‘So many barriers’: Forum discusses jobs and accessibility

Alliance aims to have people noticed for their abilities rather than their disabilities By Nicole Williams
CBC, Jun 1, 2017

Islanders shared accessibility issues on P.E.I. and how they want the federal government to improve things at a public forum Wednesday.

The Alliance for an Inclusive and Accessible Canada hosted a public forum in Summerside in their latest round public consultations happening across the country to collect feedback on upcoming legislation regarding accessibility.

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“We’re trying to create a more accessible Canada,” said Dave Carragher, communications manager for the alliance.

Leroy Gamble was at the forum on behalf of his son who has a disability and is trying to find employment.

“They don’t look at people with disabilities,” said Gamble.

“One time we sent out 25 applications for employment and we didn’t get an answer from one.”

‘So many barriers”

Carragher said people with disabilities often struggle to get recognized by employers and find meaningful employment.

“We’re really concerned about helping people with disabilities get noticed, having their abilities being recognized rather than just their disabilities,” he said.

Dave Carragher, communication manager with The Alliance for an Inclusive and Accessible Canada, says those with disabilities need to be appreciate for their abilities.

Carragher said there are several factors that may lead employers to overlook applicants with disabilities, including assumptions about their capabilities or a lack of funding to make places of employment accessible.

“For employment, it could help with just providing more funding to make buildings accessible, or providing more funding to help people get to and from work,” he said.

Carragher is visually impaired and said he’s faced challenges finding employment because many places aren’t outfitted for accessible technology like screen readers, and in many cases Carragher has had to provide them himself because employers are unable to do so.

“I have to find my own job and then have to find my own technology to do that job,” said Carragher. ”

There are so many barriers for people with disabilities when it comes to employment.”

Other issues on the table

Anne Christopher has chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and said she’s concerned with disabled seniors not getting enough financial support from the government..

Christopher was receiving disability pay until she turned 65 but was switched over to a Canadian pension cheque, which is a smaller allowance.

“I don’t understand why I, at the age of 65 they lose disability. [Seniors] don’t lose their disability when they turn 65,” said Christopher of the added stress.

“Losing the disability and going down to a lower level of wages, then you have to rethink spending, how you’re going to deal with your finances.”

Public feedback

The alliance will have a report filed by the end of summer and then will be hosting consultations in the fall with government on exactly what legislation should look like.

As for how soon Islanders can see an improvement in P.E.I.’s accessibility, alliance project manager Jan Ditchfield said it will be a few more years before things start to take shape.

“Everything comes in time. It’s unfortunate that I can’t say, ‘Well, overnight it’s going to be completely different.’ I think we’re seeing changes already just by the fact that these conversations are happening,” said Ditchfield.

“I do think we’ll be looking at two years time I think you’re really going to start seeing the country shaping itself differently than it has in the past.”

Original at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-employment-accessibility-forum-1.4140586