From Disability to Diverse Ability
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Key Industries believes true independence for persons living with intellectual and developmental disabilities happens when we can successfully achieve personal, community and economic independence. The ability to work in all areas and levels of employment, and within all sectors of Federal and Provincial government, facilitates this growth and independence. This month, we are happy to join in the celebration of the many workplace accomplishments of persons living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month began in 1945 when the first week of October was declared as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”. The word “Physically” was removed in 1962 to include all disabilities. It was expanded over the month of October and changed to National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 1988.
In 2019, the Accessible Canada Act came into force to ensure a barrier-free Canada. Employment was one of the five key areas Canadians identified where the government should focus its efforts to create an accessible Canada. Much work is still needed to remove employment and inclusivity barriers for persons living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but Canadians are moving in the right direction. We cannot forcefully change the thoughts, values, and beliefs of others, but through the continued sharing of our unique perspectives, we can open minds to possibilities. The greater the diversity; the greater the possibilities.
Employees with disabilities, comprising 23% of work-ready persons aged 15-64 in NB as of 2017, are bringing perspectives to the table that persons without disabilities may have never considered. To promote innovation in New Brunswick workspaces, we need to be comprised of all voices. Our wish is for New Brunswick to be a model of inclusive employment practices to pave the way for all Canadian employers to do the same.
With an ageing workforce and a rise in labour shortages, hiring persons living with intellectual and developmental disabilities will assist in bridging that gap with an underutilized and underemployed talent pool (That’s almost 3.8 million people Canada-wide)! Findings show that hiring persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities have benefits which include improvements in the areas of profits & cost-effectiveness, turnover and retention, reliability and punctuality, employee loyalty, company image, public loyalty and satisfaction, innovation, productivity, and work ethic. Let’s change the narrative to positive awareness; NOT disabilities, but DIVERSE abilities.