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Staff Spotlight: Wendy Vance

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Photo of Wendy VanceWendy Vance started her journey advocating for the rights of people with disabilities from the time she entered elementary school. She was a member of the first generation of children to benefit from the educational inclusion legislation passed in the 1970s. Since inclusion was relatively new in the school, she witnessed her mother acting as her advocate, and from observing her learned how to advocate for herself and others. She used this early experience as she moved into her professional life 11 years ago when she began working as a Rehabilitation Specialist for the Division of Blind Services (DBS) in Tallahassee. During this same time, she also completed her Master’s in Rehabilitation Services Counseling at Florida State University. Three years later, she was promoted to VR supervisor and relocated to Daytona Beach. She left to work in the private sector for a few years but ultimately came back to Tallahassee to become a Senior VR Counselor with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Then in early 2016, she left DVR to work with Disability Rights Florida as an Advocacy Specialist.

“I am thoroughly enjoying my new adventure here as an Advocacy Specialist,” says Wendy, “as it provides me with a whole new avenue of helping individuals with disabilities to live richer, fuller, more independent lives in their community, and to define success on their terms.”

Wendy has been able to view the rehabilitation experience from several angles: client (Wendy is visually impaired), staff at DBS/DVR, vendor, and now from the perspective of a staff person at Disability Rights Florida.

“In my new adventure here at Disability Rights Florida I am getting the opportunity to see the rehabilitation process from the point at which there is a hiccup in the process and how we have the opportunity to work together in a collaborative and positive manner to resolve the issue. Calls that come in may be the result of a communication breakdown, adverse decision, or a variety of other issues in the mix. Sometimes facilitating success means working together to find a creative, out-of-the-box solution to a complex issue. It just takes a listening, understanding ear and a trusting relationship built on fidelity, justice, and beneficence.”

Wendy is married and has two “two-legged children,” 15 and 11 years old, and two “four-legged children,” a Boston “Terror” and a sweet black Lab (who also serves as her husband’s guide dog). Her hobbies include attempting to grow a veggie garden, writing, reading historical fiction (and researching the people in the book), watching Jeopardy with her husband—and her ongoing quest to get picked as a Jeopardy contestant each year at test time.

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