NLTA Vice-President

Dedicated to my grandfather, Baxter Langdon; small in stature but walked tall with integrity...

Friday, 18 May 2018

From Our Schools to Your Workplace...Is Your Business Prepared?

From Our Schools to Your Workplace...Is Your Business Prepared?

Academic achievement, personal development, and preparation for the workforce are the primary objectives of the public education system. This philosophy has not changed through time, though the current approaches and strategies do differ. It has become clearer that greater emphasis is required to solidify the foundations for students and support their successful transitions during key developmental times (e.g. junior high school into senior high school; post-secondary education into the workforce). 

Within the (Kindergarten - Grade 12) public education system, teachers find themselves mired in a battle between covering educational outcomes and meeting provincial curricula and addressing these individual needs of their students. Exceptionalities such as Specific Learning Disorders, Mental Health Disorders, Physical Disabilities, and NeuroDevelopmental Disorders (e.g. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), etc., are driving teachers’ interventions when it comes to classroom instruction and evaluation, directly impacting the delivery of services for all students.  

According to the Statistics Canada report on the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) [The survey measures the prevalence of learning disabilities among Canadian children and adults], more than half a million adults in this country live with a learning disability, making it more challenging for them to learn in universities and colleges, and on the job. (Learning Disabilities Association of Canada - http://LDAC-ACTA.ca, May 4th, 2018).

“It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide.” (Canadian Mental Health Association - http://cmha.ca May 4th, 2018).

There exists a continuation of services within accredited post-secondary institutions however has the workplace done its homework (so to speak) and established the supports essential to their employees’ success? 

In addition to your legal responsibilities of ensuring equality and non-discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, what are you doing for your employees that have an exceptionality?

Suggestions & Recommendations:

* If the person has a visible disability or has disclosed an exceptionality, establish a work plan in partnership with them to ensure they can have a voice in their experience.
* Allow for professional learning opportunities for all that address alternative learning styles and needs.
* Create an inclusion team to evaluate protocol and procedure within your work space.
* Ensure that Inclusive and open common spaces exist.
* Where possible, establish green and open-air spaces for the betterment of mental health for all.
* From a supervisory stance, institute informal check-ins to allow for continuous evaluation.
* Invest in a quality Employee Assistance Program for your staff.
* Be innovative and proactive by exploring new initiatives (e.g. 4 day work week).

Resource: 

Employers’ Toolkit: Making Ontario Workplaces Accessible to People with Disabilities, 2nd Edition: The Conference Board of Canada (https://www.conferenceboard.ca/docs/default-source/pdf_downloads/7159_accessibilitytoolkit-2015_rpt.pdf?sfvrsn=a98e7013_2&pdf=toolkit)

Excerpt (p. 150): 

Due to his past experience in the military, an insurance company employee had post- traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. This made him very sensitive to environmental noise. The employee was experiencing increased anxiety due to the noise level in his workplace.

Intervention:

* The employer purchased headphones with white noise capability and noise reduction barriers for his cubicle.
* Cost to Employer $350.00
* The employee and his supervisor were pleased with the outcome.