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Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Voices Blog

Accessible Employment Services: Judy’ Journey

For over 40 years, the Accessible Employment Services team has been fostering connections between job seekers and employers who prioritize accessible work environments. Discovering meaningful and accessible employment is a journey and everyone’s journey is unique.  Judy shares her journey and the support AES provided during her transition.

Judy’s Journey

Throughout the year, I serve the public during special projects, scheduled subway closures and subway station modifications in my casual role as a Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) Customer Service Representative by dispensing information and providing assistance and directions to all TTC stakeholders/transit patrons. For me, this job is a match made in heaven! Trying to find employment as a disabled individual is gruelling. And trying to find meaningful and fulfilling jobs on a casual or part-time basis is almost unachievable.

More than ten years ago, it was impossible to imagine how positively impacted I would be by the advocacy, assistance and support that the exemplary workforce at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) Employment Services provideRed and white ttc d after an Ontario Disability Support Program caseworker pointed his finger to a list of non-profit organizations and directed me to 520 Sutherland Drive.

Following two layoffs from a long-term position in a prestigious cultural institution, having numerous physical challenges and finding stable, meaningful and steady work was an overwhelming struggle.

I have faced multiple barriers to employment because of health-related adversities. Although searching actively, I was re fused jobs because employers chose only to see disabilities instead of abilities. A superlative Employment Services team member became my sounding board when circumstances were trying, and on a more positive note, my springboard to a better future. Thanks to his steadfast, unrelenting and diligent support, I obtained casual, year-round employment in front-line customer service. Previously, he was also instrumental in helping me to acquire two seasonal positions with diverse organizations. I have subsequently gained new skills utilizing my professional and personal experience at every opportunity and in every employment environment. I genuinely love the work that I do, which provides me with purpose, value, satisfaction, fulfillment and income.

In addition to assisting clients with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities to find worthwhile employment, transforming lives from despair to dreams come true, SCIO Employment professionals offer various services tailored to meet individual needs. My future would be much poorer and the quality of my life would be much diminished without the ongoing efforts of every outstanding SCIO Employment Services employee!
In 2015, I was hired as a casual Customer Service Representative for the TTC through a staffing agency. However, in December of that year, the staffing solutions company lost the contract with the TTC and I found myself without employment again.

Although I was challenged trying to find meaningful and fulfilling employment, as a person with multiple health challenges including a mobility disability who uses a walker, all that was required to find work once more was inspiration, motivation, dedication, determination and an opportunity to fulfill every goal that I set for myself.

Thanks to the assistance of employers like a former manager at Manpower who hired and accommodated me a few short years ago, I realized that no endeavour or effort was too great. It did not take much to assist and serve others because no task was too small, either!

About a year earlier, my manager had seen me work as a TTC Customer Service Representative with another company at the Sheppard subway station. When we discussed employment, I was hired based on the excellent performance he had witnessed and not my disabilities. My manager overlooked my mobility disability challenge. As the first person he hired who used a walker, I hope that I was an inspiration to other members of the disability community who could do the job, as well as other contracted companies with the TTC who hired staff for transit projects.

While successfully attending to the needs of the public on the job, I incorporate impressive communication, interpersonal and customer service skills, decision-making and problem-solving abilities, professionalism, and a positive attitude when serving a large and diverse TTC clientele. I am able to utilize the strengths that I most enjoy and am good at, including being extremely service-oriented, helpful and friendly, dedicated, a good listener, enthusiastic, tenacious, ethical and persistent.

When people with disabilities are hired, an inclusive workplace that benefits everyone is created. Disabled individuals feel valued, respected and supported. This then offers a strong sense of connection and belonging. When we are meaningfully engaged, we feel passionate about our work and are therefore committed to delivering our best efforts.

It is imperative that companies hire persons with disabilities because we are ready and eager to work, have skills, are enthusiastic and have the potential to bring tremendous value to an organization. Employment within the disability population also helps increase independence in one’s life and community. Once attitudes about employing the disabled change, because it is the right thing to do, all staff can experience the depth and vitality of their coworkers and be their best selves.
Thank you Judy for sharing your story with us.

To learn more about  SCIO Accessible Employment Services visit www.accessiblework.ca  

 

 

 

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