Who are these sitting ducks?

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 your free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a
terrific day.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very merry
Christmas, Joyeux no

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