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Ability & EnterpriseCCRW Logo2 2
Leading the way for Inclusive Employment

December 3, 2012
Disability Symbols
Special Issue:
International Day of Persons with Disabilities

In This Issue:
  • Back in One Peace
  • Little Changes - Monumental Impacts
  • Do you have an Emergency Plan in Place? - Trish Robichaud
  • The Secretary-General of the United Nations Message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • Just Watch Me! - Video contest
  • Workforce One-Stop 2013
  • Membership in CCRW

2012 Theme:  Removing Barriers to Create an Inclusive and Accessible Society for All

Back in One Peace - Jordan MacNevin

eye and chartI had begun to notice significant vision distortion back in 2009. This is the hardest story to tell because it’s the most personal. I suffered from vision loss for no apparent reason. All of a sudden I’m sitting in the office of a Neuro Ophthalmologist at St. Michael’s Hospital, wondering how in the hell I got here. A year ago I was driving all over the place in my car named Oprah, and could read the smallest print in the dimmest light. How did I get here, why did this happen and can they fix it? I had just entered my thirties, and my buddy and I would joke about the vision being the first thing to go since we were now “old.” And then it happened. I was diagnosed with a cone and rod dystrophy, and after a bazillion tests and two more specialists, I was declared legally blind.

Did it ever send me into a spiral.

I fought against it. I fought against it hard. I wanted to take a magic potion to wake me up from this nightmare I was living in. Being me was hard enough.

Now add me to the disabled list. And did it ever have an effect on me. I was pissed off. I was bitter and resentful to anyone who could see better than I could. I felt all alone going through this process. Nobody in my world could fathom what it was like to lose your vision in the prime of your life. I was just getting started. I was fit, sexy and a popular bartender on Queen Street West. I couldn’t do my job any more so I quit. I couldn’t live anymore, so I decided to give up.

During that time, I watched a lot of daytime. I guessed who the daddy was or wasn’t on a daily basis, and gained 25 pounds in the process. I was miserable. I loathed myself. I couldn’t even stare at my reflection because I hated what I saw and how I saw it. Through these dysfunctional eyes.

It was the day after a big fight I had with my partner. A Cuban Missile Crisis of my own. I was in the Bay of Pigs, and it was a quarter to midnight.

Fed up with how I was living, I browsed the CNIB website for someone to help me understand what I was going through and how can I survive this. I signed up to receive their services, but rejected them. It was on their website that I saw the WESP program. It sounded like exactly what I needed. I desperately wanted to work. I was poor and social, and that isn’t a good combination. I sent an email inquiring about how I can participate, and I closed my computer. A few moments after I sent the email, I received a reply from Sharon Dever. She told me that they could help me, and I made an appointment. I enrolled in the three week Spring program, and I knew it was going to change my life.

Sharon at Variety VillageAs I arrived on my first day, my facilitator and two classmates all had low vision, as well as Sharon, who zipped around in a scooter. When I entered the program I had no confidence and no worth. My value was bargain basement, who’d want to hire me? WESP showed me that lots of people would. I was made aware of my skills, my talents and my abilities, rather than my disability. They showed me that with my skills and personality, I had no limitations, and I could do whatever I wanted to. Guest speaker Ray Smith from the WSIB proved that. His story inspired me. I felt the same way that he did and I was just as angry as him. But he was so happy so jovial. And his sitch was far more severe than mine. If he could learn to live life and have a great career, then so could I. That was my shift in my belief system.

I kept in touch. I landed two ads through my talent agent and was able to join ACTRA. I got an identity cane and was not as afraid to tell people I couldn’t see well. I became an advocate for persons with disabilities, pointing out dangers to restaurants. I stopped believing the lie that I told myself and finished grieving my old life. I began to see the world differently. I understood people better and became more insightful and intuitive, relying more on my other senses. And people say that it happens when you lose one of your senses and they’re right.

Everything else became heightened. It was as though I had to learn how to see without seeing.

And now I’m happy. I’m living on my own and working on the weekends as a DJ at a couple spots on Queen West. I’ve gotten back to who I am, and I’m truly experiencing life.

WESP logoIf it wasn’t for the WESP program and the wonderful staff at the Toronto CCRW office, I wouldn’t be here. I am just one of many who have come through their doors. There have been many others with varying disabilities, and they are here to say that we have a chance at normalcy in our lives. Persons with disabilities have the ability to flourish and pursue any dream that we may want to follow. That the only limitations that we have are the ones that we put on ourselves. There are no limitations, and I am beginning to experience a life of abundance.

To learn more about WESP’s upcoming programs and services, please visit

Little Changes - Monumental Impacts - Glenn Learning

GlenPWIPDeveloped by the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) and funded by Opportunities Fund, Government of Canada, Partners for Workplace Inclusion Program (PWIP) works with employers and community based organizations to enhance employment opportunities. PWIP ensures clients have the tools and training employers need by enhancing their employability skills. One such client is Mr. Glenn Learning.

Glenn was referred to Partners for Workplace Inclusion Program (PWIP), Newfoundland and Labrador in July 2011. The Murphy Centre felt that the diverse employer contacts of PWIP may be useful in assisting Glenn as he had a lot of work history but no current connections.

Glenn had extensive technical training in the area of computers and had run his own home based business while working with a local company for 10 before being let go due to changes in the business needs and ‘cut backs’ in 2005. Since that time, he continued to look for work and complete small jobs on the side. The lack of secure employment and financial stability, coupled with Glenn’s hearing loss began to take its toll on him and he was subsequently referred to PWIP. The staff and Glenn worked on his resume, had discussions about his issues with his hearing aid and making connections with potential employers via job fairs and PWIP connections.

In September 2011 PWIP staff contacted Pipers department store as they had advertised a position for a Computer Support Specialist and Glenn had interviewed for said position. PWIP staff worked with the manager at Pipers and talked about accommodations and Glenn’s skills to complete the job and they hired him without hesitation. Glenn has been working at Pipers since 2011 and both Glenn and his supervisor at Pipers were guest speakers at our 2012 Business Awards Luncheon.

Here is an excerpt from Glenn’s speech. It really drives home the message of how little changes in the worksite can make monumental impacts:

“Since the day I started working with Pipers, the company has been more than willing to work with me to the best of their ability to accommodate my hearing disability. For my part, I have been very fortunate to have a hearing aid technology that helps in overcoming the communication barriers that are associated with being severely hearing impaired. When working on the job, communication is very important. Pipers provided the phone system that is compatible to my hearing aids and when it comes to verbal communications, whether in person or on the phone, I provide support to my coworkers by taking the time to show them how they can communicate with me and they are very receptive of understanding how everything works for our mutual benefit.

After working at Pipers for a year now, the support system is fantastic and my experience in working in my current position as Computer Support Specialist is very rewarding. In the past year since I first started with Pipers, the experience has benefitted my self-esteem and entire lifestyle.”

PWIP is very proud of Glenn’s accomplishments and we wish him the very best.

To learn more about PWIP's programs and services, please visit

What if Sandy had happened to us?  Do YOU have an Emergency Plan in Place?

by Trish Robichaud at Changing Paces

Trish Robichaud
Vulnerable populations like people with disabilities and seniors can be the hardest hit in an emergency. Losing access to specialized supplies, equipment, and medical services critical to everyday life can be devastating, even life-threatening for some. And that’s in the most temperate climate. Imagine how many more lives would have been lost had Sandy, the superstorm that recently ravaged the east coast of the US, happened in the winter!

Learn From Hurricane Sandy

Being prepared for a disaster or emergency is the best defence for anyone but for people with disabilities, being proactive could be the difference between life and death. In the wake of Sandy, there were 2 very gut-wrenching, tragic stories that drive this point home.

Emergency PreparednessThe first I heard about was a 65-year old gentleman who was partially paralyzed due to cerebral palsy and was also legally blind. He was found drowned in his home. In another situation a 75-year old woman who was on oxygen died after the power went out and her ventilator stopped working.

A survival story talks about a husband who uses a wheelchair and his wife, who uses a ventilator with out power in their 12th floor Manhattan apartment. They were trapped for the duration of the crisis. The story goes that concerned Twitter followers and Facebook friends rallied to bring distilled water, car batteries and other vital supplies to the couple.

The good news is that there are instructions and checklists out there for people with disabilities for preparing for any emergency. The following are links to a couple of Canadian resources:
Emergency Management Ontario Guide for People with Disabilities
BC Preparedness Emergency Program: Preparedness Information for People with Disabilities

Protecting yourself and your family during an emergency requires advance planning. You are in the best position to plan for your own safety as you know your abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster.

Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit

To get you started, the Canadian Red Cross has developed a comprehensive list of items that should be included in an emergency preparedness kit. Add your own items to make it more personal for your specific needs and those of your family. For suggested items, see their Additional Items list. And finally, a vehicle emergency preparedness kit is an important part of winter safety here in Canada. Severe storms can happen at any time. Be prepared to help yourself and your family if you are ever stuck in your vehicle for an extended period of time. Learn more about items to include in your vehicle kit.

Trish Robichaud is a multiple award winning Motivational Speaker, Disability Awareness Coach, Life & Business Coach who lives with multiple sclerosis and major depression. She is a woman with a disability but she is NOT a disabled woman.

Trish teaches people living with disability how to honour and accommodate their health while striving for optimal health, work/life balance & entrepreneurial success.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3, 2012

This year's theme is:
Removing Barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.
enable logo 2

This year’s Paralympic Games were a reminder of the immense potential of persons with disabilities to soar and to inspire. One girl wrote to a Paralympic gold-medal champion, “Watching as you overcome the difficulties of life, reaching for new victories and new heights in sports, I derive strength and inspiration.”

Persons with disabilities have a significant positive impact on society, and their contributions can be even greater if we remove barriers to their participation. With more than one billion persons with disabilities in our world today, this is more important than ever.

My United Nations Messenger of Peace focusing on this issue, the legendary superstar Stevie Wonder, embodies the spirit of service to others. After playing a spectacular UN Day concert at our Headquarters this year, he said, “I haven’t even touched one iota of what I want to do for and through the United Nations to help heal this world.”

Our challenge is to provide all people with the equality of access they need and deserve. Ultimately, this will create a better world for all. As negotiators at this year’s “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development agreed, accessibility is critical to achieve the future we want.

Together, we must strive to achieve the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: to eliminate discrimination and exclusion, and to create societies that value diversity and inclusion.

In order to spur action to bridge the gap between well-meaning commitments and long-overdue actions, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a High-Level meeting on disability and development next year. This gathering will take place as the international community works to forge a post-2015 development agenda, presenting an opportunity to ensure that the rights, concerns and contributions of persons with disabilities are fully taken into account.

This International Day of Persons with Disabilities marks the official opening of preparations for the High-level Meeting. Let us make the most of our commemoration by working to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy their rights and realize their great potential.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Check out your local governments and disability agencies to see what events are happening in your area. 

For more information on the International Day  of Persons with Disabilities go to United Nations enable

To share your stories of how you celebrated this day, send us an email at

Just Watch Me! Video Contest

Just Watch Me Logo
If you are an entrepreneur with a disability and have a business success story to share, you could win cash and prizes. All you need to do is create a 2 or 3 minute video and enter it in the “Just Watch Me” contest - Prairie Edition by January 25, 2013. Check out our website at for all the details.

This video contest is being run by the Community Futures Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program (EDP), and is open to people with self-identified disabilities or ongoing health conditions operating a business in a Community Futures region in Manitoba or Saskatchewan.

The contest aims to get more people with disabilities interested in being their own bosses. The contest website will be open for submissions on December 3rd in recognition of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The winning video in the “Just Watch Me” contest will be chosen by a judges panel and public voting process. The winner will be announced on February 26th.

Workforce One-Stop 2013

The Future Workforce... Are You Ready?

WO 2013Join CCRW in attending 2013 Workforce One-Stop Conference to get the latest insights into finding, developing and retaining the skilled talent needed today.

Hear expert views on how to develop and lead the workforce of tomorrow.

Learn how your labour force can go from good to great! Hot topics include:
  • Leveraging diversity in the workplace
  • Retaining your top talent
  • Making the most of multi-generational workforces
  • Hiring innovators for a cutting-edge workforce
  • Mentoring and bridging programs that work 
Participate in plenary sessions, workshops, exhibits and much more …

Make Workforce One-Stop the training and development choice of your staff. Group rates available. To learn more, email Linda Scott or call 1-888-801-8818 ext 277.

For up-to-date program details and to register for this event, visit:

Membership in CCRW

Our mission is to promote and support meaningful and equitable employment of persons with disabilities.

Our vision is to create a Canada where all persons with disabilities have equal employment opportunity.

We offer information, education, training and Internet-based services Hearing Aidsupporting the employment of persons with disabilities. We identify barriers to employment and provide solutions. We encourage all stakeholders (employers, persons with disabilities, governments, rehabilitation professionals, labour leaders and educators) to work together on the development of standards, policies and practices.

We provide leadership in programs and services for job seekers withWORKink-1 (2) disabilities and businesses committed to equity and inclusion. We are a comprehensive information source for disability and employment resources, CCRW works with businesses of all sizes in all industries.

Becoming a member of CCRW not only gives you discounts for our programs, services and events and access to our "Tip of the Month" e-newsletter, but it also shows you support the employment of persons with disabilities while spreading the message of inclusion and equity. We have several different levels of membership from Student to Corporate.

Please consider becoming a member today.

For more information, please contact Maxima Kagoo at (1 800 664 0925 ext 226). 

For more information about membership, please see out web site

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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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Call for Article Submissions!

If you have something that would be of interest to the membership, we would be happy to consider it for a future issues of Abilities & Enterprise, please contact Monica at


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