Brian-Keith Jennings: Giving a voice and empowerment to disabled people
Brian-Keith Jennings is an adult training specialist at Lakeland Village in Medical Lake, outside Spokane. State employees at that “campus of caring” train, educate and provide health care for about 210 individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Brian-Keith is one of the state employees we may never see but whose work we couldn’t live without.
He’s making a difference. He gives dignity to those he cares for.
“We want our residents to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible,” Brian-Keith says.
“They are no different than us,” he adds.
With new technology, he’s giving residents a voice.
Using iPads with a program called “Talk Tablet,” he teaches residents how to express themselves – how to say they’re hungry, thirsty or uncomfortable.
“When they’re able to communicate like that, they’re able to express themselves...,”Brian-Keith says.
“It just gives them control and they feel empowered because they can be heard now. Before we were trying to assist and maybe it’s not what they wanted. Now when they have a voice, they can say, ‘Hey, this is what I would like or this is what I’m feeling.’
“It gives them a sense of pride and control because they are getting their needs met.”
For Brian-Keith, it’s personal.
“I have a son with autism and I treat everybody the same way I would want him to be treated,” Brian-Keith says.
Washington state employees like Brian-Keith Jennings are the public servants who work for us everyday.