Employment Access for Persons with
Most recent figures from Statistics Canada reveal 52.2% of the Country's working-age disabled remains unemployed.1 Although this figure is recent, the inequity it implies is not. Historically, persons with disabilities have been discriminated against through systemic practices and policies in employment. Employment Equity legislation has created some awareness of this inequity but an awareness that inequities exist is not sufficient to implement change.
As a person with low vision, I share disillusionment from my experience with seeking employment. I believe that, as a group, people with disabilities are denied equal access to employment. And because they are denied employment, the resources and skills of this group remain untapped.
Persons with disabilities were identified as a designated group in The Royal Commission Report: Equality in Employment, but their access needs have not been adequately addressed.2 like members of the other designated groups (women, aboriginal people and visible minorities), persons with disabilities can face double or triple oppression. However, persons with disabilities also experience alienation because of employers' discomfort with and lack of awareness of appropriate accommodation needs.
The alienation felt by persons with disabilities parallels the frustration employers experience in their effort to attract potential employees. Current recruitment strategies and outreach programs implemented by employers often do not result in the hiring of qualified persons with disabilities.
To date, employment related services available to persons with disabilities involve intervention by government, or by private employment or disability agencies. Employers and potential employees with disabilities rarely have direct contact. Not having a direct link to employers results in dis-empowering job seekers and perpetuates employers' erroneous attitudes towards persons with disabilities.