Telecommuting and disability go hand in hand?

Telework and disability get along well? 

People with disabilities have also had difficulty adapting to working from home. What about after two years of pandemic?

Telecommuting has saved us many trips back and forth between home and work. We can therefore think that it has greatly benefited people with disabilities. The answer is… yes and depends above all on the type of handicap. Overview. 

The benefits 

Job interviews by videoconference have had benefits for these people, notes Lucie Enel, doctoral student in communication at UQAM. Why? Because in this way, we reduce the stigma from the start with regard to certain candidates who might not even have been able to access the interview otherwise. We therefore increase the pool of potential candidates.  

By doing the interview remotely, we can also not notice that a person has a disability and thus reduce the discrimination against him, adds associate professor at the School of Rehabilitation at the University of Montreal Marie Laberge. 

Telecommuting allows, more generally, more flexibility, which is appreciated by many people with disabilities, notes Maude Massicotte, administrative assistant at the Regroupement des organizations specializing in employment for people with disabilities (ROSEPH), herself in a situation of disability. reduced mobility with home help.  

She explains that working from home, for her as for others, allows her to adapt her schedule. She can take breaks at more convenient times depending on the care she needs, start earlier, finish later, etc.  

And who says telework says zero travel, which has saved time for people with reduced mobility. 

In addition, when the home environment is adapted, there is less effort to provide, so more concentration for the work.  

As for the bond with colleagues, Lucie Enel explains that in a seated position, in a wheelchair, interactions can be more difficult with comrades who are standing. Generalized telework, according to her, has restored a form of equality between people with reduced mobility and others.  

The disadvantages 

But it's not all positive. 

For some people with disabilities who need more supervision and who worked in companies well adapted to their needs, teleworking was synonymous with the end of their employment, considering that they did not have what was necessary to accomplish their chores at home, says Maude Massicotte.  

Another limit: technology. When working from home, you almost inevitably have to resort to it. However, some platforms are sometimes not suitable. 

Telework also comes with the loss of social ties, which can particularly affect people with disabilities, because “often, they have less 'opportunities to go out, to see people,' emphasizes Marie Laberge.

“People with disabilities already live in isolation at the grassroots level. One of the objectives of integrating them into the labor market is socialization, because work is a very socializing activity. One of the risks of working from home is to accentuate this feeling of isolation,” adds Lucie Enel.  

Being less present in the office also means being more excluded from power networks, which harms visibility and potential promotions, adds Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, professor of human resources management at the School of Administration at TELUQ University. 

Pretext not to adapt 

Now that work face-to-face returns, people with disabilities should not be stuck at home against their will.  

Sociologist Normand Boucher says he received the testimony of a woman in a wheelchair who wanted to have access to a toilet. Her employer could not offer her this access, so he offered her telecommuting instead, even though she preferred to work in the office. 

“The excuse of telecommuting should not be used to avoid more allow people with disabilities to access the workplace like others,” warns Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay. 

We must instead continue, according to her, to organize and adapt workplaces to be more open to people with disabilities.  

The Quebec Disabled People's Week< /strong> takes place every year from June 1 to 7 in order to raise awareness of the obstacles they encounter, but also to make their successes known. 
 
More than one million Quebecers .es have a disability. This represents 16% of the province population aged 15 and over, according to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability. 

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