Champions Career Centre: This Week in Employment Champions Career Centre: This Week in Disability Champions Career Centre: Does Canada Need a National Disabilities Act? Champions Career Centre: Improving Accessibility for People with Learning Disabilities Champions Career Centre: New Census Info: 1 in 5 People With A Disability in the United States Champions Career Centre: Differences in Inclusion: Canada vs. USA Champions Career Centre: New LinkedIn Design Launches Champions Career Centre: Disabled or Impaired? How do you talk about your disability? Champions Career Centre: Specialist People Foundation Champions Career Centre: Only at the Movies: Accessibility Wednesdays Champions Career Centre: Don't Get Careless in Your Online Job Hunt Champions Career Centre: Disability Focus: Brain Fog Champions Career Centre: Equality of Rights of People with Disabilities Champions Career Centre: What have you gained from your disability? Champions Career Centre: Accessibility Wednesdays Champions Career Centre: Don't take the summer off your job search!

Disability Focus: Parkinson's Disease and Cognitive Impairment

Monday, July 30, 2012

*At Champions, we start every Monday morning with a presentation where one of our staff members highlights a disability, the symptoms related to the diagnosis and the barriers and opportunities related to employment for people who experience it. We do this as part of our commitment to organizational learning but also because we recognize how there are a vast amount of disabilities which affect each person differently. We then highlight these presentations in our Disability Focus blog posts here on Mondays.*

There are over 100,000 Canadians currently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and this number is expected to double by 2016 as Canada's population ages. While commonly known as a movement disorder, with symptoms such as shaking, rigidity and slowness of movement, there are lesser known symptoms like cognitive impairment which also affect people with the disease. 

In fact, at least one third to one quarter of people living with Parkinson's experience cognitive impairment. While the impairment is often mild, meaning a person can still function well at home and at work, the symptoms can still be frustrating to deal with. These symptoms include difficulties with memory, attention, difficulty in finding words and visualizing spatial imagery (think of mapping a route home). However, it's important to note how cognitive impairment related to Parkinson's differs from other impairments, like those associated with Alzheimers, where people lose their thinking ability over time. With Parkinson's, people living with the disease are dealing with a slowdown in their thinking ability, not a loss. 

The good news is that doctors can help. Speech and occupational therapy can be utilized to improve mental functioning and there are also drug therapies which may be able to help as well. The bad news is that the cognitive impairment is rarely discussed. People with Parkinson's may be unaware of their decrease in functioning and doctors may be reluctant to bring it up after a new diagnosis. Talking about cognitive impairment in the early stages of Parkinson's is vital to establishing a baseline for mental performance and to track the progression of the disease and monitor symptoms which may be related to medication and other health conditions. 

While cognitive impairment related to Parkinson's is becoming more well known there is still a long ways to go and a need for further research. More funding for research would lead to better techniques for detecting mental changes in patients and also help develop therapies for people dealing with a cognitive impairment. If you are interested in learning more about Parkinson's and possibly contributing to research then we highly recommend the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

This Week in Employment

Friday, July 27, 2012

Every week we link to and provide many different articles regarding career advice, job search strategies and general employment discussion in this blog and on our social media accounts. We understand that not everyone can keep up with this endless stream of information and so we round up all the best content we posted during the week. Enjoy!

Can't find a job even though you're pure awesome? 15 reasons why no one is hiring you:

For graduates, kick start your new career in three easy steps:

Another article for recent grads, transitioning from college to the workforce with a disability:

On Twitter? If not, maybe you should be. Best tips for tweeting your way to a new job:

The death of the resume, an interesting look at new practices in recruiting.

Some tips for answering the "why do you want to work here" question during an interview.

10 ways job searching is like dating:

Finding career and life balance: Should I say no to a job that will take over my life?

This Week in Disability

Friday, July 27, 2012

Every Friday we like to round up all the links and discussion we've had during the week surrounding topics of disability. Hopefully this allows people who are too busy or not on social networks to connect  with us and follow some of the major trends and issues in the area of disabilities. 

This week in the Champions blog:
We discussed the differences in inclusion between the United States and Canada and asked our readers what they thought the reasons were for the disparity in employment of people with disabilities. 

We looked at the new census data from the USA which saw 1 in 5 people report living with a disability and half of them describing it as severe.

We gave tips for improving accessibility in the classroom for people with learning disabilities after a recent study highlighted the negative impact stigma was having on people seeking trades certification.

We discussed whether or not Canada needs a national disability act similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act in the USA.

Important links around the web:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 22nd anniversary, here is an overview of what it entails.

The ADA has brought changes, but not enough.

Apple released its latest operating system, Mountain Lion. Here is a look at the accessibility features which are built in to the software.

An interesting and inspiring posthumous look at the life of Mike Kosior, a blind man from Boston.

A man uses his disability to create an organization which helps people and employs over 700 people.

When a disability involves your brain, the story of a veteran dealing with an invisible disability.

Get ready for the 2012 London Paralympics with this amazing ad. 

Does Canada Need a National Disabilities Act?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today our neighbours to the south are celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark piece of legislation which enshrined the civil rights of people with disabilities in American law. The Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of disability and also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. Additionally, the Act requires accommodations to be made in public facilities like restaurants, hotels, stores, and public transportation systems so that these facilities are accessible to all. 

In Canada, we do not have a nation-wide disabilities act. Instead, we rely on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities while another act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, includes a "duty to accommodate" for federally regulated employers. 

Beyond these national acts, the provinces also have various laws, human rights codes, and charters which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. However, there are no consistent regulations across provinces with regards to employment, accessibility and accommodations. Most provinces rely on their own human rights commissions to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities are being protected but only Ontario has taken the step of passing a complete disabilities act. 

The lack of a consistent national framework may have led to some serious discrepancies with how disabilities are treated across the provinces. Employment rates vary significantly from province to province. Some provinces have very low employment rates for people with disabilities, such as Newfoundland (24.3%), Quebec (32.8%) and New Brunswick (35.5%). Other provinces have higher rates: Saskatchewan (53.3%), Alberta (52%), and Manitoba (51.6%).

As far as employment numbers go, Canada's population of people with disabilities generally participate in the labour force at a higher rate than our American neighbours. So do we need a national disability act or is the current system enough?

Improving Accessibility for People with Learning Disabilities

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A recent study has highlighted the difficulties apprentices with learning disabilities encounter when trying to complete their trades certification. In the study, Ruth McGillivray discovered how stigma attached to learning disabilities often led to students refusing to disclose their condition and thus struggling in the classroom as they don't ask for help. She equates this with a person refusing to wear their glasses and expecting to succeed in the classroom - it wouldn't work. 

A learning disability doesn't make a person less smart, they may just need different teaching methods and other accommodations which tap into their learning style. Often times these accommodations are subtle and require no cost. Moreover, they often improve the learning abilities of people who don't have a disability but benefit from a different approach to teaching. With that said, we give you four tips for accommodating and improving accessibility for people with learning difficulties in the classroom:

1. Assume people with learning disabilities are present.

According to the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, 1 in 10 people in Canada have a learning disability. In any classroom, there is a good chance of having not just one, but multiple students with a learning disability. Learning disabilities are invisible and may not be readily apparent to a teacher, students may not want to disclose their condition as they are fearful of stigma or may not be aware they have a learning disability. Assuming people with learning disabilities are present ensures the classroom is inclusive and may even help students succeed who weren't aware they had a disability. 

2. Utilize Universal Design in learning materials

Universal Design for Learning is a framework that enables all learners to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. Using learning materials which respect the diversity of a given population and pay attention to details like appropriate use of fonts and visuals will make materials accessible to more students. Additionally, learning materials written in clear and concise language will make the curriculum easier to understand. Finally, educators need to be flexible and open to presenting and engaging the students in a variety of manners. The National Center for Learning Disabilities makes note of how by incorporating a simple support for one group of students, all students benefit:

"For example, captioned video is of great help to Deaf students, but is also beneficial to students who are learning English, students who are struggling readers, students with attention deficits, and even students working in a noisy classroom." 

3. Provide access to key accommodations.

Accommodations for a person with a learning disability allow that person to show what they know without being impeded by their disability. There are a host of strategies, activities and technology which can be utilized by educators to remove impediments to learning. These include: Providing presentations or instructions orally, providing large print materials, allowing for verbal responses, allowing for responses via computer, allowing breaks, administering tests in space with minimal distractions or in private rooms. These basic accommodations don't give an undue advantage and help facilitate a student's ability to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. 

4. Provide options and resources for further help.

Learning disabilities are varied and can leave educators unsure of what to do or where to turn. Fortunately, there are a host of resources and options available to students and teachers. In Canada, we highly recommend giving these provincial/territorial learning disabilities associations a look. In the classroom, teachers can have access to these resources on hand and should keep an eye open for students who may be showing signs of a learning disability. Increasing awareness of disabilities, and providing resources for help, will help decrease stigma related to learning disabilities and help create a learning environment where everyone can succeed. 

*Image made available by securedgenet under Flickr's Creative Commons license.

New Census Info: 1 in 5 People With A Disability in the United States

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Report Released to Coincide with 22nd Anniversary of the ADA

About 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population — had a disability in 2010, according to a broad definition of disability, with more than half of them reporting the disability was severe, according to a comprehensive report on this population released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report, Americans with Disabilities: 2010, presents estimates of disability status and type and is the first such report with analysis since the Census Bureau published statistics in a similar report about the 2005 population of people with disabilities. According to the report, the total number of people with a disability increased by 2.2 million over the period, but the percentage remained statistically unchanged. Both the number and percentage with a severe disability rose, however. Likewise, the number and percentage needing assistance also both increased.

“This week, we observe the 22nd anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a milestone law that guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities,” said Census Bureau demographer Matthew Brault. “On this important anniversary, this report presents a barometer of the well-being of this population in areas such as employment, income and poverty status.”

The statistics come from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which contains supplemental questions on whether respondents had difficulty performing a specific set of functional and participatory activities. For many activities, if a respondent reported difficulty, a follow-up question was asked to determine the severity of the limitation, hence, the distinction between a “severe” and “nonsevere” disability. The data were collected from May through August 2010. Disability statistics from this survey are used by agencies — such as the Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Administration on Aging — to assist with program planning and management.

The report shows that 41 percent of those age 21 to 64 with any disability were employed, compared with 79 percent of those with no disability. Along with the lower likelihood of having a job came the higher likelihood of experiencing persistent poverty; that is, continuous poverty over a 24-month period. Among people age 15 to 64 with severe disabilities, 10.8 percent experienced persistent poverty; the same was true for 4.9 percent of those with a nonsevere disability and 3.8 percent of those with no disability.

Other highlights: 

People in the oldest age group — 80 and older — were about eight times more likely to have a disability as those in the youngest group — younger than 15 (71 percent compared with 8 percent). The probability of having a severe disability is only one in 20 for those 15 to 24 while it is one in four for those 65 to 69. 

About 8.1 million people had difficulty seeing, including 2.0 million who were blind or unable to see. 

About 7.6 million people experienced difficulty hearing, including 1.1 million whose difficulty was severe. About 5.6 million used a hearing aid. 

Roughly 30.6 million had difficulty walking or climbing stairs, or used a wheelchair, cane, crutches or walker. 

About 19.9 million people had difficulty lifting and grasping. This includes, for instance, trouble lifting an object like a bag of groceries, or grasping a glass or a pencil. 

Difficulty with at least one activity of daily living was cited by 9.4 million noninstitutionalized adults. These activities included getting around inside the home, bathing, dressing and eating. Of these people, 5 million needed the assistance of others to perform such an activity. 

About 15.5 million adults had difficulties with one or more instrumental activities of daily living. These activities included doing housework, using the phone and preparing meals. Of these, nearly 12 million required assistance. 

Approximately 2.4 million had Alzheimer’s disease, senility or dementia. 

Being frequently depressed or anxious such that it interfered with ordinary activities was reported by 7.0 million adults. 

Adults age 21 to 64 with disabilities had median monthly earnings of $1,961 compared with $2,724 for those with no disability. 

Overall, the uninsured rates for adults 15 to 64 were not statistically different by disability status: 21.0 percent for people with severe disabilities, 21.3 percent for those with nonsevere disabilities and 21.9 percent for those with no disability. 

In addition to the statistics from this report, the Census Bureau also produces annual disability estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). While the ACS uses a different definition of disability than in this report, it is capable of producing estimates of the population with disabilities at subnational geographies like states, counties, places and metropolitan areas. The Census Bureau has been collecting data about certain disabilities since 1830, when Congress added questions to the census on difficulty hearing, seeing and speaking.

Differences in Inclusion: Canada vs. USA

Monday, July 23, 2012

This week, the United States will celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the legislated end of discrimination against people with disabilities. However, the celebration won't be without a few caveats. Over the past 20 years the employment status of people with disabilities has not improved and may in fact be worse than it was in 1990. Last week Democratic Senator Tom Harkin penned an op-ed in the Huffington Post highlighting this disability employment crisis and questioning if the USA is at a turning point in making gains in this area. 

Indeed, the disability employment numbers in the States are fairly staggering. For people with a disability, only about 1 in 5 have a job, only 37% are participating in the labour force, and there is an unemployment rate of roughly 13%. 

Compare these numbers to Canada, where the employment rate of people with disabilities is about 42%, almost 47% are participating in the labour force, and the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is around 9.8%. 

*It has to be said that both of these scenarios leave much room for improvement. A significant number of people in Canada (over 25% of people unemployed or not in the labour force) report being disadvantaged or discriminated against in employment. The proportion of men and women with disabilities and low income status is significantly higher than people without disabilities. Learn more in the Report on the Equality of People with Disabilities released by the Canadian Human Rights Commission last week.* 

So what are the reasons for the discrepancies in employment for people with disabilities between Canada and the USA? Is the Canadian government more focused on the issue? Are Canadians workplaces generally more inclusive? Are there differences in methodology and services for tackling the problem? Leave us your thoughts in the comments...

New LinkedIn Design Launches

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What a surprise this morning when I opened up my browser at work and discovered a new LinkedIn front page waiting for me. As someone who uses LinkedIn on a daily (hourly) basis this is good news as there were many aspects of the old format which were very frustrating to use. Let's run down the new features...

The biggest change in the new LinkedIn is the preference given to news stories. LinkedIn Today, the website's news aggregator, has been given a new magazine style look and is pinned to the top of your news feed when you first login. This is really big for people who use LinkedIn as a way of accessing news stories, blogs and business information. LinkedIn Today recognizes the important stories from your contacts and aggregates them in an easy to read format. The layout is very similar to many tablet and smartphone apps which present content in a magazine-like format. You can also predefine the industries and news you want to follow, or see suggestions about stories which may interest you, and save articles for later. 

Overall, the new features make using LinkedIn a little less onerous for power users. Hopefully this is the first step of many in which LinkedIn cleans up and organizes the amount of data/updates on the front page. For example, I still have to scroll to the bottom of my updates three times just to view stories posted a little over an hour ago. LinkedIn Today allows a user to get around this by creating a place to view news which was being lost in all the other updates being posted, but this may also make the front page news feed less important than it already was... 

What are your thoughts on the new LinkedIn design?

*Interested in using LinkedIn or learning how to maximize your online profile? Check our 3 part series on using LinkedIn to build a great profile and make connections.*

Disabled or Impaired? How do you talk about your disability?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do you consider yourself disabled? Impaired? Living with a chronic health condition?

As an organization committed to assisting people with disabilities we are often challenged by the way we talk about disabilities. Some of the people we help don't consider themselves disabled, they just have some impairments or difficulties related to a condition they have. Others feel it is important to "own" their disability and consider it a part of their identity. And finally there are those who are unsure of how to explain their situation, like those dealing with mental health issues. Is anxiety a disability? A disorder? An illness?

People working in the academic community surrounding disabilities have long used the term impairment to describe disabilities as it is deemed to be more positive. Philip Craven, the current President of the International Paralympic Committee, echoes these sentiments:

"Don't use terminology that gives a negative impression. If you need to talk about the blind, visually impaired, deaf or wheelchair users, no problem at all. What the blind person needs is completely different. What the deaf person needs is completely different. So get rid of that D word. I'd far sooner the word impairment was used." 

We wanted to ask our readers and followers their thoughts on this issue. Do you find the word disabled negative? Is it too narrowly focused to encapsulate the variety of impairments which exist? Does it depend on where and how you are talking about yourself? Sound off in the comments!

Specialist People Foundation

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We partner with a lot of great organizations and also love to share the amazing work that others are doing in assisting people with disabilities find employment. So it seems natural for us to highlight some of these organizations here in our blog. Today's focus: the Specialist People Foundation

The Specialist People Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation with the goal to create one million jobs globally for people with autism and similar challenges, such as ADHD, ADD, OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome. They hope to accomplish this goal by exporting an employment model used in Denmark, called Specialisterne, all around the world. Specialisterne, literally meaning "The Specialists", is an employment model which harnesses the unique skill set of people with autism into positions where they will have a competitive advantage.

People with autism often have skills that are very valuable on the labour market, such as an outstanding memory or a remarkable eye for detail. Also, they often have a structured way of working, can think out of the box, have a passion for detail and are capable of doing repetitive tasks with unceasing enthusiasm. The majority of employees in Specialisterne have found work as consultants in the corporate sector on tasks such as software management, testing, logistics and data entry. 

The Specialist People Foundation hopes to license this model around the world and have created a set of management tools, called the Dandelion Model, to enable both the private and public sector to assess, employ and manage people with autism. To learn more about The Specialist People Foundation and possible partnering opportunities visit their website at

Only at the Movies: Accessibility Wednesdays

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

CaptiView Technology
When you have a hearing impairment, going to the movies can be an onerous task. Cinemas rarely show films with captioning and when they do they are often at inconvenient times. For example, if I wanted to watch a movie at a theatre in Calgary tonight with captioning there are only a handful of cinemas who provide it and not every movie and showtime is supported. Even then, the theatres rely on a technology called CaptiView (pictured right), a device which mounts to the cup holder and shows the captions on a small auxiliary screen. While this system is a solution of sorts, some in the hard of hearing community have criticized it for being difficult to read, needing perfect posture (no snuggling up to loved ones) and requiring a back row seat (which are never reserved). Furthermore, the adaptation of this technology has led to a decreased showing of movies with on-screen captions, which were rarely shown to begin with.

Sony Entertainment Access Glasses
Enter the Sony Entertainment Acess Glasses, which were announced by Regal Cinemas and Sony last month. The glasses allow for closed captioning to be displayed in the viewers line of sight which makes for a more comfortable viewing experience and also works with 3D movies. You can control the size, location and brightness of the captions and they also fit comfortably over your current prescription glasses if you wear them. Even better, the glasses are provided and programmed by the theatre so they come at no additional cost to movie goers.

These glasses are available right now at Regal Cinemas in the United States and should become more widely available by the end of 2012. Watch the video below to learn more:

Don't Get Careless in Your Online Job Hunt

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A couple of interesting articles have appeared on the web over the past two days about using the internet in your job search.

The first, an article by Jillian D'Onfro at, discussed the results of the most recent Jobvite annual survey of human resources professionals. The survey revealed how over 92% of HR pros plan to use social media as part of their recruiting process in the upcoming year. This may be unsurprising to some, and we have talked about the importance of LinkedIn in your job hunt before, but what is new is how important Twitter and Facebook are becoming to recruiters. Two thirds of HR professionals are using Facebook, and 54% Twitter, as part of their hiring strategy. Just as jobseekers are using social media to research positions and organizations, those companies are doing the same to find out about potential hires.

On the heels of this article came another from which talks about a young girl who attached a photo of Nic Cage to a job application instead of her resume. What was meant as a casual inquiry into whether a position was still available became a rather embarrassing moment and lost opportunity.

Job hunters have always had to be diligent in their job search as cover letters and resumes should always be meticulously edited and appropriate to the potential position. However, the speed and ease of applying online can make it easy to get careless in your job hunt. Here are some tips to keep you on your toes:

1. Read and edit every resume, cover letter and email you send out.
Not only will this ensure your application is free of grammar and spelling errors but also that you haven't made any mistakes specific to the position. For example, copying and pasting specific parts of your cover letter may lead you to name the wrong organization or person in the letter. Having multiple job postings open in your browser at once may lead you to get confused about who to apply to and what their name is. Addressing your introductory email to the wrong person can lead to your resume hitting the scrap heap before it even gets opened.

2. Slow down
I'll admit it, I have applied for a position over my phone once. These days we are just as likely to be online via our phone or tablet than on our desktop. But these devices are often used at such a rapid pace that they can make us careless in how we communicate. Email sent from a mobile device is often unprofessional and may be more similar to text messaging than business correspondence. If you are intent on applying for a job from a mobile device then slow down and be even more diligent to what you are sending and how you are sending it.

3. Manage your online identity. 
Are you wasted in every picture on Facebook? Did you disparage your last employer on Twitter? Recruiters and companies actively research potential employees on social media now, so know what they can see about you. You might use Facebook for personal connections and Twitter as a public profile, but are you truly aware of what others can see about you online? Manage your privacy settings and be diligent about what you make available to see online.

Disability Focus: Brain Fog

Monday, July 09, 2012

At Champions, we start every Monday morning with a presentation where one of our staff members highlights a disability, the symptoms related to the diagnosis and the barriers and opportunities related to employment for people who experience it. We do this as part of our commitment to organizational learning but also because we recognize how there are a vast amount of disabilities which affect each person differently.

Today's disability focus is on the phenomenon known as Brain Fog, or in some circles as Chemo Brain. The shifting in name from Chemo Brain to Brain Fog has occurred as researchers and doctors have discovered how the symptoms and diagnosis are not limited to just those people who have undergone treatments for cancer. In fact, Brain Fog can happen to anybody who undergoes treatment for a serious health diagnosis.

People experiencing Brain Fog often face difficulties with their memory, concentration, remembering details, and problems with multitasking. Although often only temporary, the loss in cognitive functioning can be very frustrating. People with Brain Fog generally score within their normal capacity on intelligence or neuropsychological tests, but complex tasks and memory functioning remain problematic for a period of time after treatment for a health issue. Explaining the symptoms and change in abilities can be equally frustrating for people with Brain Fog, as others may not understand or believe the symptoms are occurring.

There are several strategies available for people who are experiencing Brain Fog but are looking to return to work. The first is to pace yourself, don't overdo it when you first get back to work. The mental energy required to perform on the job for long periods of time may lead to increased exhaustion and frustration. Only working half days at first and then adding an hour each week will help you cope with the stress and rigour of the workplace. Memory issues are also not a new phenomenon and there are many ways to manage barriers associated with Brain Fog. Focusing on one task at a time, keeping a detailed daily planner, setting up routines and tracking your memory problems can all help manage your mental state. Finally, talk about how you are feeling! Sharing with others allows them to understand what you are going through and also help you with difficulties.

We would like to thank Wellspring Calgary, a group who offers sessions for all Cancer survivors about Brain Fog and how to deal with it, for taking the time to share this issue with us.

Equality of Rights of People with Disabilities

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has released a ground breaking new study which highlights the opportunities and barriers people with disabilities face in Canada. The study, The Equality of Rights of People with Disabilities, compares people with disabilities to those without across many different categories like education, employment, health, housing and economic well-being.

"This is the first comprehensive examination of how disability affects equality of opportunity in daily life," Acting Chief Commissioner David Langtry said. "It provides a benchmark that will enable Canadians to track progress and identify barriers that deny people with disabilities the full opportunity to make for themselves the lives they wish to have.

The entire report is an excellent read and definitely worth looking at. The dataset is rich and provides an in-depth view of many of the issues facing people with disabilities. As we are a career centre, we found the section on employment and disabilities particularly interesting. Here are some of the highlights:

"Proportionately, 19.9% fewer adults with disabilities are employed all year than adults without disabilities. In addition, proportionately 23.4% more adults with disabilities are not in the labour force all year."
People with disabilities who are looking for work are significantly under-represented both in the labour force (looking for work) and those who are not in the labour force (not looking for work).

For people below the age of 55, the proportion of men and women with disabilities who hold permanent employment is significantly less than people without disabilities. However, for people over the age of 55, the opposite is true as people with disabilities stay permanently employed in the workforce longer.

Moving beyond labour force participation, the study also reported on how people with disabilities experienced discrimination in finding and keeping employment. Highlights include:

"A noteworthy proportion of adults with disabilities report being disadvantaged in employment due to their condition in each labour force category."

"A notable proportion of adults with disabilities report believing that an employer would likely consider them disadvantaged in employment."

"The proportion of adults with disabilities who report believing that an employer would likely consider them disadvantaged is particularly high for those who are not in the labour force."

Many people with disabilities are still reporting discrimination in their job search and also at their place of employment. But it is people who are out of the labour force who report very high levels of discrimination in employment, with almost 30% believing that an employer would consider them disadvantaged in employment.

We highly recommend anyone interested in the status of persons with disabilities in Canada give the entire report a read. The Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities can be obtained from the Commission's website at

What have you gained from your disability?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

One of our favourite Youtube channels, the Tommy Edison Experience, released a video yesterday which has been making waves across the internet. The video, "Best Things About Being Blind", is a funny and honest take on the benefits of being blind. Some of our favourites are getting out of paying three dollars extra for 3D at the movies, having lower electricity bills and not having to pay for flights (seriously?!).

While Tommy's video is light hearted and humourous, this is actually an exercise we get our clients to think through during our Disclosure workshops. In these workshops we pose the question, "what have you gained as a result of your disability?", and are often met with mixed reactions. However, it doesn't take long for participants to start identifying "gifts" related to their disabilities. Some of the most common gifts are understanding, tolerance, patience, tenacity, creativity, gratitude and a sense of humour. Just as every person experiences their disability in a unique way, the gifts they associate with their disability also vary, but almost everyone can agree they have learned a lot about themselves from their disability.

You can watch Tommy's video below and check out the other 65 he has posted as well.

What have you gained as a result of your disability? Leave us a comment!

Accessibility Wednesdays

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Seeing as how a large part of what we do at Champions is focused on finding accommodations or assistive technology which helps our clients succeed in the workplace, we have decided to devote our Wednesday blog posts to topics about accessibility. Every Wednesday we will discuss a new technology, strategy or idea regarding universal design and making products, services and environments accessible to all.

And what better way to start off our Accessible Wednesdays than with an utterly sarcastic video about the case against assistive technology? This a terrific video which highlights some of the assumptions that prevent schools from implementing assistive technology. Many of the assumptions carry over into other areas of life - like the workplace - where concerns over cost tend to trump ideas regarding equality and even innovation. 

In the video, they use the adoption of seatbelts as being demonstrative of how ideas can change over time, if people push for change. Accessibility isn't any different, it takes a concerted and collaborative effort from many different parties - individuals, governments, employers, schools - to make a change.    Check back here every Wednesday to learn more about the people and ideas who are making that change a reality.

Are you passionate about accessibility? On Twitter? We highly recommend following the #a11y discussion on Twitter to stay involved in the latest and greatest on all things accessibility related! 

Don't take the summer off your job search!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

An interesting story was printed in the Calgary Herald today regarding Alberta's every tightening labour market. With unemployment dipping below 5% for the first time since 2008, employers are starting to feel the pinch in finding quality employees who have the right set of skills alongside reliability and professionalism.

In fact, Alberta has the lowest unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratio in the country - in March there were roughly 1.8 unemployed people for every job vacancy in the province. This number is particularly incredible when you consider how Alberta has gained over 13,000 new residents in the first quarter of this year, a number not seen since the booming days of 2006. The spectacle of job seekers jumping at the opportunities available in Alberta was on full display at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary last month where over 7,200 people registered for the career show in advance, and several thousand more waited in line for their chance to meet with recruiters and HR professionals from Alberta businesses.

There is always a tendency among job seekers to relax their job hunt during the summer months. Holidays, nice weather, and what appears to be a general slowdown of business during July and August may make it appear that it is a poor time to apply or look for positions. However, for those intrepid job seekers who are patient enough to deal with longer application and interviewing processes there are plenty of opportunities available - especially in Alberta right now.

There is still plenty of time to enjoy iced teas and sunshine, but may we suggest conducting your job search at the same time? And if you need further motivation or tips on looking for work during the summer then we definitely suggest you check out Mashable's 8 reasons why summer is a great time for job hunting.

*Image made available by Ruud Hein under Flickr's Creative Commons license.