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Inclusive Employment Advocacy Project

Date: 
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), Toronto Chapter Inclusive Employment Advocacy Project

Toronto is a growing and changing community and its diversity has been celebrated as a key factor in ranking the city as a desirable place to live, visit and do business. Grants help the City of Toronto achieve its social, economic and cultural goals for its residents. The City’s goals are better achieved by supporting the work of organizations that are closer to the communities they serve. Access, Equity and Human Rights (AEHR) program is one of these grants and it provides time-limited funding to community-based organizations and residents to act on human rights, accessibility, equity, discrimination and hate crime concerns in their neighbourhoods and communities.

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), Toronto Chapter were one of two groups considered for the highest amount in the Access, Equity & Human Rights (AEHR) category.

We are launching a peer engagement and poverty reduction project which fills an unmet need to equip people with disabilities, especially blind and partially sighted, to advocate for equal access to employment services, programs and opportunities. Project activities include advocacy resource gathering/development, education, and training and mentoring. Project outcomes include the presentation of a case for inclusion and systemic change in the employment service sector.

If you are interested in Participating in the first stage of the project with possibility of continuing on to the second stage, or know people who would be interested in participating, please contact AEBC by leaving a message at: 647-947-9022 or emailing aebctoronto@gmail.com

Project Details:

Inclusive Employment Advocacy Project Year 1 of 2

First stage - January to March 2017:

What we want to accomplish:

  1. Research the employment barriers faced by people with disabilities (primarily blind and low-vision).

  2. Research examples of success stories in advocacy for employment of people with disabilities by individuals or agencies.

  3. Compile a list of knowledge and skills needed for participants to advocate for their equal access to employment services and programs.

How we will accomplish it:

  1. Project Coordinator will conduct 5 info/focus group sessions with 30 to 35 participants in different locations or by phone/Skype, inviting at least 2 partner organizations to join per session.

  2. The Research/Tool Developer will Interview 4 employment agencies in Toronto and research on-line to gather best practices and success stories of employment advocacy.

  3. Research/Tool Developer will compare the findings and note the knowledge and skills gaps between what our target participants have and what they need to have.

How we will know we’ve accomplished what we wanted to:

  1. When we have feedback from a good cross section of diverse participants: disabilities, women, youth, seniors, ethno-racial minorities, LGBTQ, and at least 5 partner organizations in total.

  2. When we have gathered sufficient data on successful employment advocacy for people with disabilities from 3 or 4 employment agencies and our on-line research.

  3. Knowledge and skills gaps are identified among our target group for doing advocacy.

Second Stage - April to June 2017

What we want to accomplish:

  1. Based on the findings from the focus groups and research, develop 5 education/training sessions.

  2. Gather and develop training and resource materials related to disability and employment advocacy, suited for building the capacity of our target group to do advocacy.

How we will accomplish it:

  1. Coordinator will form a pilot group of 20 participants, recruited from AEBC members and partner organizations.

  2. Research/Tool Developer will gather and modify training materials on Human Rights, AODA, Accessibility Standards and best practices in inclusive employment services and programs, from partner organizations and on-line. Access Technology Specialist will make sure training materials are in electronic, large print and braille format (on request), and set up recording and access capacity through a website link.

How we will know we’ve accomplished what we wanted to:

  1. We will have selected 20 participants reflecting the widest diversity of disability and barriers possible from our partner organizations.

  2. We will have assembled and developed training and resource materials for each of the 5 sessions. We will have tested our training materials, recordings, website posting and facilities for accessibility.

Third Stage - July to December 2017

What we want to accomplish:

  1. Coordinator and Subject Experts will run 5 education/training sessions where the pilot group of 20 participants learns related legislation, accessibility standards, advocacy approaches and best practices for presenting a compelling case to employment service and program delivery providers.

  2. Training materials are further modified by the Research/Tool Developer to better suit target group.

How we will accomplish it:

  1. Subject experts will be recruited from partner organizations or from among AEBC members will lead the 5 education/training sessions.

  2. Research/Tool Developer will modify and disseminate advocacy materials and resources to partner agencies for their distribution and website posting.

How we will know we’ve accomplished what we wanted to:

  1. At least 15 out of 20 participants know their basic rights, related legislation and standards, determined by knowledge evaluations.

  2. Resources – manuals, tip sheets etc. are posted on AEBC and partner organizations’ websites, and otherwise distributed to our community members.

Note: Independent Evaluators will facilitate data tracking and feedback sessions at the end of each stage to monitor the progress of our pilot project qualitatively and quantitatively, tracking challenges and successes. The project will also be documented at particular stages on video by a Masters of Documentary Media student, from Ryerson University.

Inclusive Employment Advocacy Project Year 2 of 2

First stage - January to March 2018:

What we want to accomplish:

  1. Research/Tool Developer will research key advocacy audiences: employment agencies, government program pro-viders, college & university employ-ment services.

  2. Participants will be matched by the Coordinator with mentors who are more seasoned advocates to prepare for advocacy activities.

How we will accomplish it:

  1. In coordination with the pilot group of 20, along with their mentors, the Research/Tool Developer will research and identify their target advocacy audiences, preferably up to 3 for each pair of advocates.

  2. The majority of the 20 participants matched with their mentors will select their target advocacy audiences to advocate for equal access to their employment services and programs.

How we will know we’ve accomplished what we wanted to:

  1. At least 12 advocate/mentor pairs, will have selected at least 3 target advocacy audiences to approach.

  2. A work plan for each pair of advocates will be peer reviewed by another two pairs, providing accountability and sup-port.

Second stage - April to August 2018:

What we want to accomplish:

  1. Each pair of mentor/mentee advocates will approach their target audiences (employment service/program providers), starting with more friendly audiences.

  2. After the first round of advocacy activities, Research/Tool Developer will modify our training, tools and resources to be more effective in equipping the disability community to advocate for equal access to employ-ment services and programs.

How we will accomplish it:

  1. Paired mentor/mentee Advocates approach their target audiences, putting into practice their knowledge and skills to advocate for equal access.

  2. Research/Tool Developer will gather feedback and modify/revise advocacy materials and tools. Participants will also expand the list of advocacy audi-ences.

How we will know we’ve accomplished what we wanted to:

  1. At least 12 paired mentor/mentee advocates will approach at least 12 employment service/program providers.

  2. An evaluation/feedback will be done by the Independent Evaluator. Training materials and resources will be updated to incorporate feedback from the paired advocates by the Research/Tool Developer.

Third stage - September to December 2018:

What we want to accomplish:

  1. Follow up on our target advocacy audiences to gather feedback from them or to do further advocacy.

  2. Advocacy training materials and resources are finalized for redistribution and dissemination to partner organizations and a wider community.

  3. Participants should now have the basic knowledge and skills to identify and approach key audiences in the employment services sector to advocate for equal access.

How we will accomplish it:

  1. Independent Evaluator will gather feedback from advocacy audiences (employment service/program providers), through online surveys and telephone interviews.

  2. The Research/Tool Developer will finalize the advocacy training, tools and resources produced for our cohort and partners. The updated resources will be disseminated and posted on AEBC and partner organizations’ websites and the wider community.

  3. We plan to scale up the pilot project to engage more people with disabilities and related organizations to increase our collective advocacy; as well, engage more employment service/program providers that do not adequately service people with disabilities.

How we will know we’ve accomplished what we wanted to:

  1. An increase in capacity and activity of group participants to advocate, evident through feedback sessions, phone interviews, on-line surveys and data collection.

  2. The updated materials will be distributed to our community and partners.

  3. A marked reduction in feelings of isolation, powerlessness and depression in the disabled and marginalized community is shown by the quantitative and qualitative evaluations conducted.

Partnerships:

Partnering organizations will assist in recruiting participants, sharing educational and training resources, providing training expertise and meeting spaces, and disseminating information.

Magnet (Magnet.Today)

Ryerson (ryerson.ca)

ODSP Action Coalition (lao.on.ca)

YouthLink (youthlink.ca)

Balance for Blind Adults (balancefba.org)

The 519 (the519.org)

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands (whiwh.com)

Variety Village (varietyvillage.ca)

Centre for Independent Living, Toronto (cilt.ca)

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