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Opportunities Fund For Persons with Disabilities


Steven at Our Community Bikes bike shopMohlin's Story

My family immigrated to Canada when I was a young boy. I graduated high school from the Manitoba School for the Deaf.

After graduation, I needed a change and moved to Calgary. I finished a certificate in computer technology and my first professional job was in computer network assistance. I wanted to keep learning and developing my information technology expertise, so I completed the Cisco Certified Network Associate program at the Southern Institute of Technology (SAIT). After graduation, I then worked as a network analyst.

3 years later, it was time again for a change, so I moved to Vancouver. I learned from some friends about an employment counseling agency that had staff that used ASL (American Sign Language) so I visited the agency. My resume needed to be updated and I needed help finding work. My case manager was able to speak with computer industry employers, to find out what words, phrases and skills were important to show on my resume.

I contacted VANOC (the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics) about a vacancy in the Information Technology department and my case manager followed that up with a phone call to explain how an interview could be done using a sign language interpreter. I interviewed for the job, and the IT manager was fascinated by the ASL - it was the first time he had ever seen sign language before.

By way of the interview, the IT Manager understood how a wage subsidy could help VANOC reduce any costs to orient me to the job. Accomodating a disability at worksites is not just a money matter, though. For each job and situation, co-workers have to learn alternate ways of communicating other than verbally. Thanks to technology, using an electronic device makes it easy; whenever one isn't available, paper and a pen, or white boards and markers can be used instead.

It felt really good to be included in staff meetings this way, although coworkers needed reminders about using alternate methods of communicating. Having to think about what they were going to say actually helped them to communicate better, so it worked for all of us.

I was very excited to be hired by VANOC as a network administrator for the duration of the winter Olympics and the para-Olympics. I helped 1500 VANOC staff to stay connected electronically to manage its heavy volume of customer relations. This position is definitely a high point in my career. I hope it will show future employers that I can handle a demanding and stressful job that the VANOC position was.

I'm grateful to the Opportunities Fund for the chance it gave me to show an employer what I can do. Thanks for this wonderful support - keep it up!