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Review: A Difference of Ability DVD

Review by James Vandervoort

Over the past year I have had the opportunity of experiencing A Difference of Ability multiple times in different settings. I have experienced it as a Job Developer College Instructor with colleagues in the field and on my own. So as you read this review keep in mind the many ways I have experienced its content and messages.

It has a wide scope and can be used to educate illuminate and empower. It speaks from many angles including the experience of employers, HR professionals, service providers and of course the widely divergent experiences of work seekers living with disabilities. It includes scenes from across Canada including Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. The quick pace, smart editing and step-by-step narrative tackle almost every aspect of the challenges and successes of work-life for persons with disabilities.

While specific service providers recruiters and workers weigh in on the many challenges the over-all message is positive and encouraging so this is a great tool for de-mystifying disabilities to prospective employers. The video addresses “discomfort” questions around topics such as: disclosure interviewing accessibility and financial and business concerns. There are answers and suggestions from differing sides which don’t always agree. This is most helpful in a training environment since no one path is right for all persons with disabilities. The steps to consider (and resulting debate which occurred in the classes I taught) are worth every minute.

Realism and pragmatic approaches make this DVD the best “how-to” video that I’ve seen yet for those working in the field of special needs and disabilities. The resounding self-advocacy of the job seekers and the frank perspectives of employers and service providers ensures a rapt audience. One service provider made this comment in the video: “…we need to not over-sell or under-sell the agency’s services and deliver on what they say they can deliver”. Another revealed a policy regarding hiring persons with disabilities: “We have a five word accommodation policy: We will accommodate you. Period.”

Almost every student of mine evaluated it as a great learning experience and really useful in increasing their understanding of the title topics. With helpful nuggets at every turn and poignant tales of perseverance above all from work seekers A Difference of Ability is essential viewing.

James is a part time Instructor with the George Brown College Career & Work Counsellor program as well as a Writer and Job Search Trainer. He is in the process of starting a Masters program in Vocational Rehabilitation. You can contact James via email: jvanderv@georgebrown.ca.

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