familiar with, which does all kinds of advocacy, nationally, nationally has annual sins and protests. Famously, in the 1980s. A gentleman Wade Blank, would march with Dr. King was in Denver, and he was Associate Director for a nursing home where he tried to create, you know, fuller lives, more enjoyable lives are some of the residents, his reward was getting fired. When he got fired. He started suing, you know, the nursing home, getting people removed from the nursing home and creating this independent living center. And one of the more notable actions he organized was something called the gang of 1919 people in wheelchairs, went out to a Denver bus stop as the bus rolled up, they rolled in front, some roll behind another bus rolled up, they roll behind that one. And that led to the first accessible buses in the country here in Denver, that spread out across the country. But they’re you know, Berkeley and Denver are two prominent centers of disability history in America.
Michael Hingson ** 28:41
A couple of years ago, I read an article that said that New York City Manhattan specifically made a commitment that they’re going to make, I think it was 95%. But it may have been even higher of all subway stations accessible, which meant wheelchair accessible, and so on. And I and I know, having lived in the area and been on a lot of those subway platforms. That is a monumental task, because some of them
Michael Hingson ** 29:20
I’ll be interested to see how they create the space to put an elevator in to get people down, which is not that it shouldn’t be done. But it was a pretty major commitment. And I gather it’s moving forward because I’m not hearing anything that saying that people aren’t moving forward with it.
Lloyd Lewis ** 29:35
Well, that hopefully they fulfill that commitment. Yeah. It’s again, as you say, it’s very important to listen to our community. And make sure that we are included to make sure that we have accessible means to live just like everybody else. How
Michael Hingson ** 29:54
does this whole lack of in some senses regarding disabilities dei I affect the civil liberties of people with disabilities.
Lloyd Lewis ** 30:06
Well, you know, if you’re discriminated against in employment, you know, that is a financial impact that is unequal and unfair in very disturbing, there’s a very high rate of poverty in our community, which is, needs to be addressed. And those are things that we are working on. And people need the ability to have equal opportunities employment. Similarly, in housing, housing needs to be accessible, it needs to be affordable, needs to be available to people with disabilities, medical care, there’s higher needs of medical care. Yeah, there needs to be more attention in Medicaid and other insurance programs to make sure that our community get the kind of medical care that that that they deserve, as human beings, as citizens who should be treated equally with everyone else, you shouldn’t have to be rich to get medical care. Yeah, you shouldn’t have to be without the disability and the way we think of disability to get appropriate medical care, similarly, in schools, there’s still segregated classrooms and school. Yeah, in the world of abuse. People with disabilities, extreme experience higher rates of abuse than others, just in every aspect of society. We are we are hurting people with disabilities if they’re not treated fairly and equally with equal opportunities. We
Michael Hingson ** 31:52
were talking earlier about the whole issue of becoming more involved in the conversation and what you were just talking about reminded me of something. My wife, when she was alive, was in a wheelchair her whole life, we were married for two years, and she passed in November of 2022. One of the things that she loved to do and so she got me to watching it as well was television shows like The Property Brothers on HGTV, or they call Property Brothers. Okay. And it’s to get two twins, twins, who will go renovate homes for people and, and so on. And they, they do build some, but the thing about it, and there are so many shows like it, that are all involved on Home and Garden Television, with renovating homes, fixing up homes and so on. I don’t even even though it would make sense to do, especially since we have an aging population, what I don’t see is any of these people making a part of their vernacular or vocabulary or modus operandi, putting in appropriate things to consider the fact that somebody in the future who may get that home will have a disability. And, and so the result is we don’t, you know, they don’t do it. I think I saw one Property Brothers show where it was a wheelchair issue, or there was a person in a chair. But they don’t do it as a matter of course, and it would make sense to do. And some architects will point out why it’s sensible to do.
Lloyd Lewis ** 33:36
That’s a very important point. Again, we need to be reaching out to the cable show producers, we need to be reaching out to the media, we need to be reaching out the networks, the streamers, Netflix, Amazon, we need to be reaching out to the builders, the builders associations, they can’t ignore accessibility. Accessibility needs to be able to be built in everywhere, everywhere. And it’s unacceptable to gloss over our community and not really listened to our requests for accessibility and inclusion is just not acceptable.
Michael Hingson ** 34:21
I suppose. And I hear what you’re saying. And I don’t argue with with that at all. But I do suppose on the one hand, where where should people focus most of their attention? I know in the National Federation of the Blind, for example. Well, the whole issue of access in the way we’re talking about for people in chairs and other people isn’t quite the issue. It really is. But at the same time, how do you decide where to focus your efforts?
Lloyd Lewis ** 34:57
Well, you know, I I’m very involved in cross disability advocacy. I’m very involved in affordable housing integrated for people with disabilities. I’m very involved in a state disability funding committee funding innovative disability projects on the ark of us Foundation Board, working in the arena, trying to assist them expand their funding capacity. I’m on an international board with members in 100 countries because as much challenge as we have in America, in some parts of the world, it’s even Oh, yeah, extremely challenging, and concerning and troubling. And I’m very involved in my own company, and providing relief to our community and food, food insecure, employment opportunities to marginalized populations. And we’ve hired hundreds of employees with disabilities to my company. You know, where one focuses, it is really dependent on one’s primary concerns. And one’s bandwidth. I am fortunate to be blessed with an ability to sort of, you know, do a lot of things all at once. And so I try to do as much as I can as much as many different arenas as I can. But, you know, whatever the primary issues are for the National Federation of the Blind. If that’s one’s main concern, you know, go for it, you know, start reaching out to as many people as you can,
Michael Hingson ** 36:53
yeah. Well, and, and they do. But I, but I think that the, the challenge is, is for all of us so overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be dealing with it. And one of the reasons that is overwhelming is that there are so many myths and so many poor attitudes and misconceptions about things like employing persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or any kind of a disability, you know, what are some of the kind of myths that you encounter every day? And how do you? How do you deal with some of those?
Lloyd Lewis ** 37:30
Well, in my company, it’s relatively easy to deal with the myths because I’m at the top of the company. So we don’t have the same kinds of barriers and challenges that employees face in other companies. We are completely accessible, we are completely responsible, responsive to the needs of people with disabilities who work for us. With other companies, you know, it becomes more difficult because there are miss that it’s going to be too costly, or there’s going to be too many accommodations, or they’re going to be safety issues, or legal issues or what have you. My response to all of that is, you know, we have to be provide accessibility to our employees, well make accommodations for all our employees. Well, so it’s no no different than making accommodation for a person with disability than it is for someone who, who needs some time away with their kids or time away with an illness. Or they need a flexible schedule, or they need some kind of medical support. We need to think about providing accessibility and accommodations for everybody, regardless of ability or disability. Well, here’s
Michael Hingson ** 38:51
another example. And one of the reasons I brought it up is to get to this point. So take the average employee who doesn’t supposedly have a disability, right? What does any company provide them with? We provide them and I tell me this in a facetious way, but we provide them with lights so that they can see to walk down the hall and go to the restroom, and so on. We provide them with monitors and computers, and especially the monitors so they can see what it is that they have to do on the computer. We provide them with rooms that have coffee machines, so they can get coffee and other things like that. You know, we provide so many reasonable accommodations to the average employee period, that why should it be difficult to provide specific accommodations for maybe a subgroup of those people? And the answer is, of course, it shouldn’t be a problem. If I go to work for a company, I instead have a monitor because I’m not going to use a monitor, although typically, computers come with monitors, but I need a screen reader to verbalize the the information that comes across the screen. But I’ll get the argument well, but we didn’t budget for that. And my response is, yes, you did. You provide what it is that people need in order to be able to access the information on the computer, just because what I use is a little bit different. We, a part of the conversation needs to be that we’re providing lots of accommodations for everyone already.
Lloyd Lewis ** 40:35
Yeah, I completely agree. And in my own experience, it’s no more costly to provide accommodations to people with disabilities and people who supposedly don’t have disabilities. And it’s just there’s not really an expense differential anyway. And they were even if there were, we need to treat people humanely. People opportunities, well, where are we at as a society with our morality? Yeah, if we don’t help everyone who can use our support? What what does that say about our society, even
Michael Hingson ** 41:11
if there were significant differences in expenses, which we know there are not. But even if there were, the bottom line is that any company that is doing anything, can figure out ways to offset those costs. But, but the reality is, there aren’t significant differences at all. We
Lloyd Lewis ** 41:32
now live in this world of artificial intelligence. We now live in this world of the cloud. We now live in this world of extreme technical advances, medical advances. There’s really no excuse not to support everyone in society, and give them reasonable accommodations. There’s just no excuse. And that’s
Michael Hingson ** 41:57
one of the reasons is that I object to the concept of being called visually impaired, because impaired is such a negative term, when you start to say anyone is impaired compared to anyone else. Everyone has impairments of one sort or another. And the reality is that we need to get that kind of concept out of our vocabularies, and least out of our mindsets. Well, I
Lloyd Lewis ** 42:23
again, I totally agree. Yeah. They totally agree.
Michael Hingson ** 42:27
So this is probably a little redundant, but what are some of the, the myths and fears that and this gets back to the whole conversation about disabilities? And I think why we’re not so much included, but what are some of the myths and fears that people typically have about all of us, and especially I think, even more so with intellectual and developmental disabilities,
Lloyd Lewis ** 42:49
safety cost, legal accommodations, but we experience No, in my company, we have 450 employees with intellectual develop developmental disabilities, 450, Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, all forms of types of developmental disability, my company has never been more successful. I got the company near 37. When we were doing all of 2 million in earnings, we have had 17 of 18 record years only interrupted by the COVID. year, we’re now doing 20 million. And I’ve hired 450 employees with developmental disabilities.
Michael Hingson ** 43:34
How old is the company today?
Lloyd Lewis ** 43:36
is 55 years old? All right, so
Michael Hingson ** 43:39
in 18 years, look what you’ve done. Yeah, and,
Lloyd Lewis ** 43:42
you know, I attribute a lot of that to employ people with disabilities, love to contribute, love to work in teams are very, you know, positive and inspirational to their fellow employees. And they just appreciate being able to be part of the workforce, and do what the rest of us do. And, you know, to me, I would do it in any company. If I were the head of IBM or the head of Facebook or Apple, I would do the same thing.
Michael Hingson ** 44:20
I would, I would submit that one of the advantages of hiring a person with any kind of a disability who thinks at all would tell you I’m going to be more loyal to you because I know how hard it was for me to get a job and the very fact that you gave me a job is going to want me to stay there because you made me an offer and in theory, you made me feel welcome. Why would I ever want to
Lloyd Lewis ** 44:50
leave boys with with disabilities are extremely low in the hate to miss work? We get to three feet of snow on the road and they want to come into work. I have to order them not to. Yeah, I believe all of our employees with disabilities are our blind agents or employees with intellectual disabilities or wheelchair users. They are extremely loyal, the Colorado’s, and they can benefit from employment period that the Colorado
Michael Hingson ** 45:21
Center for the Blind in Littleton has actually purchased an apartment complex where all the students reside. And they have to learn independent living skills, learn how to keep up the apartments and so on. But they go every day to the Senator. So it usually means taking a bus, I think it’s close enough that you can walk but not during the snow. But again, people do the same thing. They’re very committed to being there to learning the skills that that need to be learned. And they do whatever is necessary to make it work out. And that’s what it should be.
Lloyd Lewis ** 46:02
Yeah, again, total agreement you did acquire,
Michael Hingson ** 46:05
I would add one fear that you didn’t mention. And I’ll, I’ll say it and then I’ll fall aside a little bit. The fear is, I could become like you, I could get a disability, it could happen to me in a moment’s notice. Having said that, the response is, how often when we start to deal with fear, do we just worry about things to death? That will never happen? The reality is most people won’t get a dis become a person with a disability in any way. Why are you worrying about it?
Lloyd Lewis ** 46:46
Well, in the employment world, I agree with you. But as we age, more often than not, people eventually acquire some kind of disability, physical mental, cancer, Alzheimer’s, you know, as we age, more or less well, true herb as well, not everybody. But I think part of it is not realizing that, you know, at, at the end of our lives, most people are dealing with issues that they didn’t deal with earlier now. Sure.
Michael Hingson ** 47:25
And so they also weren’t prepared for that either, which is part of what society really needs to do.
Lloyd Lewis ** 47:32
So I think people need a deeper empathy and understanding of, you know, people like my son are born with Down syndrome. And, you know, they have typically cognitive issues, resulting in IQs, less than 76. And, you know, it’s not like they chose that live. It’s not like, you know, they didn’t do things in their life to prevent that happening. My son was born with an extra chromosome 21. But he’s, he’s a wonderful human being. And he deserves the same kind of opportunities, and treatment as everyone else in society,
Michael Hingson ** 48:19
will he have a job somewhere?
Lloyd Lewis ** 48:21
He, he’s already working part time at one of my stores. And he’s finishing his last year of high school transition. Cool. But I think people need to understand that a lot of people don’t choose their so called disability. They’re born with it. And people don’t understand that later in life. Most people will probably have some kind of issue they deal with, and how would they like to be treated later in life? Right? What kind of respect they deserve later in life? What kind of treatment do they deserve later in life.
Michael Hingson ** 49:03
One of the wonderful things that happens at the Colorado Center, and that I’ve talked about before is that if you enroll there, and become a student, if you are low vision, as opposed to blind, that is totally blind. But if you have some eyesight, you will still do most of your work, your travel training and so on, under sleep shades. And you will learn to do that as a totally blind person. And the reason
Lloyd Lewis ** 49:33
pardon me but describe sleep shades for me. Sleep shades are
Michael Hingson ** 49:37
the things that some people put on at night when their lights so basically, covering your eyes or got it. Yeah, I forget the other terms that people use for them, but that’s basically just so that you don’t see any light. Okay? And the reason for it is many people who enroll or matriculate into the center with and have who have low vision are people who have retinitis pigmentosa or something else has occurred with them. And they will probably lose the rest of their vision. And the philosophy of the center is. This is the time for you to learn all about blindness. And really what blindness means. And by doing so, when you lose the rest of your eyesight, which is not to say you shouldn’t use the ICU half, but when you lose the rest of it, which very well could happen, you’ll already know what to do. And you don’t have to go through a second psychological trauma, and learn things all over again, which I think is so important, because we teach people that blindness isn’t the problem. And I think it’s true with other disabilities as well. It’s not the problem. It’s our attitudes and our perceptions that are the real issue that we face.
Lloyd Lewis ** 50:56
Yeah, I very much appreciate that kind of thought process. It’s,
Michael Hingson ** 51:01
it’s pretty cool. One of the things that you have to do if you’re going to graduate from the Senator, is you have to cook a lunch yourselves, for staff and all the students, which means you’re usually cooking for between 70 and 80 people, and you get to do the whole lunch plan, the menu and everything. It’s really excited on graduation day for anyone when that happens, because they’ve learned Linus has been gonna keep me from doing stuff.
Lloyd Lewis ** 51:32
Do you know Brenda Mosby does that name ring a bell? No. She’s my co chair for the Colorado processability coalition. And she has low vision, I believe. And that’s a person that is you remind me, I will email intro I think you would really enjoy me with Brenda, who has a lot of your experiences and philosophies. And I think she would be an important person for you to get connected with in Colorado.
Michael Hingson ** 51:59
Sure. And on top of everything else, we can get her on the podcast.
Lloyd Lewis ** 52:03
She would she would be great on the podcast,
Michael Hingson ** 52:08
always looking for guests. So anybody who has a person you think we I
Lloyd Lewis ** 52:13
guess be at work? Yes.
Michael Hingson ** 52:15
We’re always looking. So anybody listening, if you’ve got a thought for a guest, we want to hear from you. But that’s great. I’d love to meet her. And, and again, we’re going to be in Colorado, we’ll we’ll work that out. I think it’ll be a lot of fun to do. But I think that for the most part, we really do need to recognize that what people think about us and not necessarily the way reality really is.
Lloyd Lewis ** 52:47
Here, I mean people’s misperceptions that people have intellectual disabilities as an example. If they’re not connected to someone, they don’t realize the full value and contribution someone like my son can make. What I’d say get to know him, and his personality, and his sense of humor. And you know, the things he enjoys? Yeah, his ability to verbal communication is a little tough for him because of some, you know, physical features. Yeah, sometimes a company down syndrome. But you can miss estimate what his real intelligence level is, because the verbal thing, but
Michael Hingson ** 53:33
I will bet he’s not shy about voicing his opinion or articulating where he can.
Lloyd Lewis ** 53:37
He’s not shy at all. In fact, he’s kind of like the life of the party. And he loves to give speeches. And he is not embarrassed at all, to be in front of 1000s of people and get the microphone and express his opinions.
Michael Hingson ** 53:55
What’s the difference between an intellectual and a developmental disability?
Lloyd Lewis ** 54:02
Well, they describe two things intellectual is around IQ and developmental as around the various stages of development, you know, crawling, walking, the typical developmental phases of early childhood.
Michael Hingson ** 54:24
What are would you say some of the best industries? I’ll be interested to hear your answer to this some of the best industries that are suited to support or employ persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Lloyd Lewis ** 54:37
I would say every industry there you go. That’s what we tend to think of certain industries that Yeah, look, but I’m telling you, every industry can have people with IDD work in that industry and be productive contributing members every year. I don’t care whether it’s tech aerospace, or the military, or every single and energy, retail groceries, every single industry can have seductive employees who have IDD and productive employees who have any form of so called disability.
Michael Hingson ** 55:24
Yeah, I think that’s really the right answer. Why should we be limited?
Lloyd Lewis ** 55:32
Well, we’re limited due to misperception. Yeah, that’s my point, he went to lack of understanding, lack of awareness, lack of connection. And it’s not always particularly the fault of these industries. Because unless you have a personal connection, you may not have had the opportunity to become aware of who people really are. This is same experience African Americans had back in the day and still have today that women have had and still have today, that gays have had and still have today. That there, there’s a lack of understanding of so called, you know, diverse communities, that with understanding and connection, all of that goes away. All of that goes away
Michael Hingson ** 56:16
with all of the things that are going on today in society. And I think in so many ways, we are losing the art of conversation, and so on. Do you think that’s making the opportunities and the whole potential for having the conversations that we’re talking about tougher?
Lloyd Lewis ** 56:40
Yeah, these kinds of conversations can be tough, because people aren’t familiar with them. And these are new concepts. And one has to set aside some biases, in a lot of cases unconscious biases, that again, with personal connections and awareness and direct contact. A lot of this stuff goes away. Yeah, you get to know who they are, she
Michael Hingson ** 57:03
got to know. Yeah. You discovered for
Lloyd Lewis ** 57:08
literally being in a room with somebody, or on the phone with somebody and getting to know,
Michael Hingson ** 57:12
you discovered that what you thought isn’t really the way it is.
Lloyd Lewis ** 57:16
That is correct. That’s absolutely correct. Well,
Michael Hingson ** 57:19
I want to thank you for being here with us and taking the time to chat with us about art about disabilities in general. Of course, needless to say, it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. If people want to reach out to you and and talk with you more or or learn more about our How do they do that?
Lloyd Lewis ** 57:42
They can email me a Lewis l e w i s at ARC thrift.com, A R C thrift.com. On my cell phone 720-206-7047 Just say you heard this on this program. There
Michael Hingson ** 57:55
you go. Well, I hope people will do it, I hope people will reach out and the people will be more now stimulated and more knowledgeable about disabilities than they were before they came. I think that it’s extremely important, and that they will help promote the conversation. And we’ll have to work on getting the Property Brothers to come on to unstoppable mindset. These days. I think that’ll be fun as less contact those guys. Yeah, Jonathan and drew Scott.
Lloyd Lewis ** 58:26
Wonderful conversation, really enjoyed getting to know you and have this conversation. And I think I learned a hell of a lot more from you than you learn from me.
Michael Hingson ** 58:35
Ah, not sure about that. I always love to
Lloyd Lewis ** 58:38
add a lot of wisdom in what you said.
Michael Hingson ** 58:41
Well, thank you. I appreciate it. I think we both learned a lot, which is the way it should be. I feel that if I’m not learning on these podcasts, and I’m not doing a good job, and I always find ways to learn so
Lloyd Lewis ** 58:52
this podcast is gonna be one of my favorite podcasts, you
will definitely get it. Well thank you and I want to thank you all for being here and listening to us. Love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to email me at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessiBe A c c e s s i b e.com. Or go to our podcast page at WWW dot Michael hingson.com/podcast. Michael Hingson is m i c h a e l h i n g s o n.com. And I should have said and will now say that we met Lloyd through Sheldon Lewis at accessiBe you know, Sheldon.
Lloyd Lewis ** 59:29
Well, thank you. Thank you so much, Michael. I very much enjoyed this.
Michael Hingson ** 59:32
Well, thank you for being here. We really appreciate it. And let’s do it again.
Lloyd Lewis ** 59:38
Please do it again. More to learn. Let’s do it again.
Michael Hingson ** 59:45
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com . AccessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for Listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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