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Integrating people with diverse abilities and/or disabilities into a workplace starts with accepting a new prospective about people — they are able to do much more than they are given credit for. While integrating people with disabilities may seem like an arduous task at the onset, it does not require much from the employer other than an open mind. Several types of training options and office calibrations (or recalibrations) are available and can be accessed to help support the integration of people with disabilities.

Consider this: according to a 2012 Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) report, disabled men in the 15-to-64 age group earn $9,557 less than adult males in the same age group who don’t have disabilities. Women between the ages of 15 and 64 earn $8,853 less. Overall, 8.5% more men with disabilities are settling for part-time work because they cannot find full-time employment, compared to adult men without disabilities who are working part-time hours. Proportionately, 6.5% more women with disabilities work part-time but want to work full-time.

The good news is that an aging population and a shortage of significant skilled labour is opening more spots for workers, including those with disabilities. The bad news is that employers still often overlook this labour pool and may find it difficult to integrate them into their workplace.

However, some businesses are looking into options available to them such as sensitivity training. Methods used by companies can include “trying on a disability” to get a sense of how it feels – like staff using wheelchairs, earplugs, and blindfolds while the trainer does some fact-verses-myth education. Also, there are employment offices across the country providing free training that is often customized to the needs of the employer. Employers will sometimes choose to conduct their own training as well.

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Rebeca Kuropatwa
Rebeca Kuropatwa
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a freelance writer based in Winnipeg.

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