The Hub November 2016 - Page 12

Above: Kevin McShan gets things rolling at the WE Are ABLE workshop in October. Below: WE Are ABLE dishes up lunch and an informative and encouraging workshop it, he says 10-15 per cent of his workforce is made up of people who identify as having a disability, from intellectual to physical or episodic. One woman he interviewed was hearing impaired, and he gave her the opportunity to figure out how to make the job work for her - and she did. Wafer claims that his support for these often-marginalized individuals has improved his bottom line and the workplace environment. “I have heard of employers using the excuse of a ‘fast paced work environment,’ possibly to discourage people from disabilities from applying,” says Dwyer. “Without any knowledge of that person's skills - they are automatically assuming that people with disabilities are ‘slow’." WE Are ABLE offers free, 40-minute presentations to employers to correct these myths and stereotypes. They have partnered with WETech to offer lunch, and their November 8 presentation is in partnership with MP Essex Tracy Ramsey and MPP Essex Taras Natyshak. The program has an 11-month life span through its funding from the Ontario government. It began in February 2016, so the end is near. “We are hoping the project gets renewed so we can continue the work we’ve started,” says McShan. McShan’s future goals for the project include partnering with the Small Business Centre of Windsor, and ensuring that the internship and co-op expectations from St. Clair College and the University of Windsor are also inclusive. McShan himself has Spastic Cerebral Palsy. He hadn’t had paid employment since graduating from the college. That’s six years before finding the WE Are ABLE project to provide sustainable paid employment. It’s a common trend amongst my high number of friends who identify as people with disabilities. Most work for family businesses, or have not held regular employment for any extended period of time. Their disabilities range from dyslexia, to mental illnesses or mobility restrictions.. In my experience, it’s the opportunity to allow a person with a disability to figure out how to make the job work for them that means the most. Six years ago, facing a future in a wheelchair, I needed employment and was turned away from my past employer - the fast pace of fast food, as well as a steep staircase down to many behind-the-counter areas didn’t welcome my wheels. Many potential employers responded negatively too, as they felt I couldn’t handle the job requirements. Aside from physical access to the workplace, duties would have included taking items off shelves, or assisting customers in finding product. I know I could have worked my way through the process to be able to fulfill the job requirements, but I was not given the opportunity to do so. One in seven Ontario residents is a person with a disability. The Province of Ontario currently has an action plan to make all aspects of life accessible by the year 2025. So far, progress is mixed.