The accessibility factor creates constant anxiety for Kyle Romano.
With no arms and no legs, he questions everything.
How am I going to get in the door of my office?
How am I going to log onto my computer?
How am I going to prepare my lunch?
Those questions made Romano quite anxious when he started his first job at Custom Mobility in Largo. It didn’t take long for him to realize, though, that he’d be OK.
“Everyone is just so nice and so willing to help to do anything I need help with,” Romano said.
The company that custom-makes wheel chairs was tailor-made to adapt to Romano’s office needs, too. The CEO made sure of that.
“We basically let people express what they need done to their work station and we accommodate that,” said Custom Mobility President Bruce Bayes.
“Everything has to be positioned exactly correct,” Romano said. “So my keyboard easel isn’t exactly straight because I type with my left arm and my face so it’s kind of tilted a little bit to make keystrokes a lot easier for me."
Coordinating marketing and social media, Romano has worked with the team for six years. But he’s actually been part of the Custom Mobility family for most of his life — at 3 years old, it's where he got his first power wheelchair.
“My brother was delivering his chair and Kyle would not get in it,” Bayes said. “And they had just removed his arms and legs and he started crying.”
Doctors amputated Roman's arms and legs due to a rare form of bacterial meningitis. Experts said he would live the rest of his life in a vegetative state, but Romano refused to accept that fate.
“I try to stay as busy as I can,” he said.
Romano's coworkers say his work ethic is highly regarded.
“When I’m talking to Kyle, I don’t really see someone with a disability,” Bayes said. "I see another person who has some views that they want to express and things they want to help change in the workplace.”
These days, Romano worries about others who are not able to work because of companies that don’t have a support system for the disabled.
“A lot of disabled people want to work, but you know it’s kind of a two-way street,” he said. “You have to find an employer who believes in you enough to invest in that.”
Romano said he hopes more managers take a closer look at how they can help grow an untapped talent by focusing more on what people can do, instead of what they can’t.
“We are wiling to work,” Romano said. “We want to work. We just need a little bit of help to be able to get to that place.”