Michel-Anthony is not about to let his retinitis pigmentosa and the challenges his visual limitations impose on him keep him from living life to the fullest. This 19-year-old is already projecting himself into the future and planning to attend university to take business administration in order to set up a business and create social projects for other people with visual limitations similar to his own.
Like many others in his situation, Michel-Anthony spent a lot of time looking for work and sent countless CVs to companies before landing his first job. “In some cases, there was simply no way to get my application into the pipeline because it was not accessible at all! I would have to contact someone in human resources to find out more about the job, and very often I would have to give up because I couldn’t get access to the information.” In the beginning, Michel-Antony indicated his visual limitation on his CV, but he soon changed his approach. “Because nobody ever got back to me, I decided to only mention it during the phone interview or in person,” he admits. Even though he says that he never felt that this got in the way, there were other obstacles along the way. For instance, he would realize by the end of an interview that their work tools were not accessible enough. So, finding a job was not easy.
Michel-Anthony joined our Come to Work program talent pool about a year ago, and would gladly recommend it to anyone.
The Program connects job seekers who are blind or partially sighted with employers who want to discover a new talent pool as well as give blind candidates the opportunity to acquire professional experience.
Michel-Antony worked with our team, doing mocking interviews, received tips on drafting his CV, and took part in professional development workshops on job search strategies. “The mocking interviews helped me develop techniques and skills that I was then able to apply in real-life situations,” he acknowledges. He also took training in Excel with the Jaws screen reader to fine-tune his technical skills. “I use it at work, and it will come in useful for my studies,” he adds.
In November, he did an internship at The Brick, a partner of the CNIB Foundation’s Come to Work program, where he was then hired as a customer service representative.
With nothing but praise for his employer and co-workers, Michel-Antony is delighted to be working with a terrific team that will do anything to make him feel at home and ensure that he has access to his work tools. “Even the microwave was modified with Braille characters to make it more accessible,” he mentions. When asked about the workplace’s accessibility, he adds that by chance, the lines on the floor outlining the different sections of the store help him more easily navigate his way to his office.
“As a national employer, our participation in the Come to Work program has not only given us the opportunity to meet candidates with outstanding potential (including some terrific recruits), but also to enhance our hiring practices when it comes to diversity and inclusion. We take part in panels and mentoring opportunities that not only enable us to share our industry’s benefits, but also to learn how we can be better employers, managers and citizens,” points out HR Recruitment and Engagement Manager at The Brick, Chantelle Painter.
When asked what he is most proud of in his work and what he appreciates the most, Michel-Anthony shows his deeply altruistic side as he responds that it’s being with people and helping them, whether at the store or over the phone. This job lets him feel as though he is taking part in society and gives him a sense of being useful.