Finding a job is tough for those with disabilities

The old saying about getting your foot in the door is bitter irony for people who don’t have the ability to walk through that door. Inaccessible workplaces make finding work much harder for people with disabilities. But it doesn’t have to be so hard, says Jeff Withers of Strathroy’s LEADS Employment Services.
“It all depends on the person,” Withers says. “Our services are individualized. We don’t have a magic door of jobs waiting. We look where a person’s skill set lies and match that to an employer. What does this person have to offer an employer, and then we go out and target those particular employers.”
This philosophy presumes that people with disabilities have skills as useful as those without disabilities, and Withers’ job is to convince employers of that fact.
“We do a lot of education to employers to dispel some myths about people with disabilities,” he says. “When you say disability, a lot of time people think it’s someone who is in a wheelchair or a physical limitation. Sometimes it’s a person who has a mental health issue but their medication has it under control. A disability could be someone who has tennis elbow, or who played football in high school and has bad knees.”
Simple solutions are often all that are necessary to make a workplace accessible.
“We talk about accommodations in the workplace. For people who are hearing impaired, instead of a bell going off at the break or lunch hour, there are lights that may flash. For someone who is in a wheelchair, it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Maybe it’s as simple as raising it up on wood or bricks so that person is higher.”
Plus, LEADS does much of the work for the employer, including training and screening to determine suitability for a job.
“We try to help them get to a point where they’re ready to go out and work.”
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