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
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
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.