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 !