DisruptAbility Podcast – S2 Ep.3 – Seònaid Ó Murchadha

DisruptAbility Podcast – S2 Ep.3 – Seònaid Ó Murchadha


Hello and welcome to the DisruptAbility podcast. Today we’re talking to Seònaid Ó Murchadha who has had a long standing relationship with disability, both personally and professionally. Seònaid is a leader in disability business inclusion in Ireland and is a huge resource to anybody who needs any questions answered on disability and employment. I hope you enjoyed this conversation and thank you for listening. All right, good morning everybody. And I’m really delighted to welcome today Seònaid Ó Murchadha, who I initially met when she was leading the employer disability information, service and she has been a really fantastic support to Inclusive Cork and is always full of information around disability. So good morning, Shona and welcome. Good morning how’s everybody? We’re very good down in Cork. Very, very happy here, all together and delighted to be talking to you today. Thank you so much for inviting me on. It’s a real pleasure to, to chat to you on your DisruptAbility podcast. Yay. Yes. And let’s get disrupting. So what we’re going to do, Seònaid, is kind of talk about what you’re doing at the moment and, um, all your ideas around disability and employment in Ireland. Because I know you, I have so much information regarding this topic and we want to, I suppose here in Inclusive Cork, keep the topic on the agenda and we’re in 2019 and keep it modern and keep it looking forward. We want to be prospective rather than retrospective. And in terms of disability, Yeah, it’s the only way really to get things done, you know, for too long. I think sometimes we sit back and we allow things to be done to us, but there’s a huge movement out there are people with disabilities who are shouting “nothing about us without us”. So we’re out there to be consulted with and this is where, you know, we need people to listen to what we have to say. Yeah. And we have fantastic leaders now with the Valuable 500 and Caroline Casey. Yeah? Oh, so many. So many more. But I think we can talk about that in a minute. Okay. So tell me, what are you doing at the moment? So at the moment I’m working on an ability program, so ability is co-financed by the Irish government, um, and the European social fund as part of the European social fund program for employability, inclusion and learning. So essentially it’s a two year funded project and it’s aimed at young disabled people where essentially not work ready but working with them to help develop their confidence and you know, using person centered supports to get them closer to the mainstream labor markets. So I’m working with the Fingal leader partnership ability program and I’m currently working with quite a disadvantaged group. So it’s people with intellectual disabilities, significant mental health difficulties. Essentially you haven’t got the same opportunities when it comes to education and, and further education in particular. So trying to get people into work when they don’t have a degree or a master’s like everyone else is a huge challenge because that’s essentially one of the most diverse groups really. Okay. So are you preparing them for all types of work or are you focusing on a particular sector? It’s all about their person centered supports. So it’s where they want to be. You know, what do they see themselves doing? And this is where, you know, you’ve got a lot of challenges because a lot of, a lot of the people I’m working with, they wouldn’t be able to work full time. You know, the way I do, 40 hours a week or 35. hours a week. They wouldn’t even be able to work over 20 hours. So they are ineligible for the wage subsidy scheme. So essentially they, they find a huge amount of barriers rating because we’re so used to employing, you know, people with masters to, you know, do data entry. Okay. That’s very interesting away. You mentioned the wage subsidy scheme at 21 hours. I know that is something that I’ve come across as a barrier in terms of 21 hours being too much. I was doing some work with, people with down syndrome and they are, they were well able to do particular jobs, but the 21 hours is a barrier and I was writing to the department desk and could that be reduced to like 15 hours, you know? Yeah. Look it’s true for so many of those grants. You know, one of the main things that employers need, and I, I knew this before going into the Employer Disability information service, they need education. They don’t know where they’re putting barriers in place. They need guidance. So they need people like myself who’s working in the ability program and other types of job coaches to show them how to do it. Because a lot of times they won’t dip their toe in the water of employing people with disabilities because they’re afraid that, you know, it’s all gonna go wrong, that the person is going to be sick all the time, that their attendance is gonna be terrible, that they’re going to be sued, that they’re not going to be as productive as other people when actually the opposite is true. But really employers really need a quick and easy access to financial support. You know, the grants need to change the way they are at the moment. They’re currently just not fit for purpose. You know, essentially they were designed back by FÁS back in 2004 or something. So they are outdated, they’re ineffective and they just don’t meet the need, I mean look at it this way. It takes two months approximately to process all of the various documentation. Both if you’re not, if you don’t have a disability you can get access to jobs plus immediately if you’re an employer. I’m looking this way. I mean, you know the, the personal reader grant, that they have is to for blind or visually impaired person to actually employ a person to do their work related reading. I mean nobody does that anymore. Everybody uses software and you’ve got all the confidentiality issues that are all tied into that. But essentially the grounds wouldn’t cover the software that’s necessary and it probably wouldn’t cover the employment of a person anymore. The amounts haven’t changed since 2004 and if you think of the phone that you had in 2004 versus what you have now, it’s a world of difference. So essentially the grants don’t meet the need and it’s hugely important that we get kind of adapted grants. Something like the access to work scheme that they have in the UK that covers the disabled person’s entire journey from leaving their house in the morning to all the various supports that they might need in the workplace and beyond. So essentially if they need training, if they need promotional opportunities, if they need an interpreter say for one to one meeting with their manager, all that stuff is covered. But essentially in Ireland, all of our little supports are piecemeal and they’re divided across disability and they just don’t meet the need. Like look at the job interview interpreter grant. It really needs to be updated because someone who’s deaf can get an interpreter for the interview. You can get into the job, but then where’s the rest of their development? They can’t get an interpreter for training. They can’t get an interpreter for team meetings. None of the rest of it is covered. Yet in the UNCRPD it says that, you know, sign language is so important, but unfortunately we haven’t ratified the optional protocol, so we’re not able to actually fight for our rights the way we should be. Okay. You are highlighting so many different issues on in the Irish situation. Number one though is I’m hearing that you’re saying employers are afraid. There’s fear. How can we overcome that fear? How can we tell employers don’t be afraid. I mean things are getting better but they’re still terrible. You know when you look at people with disabilities compared to any other minority groups, but like we never have boom times as disabled people, you know, it’s never been full employment for people with disabilities. Essentially it’s, it’s written into the policy that if you’re a person with a disability, you get disability allowance when you stay at home. But actually there’s a huge amount of disabled people who do want to work and while diversity is being embraced out there by so many other companies and different organizations, the approach to disability is really piecemeal. You know, I mean disabled people can find it relatively easy to get into companies through specific programs, like ability or maybe ahead’s Willing Able mentoring program or even with Employability and they get into an actual company and started working away and are a real asset for the company. But if they were to try and get in using the mainstream recruitment practices, they would get nowhere. Okay. What would the barriers be Seònaid if they were using main stream, cause that’s where we want to get to. We want to get to mainstream. But the trouble is that you don’t always know where the barriers are. So psychometric testing is a huge barrier. So you know, if someone is Neurodiverse they’re never going to score it the same way as you know, they’re not going to score highly because the, the exam and the psychometric test has been adapted and created with a neuro-normal person in mind. You know, a neuro-typical person not a neuro-diverse person. So I remember there was a case in the States where, and a person with Aspergers, I believe, or autism was trying to get a job. And when they did the personality test, it basically came up that they’re, you know, equivalent to a psychopath because all of their answers, the correct answers were geared towards people who are neuro-typical. So that’s the first thing. You can say that a test is accessible. But if, if a blind person isn’t going to be able to get the same result as somebody with their vision, well then it’s not accessible. Okay. What about, um, AI? Are there opportunities with AI to make it more inclusive for people like me with vision impairments are for people on the spectrum? Again, it’s the same problem. All of the, you know, an artificial intelligence that’s being used at the moment. Essentially it’s being created by, by one particular cohort of people. So, you know, often you’re talking white young men of a certain age who have studied in the same places. They’re all from California, you know, in particular San Francisco or something. You know, maybe they’ve never had a date with a girl in their lives. So they’re all the same kind of person. But when they’re creating this artificial intelligence, they’re doing this with themselves in mind, not with other people. So you see stories across the world where artificial intelligence doesn’t recognize a black face or a person of color because it hasn’t been designed with them in mind. It’s the same for somebody with a disability. I mean, I was talking to an IT guy just during, during the weekend and he was saying the face recognition because he’s blind. It just, he kind of looked at the screen. So we are, I, I fear that we’re going to get ignored in the whole artificial intelligence revolution. The idea is to get through quantities of people, but to be able to recruit people with disabilities. You have to see the individual. It’s not about numbers, it’s about the individuals essentially. So people have to be auditing the recruitment practices for inclusion to make sure that they’re not discriminating against different groups. Because if you’re trying to do face recognition or any of those interviews, um, with a bot, essentially, they’re not going to recognize you as a human if you can’t do, you know, if your face can do exactly as, as others could and essentially there’s too many disabilities out there that will have difficulty with that. So if it isn’t designed for disability, it shouldn’t be in use. Okay. Do you see opportunities, because like diversity and inclusion is hot on the agenda at the moment. Are there opportunities within that for people with disabilities? Hugely. Hugely. I mean sometimes I end up, you know, sending negative, it could just be the rain from today. At the end of the day. There’s so many opportunities out there. Not just because younger people with disabilities, I really getting involved. People with disabilities in general are better educated than ever before when you know the baby boom generation are acquiring disabilities, they’re refusing to stay at home like the previous generations before them. Yeah. So you know, when I’m lifting out my mobility scooter, I have people in their fifties and sixties coming over all the time and they’re not at the stage where they need to use it, but they’re interested because they want to retain their independence. So everything is changing. You’ve got companies embracing the diversity and inclusion agenda and people really acknowledging that disability is a group of really diverse thinkers and you know, essentially natural creative problem solvers. You have to use innovation on a daily basis just to get dressed, you know, all the way and everything that they do. And really if a company is actually recruiting people with disabilities and attracting people with disabilities, they’re also able to attract top talent because younger people and millennials, and gen Zed or whatever you call them, I mean I just always think younger than myself. They want to work in a company that lives their ethical values. So if you’re actually employing somebody with a disability, then people can see your ethics, wear your ethics and your sleeve. So really you’re attracting top talent, you’re able to progress your diversity agenda, which means that your company becomes more agile and is able to think outside the box when it comes to problem solving. And of course then you’ve got access to all of those new markets. Like it’s not just myself and my spending power, it’s my friends and family and the people that I work with and the way that they learn when they’re interacting with me. I mean you won’t find my friends or family really eating in an inaccessible restaurants because it wouldn’t be a place that I could go to. And that spending power is essentially globally 8 trillion US dollars. That’s right. That’s what dividable 500, I’ve put it down at isn’t it? It’s a to look at us as the market opportunity as well. It’s not just about employment, it’s about also as your clients and your customers. Um, there’s a study in the UK that looked at, and it’s called a clickaway pounds study and basically it looked at the amount of business that has been lost by, by companies because they don’t include people with disabilities. So you’re talking inaccessible websites, rude staff, you know, steps needlessly in places, no signage, you know, all of those things. It just means that there is a huge amount of, of spending power out there. And if, if companies don’t get with the program, they get left behind. Absolutely. I’m really glad that you mentioned and the millennials and gen Z because they are the change makers in so many ways, not just disability and inclusion, but also climate change. And I think that can’t be ignored in anything that we do to innovate and to make the world a better place. Um, But just on that though, you do have to remember one of the biggest barriers and one of the biggest challenges right now that’s happening like at the moment is the fact that many people with disabilities use plastic straws to be able to drink. You know, here we are both drinking out of our Coke, no bother. But then we have hands that work. You know there are a huge amount of people, friends of mine that can only drink any type of drink, hot or cold with a straw, yet obviously you know, environmentalist want the world to be more sustainable and I think everyone with a disability agrees with that. But we can’t get to a situation where we ban plastic straws all together because then that means you’ve got people who are in really dangerous situation. They cant to use anything else to drink. You know, other people then would say use a paper straw. It actually then disintegrates and somebody could end up swallowing a big lump of paper and actually choking. Or even even worse, you’ve got those big steel straws and if someone is, you know, is using it and they have them, you know, any, any sorts of cerebral palsy for example, they could take out their own eye and that of their neighbors, you know what I mean? So it’s something that we don’t think about and I nearly feel like sending an email to Greta Thunberg to tell her about this because I think other people with disabilities don’t realize, but this is a huge barrier. So this is where any thinking when it comes to the world we live in today, it has to include disability because we keep getting excluded in these conversations. Or as you just pointed out there, something is forgotten. So banning plastic straws might work for the majority of the population, but there would still be a minority of people where that is the only product at the moment that they can use to stay alive. And it’s not that they’re like, you thought they love a plastic straw, it’s just, there’s no other solution, especially if you’re out and about. It’s different at home when you can use a particular cup or something, but really you need to be able to access solutions. And so that’s where, you know, as a group people with disabilities, need to get together and tell each other about this so we can become our own allies. Allyship is huge. But even within disability, I think you highlighted it here is there’s huge diversity within disability. Yeah. I think it was Adam Harris who said, um, if you know one person with autism, you know, one person with autism. Yeah. Like it’s just not possible for two people to have the very same disability and interact with it exactly the same. It’s just doesn’t work that way. It’d be great if that was the case. But that’s kind of the saying the same as saying everyone with red hair is a particular way, you know, it just doesn’t work that way. You know, like saying everyone who has blue eyes, it’s just, it’s just people are people and they’re so individual and I think that’s where a lot of companies fall down and even government policy because you’re trying to create something that is static for a large cohort of people, but actually you need something that’s universally designed. It’s flexible to be able to interact with people and to be, to enable them really to find their own solutions as well. And of course including people with disabilities is the only way to actually get that working because people with disabilities are always the experts in their own lives. And like I said, they’re the creative problem solvers. They’re the innovative ones. They’re the adaptable ones. They’re the ones that can come up with solutions because they have to to get around the inaccessible world. I mean in Ireland we always talk about people with disabilities and use the people first language, but in the UK for a long time, they’ve been calling themselves to disabled people. They are disabled by the inaccessible worlds that they live in. You know, when you talk about people with disabilities, we’re still then taking on responsibility to overcome our difficulties. So you know, talking to a couple of activists over the weekend and they were saying, well if you use the term disabled people, you’re pointing the fingers squarely at the society that’s been built around you as opposed to taking on the responsibility of apologizing for your disability and for who you are. So I nearly think if we start to changing that mindset, you know, great things could happen. That’s really interesting. Yeah. Speaking of Britain, Brexit, have you got low level anxiety like me? Oh totally. All of the time. I mean, I really don’t know how we’re going to get through it. And at the end of the day, I think one of the problems sometimes with what’s happening out there is that there’s always a brexit or something similar. And when we push off, you know, we push out all of those equality initiatives. I mean essentially in my opinion, if disability was embraced across every facet of life, we wouldn’t have had Brexit in the first place. Exactly. I’ve often thought that too. But, at the end of the day, we just don’t know what’s going to happen. I think one of the biggest concerns is for people with disabilities in particular. Like even I get all of my equipments and kit from the from the UK not from the US or anywhere else. So that’s the UK? Yeah, most of it. And I get a lot of my repairs done in the UK, but this company BeBionic. They’ve been bought by the Germans, the German company Autobach so it’s a good thing really for me, that, you know, they’ve been bought by the, by other Europeans, but a huge amount of things come from the UK, whether it’s prosthetics or orthotics, wheelchairs, you know, medication aids and appliances. And that’s what I’m really worried about, to be honest. What about access, emigration, any concerns there? Like so many people with disabilities know that there are better opportunities in Britain in terms of education and employment. Do you think it’ll impact on access emigration? I think, I think those days are gone. You know, um, since David Cameron, as far as I’m aware of the Tories have been very carefully dismantling all of the good things for people with disabilities. Um, I think you just have to watch that, isn’t it David Blaine or Daniel Blaine, whatever that film is to see the impact and that the lack of support has on individuals. So essentially, you know, you’re, you’re, um, too able bodied to get disability allowance, but you’re not well enough to go to work. It’s a catch 22 situation and, and we have lots of people in Ireland who are in that situation in particular, those that are neurodiverse. I think that’s a huge amount of people with disabilities is you’re kind of, because it’s a hidden one, you’re almost seen as, you’re not disabled enough. But, you’re not able enough to be in employment are we might give you employment, but you’re not able enough to be considered for the progressive pathways. I think that’s a huge problem for people with disabilities. We get the jobs, but then inertia, we don’t move forward within the job. Exactly. And there’s no promotion opportunities. And let’s face it, at the end of the day many people with disabilities don’t actually want promotional opportunities cause then they lose their medical cards, their free travel pass. I mean look, I only got a free travel pass when you couldn’t get onto the bus. The minute, I could get onto a bus, it was taken away, you know. Right!!. I mean that’s what you’re talking about. I could never read Joseph Heller’s book Catch 22 because that’s just disability all over, you know. So yes you can get a job but you lose all your benefits. You know, your disability doesn’t change overnight just because I’ve secured full time employment. So I think yes, things are changing. So with the comprehensive employment strategy, you know, make work pay is starting to have an impact. So people with disabilities now can work a little bit more and actually get their supports that they need while also knowing that they can go back onto their disability allowance, if it doesn’t work out because I think that’s part of the fear is not just on the part of the employers. It’s also in the parts of the people who have a disability in case it doesn’t work out and they don’t get back on their disability allowance and they’re left behind. And I think while it’s changing with Make Work Pay, it’s only a temporary solution because somebody, you know, difficulties and health conditions aren’t going to go away overnight even if they get a full time job. But you know, I think sometimes, maybe not tear all to shreds completely, but we, we need to relook at the way disability policy is created and maintained in Ireland because most of it is seen as a care model, a social model. It doesn’t seem to human rights, you know, it’s a medical model, not a social level. Sorry. It’s not seen as a human right. You know. And I think one of the most important things is, you know, we mentioned different disability groups having different needs and often there’s a policy that we all have to fit into. But I think this is one of the difficulties is that for too long, disabilities and groups have been sort of set amongst themselves to fight over a small pool of money. You know, and maybe it’s not that we, we need to fight over the different slices of pie. Maybe we need a bigger pie. I mean, a disability is everybody. It’s a minority group that you can join whether you like it or not at any time in your life. And in fact, as you age, you’ll definitely acquire a disability. You know, don’t we all hope to live a long, healthy, happy life, but more than likely you’ll have a disability. Along with that. And I think we have to remember all the intersectionality and the fact that, you know, we’re including everybody in society, so we’re not just including women, we’re also including women of color and women of color with a disability and Muslim women and all the different types of nationalities. But it’s very rare that you belong into one category. And I think that’s part of the problem with policy. If you’re a disabled person, you can’t be looking for work. If you’re looking for work, then you can’t possibly be disabled. And I think that’s part of the problem. The boxes that we like to put people in don’t have space for more than one minority group. And I think that’s part of the problem when we argue amongst ourselves and when we fight for better rights, we’re fighting for better rights just for our little section. And really we have to be fighting for rights for everybody because we are talking about oppression, you know? And when you start talking about rights of people with disabilities in the language of the, you know, the, the racially policy that they tried to create in the U S in the 60s it starts to change the way you interact with things. Look at the current situation at the moment in Dublin in particular, where people are fighting for accessible transport, you know, to be able to get on the train. And I have to say cork is brilliant. It’s Dublin that I have the difficulties in whenever I was traveling down on the train. But essentially if another minority group was not allowed to get onto the train, the way people with disabilities are, there’d be uproar if, if if Irish Rail said we can’t accommodate buggies and young mothers or you know, people with children, they would be killings. Yeah, no, I hear what you’re saying. Yeah. That’s where we need to, as people with disabilities, we need to sort of stand up and, and I’m not saying, you know, yes we could protest, but I do think that the best way to do it is to use the existing legislation. You know, when find a situation where you can actually track the instances of discrimination being treated differently and then challenge the company. And if not, then take it further to the workplace relations commission. But I think that’s what we need to start talking about to be able to be taken seriously. Okay. Talk us through the legal instruments and Shona that you’re aware of. Oh, I mean there’s so many, but of course the definition of disability is different in each one So really when you’re talking access to goods and services, you’re talking the equal status act and all of this information is all available on the Irish human rights and equality commission website. And there’s good explain explanatory documents and, and that would be for goods and services Equal Status Act and then for, you know, for your employment situation is the employment equality act. And again, a lot of that information is on the Irish human rights and equality commission’s website. And then of course then the UNCRPD, which has been ratified, but we still don’t have the optional protocol. So that’s quite important to be able to get through actually because we need that. And, and of course there’s the national disability inclusion strategy, which is the, the commitments from government as to what they’re going to do to include people with disabilities. But as far as I’m aware of that, I don’t know are they really, meeting their targets. And of course there’s the comprehensive employment strategy as well, which is a cross department can strategy to improve, to improve access for people with disabilities to the worlds of work and further education. But I mean as far as I’m aware, you know these days Brexit’s their biggest concern. Well Brexit is everyone’s biggest concern. So we are, we’re all in the queue. You know, the, the Brexit baby is, is the most important one I suppose at the moment, and we have to be very cognisant of that. But you just mentioned there the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and Ireland has ratified it but so has Europe and were members of Europe because as an entity they have ratified it. But we don’t have the optional protocol and I can’t understand why people with disabilities are not screaming for the optional protocol. You see, I think it’s kind of difficult because when you’re fighting so hard just to like keep your kid in school because of their behavior and their autism, then it’s very difficult to take on, you know, big, major nationwide issues. You know when you’re visibly fighting for, in my situation it can often be a component or a liner. When you’re fighting so hard just to be able to retain a medical card and still contribute with some wages it can be so difficult to see the bigger picture and you see that’s merely where the divide and conquer bit comes in. Okay. Well I suppose I’d be more like the organizations, the charities, why aren’t they screaming for it? I can’t put it on the individual. It’s not fair to put it on the individual. But we have about 9,000 charities in Ireland and a lot of them are around disability and I want to see them looking after their surface users. And one part of looking after your service user is to ensure that the optional protocol, is ratified in Ireland and is signed in Ireland. I totally agree. And there are many, there are many organizations, you know disability charities and other sort of advocacy groups that are fighting for that. And if you look on their websites you’ll see that it’s listed there as one of their main issues. The biggest problem is they’re also fighting for the basic rights.You know, like, um, I was at the independent living movement Ireland conference at the weekend. Fascinating to hear people, you know, really, really talk about the right space system. But most of the time a lot of our members are trapped in their home without access to a personal assistant for their own independent living. The UNCRPD does mention these various supports, but by not ratifying the optional protocol, as far as I’m aware, and I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I’m aware, then that means that the individual can’t take a case against the state for being denied access to those supports. So I think that’s the disconnect. You know, we kindcan’t have the optional protocol without having the optional protocol in place. I know. But if we’re waiting for everything to be perfect before we signed the optional protocol, you know, that’s never gonna happen because it’s never going to be perfect. I mean everyone, we have to learn and we are going to fail and we have fail and if I get something wrong, hands up, I made a mistake. Um, and maybe as a nation we’re mature enough to say that, you know, we’re not getting it all right. Can we learn from each other? And we really can. Oh and I totally agree. But I think maybe part of the problem is that we’re trying to make a world class system. We should just try and have a system that works first. Yeah, I know, I know. What else do you want to talk about Seònaid, there’s so much, I have a list here we’re going to run out of time. What else do you want to mention? Totally. I mean I think the most important thing that we have to mention here and sometimes when we’re talking about the problems and the issues, it can get into like negative territory. But to be honest, we have to remember the huge advantages that there are not just for people with disabilities in work. We’re also for those companies that employ them. I mean we mentioned the power of allyship. Other people are beginning to realize that disability is an important minority group that they need to be embracing because it’s actually to their advantage. I mean, the weirdest thing about it is about having a diverse pool of applicants and a diverse pool of talent amongst people with disabilities is, as I mentioned already, they’re naturally creative, they’re problem solvers, they’re innovative, they think inside the box everyday and they’re adaptable, which are all of the skills that we need in a modern workplace. But until that happens regularly, just for us to be able to get dressed and get out the door and get where we’re going. I also think you have to remember that usually people with disabilities and in particular intellectual disabilities are so loyal to the company, to the brand, to everything, you know, like they are unlikely to leave because they encounter so many barriers on the way into the workplace. So you’ve got people who are going to stay in their position who probably aren’t going to be looking for promotion because they’re happy where they are. So the company then experiences reduced turnover and better staff morale. And of course people with disabilities, often the perception is that they’re going to not be there, that they’ll be sick all the time. But actually the opposite is true. Most of the time, you know, they attend every day. They’ll rarely let you down. And they often have a positive attitude in particular those who have intellectual disabilities. So you’ve got increased employee morale because people take pride in their work and they have pride and loyalty to the organization. So you’ve got the coworkers of the people with disabilities also experiencing that pride. And of course your public image is enhanced. I mean, I don’t know how many people texted me when they showed em it was a waiter with Down’s syndrome on first dates. My phone just started hopping the minute, so that everybody was going, look at this, look at this. So those people that mightn’t have been in interested in it started watching it. So you know you’ve got an enhanced public image to be seen to be caring and, and of course then you’re also attracting the young innovative new talent who want to work in an ethical company. If you’re inclusive of disability and if you’re seen to be inclusive disability, they want to work with you. But also those older workers as well will feel like they’re going to be looked after when and if disability comes to them. And of course then you as we mentioned already increased revenues from new markets. So it’s not just people with disabilities or sorry disabled people, families as well that make up the big difference. So you’re talking to huge men that’s just for employers. And I think the best thing employers can do is get in touch with one of the programs like myself in the ability . . So talk, start talking about the programs. Cause just a couple of things from what you’ve said there. We are a very resilient group of people and companies. It’s very good for the community. So a lot of companies spend a lot of money on CSR, but the best thing you can do is just employ people and because it’s so good for society and programs. Okay, so we have the ability program And there’s 27 of those around the country. So there, there’s lots of them in Dublin. But I think, I think the Pobail website has a full list of all those different companies and it has the contact details as well so you can get in touch with those individuals. And I’m particularly thinking of businesses and because the company is, or sorry, the ability program is aimed at people with disabilities, but one of the beneficiaries of that has to be employers with the view to the person with the disability benefiting. Because if all, if we train up all these people with em, with disabilities, young people who aren’t work ready and get them closer to the workplace, it doesn’t mean that people are going to start, companies are going to start employing them straight away. We also need to be educating employers. And at the end of the day, the beneficiary of all of that work is actually the person with a disability and society in general. When that person starts working and contributing to the economy and also then they’re happier, healthier, and you know, Absolutely. So it has to be good for the health service if people are, aren’t isolated and alone that there, you know, working and involved in the community and as well as making money, they’re not on antidepressants at home alone, you know? Yeah, exactly. But I think to be able to change that really effectively, and I think this is one of the barriers, Bose programs, like Ability, we’re not looking at all of the various supports needed. You know, so yes, there’s an awful lot of money out there that that’s coming from the Irish government and the European social funds. It’s not actually changing the supports that are out there for employers. So we already mentioned, you know, some of the schemes, the, the personal reader grants, the job interview interpreter grant, the wage equipment, adaptation grant, I’m sorry, the workplace equipment adaptation grant and wage subsidy scheme. None of those grants or schemes are really fit for purpose for people with an intellectual disability or with any other kind of disability. So really my biggest worry is that these placements and jobs that we start getting for people aren’t going to translate into mainstream employment because the employer doesn’t get any support and it’s all operated in a refund system. Okay. Supports. What do you think the employers need if we were to give three main things that employers need today? Three main things. They need proper grants. I mean, I think we’ve covered that ad nauseum. They need guidance, so they need programs like ability, but they need them to be working with them. So really, you know, we need the employer disability information service again, you know, and, and with, with a budget that could actually increase their education. So they need education. They need to be shown where the barriers lie and how to overcome those. To be able to decrease that fear level. Okay. Seònaid. That’s brilliant. That’s great. Easy as that. Easy as that, if we could just click our fingers and put on our little red shoes and say that’s it and then we’d have an inclusive society that it, you know, for everyone I’d need to be wearing my legs for that to be clicking my shoes. You’re not accommodating me here. I know. I’m, I’m sorry just not inclusive. Seònaid listen so we better finish up. Yeah? Great talking to you. And I think things are changing and I really do think the government is listening, um, for the first time to all of these potential solutions. I think they are. And I think a lot of companies are listening as well and I’m meeting people in companies who are really good people and they want to do something, they’re actually, you know what it is Seònaid that there’s a lack of awareness. They’re actually not aware of how bad the situation is for people with disabilities in Ireland. So true. So true. And once people are aware and in particular in those departments as well, they do make changes. So I think they’re listening. The next step now is taken action. Just taking action. Absolutely. Well hopefully with valuable 500 I know I started with it. Maybe we should just finish with the valuable 500. So what it is is for companies who employ more than a thousand people, to stand up and CEO sign that uh, yes you are putting disability business inclusion on your agenda and it is very much part of your business strategy to employ people with disabilities and to look after your clients and customers and people with disabilities. And it was started by Caroline Casey, a Dublin woman, an Irish woman who happens to be vision impaired as well and is a true leader in this, um, sector. Definitely. And you’ll always find people who say that that’s not going far enough. But I think pitching it to business, you know, on their level and in a business way and in a, in a profitable, profitable way, I think is the key to her success. But I do think that mm, at the moment, current, you know, economic and political situations are, are kind of nearly, thwarting her attempts because when she started the valuable 500, you know, we had, we had Brexit but we didn’t have Boris Johnson. Um, and we had Trump, we didn’t have it as bad as we do now. So I think, you know, this whole feeling as you said, that low level fear of what’s going to happen in the future I suspect is having an impact on her at the moment. Like I was saying about if I had companies and are supplying aids and appliances to Ireland I mean like we had to order all of my components that I might possibly need before the end of September just in case. So I think everyone is just waiting with bated breath. And I think that is having an impact on the amount of companies that are signing up because obviously she’s going for the huge big large corporations and focusing an awful lot of her, her awareness raising in the UK, further fields in Europe and in the US and you see, I think that’s where, you know, a lot of the fear is at the moment. So it’s a fantastic initiative. But I do worry, that, the world, there’s too much going on, but people don’t rate disability then as being, as being something that needs to be addressed. Actually, like I said, you know, they might have the solution to this Brexit and backstop and whatever else. See that’s where I’d be coming from. I’d be like, listen, there’s always something going to be going on. So you know, don’t use Brexit as an excuse. Alright. And so I’d be saying to companies, get right behind it. I support it 100% and I mean it’s a fantastic group and it’s like any companies are already doing a lot of work. The ones I’m going into, um, are doing a lot of work here in cork on disabilities. So I’m like, sign up provided with 500 as bad and put yourself on the World stage. Why not stand behind us? Stand behind people with disabilities because you know what it’s like when people say, you know, Oh, I’m not, you know, it’s not the right time to have a baby. I’m like, it’s never the right time to have a baby. You know, it’s never the right time to buy a house . It’s never the right time to fall in love, you know, like just do it. You know, other initiatives that Caroline has done, the amazing O2 ability awards, you know, it was the recession that did it for that. You know, I think this is where it isn’t a good to do thing for society. It’s an economically viable thing to do. Yeah. It isn’t about treating people well because you should. It’s because they have a right to, and I think that’s where we need to be changing our, our language around it. It isn’t about charity, it isn’t about helping those poor people. It’s actually about making sure that that citizens have rights and that they have access to the best type of life that they possibly can have. No, that’s it. And on that note Seònaid Ó Murchadha, I’ll let you go out to the rain! Thank you so much, I’m dying to ruin my hair. We’ll talk again soon. Thank you so much, Clare. It’s been so much fun chat soon Cheers. Bye. Please be advised that this recording does not constitute medical or legal advice.

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