The Future of Work for People with Disabilities

York University hosts annual career fair for consumers of health services

By: Ryan Moore, Staff Writer

Entrepreneurs and Mental Disabilities

They say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but is it always the most profitable?

Many great entrepreneurs have disabilities, which deter them from taking the conventional path. Instead, they have to find different ways to solve problems and succeed.

For instance, Business Week reported U.S. entrepreneurs having a higher rate of dyslexia than the general population.

“The study of top CEOs in America found that an overwhelming number of them had dyslexia, a disproportional amount compared to the general population,” says Ari Cohen of Rise Asset Development. “One of the theories why the percentage is ten times the average population is that while in school they had to develop these skills to succeed and thrive, despite being dyslexic, which gave them this leg up in the business world.”

Cohen says to be a successful entrepreneur you have to be able to adapt and find other ways of solving problems.

“If you have to get from point-a to point-b and you can’t take the straight path, you’re going to have to find another way to get there,” says Cohen. “You will find a way to adapt to your environment and circumstance.”

Consumers of mental health services often rank employment and housing as top needs, to have all the opportunities of real citizenship, including the satisfaction and sense of self-worth, which comes with having a good job.

People with diagnosed mental illnesses face the highest level of stigmatization in the workplace than any other marginalized group. This creates large barriers between finding and retaining meaningful employment for the diagnosed individuals.

Such individuals may face related adversities like having work history gaps, lack of experience, fear and anxiety, inflexibility and discrimination in the workplace.

York University’s Event Connects Students with Employers

The York University Career Centre holds an annual event, “Career Success: Employment Supports for York Students with Disabilities,” which connects students to employers, community service providers and employees with disabilities.

During this informal event, attendees are happy to share information during round table discussions.

Nancy Moulday, TD Bank Recruitment Manager with a 98.6 per cent retention rate, often scouts universities for up-and-coming talent. She’s also active in promoting workplace wellness and hiring persons identified as having invisible disabilities.

“Our champions at TD created a wellness group that consists of TD employees who meet online, over the phone or in person,” Moulday says.  “The group is support for individuals who identify as having invisible disabilities. It’s not only for people with mental health issues, but also for people with dyslexia, behavioral and developmental issues that we are dealing with as well.”

Organizations in attendance at the annual event  included the Government of Canada, Scotiabank, TD Bank, Lime Connect, Career Edge Organization, YES Employment Centre, Rise Asset Development, Canadian Youth Business Foundation, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, York University Asperger’s Mentorship Program and Epilepsy Toronto.

Productive and meaningful employment is one leading factor in developing good mental health and re-integrating the afflicted person back into the community. Sadly, the unemployment statistics of persons with serious mental illness are not only low, but also reflective of the reality of adversities that such individuals face.

Individuals have the right to be employed in jobs, which match their skillset, regardless if they have a physical or invisible disability.

Kaye Leslie, Manager of Diversity Hiring at Scotiabank, who is also pursuing her MA in Critical Disability Studies, says that she normally hires in 3 main categories—personal banking officers, customer service and IT.

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