A Resource Hub for Disability Inclusion at Work in Ontario
It is no surprise that persons with disabilities are under-employed. According to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Survey on Disability (2017), between 600,000 and 700,000 persons with disabilities in Canada who have the potential to work are not working. Furthermore, persons with disabilities also have lower incomes are also more likely to live in poverty. A multi faceted approach to bridging this gap is required with main goals being:
1. Fostering Disability-confident and inclusive workplaces.
2. Providing comprehensive supports for persons with
Providing employers and persons with disabilities resources to help bridge the gap is key. Much needed are resources for workplace design, workplace accessibility, assistive technology, and vocational assessment / planning. "ideally a centre for expertise or a network hub will be created that is broadly scoped to assist with the development and promotion of evidence-informed tools, resources and service delivery models to support a broad range of needs and to address issues of accessibility across various domains....Provide links to existing evidence-informed tools, resources and service delivery models, as well as links to supported employment and other service providers across the country, so that such information is easily accessible to employers and persons with disabilities. This could take the form of a web portal." Pan-Canadian Strategy for Disabilty and Work page 13
This website is a web portal meant to offer practical resources, starting with Ontario, to help bridge the gap for persons with disabilities entering the workforce while also promoting inclusive design of physical structures, products, and workplace occupations.
A publicly funded employer referred an employee with a work related pain disability to a health / rehab clinic with the reason being she could not complete all of her required job demands of a clerical position. Her main issue was back pain and functional limitations included prolonged walking. Walking the long but wide corridors to deliver mail was a challenge. The health care professional completed an analysis of her workplace and discovered walking and standing demands could be minimized with use of a scooter. However the design of the workplace space was insufficient to accommodate a wheelchair let a lone a scooter. Recommendations were provided to increase door widths among others. The employer realized that by changing the workplace design can accommodate this worker but also other people who use a mobility device.
The Assistive Devices Program (ADP) in Ontario, helps people with long-term physical disabilities pay for customized equipment, like wheelchairs and hearing aids. This program can help cover up to 75% of the cost of assistive devices, including mobility devices. This website is an ongoing project starting with listing authorized ADP Mobility venders in Ontario. The purpose of the website is to make it easier for people to connect with those who sell assistive devices.
Ergonomic Products also enhance human performance. People with pain related disabilities often require height adjustable desks and high end ergonomic chairs to work. ergoCentric Seating Systems was founded in 1990 specifically to manufacture ergonomic seating.
Occupational Therapists are well trained to identify functional, occupational, and environmental barriers to working. More importantly OTs can offer solutions to overcome these barriers using tools such as functional assessments, Job Site Analysis, Job Matching, Ergonomic Assessments, Accessibility Assessments, and more.
Ergonomic principles maximizes function / output by mitigating the effort required within healthy parameters. Effort can be physical, cognitive, or emotional and is commonly associated with workplaces but can also be applied to other environments such as kitchens, cars, and sports to name a few. Ergonomic Assessments are an important process for workplace inclusion.
Assessments are an important process for workplace inclusion. Here are some processes to achieve workplace inclusion
These services can be provided by various professionals including Occupational Therapists and Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional.
One in seven Canadian adults currently lives with a mobility, vision, or hearing disability. Operating since 1987, DesignABLE Environments has been involved as accessibility consultants on many architectural projects, ranging in size from modest residential renovations to major institutional and commercial projects. "Our goal is to develop functional, safe and dignified environments which appropriately accommodate all members of society, including people with disabilities and older people."
"Nothing About Us Without Us". Knowledge of Disability and Accessibility is the upmost important element in any design process. Collaboration with disability groups can lead to better knowledge with respect to common barriers encountered in the built environment, virtual environment, learning, or with products and services.
The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) is a provincial voice for workers in Ontario who have been injured or made ill on the job.
ENTREPRENEURS & PROFESSIONALS, WITH DISABILITIES
This program, EPwD, offers resources for people with disabilities who are currently, or plan to be, a career professional or entrepreneur. Through in-person and on-line, we provide a resource to network, share info, support one another, learn business tools and much more.
A Universally Designed workplace will ensure all people have access to work regardless of size, shape, ability, or disability. There is also serious shortage of accessible housing in Canada. Persons with disabilities have little choice for accessible housing and are forced to make do with poorly designed homes to fit their needs. This poor fit results in extra energy needed for basic activities of daily living like personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, and the list goes on. An inclusive workplace is insufficient if a person does not have an accessible home or transportation. We need better design of homes, buildings, products, and public transportation. Universal Design is a design strategy for inclusive design.