This concludes the three-part series by BIST member Mark Koning on the steps to getting back to work.
Step 3 of 3: Employment Accommodations
I have talked about disclosure and assistance being part of the job search process (both before and during) in parts 1 and 2 of this series. I am now going to add a third weapon to your arsenal for obtaining employment after your brain injury: Accommodations.
Just to clear any confusion, the accommodations I am referring to are not the type at an overnight stay at some hotel. Employment accommodations are defined as a means of removing barriers for someone with a disability so that they can work effectively.
You don’t have to wait until you have employment to receive accommodations. They are something you should know about and understand before you even apply for a job to find out what you may be entitled to, in order to help you perform and become successful in your job. Getting assistance from your employment service provider, having a discussion and asking questions will benefit you in the long run as well. You can learn more in the Workplace Accommodations page of the One Voice Network.
The Government of Ontario has passed a law that employers are supposed to follow, called the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) which deals with employment standards. But just because this is a law brought forward doesn’t necessarily mean that it is adhered to in every situation, which is why I strongly suggest learning what you can before embarking on your job search.
When you do get a job interview, try to relax and seriously consider what is being said. But be prepared (according to the job description) about what it is you may need to help you perform your duties. You’ll get a sense of how accommodating your employer may be during your discussions and whether they truly are open to the possibility of hiring someone with a disability. They may ask if you require any workplace accommodations; they are not legally allowed to ask you if you have a disability, nor can they further pry into getting details if and when you disclose.
If accommodations are asked about then and there, be honest with what (if anything) you may need to perform the job. If nothing is mentioned, then don’t bring it up and just wait to see if you’re hired. If you get the job, congratulations! Then you may disclose if you wish and talk about any accommodations you may need. A law in the Ontario Human Rights Code says that any requested accommodation must be fulfilled except in cases of undue hardship (it’s a legal term used to describe an accommodation to employees that would alter the nature of the business or prove too expensive).
In most cases it is found that accommodations cost nothing or are quite inexpensive. Your employment service provider can help you and your employer with perhaps even finding ways to alleviate any costs.
Finding a job is tough for anyone, when you add to that a disability (especially a brain injury that is an invisible disability to many people) the road to employment can be that much tougher. Therefore, you cannot wait around until someone tells you what you need to know, you need to find it yourself. Remember, you are your best advocate and you know your capabilities and the barriers you face better than anyone.
About Mark Koning:
Mark has two passions in life: Writing and Giving Back through volunteering, donating and advocating in any capacity he can to help out.
First, he decided to further enhance his skills by working toward obtaining a Creative Writing diploma through the Stratford Career Institute; graduating with highest honors.
Next, he decided to learn about his own learning disability and brain injury, (acquired at the age of 6) growing through his writing, speaking with others and his work with One Voice Network, a not-for-profit organization that works to build inclusion and awareness for job seekers with disabilities.
For further information on Mark visit: www.markkoning.com
Mark’s hope is to share, learn, grow, and maybe offer a little inspiration along the way.