Equal Opportunity Employers ??? Are you really ?

There are 14,256 people in Saskatchewan Canada alone that are blind or partially sighted. There are half a million blind or partially sighted people in Canada. Only one third of those Canadians living with vision loss are employed. Is it because they are not qualified ? Is it because they don’t want to work ? Is it because they are not capable of working ? Absolutely NOT. Blind or Partially sighted people are very capable willing and loyal employees that can do the job just the same as their sighted counterparts.

Many employers will advertise themselves as a EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER, which should mean that they are willing to hire those people who are the minority. People with disability are one of those groups. But I really want to shed some light on this, and what is truly happening in this day and age. We all like to think that we are living in a accepting loving non judgemental society but is that really the case  ?

I was born legally blind. This means that from birth I have had not great vision. In school I had accommodations like larger text in my books, teachers read what they were writing on the board, I learnt braille and other skills I would need. Now that was great it was to prepare me for the real world but reality is nothing could have prepared me for the real world living with a disability. Note I do not view myself as someone with a disability and never have. I am more than capable of living the same life that anyone else can I just do it differently.

During high school I worked at my parents Bakery and had some other jobs as well. I worked for Parks Canada for the summer and was heavily involved in sports like Karate, Wrestling, Hockey, and Girl Guides. I was a junior leader as a Girl Guide and gained some invaluable skills. Then I went to University and again held a couple of different jobs, I worked at a Bakery, and a sandwich place. I have held many different jobs over the years. I ran the Bakery alongside my parents for many years and when my dad got sick I took on most of that role. After we sold the business I then went on the work at a nursing home and hospital in the kitchen and as a special care aide. I worked as a car salesman, and finally as a insurance broker. Now looking at that you would think well what do you mean blind or partially sighted people are not being employed. Well here is the kicker. I NEVER EVER disclosed that I had a visual impairment, I learnt very young that when I disclosed this I was turned away and treated differently. I was able to make adjustments in the jobs I did and usually it ended up coming out when I needed to make the text a bigger but I would always down play it like I just had bad vision you know nothing glasses can’t help with. But this was not the case in fact as life went on my vision decreased but when I got to the point 2 years ago or so when there was no hiding it, guess what happened. I have not been employed since. Now is this a just a coincidence ? I would say no. I have been on many interviews with employers claiming to be a equal opportunity employer but there always seems to be that person that feels I won’t be able to do the job. Well guess what give me that chance and then you know what if I can’t  well then you can fire me just like anyone else. But don’t discount my ABILITIES right off the hop.

These things need to change, people with disabilities are PEOPLE first and need to be treated as such. We complain about people living off the government, yet there is a huge population of people living on a meagre disability income that would give anything to work and we are not giving them the opportunity to show what they can do. Many of these people even have University diplomas !!! We tell our kids that you need to go to University to be successful, even parents of kids with disabilities will say this but you are not guaranteed to find a job just because you have a degree unless someone will finally give you that chance.

I will keep speaking and make my voice as loud as I can so that this will change. It can be changed and with enough push from people living it, I believe we can make a difference. I know I will not stop until it is my reality !

Blind Parents

As a mother of 3 life can be very interesting, busy, crazy and many different things at any given time. They definitely keep me guessing and keep me on my toes. 

All of my kids have their own personalities that have developed over the years. My daughter is 11 and the boys are 8 and 7. I love being a mother to my three kids more than anything. I will always sacrifice things to give them what I believe to be the best for them. This comes into play with my sight loss. It would be much easier for me to have the life that I want if I was in a bigger city with public transit and more opportunities but we moved out to a rural community when the kids were small because we wanted to raise them in a small community. So even though life would be much easier in a city for me, we are not moving in the near future. I think as parents we always are making sacrifices. 
When it comes to my visual impairment, the kids are great. They have always been great kids with that part of my life. When they were small I would go crazy when they would walk to far away. I could not tell them apart from other kids and I would get worried that Iwould not see them walk in front of a car or something, so they learned very young to stay close. Also when we would go to the park they would always come and check in with me every few minutesm it would get hard to keep track of them sometimes. Especially when they got old enough to explore a little more on their own. Now as they have gotten even older they know if I call them or ask where they are they need to answer. They help a lot around the house especially when it comes to reading instructions on food things or labels or just helping find things in the house that have been moved. 
The kids are all in school and this can bring it’s own challenges. When it comes to homework it can be a little difficult to help them. Especially the youngest because he doesn’t read as well as the others, but he is good about just telling me the letters so we can figure out what it is he needs. My husband helps the kids with their homework as much as possible as he can see what they are doing and it just makes it much easier. The kids are great when they make something at school like a craft or a picture they will bring it home and start describing it right away. It melts my heart every time they do this for me. 
Now there are challenges having kids being blind but I don’t think that they are any greater than the challenges a fully sighted person faces. The one thing that I have found is that they will try to slip something by me because they know I can’t see it. Like a shirt they shouldn’t wear to school (tank top in the winter ), my daughter having some crazy hair and saying she has done it (I check but I guess she is hoping I won’t). And if these are the biggest challenges that I am facing right now then I say we are doing great. 
I am very grateful to have the kids that I have and to be their mother. I know people question the ability of mothers when they have a disability but reality is that a disability does not make you a good or bad parent. All it means is that you will do things differently. But most importantly I think that my kids will always have a understanding of people with disabilities, and not judge them like so many people do because they know they are just as capable as anyone else. 
I hope you all have a great mothers day next week ! And are enjoying the spring weather ! Rick and I sure are enjoying the weather and looking forward to being able to open the camper for the first time this year on May long weekend. We have also been enjoying the golf course ! 
Until Next Time 
Ashley and Rick