Open doors for persons with disabilities
I've noticed a lot about disability lately. I notice disability on a daily basis - of course, since I have one - but I think about it differently when it's in the public arena and people are open to new ideas.
At the end of June, a number of organizations jointly sponsored a mayoral debate about disability issues. One issue discussed was jobs, which is a huge issue for youth (and all people) with disabilities like myself. Some ideas proposed at the debate were to provide financial incentives to companies to hire people with disabilities and use new technologies to create telecommuting-type jobs for them.
Telecommuting may very well have a time and place, but it can be isolating and you don't always get the full working experience. Whatever the solutions, they must be flexible and put individual needs first, as opposed to making people with disabilities fit into one homogeneous mold.
The things I needed most when I was job hunting were encouragement and opportunities. My experience of trying to find a job really challenged my confidence. First of all, I didn't know what I could do physically. I don't have fine motor control in my hands, and my speech is unclear. Would I be able, for example, to work a cash register or stock shelves? It would have been helpful for me to be able to work at different places (for example, stores) for a couple of days on a trial basis to get a sense of my abilities.
As well, I was getting mixed messages from people supporting me regarding whether I could work with the public because of my speech. (Eventually, I got a great job as a fundraiser, talking to people all day).
I went to a couple of agencies that assist people with disabilities to find jobs, and some of them required me to take their job skills course. I had done co-op in high school, as well as other courses, and so I found these courses to be repetitive and elementary.
I agree that we do need money to help people with disabilities to find work, but there has to be more. In this competitive job market, it has to be about encouraging all people that they can be contributing members of society.