Monday, May 28, 2012

The Disability Career Symposium

abiity axis logoOn May 17th I attended a really interesting type of job fair and career symposium. The Ability Axis Employment Expo is billed as "a celebration of employment and career opportunities for people with disabilities in our community".  There were balloons and other decorations, a space to buy merchandise such as shirts and books and an area to chat. Last year the event brought in over 700 participants and I am sure this year it was attended in even greater numbers.

The concept is that it is a place were employers can have booths and so can a whole lot of non-profit and social service organizations, and government agencies that are involved in supporting disabled consumers in living in the community.  They had seminars going on about job and work related issues. The website has a really good section on how to prepare before attending a job fair that is worth checking out for anyone interested in getting back into the job market.

There was a huge crowd with a variety of ages and issues and frankly it was overcrowded considering the special mobility needs in that space. It is a good thing for the conference showing growth, but it made for a tougher day for me. I had a great deal of difficulty keeping my balance with so many people swirling around me and all the loud sounds of so many people also bothered my ear and my balance. I did a quick walk around the job fair area to get the layout of the place but I felt unable to go back later.  I also learned during the sessions that things like the location I choose to sit is crucial for me to get the most out of these sessions. I need to be in the left side of the room and viewing toward my right. I wound up getting through the maze of people too slowly and got a spot on the right. The room was wider than long and the video screen at the front was to the left of the room, a person signing in the middle, the speaker at a podium to the left and a whole lot of people wiggling in between me and the speaker at the front.  I sat with my eyes closed for a good part of the speeches  in order to try and minimize the nausea.

The two sessions I attended were both wonderful. 

The first seminar featured Denise Bissonnette who is a very lively and encouraging international speaker. She speaks with passion about finding what you love to do as a foundation in your job-hunt.  She has several books out and I bought one that is a workbook for people new to a work place but it is used in pre-employment training sessions. Yes I got her to sign it!! She also has a book of poetry out and I found a YouTube clip of her reading one of her poems. It gives a taste of what vivacious person she is.  Her web page has a useful archive of her free newsletters.

The second session I attended was with Marianne Petrachek, a speaker who talked about the legal issues related to disclosure of disabilities in the employment process and rights and responsibilities of both the employee and the employer. It was very informative and I really learned a lot. I was making a lot of assumptions and now I know the facts about disability employment rights in Manitoba.

I had lunch with two of the ladies I met at the computer class last January who were also attending the event. It was great catching up with how they are doing and hearing about their successes in getting some job experience. We are going to meet up again in a few weeks and see if we can find a few others from the class to have a bit of a "class reunion".

I am intending on going to another two day conference this week called Disability, Health and Wellness Conference: You and Your Life.  There are a few things I will do differently. One major change is that I am taking one of my daughters along to act as a personal aid. I admit that I spent too much time at Ability Axis stuck and unable to get around, and in the end I was too exhausted and nauseated to finish off the day. This time I am admitting that I NEED help. I will also find a way to get away from crowds and have more rests. I will also bring more money so I can buy more books!


Rebecca Dutton said...

I always have trouble manuevering in crowds that don't sit down.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Sounds like you managed to get a lot of useful information at the symposium and learned a lot about your own abilities, as well. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...