Saying they can’t hire me because I have cerebral palsy broke me because I can’t change that about myself

Do people around me see me as a liability and not as a human being?

Lionel is an advocate for individuals with disabilities. He shares his experiences having trouble finding employment and being told a company can’t hire him because of his cerebral palsy. Floyd Gonzales.

CBC Communications,

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM). To help spread awareness, CBC Calgary is highlighting stories from self-advocates and inclusive employers. Learn more at cbc.ca/mycalgary.
This story is the experience of Lionel Migrino, who is a community advocate in Calgary for people with disabilities.

My name is Lionel Migrino and I am a disabled Filipino living with cerebral palsy.

I got into advocacy work and talking about my living impairment about seven or eight years ago. At first, I didn’t want to tell my story, about the barriers I face, because I didn’t think anyone would listen to me. But I want people to see people with disabilities as they see anyone else, not just someone they feel sorry for.

I want people to see people with disabilities as they see anyone else, not just someone they feel sorry for. – Lionel Migrino

People often look at disabilities in a medical model, thinking that something is wrong with the person.

So I try to educate people about what disabilities are through inclusion training in the community and corporate setting.

Every time I facilitate training, I try not to focus on the medical model of a disability, but on the social model — how society is not accepting or inclusive of people with disabilities.

Having a big support system has helped me be an advocate for people who are marginalized, unseen and are voiceless,’ says Migrino. Lionel Migrino

The world was not made for people like me. It was never intended to have people like me in it.

Because every time I go to do simple tasks like cooking, walking from point A to point B, or getting dressed for work, it takes so much time.

Having a disability has created both physical and financial barriers, but the one barrier I face a lot is people’s attitudes. People don’t often see me as an educated man who lives on his own, who has a good job. When people see me at first glance and hear me talk, sometimes I’m treated like I’m five years old or they feel bad for me.

The world was not made for people like me. It was never intended to have people like me in it. – Lionel Migrino

I would like to see more workplaces hire more people with disabilities.

A lot of the time we don’t get opportunities as there is a stigma that people with disabilities are poor workers. But that’s not true.

My wish is for employers to change their attitudes about people with disabilities and actually give them opportunities to shine. We need to be more innovative with making workplaces more accepting and hiring people with disabilities a priority.

‘Photography is my passion,’ says Migrino. ‘It allows me to have a voice and to show people how I see the world through my own unique lens.’ Lionel Migrino

About 11 years ago, I applied for a guest services job. I was a university student and wanted to go socialize, eat … you know, what any ordinary university student does when they’re 18 or 19 years old. I remember getting a job interview and being really excited about it. But when I went for the interview, I noticed the interviewer wasn’t expecting to see me.

We need to be more innovative with making workplaces more accepting and hiring people with disabilities a priority. – Lionel Migrino

During the interview, the interviewer wasn’t looking at or listening to me. He barely made eye contact with me, and it felt like a waste of my time.

I’ll never forget after that interview when he told me they couldn’t hire me because of my disability as I would be a liability.

‘It’s so disheartening to see that people with disabilities have the lowest employment rate in Canada,’ says Migrino. ‘We need to be more universally accepting of people with all kinds of abilities to be functioning members of society and reach their full potential.’ Lionel Migrino

That really broke my heart. That was the first time I ever experienced ableism, barriers due to my disability and really experienced the power imbalance in society. I totally get not getting the job because I’m not the right fit for the company’s culture or I’m not qualified. But saying they can’t hire me because I have cerebral palsy really broke me because I can’t change that about myself.

It really affected my mental health. I lost confidence in myself because I thought if this interviewer thought this about me, do people around me see me as a liability and not as a human being?

Saying they can’t hire me because I have cerebral palsy really broke me because I can’t change that about myself. – Lionel Migrino

I like to suggest to non-disabled people to take a moment after their day to be uncomfortable. And to sit with this discomfort and really recognize what people with disabilities have gone through in their life and what barriers they are still facing.

Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) Alberta. Taking place each October, Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) is a campaign that promotes inclusion within the job market for people with disabilities. DEAM Alberta showcases events and activities that run throughout the month of October celebrating, promoting and bringing awareness to inclusive employment practices for people with disabilities who face barriers to employment.

People with disabilities have a voice, and non-disabled people need to listen and give them a space to share.

Instead of showing sympathy, we need more empathy — learn what a disability is and what it’s like living with one.

Be curious and ask your questions. It shows people in the disability community that you want to be an ally and that you see them as a human living in the same world as you.

Source  CBC Communications

Also see
Youth with disabilities an untapped resource in labour shortfall Healthy Debate
Take part in disability employment awareness month CBC Communications
The employment rate for disabled workers is higher than it has been in years Fast Company

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