Who are these sitting ducks?

Hello there!  I’m Scott Savoy, editor of writing services at www.sterlingcreations.ca.  Another great weekend for us weatherwise shaping up and today I am pleased to introduce an editorial written by our president Donna J. Jodhan.
I wish you a pleasant weekend.
Who are these sitting ducks?
By Donna J. Jodhan
Actually, I have a very dear friend who recently described himself as a sitting duck.  When I asked him to elaborate, this is what he said to me.  “I feel like a sitting duck because for more than a year now, I have been sitting at work with absolutely nothing to do.  My supervisor does not seem willing or ready to give me work.  I have been at my job for over 20 years now and I am a good worker but I do not know why they are not giving me anything to do.”

I have known this person in question for many years now and I along with others can attest to the excellence of his work but this is a very common thing among those blind and visually impaired persons who are fortunate enough to be employed.  What exactly am I referring to today?  In one sentence:  Many of those blind and visually impaired persons who are employed today, are often made to sit for most of their working careers with nothing to do.  They are made to feel like sitting ducks!  Shocker or shaker?  Too the disabled community and to blind and visually impaired persons in particular, no shocker.  To the sighted observer who has worked alongside a blind or visually impaired person, it may not be a shocker; but to the mainstream person, it probably would be a shaker at least.
I know from first hand experience when I worked for certain companies, I sometimes had to sit for spells without being given anything to do despite my asking for work so I know that this situation is true.  The thing that bothers me though is this:  Why are so many employers unable to see what they can potentially be missing out on?  Employees who are so willing and ready to work, employees who are just dying to be given a chance to work and become contributing members to our society, and employees who would bend over backwards to just be given a chance to fit into the labour force? 
No one, mainstream worker or disabled worker, can or should expect to be always busy but to be left to sit there for months at a time without having anything to do!  Not very acceptable especially when the employer is paying for the services of their employee but the employee is somehow not able to fulfill these services through no fault of their own.
I took my quandaries to our panel and here is what they came up with.  First, the majority of employers who hire employees with disabilities often do so out of a necessity to fill either a quota or they feel a need to fulfill some sort of tangent or intangent obligation.  Second, when they hire these types of employees, they do not take enough time to fully understand the physical or technological needs of their differently abled newcomers before hiring them.  Third, they do not take the time to educate other employees on such things as accessibility awareness and how to work with differently abled coworkers.  Fourth, they do not spend enough time to deal with attitudinal barriers on the part of both management as well as subordinates.  To this end, more often than not, either one of two things happens here. 
The first scenario being that top management often goes ahead and hires persons with disabilities without taking the time to consult with middle and lower management and the second is that lower and middle management is more open to the hiring of disabled persons than their ultimate bosses.  So, what can disabled employees do to make themselves less of a sitting duck and more of a contributing citizen?  Or, what can employers do in order to turn sitting ducks into  busy bees?  I say, we need to start with healthy and meaningful dialogue. 
We need to see the development of Dialogue between and among all stakeholders.  Dialogue that will ultimately lead to a better understanding of expectation on both sides, the breaking down of physical, attitude, and access barriers, and a real effort towards tapping into an untapped labour force.  However, in order for all of this to work, everyone involved has to be on board at the same time.  No better time than now to get started.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day and weekend.
To reach me, please send an email to info@sterlingcreations.ca and I would be delighted to send you an electronic copy of our latest newsletter.
Here is a complete list of where you can view Donna’s blogs and editorials.
Donna Jodhan!  Advocating accessibility for all
a weekly feature on important answers to consumers concerns
Weekly blogs for language professionals and accessibility consultants
A monthly editorial on issues on diversity
a monthly editorial on business issues and concerns
weekly editorials on accessibility issues in Canada
Editorials:  An International perspective on issues of accessibility and disability
http://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com (under the editorials section, an international perspective)
A general perspective on issues of access and accessibility

About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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