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Ability & EnterpriseCCRW Logo2 2
Leading the way for Inclusive Employment

  July 10, 2013
1001109295 4
rain, rain go away.......

In This Issue:
  • Starwood visits WESP

  • OWIP client, Jon joins Cineplex
  • Learning Disabilities in the Workplace
  • Theme chosen for the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2013

 Please feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues - spread the word, hire persons with disabilities!

Starwood visits WESP

Early last month, the Workplace Essential Skills Program (WESP) was pleasedStarwood WESP to introduce Erin Haid, Talent Development Manager, and Samantha de Sousa, Talent Development Coordinator for Starwood Hotels and Resorts to our monthly Career Development Session.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with over 1,100 properties in nearly 100 countries and 171,000 associates at its owned and managed properties. Starwood ensures diversity in the workplace by creating partnerships with associations focused on promoting inclusivity. Starwood has been recognized by DiversityInc (sic) as one of the “Top 50 Companies for Diversity”.

Erin and Samantha’s presentation focused on resume writing and interviewing. With the perfect amount of enthusiasm for both the Starwood brand and the WESP program Erin explained the do’s and don’ts of resume writing. Samantha told a humourous story about why it’s probably not a good idea to show up too early for that interview.

The WESP team is very proud of our continued association with Starwood and we are positive that much success lies ahead.

For more information on Starwood Hotels and Resorts, please visit their website at or call1-800-328-6242

For more information on upcoming on upcoming WESP programs and workshops please visit or call 416-486-2500 ext. 8307

OWIP Client, Jon joins Cineplex

When I received the e-mail that there was a new program offered from CCRW, since I was previously in their Youth the Future program, I jumped at the chance to hop on board.  The fact that they have a job developer on hand is great. The job developer was an excellent tool and made finding a job look easy, which as we all know can be a tedious task in itself. 

Jon2 OWIP The process from starting the program to getting hired was quick!  I starded the program in January of 2013 and was hired in April 2013.  Getting hired was smooth too, the interview went well.  At first I treated it as just another interview, because it went so quick and my other interviews in the past had the same feeling.  Needless to say, I was shocked and speechless when my job developer called me telling me I was hired! 

My first shift was on a Saturday and it was crazy!  It was busy and I never stopped moving.  It took no time for me to blend in and to get used to the position.  There's a few things I still need to figure out and experience, but nothing big.  The management and staff are great and understand my condition.  Yes, it's a casual/easy job compared to others, but I look at it as I have conquered another barrier in my life.

I feel like I'm blessed because I know and meet other people worse off than I am.  Thank you OWIP program and CCRW.  You have been a great help and continue to be as well.”

The CCRW Ontario Workplace Inclusion Program (OWIP) supports job seekers with disabilities in the Durham Region find employment. Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Opportunities fund, OWIP recently opened its doors in January 2013. We support job seekers with disabilities on an individualized basis as well as provide workshops and career development opportunities.

OWIP Eligibility:
  • • A person with a disability motivated to find work!
  • • Unemployed or working less than 20 hours per week
  • • Not eligible for assistance under Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
  • • Legally entitled to work in Canada Access your potential with OWIP.

For more information click here

Learning Disabilities in the Workplace

Learning disabilities fast facts:

  •  Learning disabilities refer to disorder’s associated with challenges in acquiring, organizing, retaining, understanding or using verbal and/or nonverbal information
  • 1 in 10 Canadians has a learning disability
  • Learning disabilities are lifelong and will likely have impacts in the workplace
  • Workplace solutions can include both soft (ex; strategies) and hard (ex; technology) accommodations
  • There may be challenges for both employee and employer/manager in accommodation process
  • JAS® can help address these challenges!

Learning disabilities in the workplace
Learning disabilities are often associated with difficulties in school but, given that they are lifelong and permanent, they can also have major impacts in the workplace. As an invisible disability, it is often not possible to know that an employee has a learning disability unless they disclose it but given that 1 in 10 Canadians has a learning disability it is likely prevalent amongst many employees in the workplace.

What are learning disabilities?
Learning disabilities (or LD’s) refer to various disorders associated with challenges in acquiring, organizing, retaining, understanding or using verbal and/or nonverbal information. This includes areas related to oral language, writing, reading, and/or or mathematics.

LD’s effect many different areas of an individual’s life and they are often described based on these impacts. Some common categories include organization and focus, social life, physical interaction, academics or processing (integration, input, output etc). For example, an individual described as having a LD impacting organization and focus may have difficulties with executive functions and struggle with organizing and planning. In other instances a specific type of LD is described, such as dyslexia which is associated with difficulties processing language and impacts reading, writing and spelling. It is important to note that there are many different ways to categorize and describe LD’s.

No matter how LD’s are categorized these disorders affect learning in individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average intelligence and, in order to be diagnosed, an individual must exhibit clinically significant discrepancies between average abilities in one or more categories. Diagnosis is a complex process and, in Ontario, testing by a registered psychologist (or associate) is required.

Accommodating learning disabilities in the workplace

The barriers faced by employees with LD’s and accommodations to address them depend on a variety of factors including how the LD(s) impacts the individual, the nature of the job and job tasks and whether they already have strategies in place. Some employee’s may have had accommodations in the past, such as in school or previous jobs and may be very familiar with their barriers and strategies to address them. Other employee’s may be newly diagnosed or unfamiliar with accommodations or strategies. Some signs of LD’s in adults include; spelling errors, misreading information, difficulty interpreting information, poor grasp of abstract concepts, works slowly, struggling to summarize information and many other’s.

“Soft” workplace accommodations are one’s which do not pertain to equipment or products. Some examples commonly recommended for LD’S include alternative work arrangements, flexible hours, eliminating problematic non-essential job tasks, and modifying the way information is presented. For example, an employee with an LD impacting social skills may struggle with interacting with co-workers and may benefit from accommodations such as working from home and/or making work social functions option. For an employee whose LD makes it difficult to communicate verbally an accommodation may be to provide advanced notice of meetings and what will be covered to allow them time to prepare. An employee whose disability impacts time management may put several strategies in place themselves such as making to do lists and checking items off as complemented and having employer or co-worker send reminders for meetings and deadlines.

“Hard” workplace accommodations include technology, equipment and modifications to the physical environment. For example for LD’s which impact reading audio tapes or screen reading software can be beneficial whereas for employee’s whose disabilities impact writing voice output software can be beneficial. For LD’s which impact math there are several options of calculators such as one’s which “talk” as well as fractional and decimal calculators. There are also a variety of products including one’s which track time use and set reminders for those whose organizational skills are impacted.

In many instances accommodations for LD’s involve a mixture of both hard and soft accommodations. An employee with an LD impacting reading may benefit from hard accommodations such as converting audio and text as well as strategies such as allowing verbal in place of written responses. Similarly for an individual with difficulty spelling they may be provided with an electronic or talking dictionary in combination with being able to have more flexible deadlines to edit their written work or have it edited by a co-worker.

There often are challenges for both employees and employers in accommodating LD’s in the workplace. For employees one major challenge beyond the impacts of their LD is disclosure; given that LD’s are an invisible disabilities individuals must choose whether to disclose or not to their employer. Common reasons for choosing to disclose include that accommodations are needed to do their job effectively, to provide an explanation for why they are struggling and that they feel comfortable with enough in the workplace/with employer to disclose. Some employee’s may even choose to disclose at an interview or before accepting a job or promotion so you can discuss the accommodations you require.

However, for a variety of reasons, employees may choose not to disclose. Some employee’s may either not require accommodations or already have strategies in place themselves. Other reasons’ employee’s may not disclose include feeling they lack a supportive environment, fear of discrimination and stigma; such as that disclosing will cause other’s to see them as inept or lacking intelligence.

For employers and managers there are also challenges. These include the fact that they may not fully understand or be aware of the LD and how it impacts the employee and have difficulty distinguishing between the impacts of an LD vs. preference or a lack of effort or motivation. There are also cases where the employee’s disability may impact a vital part of the job and, even with accommodations, it is not a good job fit. One major challenge for both employees and employers/manager’s is knowing what accommodations would be beneficial and help both parties to work effectively.

How JAS® can help
The Job Accommodation Service (JAS®) is able to help both employees and employers determine appropriate workplace accommodations and address many of the challenges discussed. For example, JAS®’ individualized approach to accommodation considers the unique nature of how an employee’s LD’s impacts them at work by not only looking at the diagnosis but speaking with both the manager and employee to gain an understanding of what specific job tasks they are struggling with and how their LD impacts them at work. Our affiliated subject matter experts, such as Occupational Therapists, use their expertise in workplace accommodations to recommend unique solutions on a case by case basis and their clearly outlined recommendations are vital in helping employees and manager’s both understand the barriers and what specifically can be implemented to address them

Given the challenges associated with disclosure and understanding LD’s, JAS® is also well-positioned to help. As a neutral third party not affiliated with either the employer or employee JAS® is able to encourage employees and managers to speak openly about their concerns to gain a full understanding of the situation. Additionally, as the diagnosis and medical information are not included in the recommendations employees can share all relevant medical information and allow JAS® and affiliated subject experts to gain an in-depth understanding of the LD and impacts.

JAS® offers consultations, workplace assessments, and educational presentations/workshops around the duty to accommodate and job accommodations as they apply to various disabilities and conditions. For any enquiries, contact Nayla Farah, JAS® Director for at 1-800-664-0925 extension 224 or by email at JAS®

December 3, 2013

UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

enable logoThe Theme for the 2013 International Day of Persons with Disabilities is:

"Break Barriers, open doors:  for an inclusive society for all"

CCRW AODA Consultations--The Job Accommodation Service®
AODA training, policy review and development, accessibility audits and solutions. 
For more information and to book a consultation, contact Nayla Farah, or 1-800-664-0925 x 224 or visit our website at

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