James Thompson thinks the only reason he got hired to work at Yosemite National Park was because he was blessed with a phone interview.
"My employer couldn’t see my wheelchair," he said. "He couldn’t see my service dog or the backpack on my back."
Thompson, 40, has cerebral palsy. By the time he applied to work for Aramark, the company operating Yosemite’s hotels and restaurants, he’d been homeless for months, living out of his storage unit in Rancho Cordova, California. His $943 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check — the maximum amount allotted to low-income, disabled people — didn’t cover his basic living costs in Sacramento. The job at Yosemite, with its housing subsidized by the National Park Service, felt like a chance to start over.